Norbertine Associates of the Church of St. Norbert Abbey commit themselves to a life of prayer, community and service according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church and the Norbertine tradition.
Of the Founding Associates at St. Norbert Abbey (Nov. 11, 1984)
We, the Norbertine Associates, as a small, self-chosen group of lay people, joined together by a common desire to commit ourselves to Christ through the life and work of the Norbertine Community, having at earlier times, separately and individually appreciated the community with our now commonly-shared wish to find ways of participating in, and contributing to, the life and work of the Order, now seek to formalize that desired relationship, so that it may become an enduring association, through which we may increase our service to God and to our sisters and brothers, and find mutual support in each other.
We see our present task as one of articulating the aims and structure which will further our lives as Norbertine Associates. We anticipate with great confidence and joy, that after we undergo a period of formation, trial and adjustment, others will want and be welcomed to join us in the continuing endeavor to translate our dream into reality.
We have a dream: That we may enter into a closer association with the Norbertine Community and with each other, as we share in the Community prayer life, with the Eucharist as central to that life. We seek support from the Community in developing spiritual discipline in ourselves, while we strive to attain and maintain a sense of joy in the whole endeavor.
We have a dream: That we may undertake a formation process that is grounded in the Christian Norbertine tradition, one that will lead us to discover our own forms and ways of commitment to the Norbertine Community, its mission and one another.
We have a dream: That we may be led toward holiness through an ever-growing desire to live as witnesses to Christ in such a way that we may continually decrease and He may constantly increase.
We have a dream: That we may enter into some forms of ministry to St. Norbert Abbey and to the larger community. We seek to respond through ministry to current needs.
In November 1984, fourteen men and women presented themselves to the community of St. Norbert Abbey. They each stated their desire to associate themselves formally with the Norbertine Community, in order to live more fully in Christ and in service to others.
The group met regularly in the beginning of September 1984. They endeavored to become a people of faith and commitment and to be led by the Spirit toward an understanding of their relationship with the Norbertine Community. The Norbertine Mission Statement and The Initial Formation of Norbertine Novices served as their guides.
The focused their meetings on efforts to acquaint themselves with Norbertine history, its spirit and charisms. They tried to understand better the commitments they wished to undertake toward spiritual formation, ministry and community. They recognized that such efforts are merely stages toward acquiring deeper insights. They also discussed at considerable length the kind of dedication that association demands and the means that bring about its realization.
The Rule of Life for the Associates
Norbertine lay associates have existed since the time of Norbert’s foundation of the Order in 1121. “Since its beginning, many lay people were attracted to the Order of Premontre by its spirituality. They wanted to share in its spiritual goods while continuing to live in the world.”
Lay Associates see their vocation as a calling to spiritual focus and commitment, just as priests, brothers and sisters see their calling. They believe that their roles as Associates are part of their journey toward eternal life.
As Associates, they are truly an active and involved part of the Norbertine Order. Their solemn promises to live in the spirit of the Rule of St. Augustine and the charisms of the Order make them so.
With membership, one’s heart and desire play a part in the reality of being a Norbertine Associate and many candidates experience a sense of belonging as soon as they have been accepted. Intent alone though is not sufficient; action and discernment are also necessary. In a certain sense, becoming a Norbertine Associate take a lifetime. It is a way of life that deepens and grows as long as one lives.
One becomes a Norbertine Associate by attaching oneself to a Norbertine house of the Order. It is necessary to attend regular associate meetings and community liturgies in order to remain spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically connected to the Order.
The end result of this active involvement is an enhanced spiritual way of life. Members soon realize that the Spirit is with them and that they can make a difference in their families, in their local Norbertine Community, and in the world at large.