By Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem.
Perhaps I am a sucker for nostalgia. I can’t help but delight, on any given Sunday in the Archdiocese of Chicago, when I encounter someone who has been influenced by a Norbertine of St. Norbert Abbey.
Sure, many people have encountered Norbertines either when they lived in Green Bay or went to St. Norbert College in De Pere, but there are a good number of people who share stories of Norbertines who served in parishes right here, within the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Many of the names shared are Norbertines I’ve never met, but I still marvel at the impact that these priests, brothers, and seminarians have had and continue to have on the people to whom we currently minister. I can’t help but feel a great joy in being part of such a legacy and fraternity.
Today, while Norbertines may not have a Chicago parish to call their own, our community continues to serve the faithful, maintaining a presence at our house of studies and at other apostolic outreach ministries. One place someone currently may encounter a Norbertine is at Old St. Patrick’s Parish, where Deacon Michael Brennan, O. Praem., and I serve on a part-time basis.
… I’m reminded of the gift of my brothers and thankful in the sharing of our lives.
—Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem.
One of the ministries in which I’m engaged includes ministering to the young adults of this parish. Recently, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, I assisted in planning (with the help of many) an event known as a “Night of Prayer and Action,” connecting both contemplation and prayer with action and service.
Contemplation and action are an intrinsic part of the Norbertine way of life in which one (contemplation) fuels or compliments the other (action), and vice versa. While the event was well-attended and engaging, what proved to be most profound for me was the support and help I received from my brothers in community.
One could say that the prayer element of the night—Eucharistic Adoration, Vespers, and Benediction—had heavy Norbertine influence; not only in its planning, but also in its celebration, as I received assistance from Deacon Michael, Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., and Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem. Without the support, assistance, and willingness of my brothers to help, this night would not have been the same.
This experience, while it was about ministering to the people of Old St. Pat’s, was also about ministering to each other as brothers. Each of us had an important role for the night and each did his part well. The ministry was not about one individual … the ministry was about us, together, united in our common life and mission as Sons of St. Norbert.
After sharing this experience with my brothers in formation, I can’t help but imagine how similar this sharing of ministry was for those Norbertines who came before us. Once again, years later, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Chicago had an encounter with a band of Norbertines from St. Norbert Abbey, who gave witness to fraternity and demonstrated a sharing of life rooted from our earliest beginnings as a Christian community.
Frequently I take the support of my brothers for granted; however, this night I’m reminded of the gift of my brothers and thankful in the sharing of our lives.
St. Norbert … Pray for Us!