Vespers of the Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 12, 2016

and the Blessing of the Statue of St. Norbert

Statue of St. Norbert

Statue of St. Norbert

On December 18, 2016, Evening Prayer will not be celebrated at St. Norbert Abbey, but instead celebrated at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay, presided over by the Most Rev. David L. Ricken, DD, JCL.

During this Vespers of the fourth Sunday of Advent, which begins at 4 p.m., there will be a special blessing of a statue of St. Norbert, gifted to the Cathedral by the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey. The wooden statue was carved by Josef Albl and sons of ALBL Oberammergau, Germany, based on a descriptive design provided by Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

Following the Dismissal, all are invited to a light reception in the Bishop Wycislo Center at the Cathedral.

Taizé Prayer is also offered at St. Norbert Abbey that night at 7 p.m.

View event details »

In the News

Faith briefs: Ricken holds service with Norbertines
December 15, 2016
The Green Bay Press-Gazette

Prayer and Contemplation

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 18-19)

The Norbertine Center for Spirituality and St. Norbert Abbey offer various ways that people can reflect upon God in their lives—through intentional prayer services and contemplative practices.

Candlelight Vigils

Taizé Prayer CandlesAnother senseless tragedy. More sorrow and anguish in the world and in our hearts.

For months the staff of the Norbertine Center for Spirituality (NCS) had grappled with the challenging question, “What in the world can we offer people in times of great tragedy and inconsolable grief?”

On June 15, the St. Norbert Abbey Church was opened to those struggling with and wanting to pray for the victims (and their families and friends) of the Orlando shooting—one of the largest massacres in the history of the United States. Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem., welcomed the participants to an hour-long service filled with prayer, rich silence, candles, and music (performed by flutist Keith McGillivray and the Abbey Singers of St. Norbert College). Soft rain and gentle thunder heard throughout the service seemed to be nature’s way of entering into prayer. Whatever was taking place in the souls of the participants, the abbey provided a means for them to encounter God amid tragedy—together, in prayer.

“When a tragedy occurs, the abbey should be one of the first places where people come,” shared Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem. “This is what an abbey is called to do—provide a place of refuge in times of great pain.”

St. Norbert Abbey and the NCS continue to find ways to open the doors of the abbey church after tragedies occur: the monthly Taizé service held on July 17 honored the slain Dallas police officers as well as all who have been touched by violence.

Note: Special prayer services will be posted online, sent to those subscribing to e-publicity through the NCS, and are often acknowledged in the media.

Contemplative Practices

Given the noise and excessive activity within this world of ours, silence—real silence—can be difficult to find. We are usually plugged into something, be it our computers, smart phones, tablets, or TVs. However, it is often the silence and serenity for which people express their gratitude upon entering the NCS and St. Norbert Abbey, which host numerous prayer spaces and offer these contemplative practices.

Prayerful Environments

Prayer spaces abound within the Norbertine Center for Spirituality and St. Norbert Abbey. Men and women of all ages stop in, sometimes only for a few minutes, to spend time in prayer. Click here for more information. Please stop in the NCS main office and you will be directed to a prayer space that meets your needs.

Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer which helps us open our minds and hearts to God beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. It is a way of consenting to God’s presence and action within. While Centering Prayer does not replace other kinds of prayer, it can cast a new light and depth of meaning on them. Weekly Centering Prayer, facilitated by Kathie Tilot, is held every Tuesday morning in the Killeen Room at 7:10 a.m. All are welcome.


On the north side of the NCS is a lawn labyrinth, based on the design within the floor of Chartres Cathedral (AD 1220). The labyrinth is an ancient symbol of life’s journey—a path of prayer. As a tool of integration between mind and body, it can be experienced as a personal pilgrimage, helping one find new insights and inner peace. Open during daylight hours, directions can be found inside the entryway of the NCS.

Read More

August 2016 Norbertine Celebrations at St. Norbert Abbey

August 15, 2016

St. Augustine

St. Augustine

On Saturday, August 27, 2016, at the First Vespers of the Solemnity of St. Augustine, Johnathan F. Turba and Anh Q. Tran will be vested in the white habit of the Norbertine Order. Rt. Rev. Gary J. Neville, O. Praem., Abbot of St. Norbert Abbey, will preside over the vestition ceremony.

On Sunday, August 28, 2016, the Solemnity of St. Augustine, Frater Michael J. Brennan, O. Praem., will profess Solemn Vows, forming a mutual lifelong commitment to the canonical life between himself and the entire professed community. Abbot Neville will preside over the solemn rite.

On Monday, August 29, 2016, Frater Brennan will also be ordained to the diaconate by Most Rev. Dale J. Melczek, DD, Bishop Emeritus of Gary, Indiana.

Read more about vestition and the Norbertine religious habit »

Please Note

This year the Solemnity of our Holy Father, St. Augustine, falls on a Sunday—August 28, 2016.

We would like to inform our regular worshippers that this Mass will include the Solemn Profession of Vows of our confrere, Frater Michael J. Brennan, O. Praem.

Given these special rites, this liturgy will be longer in duration than most Masses celebrated at the abbey, and we will welcome many of Frater Brennan’s friends and family from out of town.

We are grateful for your prayerful presence at St. Norbert Abbey; we welcome you to that Sunday’s celebration, as well. However, we wanted to inform you of the unique and blessed rituals that the Sunday, August 28, liturgy will include!

In the News

Abbey Celebrations
Fall/Winter 2016
St. Norbert College Magazine

First Vespers & Solemn Vows (page 15)
Fall/Winter 2016
Abbey Magazine

Local faith briefs: Norbertine celebrations this weekend
August 25, 2016
The Green Bay Press-Gazette

SMSA alum to be vested in Norbertine Order Aug. 27
August 22, 2016
Fond du Lac Reporter

August 27, 2016 — First Vespers of the Solemnity of St. Augustine

Vestition of Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., and Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

An Outward Sign of an Inward Spirit

August 28, 2016 — Solemnity of St. Augustine

Bishop and Doctor of the Church | Author of Our Rule of Life
Celebrating the Solemn Profession of Frater Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

A Lifelong Commitment to Canonical Life

from St. Norbert Abbey on Vimeo

August 29, 2016 — Mass of Diaconate Ordination of Deacon Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

Frater Michael Joseph Brennan, O. Praem.

Profession of Solemn Vows and Ordination to the Diaconate

… I have found my way home here at St. Norbert Abbey.

—Deacon Michael Brennan, O. Praem.
Frater Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

Frater Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

Frater Brennan, 39, is the son of Michael and Dorothy Brennan of Michigan City, Indiana, and a son of Queen of All Saints Catholic Church in Michigan City. His parents now belong to St. Pius X Catholic Church in Granger, Indiana.

Frater Brennan was vested in the white Norbertine habit in August 2011 and professed Simple Vows in August 2013.

A 1995 graduate of Marquette Catholic High School, Michigan City, Frater Brennan graduated from St. Norbert College (SNC) in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and psychology and a minor in religious studies.

In 2001 he received a Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He was also named Teacher of the Year at Our Lady of Prompt Succor, White Castle, Louisiana (1999-2000), and at Ascension Catholic Middle School, Donaldsonville, Louisiana (2001-2002), and received the Young Alumni Award from SNC (2005).

Frater Brennan anticipates completing his Masters of Divinity in May 2017 and an M.A. in Scripture in the fall of 2017. Both degrees will be granted by Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. Frater Brennan will be ordained a Norbertine priest on May 27, 2017.

“As I shared with our guests on the occasion of these celebrations, I have found my way home here at St. Norbert Abbey. I am most grateful to God, to my fellow Norbertines, family, friends, and all those I have met along this journey. I owe much to those who have prepared me for these joyful moments of solemn profession and ordination. I look forward to my ongoing growth and formation as I serve the People of God as a Norbertine deacon at Old St. Pat’s in Chicago and here in our local community. Thank you to those who have supported me, challenged me, and prayed for me. I ask for your continued guidance as we all strive ‘to be of one mind and one heart on the way to God.’ ” —Deacon Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

Frater Johnathan Fredrick Turba, O. Praem.


I feel incredibly blessed to be joining the Norbertines.

—Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.
Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

Frater Turba, 28, is the son of Michael and Patricia Turba of Platteville, Wisconsin, and a son of Immaculate Conception Parish in New Richmond, Wisconsin.

Upon completion of his high school studies in Platteville, Frater Turba graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in choral music education, emphasis in voice and piano.

Since graduating from college Frater Turba served as an elementary, middle, and high school teacher of general music and as a choral director for the Iola-Scandinavia School District in North Central Wisconsin. In 2016 Frater Turba received the Outstanding Young Conductor Award from the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association for his dedicated work in the schools.

The first-year Norbertine novitiate (in which Frater Turba will participate) will take place at St. Norbert Abbey.

“Upon my vestition, walking into the abbey church clad in a white habit of my own was a joyous and humbling experience. When everyone applauded to welcome Anh and me into the community, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. I feel incredibly blessed to be joining the Norbertines. As I begin my novitiate at the abbey, I look forward to learning more about the Norbertine heritage and about the surrounding community while also growing in my faith.” —Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

Frater Anh Quoc Tran, O. Praem.


God’s merciful heart and compassionate love have guided my wandering heart to the new adventure …

—Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.
Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

Frater Tran, 26, son of Linh Van Tran and Son Thi Nguyen, is a son of Hien Linh Parish in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

After graduating from St. Mary Springs High School, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Frater Tran studied at St. Norbert College. He graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in global business.

Since graduating from college Frater Tran earned two master’s degrees in servant leadership and business administration from Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he served as house coordinator at A Place of Grace Catholic Worker House.

The first-year Norbertine novitiate (in which Frater Tran will participate) will take place at St. Norbert Abbey.

“To me, the vestition was absolutely a blessing from God, especially having my parents from Vietnam here witnessing this initiation of my new beginning. God’s merciful heart and compassionate love have guided my wandering heart to the new adventure which is full of hope and yet beyond my imagination. Because of that, I thank you, Lord!” —Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

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