Norbertine Center for Spirituality

“Making All Things New!”

As seen in the Winter/Spring 2018 Norbertine Center for Spirituality program guide

Dear Friends,

Winter/Spring 2018The Norbertines have a motto by which they have lived for almost 900 years: “Making all things new!” There is a motto by which Wisconsin residents have lived since the invention of the automobile: “There are two seasons—winter and road construction!” And there is a sign found in many buildings that are under construction: “Pardon our dust!”

What do these things have to do with the Norbertine Center for Spirituality (NCS)? If you have been in this sacred place recently, you might have noticed a few changes: the former entrance to the NCS no longer exists; the abbey pool and sundeck have been gutted; a chain-link fence cordons of f the area; a new sidewalk has been poured in order to maneuver around the construction area; and, the heavy machinery and construction workers are busy creating a beautiful new space for the NCS.

What will this new space look like?

  • There will be a new entrance with a receptionist desk and gathering area.
  • Two large rooms capable of hosting gatherings of 150 to 200 people will occupy the majority of the space.
  • A kitchenette, coatroom, and handicap-accessible restrooms will round out the space.
  • The installation of an elevator is the highlight of the project. Knowing that it has been a challenge for some people to climb the six steps to the Killeen Room or the numerous steps to a second-floor bedroom. The entire complex will be accessible to all. The ability to host groups who can move between these spaces now will be possible.

The construction will take more than a year, so much patience is necessary! The longer walk from the abbey church parking lot in order to attend programs and retreats at the center will be one sacrifice that we are all asked to make. However, the payoff will be a beautiful new space with the amenities necessary to grow the center, as well as the programs and retreats offered here.

So, until the construction process is completed, please “pardon our dust!” Know that the season of construction will take a while. Most of all, the project will help the Norbertine community in “making all things new”—including a new space for the NCS!

Tony Pichler

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Labyrinth Walk

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 19)

Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., cellist

Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., cellist

The annual summer Labyrinth walk, held June 20, was attended by more than 50 people. Kathie Tilot offered information about this ancient meditative prayer form prior to the walk. Participants were accompanied by lovely cello music performed by Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

View event details »

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Inside 1016: Radical Hospitality, Growing Numbers Drive Significant Renovation

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 8-9)

By Katrina Marshall, Gina Sanders Larsen, and Judy Turba

Ever Ancient, Ever New

From the outside looking in, St. Norbert Abbey seems timeless: the stone exterior, slate roof, 160 acres of natural and landscaped beauty, and the shining cross atop the iconic bell towerever ancient.

Yet within the walls of the abbey considerable activity is taking place: a massive renovation to meet the growing number entering the doors of the abbey and Norbertine Center for Spirituality; an unused space transformed into a state-of-the-art communication center; and a recently launched podcastever new.

Take a look inside 1016.

Like Norbertines who moved in during the abbey construction of the 1950s (left), Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem. (right), and Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem., survey the current renovation site.

In 1959 the abbey was built as a home for professed members of the Norbertine Order and as a seminary for educating new Norbertines. The place was built for male religious; the laity were restricted to the abbey church and refectory (dining room) on special occasions. The average age of death at that time was 59, and as Abbot Sylvester Killeen, O. Praem., once remarked, “There’s no need for elevators for men that age.”

With changes in the Church brought about by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and a decline in religious vocations, the rooms in the juniorate wing (northeast wing of the abbey complex) were no longer needed. In 1979, from these rooms the Norbertine Center for Spirituality (NCS)—originally known as the Ministry and Life Center—was created, thus opening the building to the laity for retreats and religious conferences. But little thought was given to what changes would be necessary as these programs grew.

Today the NCS hosts hundreds of events per year, including large multi-day retreats and popular programming that regularly fills the gathering spaces. Further, as the building is at capacity with the number of Norbertine residents, and given the frequency of Norbertine vestitions, professions, and ordinations, it became apparent that improvements to the abbey’s physical space were needed. In keeping with the Norbertine charism of radical hospitality, easier accessibility to the abbey for people of all abilities, an elevator to the second floor for retreatants, more restrooms for women, and a large gathering space for special functions were high on the list.

After careful planning and the offer of generous support from an anonymous donor, the Norbertines broke ground on a massive renovation project in summer 2017. Visitors will see the northeast corner of the abbey has been demolished, beginning the year-long process of converting it into a new entrance for the NCS and north side of the abbey, along with a reception hall, gallery, and easy elevator accessibility. The former sun deck will be converted into a conference room with offices, restrooms, and a small kitchen. The former swimming pool area will be converted into a large conference room.

These changes to the abbey will assure better spaces for the NCS, greater security for Norbertines and staff, more privacy as required for a religious house, and better stewardship of abbey complex usage … and all of this without changing the basic footprint of the building. As the Norbertine mission remains ancient and rooted in faith and tradition, their space is renewed.

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