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.

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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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Meet the NCS Staff

Exciting times, reorganization, at the Norbertine Center for Spirituality (NCS)

Tony Pichler
Tony Pichler

Tony Pichler


“I first served on the NCS Advisory Board. After a meeting, one day, Judy Turba and I discussed the possibility of a co-directorship for the center. I felt if this was God’s plan for me, it would all fall into place. The process was as smooth as glass, and two years later, I could not be happier. I absolutely love the variety of what we offer at the center. From book discussions to Bible studies to more involved retreats—I love it all.”

More About Tony:

He has co-authored eight books: a service manual for youth ministry leaders, three Advent journals for teens, three Lenten journals for teens, and a series of binders on discipline in a religious education curriculum. Another book, a confirmation journal for teens, is currently at the publisher. He also loves to watch and play sports, from golfing and kayaking to biking and tennis.

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Kathie Tilot
Kathie Tilot

Kathie Tilot

Spiritual Direction and Public Relations Coordinator

“The first time I visited the NCS, I was overcome by the peacefulness and the rhythm of life here; by the classes that stretched me and helped me grow; and by the natural setting—right in the heart of town. I graduated from St. Norbert College and the Norbertine community played an important role in my life. As my ministry evolved to include retreats and spiritual direction, the NCS seemed to be a perfect fit.”

More About Kathie:

She loves watching people be empowered, whether it is sharing their sacred stories, learning a new spiritual practice, or finding rest under the shade of the trees. “Every day, as I drive up the long driveway, I thank God for the opportunity to serve here.”

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Ann Herlache
Ann Herlache

Ann Herlache

Program Coordinator

“My biggest joy in being a part of the NCS is all the good that we aim to bring into people’s lives. The center truly strives to be an oasis for everyone who enters its doors.”

More About Ann:

Ann worked in a manufacturing plant for seven years before she began her work at the NCS. She loves to garden and see the results of her planning and cultivating, ultimately using her herbs and vegetables when she cooks for her family.

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Paula Rieder
Paula Rieder

Paula Rieder

Hospitality Coordinator, Spiritual Director

“The first time I visited the NCS, I was overwhelmed with the kindness, consideration, and authenticity of the people. I was first introduced to the NCS while I was taking classes through the Emmaus Program at the Diocese of Green Bay. I later experienced prayer with the community and felt as if this was a beautiful place for my spirit to develop.”

More About Paula:

Paula has co-authored a book entitled Confirmed in the Joy of the Spirit published by 23rd Publications. She was the recipient of the Wisconsin Heroes Award, presented by Tonette Walker, in 2017. She was the runner-up for the Brown County Volunteer Award in 2017.

Contact information »

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.

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