St. Norbert Abbey

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St. Norbert Abbey
Onwu and great window copy.jpg
Interior view of the church of St. Norbert Abbey, facing the Great West Window
St. Norbert Abbey is located in Wisconsin
St. Norbert Abbey
Location within Wisconsin
Monastery information
OrderOrder of Premontre (O.Praem.)
Mother houseBerne Abbey, Heeswijk, Netherlands (founded 1134)
DioceseRoman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
Founder(s)Fr. Bernard H. Pennings, O. Praem
AbbotRt. Rev. Dane J. Radecki, O. Praem.
PriorFr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem.
LocationDe Pere, Wisconsin, USA
Coordinates44°27′28″N 88°02′43″W / 44.457808°N 88.045142°W / 44.457808; -88.045142Coordinates: 44°27′28″N 88°02′43″W / 44.457808°N 88.045142°W / 44.457808; -88.045142
Public accessYes

St. Norbert Abbey is the mother canonry of the Premonstratensian Order in the United States. Located on 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land east of the Fox River[2] in De Pere, Wisconsin, it falls within the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.[2]

Foundation of the old abbey[edit]

This Catholic religious order, also known as the Norbertines, was founded by Saint Norbert of Xanten (c. 1180-1134)[3] on Christmas Day 1121.[4] Father Bernard Henry Pennings of Berne Abbey in North Brabant, the Netherlands traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1893 and established a permanent home for the Norbertines in the United States. St. Joseph parish, in West De Pere, became affiliated with the Premonstratensians in 1898. That same year, a priory (led by Father Pennings) was established adjacent to the parish and St. Norbert College was founded nearby.[2] By 1950, the rapidly expanding Premonstratensian community had outgrown the available space within their original abbey buildings. After a lengthy search, land was donated in 1954 by Victor McCormick of Green Bay, Wisconsin for the purpose of relocating the abbey. June 9, 1956 marked the beginning of construction and by February 1, 1959, the community inhabited their new headquarters.[5]

Construction of the new abbey[edit]

The new St. Norbert Abbey building project was under the design of local company Berners, Schober, and Kilp. Modeled after the centuries-old European Norbertine abbeys, the materials utilized in constructing it were selected for the purpose of permanence. Limestone from both Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and Indiana were used, as well as slate from Pennsylvania and Vermont. Additionally, the spirit of the Norbertines' life and mission is represented physically as a "spine stretching from west to east" that is central to the building's design, with housing, offices, classrooms, studios, a library, cloister walks, landscaped gardens, and pools clustered around it.[6] On June 16, 2009, the Norbertines celebrated the 50th anniversary of the dedication of this new St. Norbert Abbey. Today, there are approximately 1,300 Norbertines worldwide and 45 priests and brothers attached to St. Norbert Abbey.

The bells of St. Norbert Abbey[edit]

The set of six bells at the St. Norbert Abbey were cast in the Netherlands at the Bell-Foundry of Petit and Fritsen in Aarle-Rixtel and hung in the Abbey Church tower on July 2, 1958. Shortly before installation, they "were consecrated by His Excellency, The Most Reverend Stanislaus Vincent Bona, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay ... Each bell has an appropriate name, a fitting inscription, and bears the crest of the person in whose memory it is dedicated as well as the shield of St. Norbert Abbey."[7]

Altars located within the abbey[edit]

Abbots of St. Norbert Abbey[edit]

  1. 1925-1955 — Abbot Bernard H. Pennings, O. Praem.
  2. 1955-1970 — Abbot Sylvester M. Killeen, O. Praem.
  3. 1970-1982 — Abbot Jerome G. Tremel,[9] O. Praem.
  4. 1982-1992 — Abbot Benjamin T. Mackin,[9] O. Praem.
  5. 1992-2003 — Abbot E. Thomas De Wane, O. Praem.
  6. 2003-2018 — Abbot Gary J. Neville, O. Praem.
  7. 2018–present - Abbot Dane J. Radecki, O. Praem.

Dependent priories and daughter abbeys[edit]

The Shrine of St. Joseph[edit]

The Shrine of St. Joseph, home to the Crowned Statue of Joseph and the Child Jesus, was located at St. Norbert Abbey. It was moved to the Abbey from its original location in Saint Joseph Church, De Pere, Wisconsin in 1969.[10] The shrine moved back to St. Joseph Church in the middle of 2015.[11]

Mission of St. Norbert Abbey[edit]

Christ and the Church call us to live as a community of one mind and one heart on the way to God, in a manner consistent with the Gospel, the spirit of our founders, and the constitutions of our Order.

God summons us to hear the Good News of salvation and to proclaim the kingdom of freedom, love, justice, and peace.

Jesus the Lord challenges us to shape an ecclesial spirituality expressed in liturgical celebration, personal prayer, and a journey of faith to the kingdom.

The Spirit lays a claim on us to engage in a variety of ministries to one another, to the People of God, and to the world at large.

God urges us to face the future with openness, hope, and courage.[4]


  1. ^[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c St. Norbert Abbey 1959, p. 101
  3. ^ Geudens, 'St. Norbert'
  4. ^ a b St. Norbert Abbey 2009, 'Who We Are'
  5. ^ St. Norbert Abbey 1959, p. 113
  6. ^ Rossey, Stephen 2009, p. 5
  7. ^ St. Norbert Abbey 1959, p. 21-23
  8. ^ St. Norbert Abbey (1959). The Haven of My Salvation: A Commemorative Volume on the Occasion of the Dedication of St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere, Wisconsin, June 18, 1959. De Pere, Wisconsin, pp. 34-36.
  9. ^ a b St. Norbert Abbey 1993, p. 87
  10. ^ National Shrine of St. Joseph 2008-2009, 'A Ministry of Devotion to St. Joseph'
  11. ^ McManon, Todd (September 16, 2015). "Homecoming for National Shrine of St. Joseph". Green Bay Press Gazette. Retrieved November 12, 2016.


  • Geudens, F. M., "St. Norbert", The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved 2009-07-05
  • National Shrine of St. Joseph (2008–2009), A Ministry of Devotion to St. Joseph, retrieved 2009-07-02
  • Rossey, Stephen, O.Praem. (Spring 2009), "The Abbey by Design", Abbey Magazine, 1 (1): 5, archived from the original on 2012-07-30, retrieved 2019-05-09
  • St. Norbert Abbey (2009), Our History, archived from the original on 2008-05-09, retrieved 2009-07-02
  • St. Norbert Abbey (2009), Who We Are, archived from the original on 2008-05-11, retrieved 2009-07-02
  • St. Norbert Abbey (1993), With the grace of God: on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the origin of the De Pere Norbertines, Alt Publishing: Green Bay, Wisconsin, p. 87

External links[edit]