|Sisters in learning
|Sister Benedikta Hornikova, O.Praem., Sister Adriana Gacikova, O.Praem., and Sister Magdalena Janosikova, O.Praem., enjoy a game at Schneider Stadium.
A trio of Norbertine sisters from Trnava, Slovakia, called to help found a new community in the United States, were among students in the college’s ESL program last semester.
Sister Benedikta Hornikova, O.Praem., Sister Adriana Gacikova, O.Praem., and Sister Magdalena Janosikova, O.Praem., arrived in De Pere in time to participate in St. Norbert Abbey’s celebration of the Feast of St. Augustine on Aug. 28. “We made them part of the community while they were here,” says the Rev. Salvatore Cuccia, O.Praem., ’63 (Campus Ministry).
Listen to the sisters singing with St. Norbert College students in the abbey church. >>MORE
The sisters, who lived at St. Joseph Priory on campus, came to ready themselves for their new work, Hornikova says. “Our congregation of Norbertine sisters in Slovakia received an invitation from the Norbertine fathers in California to help them establish a new community of Norbertine sisters in the United States. We accepted this invitation, and now we three sisters are preparing for this new ministry.”
ESL instructor Jana Dettlaff says the sisters improved their English – a fast-paced, idiom-heavy language – with patience and tenacity: “They were all very grateful and gracious guests and students. They always strived to do their very best and make the most of their stay here.”
They did so by approaching their language lessons with an eye to a broader education. “This ESL program is more than just studying English. It introduces us also to American culture and society, which are very important for us, too,” Hornikova says.
The Norbertine sisters immersed themselves in the life of the college, and particularly its spiritual elements. They even joined the Abbey Singers in a choral performance – in English, of course.
“We are deeply touched with the atmosphere of faith,” Hornikova says of her experience at the college. “We are encouraged with young people interested in different activities here on campus such as Common Prayer, daily Mass, Generations of Faith and the vocational discernment group.”
The sisters’ cultural exposure extended far beyond Old St. Joe’s and the abbey church, of course. Dettlaff and her husband welcomed the sisters into their home for dinner; the trio took a day trip to Madison to visit the state Capitol, the University of Wisconsin campus and several museums; and they heard guest lectures from the likes of Matt Doyle (Dining Services) on American cuisine and Lawrence McAndrews (History) on the onset of the Civil War.
“We found here a great community of Norbertines who accepted us with openness, friendliness and generosity,” Hornikova says. “We met here many friendly people, and we appreciate their interest in communicating with us despite our limited English.”