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Old St. Joseph Church at St. Norbert College Honored in Listing of America’s Best College Churches

From St. Norbert College, March 10, 2015
by Erich Wegenke, erich.wegenke@snc.edu, 920-403-3089

Old St. Joseph Church on the St. Norbert College campus has been ranked 18th on a list of "The 50 Most Amazing College Chapels and Churches" by the website Theology Degrees, which ranks and evaluates various aspects of religious education at colleges across the nation.

Theology Degrees noted that Old St. Joseph Church was the first church in the United States to be officially connected with a Norbertine abbey, and remarked that "it has remained a pillar of faith for the students of St. Norbert College." The listing also included such churches as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame, Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago and the Naval Academy Chapel at the United States Naval Academy.

Old St. Joseph Church is the oldest building on the St. Norbert College campus. It stands on the site of a small chapel built in 1676, which served some of the first settlers in the area and stood for almost 200 years. Lightning destroyed the original building in 1889; a new building was constructed and dedicated the following year.

The Rev. Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., acquired the church from the Diocese of Green Bay in 1898. The Norbertine order used Old St. Joseph Church and its grade school as a starting point for St. Norbert High School and St. Norbert College. The parish became closely connected to the St. Norbert College community over the years; in 1969, it was formally designated the first college parish in the United States. The church building was renovated in 1969 and again in 1998; the second renovation received two national awards for architectural design. Today, more than 380 families and 2,100 students worship at Old St. Joseph Church for morning and evening Sunday Masses and worship experiences throughout the week.

To read Theology Degrees' full listing of The 50 Most Amazing College Chapels and Churches, visit http://www.theologydegrees.org/amazing-campus-chapels-churches/. For more information on the history of St. Norbert College Parish, visit http://www.snc.edu/parish/history.html.