Sister Natividad Fernandez Gonzalez, O.Praem., from Spain, works on her English during a study session at St. Joseph Priory on campus. The visiting Norbertines are guests at the priory while they pursue their studies.
Norbertines in ESL prep for worldwide meeting
Inherent in any international meeting’s success is overcoming language barriers. The four visiting Norbertines currently taking classes at the college’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Institute understand this and are studying hard to serve as translators at their order’s upcoming General Chapter meeting. The event, which happens every six years, will draw Norbertines from around the world to campus this summer.
“The common language of the church [used to be] Latin, because Masses were held in Latin,” says Deacon Alessandro Heleno, O.Praem., of Brazil, who will serve as one of two Portuguese translators during the Chapter meeting. “Now, my generation [prefers] English and English is the official language for the General Chapter.”
However, English is not as pervasive in the Roman Catholic Church as Latin was. Consequently, translators are essential for effective communication at the Chapter meeting.
As a translator, Heleno has much to do in the next few months. Before the Chapter meeting, he will translate written text from English into his native Portuguese. During the Chapter meeting, he and his fellow translator will keep Portuguese-speaking attendees informed about discussions as they happen, and will speak in English on their behalf should the need arise.
To learn these translation skills, Heleno is enrolled in classes with a multitude of ESL students. The entire program benefits from the Norbertines’ presence, says Linda Wanless (ESL).
“I can see the effect it has on our classes and our community. They give us a new perspective. They give more maturity. They are people who have already chosen a career and a vocation. They have made a commitment and a decision in their lives as to where they’re going, and they look at life problems and the world’s problems through a different lens. As they develop in their language skills, they have more of a chance to discuss these things with our college students. That’s been fun to see.”
Accompanying Heleno in the ESL Institute are the Rev. Herman Joseph, O.Praem., of Hungary, and Sister Natividad Fernandez Gonzalez, O.Praem., and Sister Maria Carreno Franco, O.Praem., of Spain. The sisters will return to Spain in May, and Franco will accompany her abbey’s mother superior to the General Chapter meeting, which takes place July 22 through Aug. 4.