The dream collective
Drew Van Fossen, Director of Communications and Design
While I was thinking about this column, I bounced a few ideas off my son Joel. Joel is a St. Norbert senior majoring in philosophy and, when I told him I wanted to write about how we realize our dreams, his immediate reply was that the best of dreams are virtuous dreams.
In his estimation, when our dreams are too much about us – too self-centered – they are also too specific, and inevitably fall short and disappoint. By contrast, a virtuous dream will likely be a dream centered on the common good – of benefit to others first and the dreamer second.
His premise made me think of how a young Norbert of Xanten, at the emperor’s court, dreamed of wealth and influence for himself – until his world was shaken. After his conversion, his dream became a virtuous one, a dream of realizing the ideals of the Gospels, living in harmonious community, seeking peace and reconciliation, and serving others. His dream would take shape in the founding of a worldwide order that would endure through the centuries and impact millions.
In like manner, the Rev. Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., dreamed of, and established, a priory and a college on a gentle bend of the Fox River in De Pere. The priory would become an abbey and the college would grow to find its place among the finest Catholic liberal arts colleges in the nation.
Along the way, a Norbertine botanist and professor dreamed of a campus adorned with as many types of trees as are native to Wisconsin. This dream of the Rev. Anselm O’Keefe, O.Praem., would only be fully appreciated decades after his death, his selfless vision brought into particularly spectacular reality each fall – as you can see on the cover of this issue of your magazine.
And there are so many others, dreamers all – and not just dreaming their own particular dreams, but united in a collegial purpose and vision:
There is the virtuous dream called Campaign St. Norbert: Full Ahead that seeks to provide more financial support to students, strengthen faculty programs, build a state-of-the-art science facility, enrich the student experience and enhance existing facilities;
There is to be a new campus master plan – a dream for the future in the spirit of Father O’Keefe – a vision for the St. Norbert College to come;
There are all the dreams of our students, our faculty and our staff, to serve our local community – dreams that were realized to the tune of 92,972 hours of volunteer service in Brown County last year;
And finally, there are the dreams of the thousands of alumni and friends whose names occupy the Honor Roll of Donors included with this issue. They are the selfless, virtuous dreamers who sustain and move St. Norbert College ever forward, in their turn perpetuating the long-ago dreams of Norbert, Pennings, O’Keefe and so many more.
I think Joel had it right. We are the beneficiaries of a legacy of virtuous dreamers and it is we, a collective of dreamers, who dream now for the benefit of those still to come.
Nov. 4, 2012