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June 2016


Dear Abbot Pennings,

While visiting the crypt in the abbey, I noted that you yourself – if I may be so bold – are to be found buried there alongside Abbot Killeen. There is an empty area next to the two of you. May I ask who will be buried there? 

Sue Dewane Vine ’66


Dearest Sue,

How pleased I am to know that you have paid visit to this most sacred place. As many know, the St. Norbert Abbey is a place of great beauty. I highly recommend all who live in or pay visit to the De Pere area take time to visit this tranquil space. 

Now, to address your inquiry! It seems to me that it may not be ours to know who will, in due course, lie next to the bones of Abbot Killeen and of – well, of yours truly, as I once was in my earthly body. The three tombs in our crypt were most likely designed in such fashion for the sake of symmetry. 

At one time it may have reasonably been supposed that the tombs were destined to be the final resting places of the first three abbots of our own De Pere foundation. But, in fact, the body of Abbot Killeen’s successor, Abbot Benjamin Mackin, was laid to its final resting place amongst his dear deceased confreres in the abbey cemetery: a beautiful thing to behold, in a truly hallowed space. 

It has been suggested more than once that this still-vacant spot might best be reserved for the first saint of our own abbey. What a wonderful thing for which we might hope and pray! What an immeasurable privilege that would be for all! I find I hardly dare dream of such a neighbor.

Dear Sue, again, thank you for visiting our beloved abbey. I hope that other readers will duly consider doing the same. Whether they come to attend Mass, to visit the Norbertine Center for Spirituality or simply to enjoy a stroll on the beautiful grounds, they will assuredly find that peace is abundant all around. 

Responses to “Ask the Abbot” questions are penned by St. Norbert College staff in the name of Abbot Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., who founded St. Norbert College in 1898. 

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