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November 2018


Dear Abbot Pennings,

I’ve heard that SNC is the only Norbertine college in the world. Can that really be true?

Letty Mundt ’19


Dearest Letty,

It is most unlike me to prevaricate, but in this case, I’m afraid I must! The answer to your interesting question is both yes and no: How perplexing! 

As I am always proud to own, our beloved SNC is truly the first and only higher-learning institution in the world to be sponsored by my order. No other such institution calls Norbert of Xanten its founding saint or inspiration, nor have any others been founded by my dear Premonstratensian friends.

However, we are not the only St. Norbert College; there is one other! How can this be? Our friends in Australia boast a St. Norbert College of their own, although theirs is not a “college” as we in the Americas would define it. In countries like Australia, a “college” is much like a bridge between grade school and university, or what we would call today a high school. In Australia, in a suburb of Perth called Queens Park, one such school exists … another SNC! Dear me, what a wonderfully coincidental world we live in.

But is it a coincidence, or is it one more telling reminder of the impact Norbert had during his time and ever since? Three fellow Norbertines whose endeavor I very much admire (Father Peter O’Reilly, Father John Reynolds and Father Stephen Cooney) travelled from Ireland to Western Australia in 1959 with the intention of establishing a school for boys, much as I myself travelled to Wisconsin so long ago from my home in Holland. Isn’t it curious how these things happen? In 1964, these Norbertine canons established their own St. Norbert College.

My research leads me to understand that Australia’s SNC encourages students to “be their best,” so similar to the commitment to excellence and service we foster at our own dear college through hard work and the concept of communio. We are many thousands of miles apart from our friends in Australia. (Although I suppose with such advancements in air travel, it wouldn’t take more than a day or two to reach them!) But at our core we are the same: communities of determined minds set on embarking toward the future to make great change. Although I take pride in having founded the only Norbertine college in our wide blue world, I also take great pride in knowing we are not quite alone in our identity!

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

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