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Abbot Joel Garner

Abbot Joel Garner

December 2012

Albuquerque abbey blesses its first abbot

It’s not every day that a priory achieves abbey status and acquires its own abbot. In fact, it took more than 25 years for the Priory of Santa María de la Vid in Albuquerque, N.M., to achieve independence. This daughter house of St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere is the fourth Norbertine abbey in the United States. 

On Nov. 9, 2012, the Rt. Rev. Joel Garner, O.Praem., ’62 was blessed as the first abbot of the recently elevated Santa María de la Vid Abbey. Garner, who has served as prior since 1985, is well-known in New Mexico and beyond. Among hundreds of friends who witnessed and participated in the blessing were the archbishop of Santa Fe, the Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan; the abbot general of the Norbertine order, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Handgrätinger, O.Praem.; dozens of Norbertine confreres; and Bridget Krage O’Connor ’93, vice president for enrollment management and communications at St. Norbert. O’Connor and Jerry Turba ’74, supplied the images in our photo gallery of the event.

“It was an honor to be present,” says O'Connor. “Abbot Joel has contributed so much to St. Norbert College over the years, including helping create the Master of Theological Studies program and currently serving on the board of trustees. Now to see him with his brothers and sisters in service to the people of Albuquerque, I have a deeper understanding and appreciation of his leadership and commitment to the region. He can’t help but refer to his New Mexico home as ‘the land of enchantment’ at least twice a day. He’s in love with the community and they in turn love him. It’s a true expression of communio in action.” 

The celebration included food, friendship, mariachi bands and the good-natured ribbing of Garner’s fellow Norbertines. The Rt. Rev. Gary Neville, O.Praem., ’73, abbot of St. Norbert Abbey, gave Garner an abbatial hat made with Packer pride – a cheesehead miter. Throughout the celebration, Garner donned the hat to pose with well-wishers.

Dec. 4, 2012

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