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Abbey Encounters Enrich Exploration of Norbertine Roots

The Cornerstones Seminar, a yearlong study of the college’s roots, has convened almost annually over the past decade. An exploration of the history of the Norbertine order and the Catholic Intellectual tradition, it draws together Norbertines, faculty and staff members, plus others affiliated with the college. The seminar culminates in a visit to some of the order’s European abbeys. This year’s itinerary also included a stop in Vatican City, where participants met the abbot general of the order and attended a general audience with Pope Francis I.

Tour participant Scott Crevier (Information Technology Services) kept in touch from Europe via Facebook post and Flickr. We enjoyed following along from De Pere, and captured some of his posts as we invited him to share his story. (These are screenshots, so we can't invite you to hit Like – but we hope you enjoy them, anyway!)

Crevier 1

Shaun Johnson (Campus Ministry) kept the official chronicle of the tour, posting on his blog “Where Norbert Is, There too is Augustine.

Crevier 2

Germany and Austria
Crevier tells us: “Sunday, May 19, we got an early start. Headed to Roggenburg for 10 a.m. Mass at the abbey church … in German. Though I only understood two words (“amen” and “alleluia”) I was able to follow along pretty well.

“The Norbertines fed us lunch. We participated in afternoon Vespers with the Norbertines before dinner. That was difficult to follow; I didn’t understand a single word.

“Monday, May 20, we arrived at Wilten Abbey in Innsbruck, Austria, and were greeted at the curb by four priests. It was nice talking to Father Patrick, who had celebrated Mass back home at Our Lady of Lourdes [De Pere] 10 years ago, right after his ordination.

“This abbey was amazing. Norbertine hospitality everywhere. We were sitting down for the meal within 15 minutes of arriving. A Wilten priest who sat at my table kept getting up to serve us. Someone had said he was the abbot, so I leaned over and asked him to clarify his title. Yes, it was Abbot Raimund Schreier. 

“The abbot gave us a tour of his abbey. The facility was heavily damaged by Nazis, who took it over during World War II. As a result, they depend heavily on state funding for restoration and renovations – a concept that’s difficult to imagine in America.

“We had some free time so I walked a lot around Innsbruck in the evening. The Alps were breathtaking. What a beautiful city.”




 “The only image I have for some of these sights is what’s in my mind. There are some experiences – the Alps, the Tomb of St. Peter – where there’s just no way a photo could do justice to what I was feeling.”


“Even the tour guide was paying close attention!”  

Screenshot at Vatican

 “When we made our plan, nobody knew we were going to have a new pope. The kind of person he is … I think he’s just reached out to the common man.” 

Screenshot group

Trip members along with Crevier and Johnson included the Rev. Jay Fostner, O.Praem.,84 (Mission & Student Affairs), Catherine Kasten (Mission & Student Affairs), the Rev. Salvatore Cuccia, O. Praem., 63 (Campus Ministry), the Rev. Ted Antry, O. Praem., 62 (Daylesford Abbey), Cindi Barnett (Campus Life), Peggy Shallue (Mission & Student Affairs), Lisa Vanden Avond 82 (College Advancement), Bridget Burke Ravizza (Religious Studies), Colleen Fraaza (Dining Services), Ruth Johnson (Auxiliary Services), Wayne Patterson (History), Mary Jo Morris (Dining Services), Tim Flood (Geology), Paul Bursik (Business Administration), Pat Olejniczak 88 (Kress Inn), Jennifer Nissen (Sturzl Center), Bonnie Elfner (Education), Eliot Elfner (Social Sciences), the Rev. James Herring, O.Praem., and college trustees Mike Van Asten 75, Dan and Nancy Dickinson, and Paul 74 and Sara Tutskey 76.


Back home, he posted one last image:


 “The best part of the trip for me was seeing the pope and being there in the same place with him. The feeling of his presence was something I wasn’t prepared for; I suppose it’s hard to beat that. But the most applicable lesson I learned was in hospitality from the abbot at Wilten. And it wasn’t just the hospitality itself, but how he taught it to his younger priest who was also there serving us. Even they know that teaching by word isn’t enough.”

July 2, 2013