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Five Years, Five Missional Themes

It’s official – this is the year of Solidarity on campus. For the past few years, the college has adopted a common theme for the academic year – a focus for conversation and even for some event planning.

Bob Pyne (Miller Center), who coordinates campus efforts around the annual theme, says, “With so many co-curricular and academic programs here at St. Norbert, along with dozens of active student organizations, the annual theme encourages both collaboration and creativity. As we approach from different perspectives a common ideal (chosen by the president's cabinet from suggested possibilities), we all gain a richer understanding of the concept, and we are challenged to live it out more completely.”

The adoption of a college theme for each academic year began with the notion of Civility. The college’s recently adopted Civility Statement was shared with the incoming class at the 2012 Convocation ceremony and introduced more widely when it was shared on a bookmark distributed to the whole campus community. The message proved popular: the bookmark is still displayed on many an office noticeboard around the college.

Since then, the program has continued to pick up on themes that in one way or another reflect a dimension of the college’s mission and its commitment to a deeply felt experience of living in community.

  • The 2013-14 theme, Let Us Love One Another, was the motto of the college’s founder, Abbot Bernard Pennings. It is our hope that our community love as he did: boldly crossing boundaries and moving to new places; being present to one another, especially those who feel their voices are not heard; and investing ourselves in the deep sustenance of prayer, companionship and meaningful dialogue.
  • In 2014-15, the theme Radical Hospitality drew deeply from a tradition of hospitality established more than nine centuries ago by Norbert of Xanten. Urging his followers to show kindness to strangers, especially to the poor, St. Norbert established a community expectation that continues among the Norbertines worldwide. The Norbertine constitutions state: “We should open our hearts and our hands to the needs of the people, especially the oppressed, those who suffer or are affected by discrimination in any way. Our houses should be opened to those who wish to be refreshed therein, or those who seek ecumenical dialogue.”
  • In 2015-16, the theme Joy & Hope recognized the 50th anniversary of one of the four consitutions produced by the Second Vatican Council. This seminal document, outlining the role of humanity in relation to society, opens with the words “Gaudium et spes” (“Joy and hope.”). In the words of Paul Wadell (Theology & Religious Studies), the document “reminds us of who we are, what we are about and where we are going. We are pilgrims on a journey to God, blessed and beloved children of a God who wants what is best for us. … As we make this journey, we are to do whatever we can, wherever we are, to bring God’s love, justice, goodness and peace to life in the world.”
  • This year’s theme, Solidarity: We Commit to the Common Good, expresses the knowledge that we are one human family and recognizes that we are collectively responsible for the well-being of all people. In the words of the pope St. John Paul II, solidarity is “not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people ... On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.”

Oct. 4, 2016