(This is a continuation of last week’s blog and so it picks up where my last entry ended.)
I finished my time at Saint Norbert Abbey in June of 1966 – fifty years ago next month. Looking back, they were wonderful years. I much enjoyed Saint Norbert College and living in the Abbey was a great gift. It was a fine community (full of life and talent and friendship). My time in Wisconsin also coincided with the years of the Second Vatican Council, so things were usually exciting and seldom dull. Bob Dylan’s “The Times, they are a changing” was like our theme song. It all seems so commonplace now, but a vernacular liturgy, with the priest facing the congregation, homilies at every Mass — just to mention some highlight. Yes, lots of blessed memories.
Yesterday I visited the Abbey cemetery. (Traditionally, Abbey cemeteries are right outside the Abbey church. It’s a small reminder that as we came together together to pray in the church each day, so too for eternity we continue to pray with and for each other.) As I walked past the markers, I stopped at many spots to share a memory about a friendship shared. I also counted and discovered that there are over one hundred graves since I left in 1966. So many names of men I gratefully called confrere.
Today, Saint Norbert Abbey is still a beautiful place. The church is full of various colors of marble, and the guest room where I am staying is just a few feet from where I lived as a novice (but now it has a bathroom and wi-fi). The hospitality is still gracious as are the men here (lots of retirees but about two dozen active priests and brothers, with one man ordained nine months ago and another to be ordained in June). It has been a blessed few days.
Final thought. Of course, we’ve spent a good bit of time talking politics – and my brothers have several times reminded me that Donald Trump lost the primary in Wisconsin and that, no matter what happens in November, this is something I should not forget!