In 1893 Father Bernard H. Pennings along with two other members of the Norbertine Order arrived in the United States from Berne Abbey in Holland. They came at the request of Green Bay Bishop Messmer to assist with the spiritual needs of the Belgian settlers in Wisconsin’s Door County Penninsula. Under Pennings' leadership and guidance the priory of St. Norbert was founded at De Pere in 1898, an Abbey was created in 1924, and in 1925 Pennings was appointed Abbot. He was also instrumental in founding St. Norbert College, serving both as abbot and as president of the college until shortly before his death. Construction of the current Abbey began in 1957 and was completed in 1959.
Norbertines are canons whose tradition attempts to balance contemplation and action.
While involved in a variety of ministries, Norbertines share common table, common prayer, common Eucharist. Their various ministries include: education, international missions, social work, art, pastoral ministry, medicine, hospital and military chaplaincies, administration, lecturing, preaching and writing.
Today, there are approximately 1500 Norbertines world-wide and 85 priests and brothers attached to St. Norbert Abbey. Norbertines attached to St. Norbert Abbey reside at St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere, WI, St. Joseph Priory, De Pere, WI, Holy Spirit House of Studies in Chicago, St. Moses the Black Priory in Raymond, MS, Santa Maria de la Vid Priory in Albuquerque, NM, and Santa Clotilde, a medical mission in the jungle of Northern Peru.
St. Norbert Abbey Mission Statement: “We give ourselves in service to one another and to people in need, with special emphasis on service and advocacy for the poor.”