Norbertines of Saint Norbert Abbey in De Pere, Wisconsin
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Volunteers find place in community

Norbertine Volunteer Community 2014-2015 Members This summer, the Norbertine Volunteer Community (NVC) welcomed three new members to its 2014-2015 program. Matt Mahon, Rachel Muhs, and Nicole Zoch are all recent St. Norbert College (SNC) graduates, but have all pursued a wide variety of studies throughout their higher education experiences and consequently bring a diverse array of personal knowledge to their new communal living experience. Despite their differences, these young adults have in common the goal to serve within the community of Green Bay, while sharing in their own community – living together and deepening their faith experiences.


Matt Maho - Norbertine Volunteer CommunityMahon, originally from Cary, IL, is a fan of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. "I also have an interest in languages (especially ancient ones), and the history of the church and the papacy," he said. Mahon explained that he had been aware of the NVC program for a while, having gotten to know its director, Ellen Mommaerts, during his four years at SNC, from where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies. "I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do after graduation in May of this year, something which I expressed to Ellen on a retreat this past winter," said Mahon. "She suggested I apply for the Volunteer Community. I mulled it over for about a month, and came to the conclusion that I should apply."

The NVC is a decidedly good fit for Mahon, who experienced community living during this past year at SNC when he participated in the St. Siard Catholic Intentional Living Community on campus (formerly known as Lumen Christi), of which he is a founding member. As a faith-filled person, Mahon hopes his year as a Norbertine Volunteer will help him to gain greater insight into the Norbertine way of life, and how the apostolic and contemplative life of the Order can be enacted in a community of laypersons.

Mahon is spending his year of service with the NVC at St. Thomas More School, which is part of the Green Bay Area Catholic Education System (GRACE). "I came in to the NVC wanting to do something with Catholic education, and Ellen suggested to try out St. Thomas More," he said. "A friend of mine, [2013-2014 NVC alumna] Katie Riesterer, taught [fifth through eighth grade language arts] there last year, so a relationship had been formed already between the school and the NVC." A conversation with St. Thomas More's principal solidified Mahon's decision to serve at this location, given the needs of the school and the gifts Mahon has to offer. He would like to gain experience in the classroom, and ultimately pursue a career teaching Catholic theology.

Rachel Muhs - Norbertine Volunteer CommunityMuhs, whose hometown is Green Bay, has studied Sociology (with a concentration in Human Services), Business Administration, and Social Work, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree from SNC and her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "I was looking for opportunities after graduation, and after researching the NVC I felt it would be a good fit for me. It would give me the opportunity to continue to do something I love, volunteer, and receive professional experience."

Like Mahon, Muhs also experienced living in community when – during her senior year at SNC – she and her roommates created a community house through the college's housing offices. As a Norbertine Volunteer, Muhs is working with children and families, serving at American Foundation of Counseling Services (AFCS) with its Treatment Foster Care program. "After speaking with the coordinator at AFCS, I felt as though working there would be a good fit," she said. "I hope to gain experience that will help me in the future in my career and throughout my life. I also hope to gain skills that will help me in my future work."

During her time with the NVC, Muhs aspires to get to know her housemates, learning from each one about varying aspects of life, beliefs, and values, as well as different ways to handle situations...all while building relationships with her fellow community members that she hopes will last a lifetime.

Rachel Muhs - Norbertine Volunteer CommunityZoch, a native of Neenah, WI, pursued International Studies and French at SNC, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree before attending studying Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, from where she earned a Baccalaureate Certificate. She first learned about the NVC through a meeting with the Assistant Director of Career Services at SNC. "I was looking for a service opportunity to gain experience professionally and grow spiritually," said Zoch. "Being an SNC graduate, I was drawn to the program. The NVC provides great work and ministry opportunities, upholds the importance of community, and strengthens faith values."

As a member of the NVC, Zoch is assisting at St. Thomas More School and currently a partnership with Syble Hopp School in De Pere is being discussed. She would like to gain more experience working with children and adults with communication disorders, in addition to acquiring more skills related to this field while working professionally with others.

Zoch also hopes her year with the NVC will further enhance her faith. "God is the most important thing to me so I desire to further deepen my personal relationship with Him and grow more spiritually this year through this experience." She is excited to learn about the other NVC participants' unique life experiences and their faith journeys, and to spend time outdoors running, hiking, biking, or gardening, "when it's not subzero temperatures." In addition to these activities, she would like to spend more time fostering her creativity through making art. "I also love to read and learn and will continue my education through continual study."

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