Vanden Branden

Inside 1016: The “Scriptorium” of St. Norbert Abbey

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 8, 12)

By Katrina Marshall, Gina Sanders Larsen, and Judy Turba

Ever Ancient, Ever New

From the outside looking in, St. Norbert Abbey seems timeless: the stone exterior, slate roof, 160 acres of natural and landscaped beauty, and the shining cross atop the iconic bell towerever ancient.

Yet within the walls of the abbey considerable activity is taking place: a massive renovation to meet the growing number entering the doors of the abbey and Norbertine Center for Spirituality; an unused space transformed into a state-of-the-art communication center; and a recently launched podcastever new.

Take a look inside 1016.

A quill pen in the hands of a scribe calls to mind the long Norbertine tradition of writing, preaching, and teaching in service to God.

A quill pen in the hands of a scribe calls to mind the long Norbertine tradition of writing, preaching, and teaching in service to God.

The new communications center of St. Norbert Abbey officially has been named the Scriptorium, a Latin term meaning “a place for writing.” Most European monasteries devoted a particular room to writing, copying, and illuminating manuscripts. But instead of monks hunched over desks with flickering candles and ink-spattering quill pens, within the Scriptorium of St. Norbert Abbey there is a flurry of primarily digital activity—podcast development, website updates, social media management, video editing, and magazine production.

The space in the lower level of the abbey originally housed a Norbertine print shop (St. Norbert Abbey Press) and most recently served as the headquarters of the (since-discontinued) Norbertine mail campaign. Newly renovated from floor to ceiling, the Scriptorium now contains various offices, a conference room, meeting spaces, a soundproof recording studio, and editing stations. All abbey publications are coordinated here, including innovative forms of vocation communication. In response to expanding vocation inquiries, there is an Office for Norbertine Vocations not only on the St. Norbert College campus, but also now within the Scriptorium at the abbey.

Katrina Marshall (left) and Judy Turba work together in the newly established Scriptorium at St. Norbert Abbey—the communications hub for all abbey publications and social media.

Katrina Marshall (left) and Judy Turba work together in the newly established Scriptorium at St. Norbert Abbey—the communications hub for all abbey publications and social media.

The offices of Judy Turba and Katrina Marshall are located within the Scriptorium. Turba, executive editor of Abbey Magazine, is involved with public relations and communications, including social media, website development, and video production oversight, and assists with strategic abbey initiatives and evangelization. Given her professional counseling background, Turba also is involved with vocation ministry, conducting behavioral assessments for incoming seminarians and coordinating orientation sessions for parents and families of Norbertines. Turba has been involved with Norbertine institutions for more than 34 years, most recently serving as director and co-director of the Norbertine Center for Spirituality, as well as counselor, educator, and administrator at Abbot Pennings High School, Notre Dame de la Baie Academy, and St. Norbert College.

The role of Marshall, assistant editor of Abbey Magazine, has been expanded to include overseeing all aspects of the website, designing all promotional materials, coordinating advertising and marketing initiatives, press releases, and writing for various publications. Marshall, a graduate of St. Norbert College, has been with St. Norbert Abbey for seven years.

St. Norbert Abbey Social Media Scene

  • Almost every day something new is updated on—from relevant blog posts written by Norbertines to vibrant images and compelling upcoming events at the Norbertine Center for Spirituality. Be sure to add “check abbey website” to your weekly to-do list as you seek to be inspired or simply informed.
  • Young Norbertines like Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem., theologian in priestly formation at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, a primary administrator of St. Norbert Abbey’s Facebook page, say their generation often chooses to read information electronically. Follow us!
  • On any given day, Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem., chaplain at Green Bay’s Notre Dame de la Baie Academy, connects with more and more people through Instagram (StNorbertAbbey), sharing the abbey’s unique culture and environment through intriguing images and words.
  • Having frequently used Twitter in his professional life before entering the Norbertine Order, Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., second-year novice and ministerial intern at St. Norbert College and St. Willebrord Parish, is a natural fit as manager of the @StNorbertAbbey account. Follow us for responsive quips and Tweets.
  • Search for and subscribe to St. Norbert Abbey on YouTube and visit us on Vimeo (Norbertines), where you will find exclusive clips of abbey celebrations, sounds of the organ, Norbertine interviews, spiritual reflection videos, and more.

Read More

The “Clickbait” of the Cross

By Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem.

By no means would I consider myself a social media aficionado. To be honest ­(or “tbh”),  Twitter is too much for me to figure out, my LinkedIn profile is left wanting, I’ve tried and tried again to make it in the blogosphere, and I’ve never even visited Reddit. Instagram is slowly growing on me, and the students and staff at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy know how much I pride myself on crafting ridiculously “catchy” hashtags: #ShamelessPlug.

Yet, I’m still a sucker for “clickbait.”

You know—clickbait: those sneaky headlines that tantalize your imagination and make you second-guess scrolling past them. It could be something as innocent as, “Did You Know This Common Household Item Could Do This?” to more edgy slogans like, “Top Vatican Official Reveals the Truth.” And it never fails; I click on the bait.

I’m not sure why I fall for it … am I secretly hoping to discover the cleaning potential of sliced lemons? I don’t think so! Still, the clickbait is just so tempting, there are many times I can’t seem to take my attention from it as I’m browsing my social media accounts.

It’s strange, though, that as much as lemon-based cleaning products and supposed Vatican truths can catch our eyes, we’ve grown blind to the clickbait that Jesus presents.

Jesus was all about using catchy stories and creative words to teach His followers about the Kingdom of God. Think about stories of lost sheep and lost coins (Lk 15:1-10), of wedding guests and street people (Mt 22:1-14), and of salt and light (Mt 5:13-16). Suddenly these images become too stale or boring for us. We view these creative lessons of Jesus as less about intrigue and truth, and more about obligation and duty. They land on our deaf ears.

Perhaps this Lent, we could change our browsing habits from household cleaners and suggestive NewsBytes to an even more elusive piece of clickbait: the cross.

All of Jesus’ teaching and preaching culminated in that moment where He hung on that cross, isolated from any followers. It was on that rugged piece of torturous equipment that the Lord hung and forgave us for having deaf ears. It was on that wooden harness that Christ gave His own Mother and Beloved Disciple to each other as a model for the Church. It was on that gnarly post that the Son of God spent Himself completely for all of us.

This Calvary-clickbait has echoed throughout Christianity for millennia, and still can be used today to inspire us toward a rejuvenated devotion to what the Lord taught us. Learn from His stories and example. Find ways to:

  • better support the poor.
feed and clothe the homeless.
  • visit the lonely or elderly.
  • welcome the relational or ideological other.
  • advocate for refugees and migrants.
  • love those who have different abilities than you.
  • pray for the dying.

No doubt, these merciful acts are not easy. They require that we give of ourselves, which is never an easy task. Instead of looking for followers of our own, suddenly we are being invited to follow Jesus alone. Although He gave His all on the cross, we are being asked to give a part of ourselves in service to our brothers and sisters. Yet, it was also His cross that ushered in the Resurrection.

This Lent, stop falling for the clickbait that leads nowhere. Instead, follow the clickbait of the cross. Use that event of selfless love, forgiveness, and service as a model for your own spiritual development, so that you, too, can join in Easter joy—transformed and renewed in your own call to holiness.

Lent2017: #Love. #Forgive. #Service.

Learn more about the spiritual and corporal works of mercy in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 4-5).

More opportunities to celebrate the sacred season of Lent at St. Norbert Abbey »

Celebrating the Sacred Season of Lent 2017

February 15, 2017

During this sacred time of the year, St. Norbert Abbey offers a number of opportunities to enter into the depth and meaning of Lent.

Liturgical Schedule

You are welcome to join the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey as we gather in prayer.

Lenten Lessons and Chants

Sunday, April 2, 2017 | 7 p.m.

Join us for this time of Word, silence, and song.

LentIn this season of Lent, the Church invites us all to prepare for the Easter Feast through a deepening life of prayer, fasting, and works of mercy.

On the fifth Sunday of Lent, the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey is offering Lenten Lessons and Chants.

The abbey church will be filled with praise of God’s Mercy through Word (Scripture and other Christian writings), rich silence, and sacred music sung by Norbertine cantors and the Abbey Singers of St. Norbert College.

Learn more about the spiritual and corporal works of mercy in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 4-5).

View event details »


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