ST. JOHN PAUL II (1920-2005): After a turbulent childhood and youth, Karol Wojtyla was ordained a priest on November 1 (ALL SAINTS’ DAY), 1946.
He became the first Polish pope in the history of the Church in 1978 and the first non-Italian pope in more than 400 years. As pope he chose the name “John Paul II”.
Pope John Paul canonized nearly 500 saints during his long reign of 27 years.
He stated famously on his visit to the USA in 1987: “This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival - yes, the ultimate test of her greatness – to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn.”
Feast day: October 22nd
Patron saint of: World Youth Day and Families
Father Norbert was raised with his six siblings in central Pennsylvania where his father was a professor at Penn State University. In 1972 the family relocated to St. Paul, MN where he completed high school and attended his freshman year at the University of St. Thomas.
He entered the Norbertine Order at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, CA in 1975, and was ordained a priest in 1981. He received his BA in Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (1980) and completed three years of liturgical studies at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant’Anselmo in Rome (1985). He received his master’s degree in Education Administration from the University of San Francisco in 2001. Fr. Norbert taught religion at Mater Dei High School, Santa Ana, CA (1987-1991) and was both chaplain and teacher at Mary Star of the Sea High School, San Pedro, CA (1991-1994). He was named principal, and later rector, of Mary Star of the Sea High School from 1994 – 2001, during which time he spearheaded the project to relocate the high school and Norbertine community to a spacious new property in northern San Pedro. In 2005 he was named the first Rector of St. John the Baptist Elementary School (six hundred students, K-8) in Costa Mesa, CA where the Norbertines have administered the parish since 2002.
From 2002 to 2013 he was chaplain to the boys at Joplin Juvenile Detention Center in Trabuco Canyon, CA where he averaged 15-20 hours a week celebrating Mass, hearing confessions and counseling convicted felons, aged 12 – 16. Fr. Norbert teaches in Christendom College’s Notre Dame Graduate school during the summer in Front Royal, Virginia, and has visited India five times to assist his Order’s growing monasteries and schools in that region of the world.
He has preached retreats and missions to priests, religious and laity in the United States, Canada, India, Australia, and the Philippines. In his free time Father loves to read, to work in his garden, and to watch the many amazing bird species at St. Michael’s Abbey.
Q: What is a Norbertine?
A: A priest who whose life is anchored in the Mysteries of the Altar and who bathes there every day in the fountain flowing from the Savior's open Heart.
A priest who begins anew every day to walk the path of conversion and who seeks to love and serve with a generous heart like St. Augustine and St. Norbert.
A priest who hungers and thirsts for the Lord and for the salvation of His people and who renews that hunger and thirst each day in prayer.
Q: Why are you a Norbertine?
A: In the "wild seventies" there weren't a lot of priestly formation programs where love for the Church was unabashedly lived and proclaimed. I was directed to St. Michael's by a sweet "little old lady" (she is still alive and kicking at 98!) who had met Abbot Parker on one of his visits to the Twin Cities. I visited during Holy Week of 1975 and entered three months later at the age of 18. And never looked back. God is good.
Q: What is the most fulfilling part of your ministry?
A: The time I spend each day in heartfelt prayer for all those whom God has placed on the path of my life.