Tag Archives: St. Michael’s Abbey

A Norbertine Vocation Story

Fr. Claude (l) and a confrere at prayer
Fr. Claude (l) and a confrere at prayer

Our Sunday Visitor has a wonderful article about a young Norbertine priest who is part of the community of Norbertines at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California. Fr. Claude Williams, O.Praem., articulates the beauty of Norbertine life extremely.

Father Claude grew up in New Orleans where he was talk by religious sisters. While attending Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Carmelite sister from Alhambra, California, suggested that he become acquainted with the Norbertines. He was very impressed with the liturgical life of the Norbertines and found that he “could not imagine spending my life anywhere else but the abbey.”

After entering the order, Claude found that he liked the regular monastic routine. For Norbertines, this begins with 5:30 a.m. morning prayer, 6:30 a.m. Mass, followed by prayers of thanksgiving. A 4:00 p.m. Holy Hour is followed by vespers. After dinner comes night prayer and lights out at 10:00 p.m. The Norbertine motto is: “Prepared for Every Good Work.” The first and foremost good work is the reverent celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Father Claude is assigned to a Norbertine parish in Costa Mesa, CA. Though Norbertines staff parishes, they are not diocesan priests. They are Canons Regular meaning that they live in community and share a common life. It is the life of the Apostles where everything was held in common and they prayed together several times a day.

Father professed solemn vows in 2009. In addition to poverty, chastity and obedience, Norbertines profess a fourth vow of Conversion of Ways. “The limits placed on us by the holy vows are formative,” he said. “They help you to be what you are supposed to be.” A fellow religious told him, “Today, you will make your vows. One day, the vows will make you.”

For more information on the Norbertines, visit their website.

Following the Basepaths to a Vocation

In the news over the past year has been the story of a star baseball player who turned in his glove for the life a Nobertine monk. A long story in Yahoo! Sports tells the story of Grant Desme who was a second round draft pick signed by the Oakland Athletics for $430,000 but said, “I had everything I wanted, and it wasn’t enough.” Wrist and shoulder injuries sidelined him for long lengths of time (Sounds like the story of St. Ignatius of Loyola!) and he got frustrated. He talked to priests and started to wonder what life was all about. When his injuries healed, he became one of the only minor leaguers in history to reach the 30-homer, 40-steal mark in the same season.

But the empty feeling persisted and he realized that he got more enjoyment out of talking about God in the dugout than in the home run he might have hit the inning before. As the article said, “The first phone call went to Billy Beane. It was less than a month before Grant Desme needed to report to spring training, and he was about to call one of the most powerful men in the game to which he dedicated his life – the person Brad Pitt would portray in the “Moneyball” movie – and tell him he was quitting to spend the next decade becoming a priest. ”

His new name in religious life is Matthew because, as his Abbot said, Matthew the tax collector was rich “and I was a rich baseball player.”

May God bless Frater Matthew and his community.

The Norbertines of St. Michael’s were founded by a group of Norbertines from Hungary who escaped Communist persecution in 1950. They worked for almost a decade before saving up enough money to buy the 34-acre parcel of land in a then-uninhabited section of Orange County, California. One monk remains from that group, Father Gerlac Andrew Horvath, 91. The Norbertines have 52 priests and 24 seminarians, a Catholic high school and two albums of Gregorian chant.

May God bless Frater Matthew and his community.

The Norbertines are an IRL Affiliate Community. There is the men’s community and two women’s communities (active and contemplative).