Become a Norbertine

If you feel God is calling you to the religious life, or you are simply curious about how such a life would be, the first step is to contact your nearest Norbertine house, most of which invite the public to join them at prayer.

Because our order is not centralized, our houses vary in the way they communicate with potential novices. Check the website of your nearest house, if they have one, or contact the vocations director or master/mistress of novices.

Some abbeys offer “come and see” visits for a day or up to a couple of weeks, when you can share in the life of the novices. You might be attending classes with seminary students, praying with the canons in the liturgy, joining in practical tasks, or sharing meals and recreation with the community. In other houses, you might be invited to visit several times to discuss and pray about your vocation.

When you are ready to explore a serious commitment to Norbertine life and make a formal application to the house you want to join, the path that you follow is fairly standard. At each stage you will be encouraged to test your vocation through prayer and your daily experience, and you will choose whether you want to commit to this particular community for life. At the same time, the community can choose whether to accept you. Many communities offer the option to become a Norbertine as a brother or priest. The initial vocation path is the same. The process is called formation and has the following stages.

Daily Life

Our life as Norbertine canons is based around singing the Divine Office at set times and celebrating Mass daily. We might start our day with Matins at midnight followed by Lauds at around 5:30 a.m. Our liturgical schedule ends with evening prayer (Vespers or Compline).

The administrative and practical tasks of running the community are fitted around this. Some houses have schools and seminaries in the same building complex or close by, and they might also run guest houses, retreat centers and bookshops, or sell products made by brothers or sisters. The cloistered Norbertine Sisters in Tehachapi, California, in the U.S. breed Labrador dogs.

Many priests and brothers or sisters also work outside the community (often in education, running parishes, or as chaplains to institutions). The extent to which this happens varies between houses, but wherever we are in the world, we spend some of each day together as a community, praying together, and eating shared meals. We are one another’s family for life.

Associates

Associates (also known as tertiaries) are lay men and women who feel drawn to Norbertine values, would like a deeper understanding of our life, and choose to support us in our work as part of their spiritual journey. Associates make temporary vows (promises), which they renew every year and are given a scapular (made from the same fabric as the Norbertine habits) to wear under their clothes. Most houses have an associates’ program, including prayer and study recommendations, discussion groups and retreats. Associates also attend our liturgical hours regularly and might commit to helping with administrative or practical duties in parishes or in the abbey community. Your nearest Norbertine house will be able to tell you more about how they include associates.