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Norfolk Priory


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    The Norfolk Priory is located in the state of Nebraska in the midwestern USA. The sisters's apostolates are various. They've been engaged in education since 1923 and health care since 1931. Retreats, courses and meetings of every kind take place in the priory house. Many people come and go, seeking rest and peace and finding a spiritual home. In addition, the sisters work in the parish and school, help in a soup kitchen for the poor, and several devote themselves to service on behalf of the Mexican immigrants. Their fluent Spanish enables them to help in many ways. In Winnebago, a Native American Reservation, the sisters take care of the children and teach in the mission school. A special characteristic of the Priory is the large number of lay persons of all denominations who have joined the sisters as Benedictine Oblates. Although some live far away, many meet monthly for conferences and retreats in the priory house, and pray Vespers with the sisters. One of the sisters is the oblate directress. The Norfolk Priory has always been generous in hospitality towards co-sisters from all over the world who come for language studies, formation or education. American sisters have been sent to Africa, China and other parts of the world.

    More about these communities and their ministries is found on the  Priory Website.

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    History of Norfolk Priory


    On July 31, 1923 a sapling was planted by four Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing, Germany. They had been invited to Nebraska by Archbishop Jeremiah Harty of Omaha to minister to German immigrants. That fall the Sisters began teaching in St. John Berchman's School, Raeville, Nebraska. The small community quickly began to sink its roots and grow. Within one year, a second mission, Sacred Heart Hospital in Lynch, Nebraska was established. In 1926, Raeville gained status as a priory, with Sr. Diemud Gerber, OSB, as the first Prioress. Five years later, the priory center was transferred to Norfolk and named Immaculata Convent.


    Despite depression and drought, which plagued rural Nebraska in the 1930's, the Sisters made great sacrifices to continue to expand their ministries. They offered religious education in many parishes and staffed Catholic schools in Raeville, Madison, Wayne, Winnebago, Columbus, and Assumption Academy in Norfolk. In Winnebago, the boarding school (now a day school) provided a second home for many Native American children. Today the Sisters continue to work with the Native American peoples to provide pastoral care and to promote the identity and culture of Native Americans.


    Bold building projects were begun to provide more Catholic health care in the rural Midwest. Land was purchased and hospitals built in Lynch, Nebraska (1924), Norfolk, Nebraska (1935), Graceville, Minnesota, (1945) and Wayne, Nebraska (1974). Because of the needs of the Church and the changing talents of the community, the Spirit continues to call for adaptations in our ministries. Between 2008 and 2010 the Sisters divested themselves from ownership of the hospitals. The sisters are now engaged in Hispanic ministry, domestic service, ecumenism, environmental concerns, justice and peace issues, parish ministry, and religious education. Through the oblate community the sisters support the laity who desire to live out our Missionary Benedictine values in our secularized world. The oblates support the sisters through their prayer and association with the community.


    Immaculata Convent, now known as Immaculata Monastery & Spirituality Center, has become a center for Northeast Nebraska, the sisters provide retreats and spiritual direction, and host many groups such as: Christians Encounter Christ, Engaged and Marriage Encounters, training for candidates to the permanent Diaconate, enrichment courses, and various other groups.


    In 2011 a new ministry was begun when the development office was created. The three fold focus of this ministry is to develop relationships with people located throughout the world by use of social media, the Priory website and by direct contact. Secondly, through social media and by personal presence of the Sisters at national events and youth gatherings we promote vocations to the Missionary Benedictine way of life.

    Thirdly, we hope to raise funds for our Sisters in mission countries by active fund raising and by grant applications. These are all direct ways of implementing the directive of new evangelization. By daily devotionals, prayer requests and news of the missions we help people see the needs of the Church in the world and invite them to participate in the work of our Sisters in whatever way they choose.


    Sr. Celine with the Oblates


    Sr. Frances and Winnebago-students

    In the Norfolk Priory we have a great concern for human life and the attendant degradation of our planet due to excessive use of natural resources and lack of care for all of creation. It is one of our tasks to educate the people we encounter regarding these issues. This, to us, is directly related to concern for the poor among us. What is considered necessary in the U.S. culture is oftentimes

    That in all things God may be glorified!


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