The first Norbertine convent has just been established in the United States, and 9 of their 20 sisters made their solemn profession on January 29 in Fresno, California. More than 50 priests and hundreds of guests were present.
The Norbertines, also called the Premonstratenisan Order, was founded by St. Norbert in 1121 in the Valley of Prémontré, France. According to the press release about the new convent, the saint’s first community of “canons regular” followed the Rule of St. Augustine.
This order is unique in that its professed members are called canons and canonesses rather than monks and nuns, mainly because liturgical prayer is at the core of their vocation.
The Norbertine nuns are the first cloistered nuns in the Fresno Diocese, and were welcomed in May of 2000 by the late Bishop John T. Steinbock. Locals call them “the sisters in the mountains.” It was 1997 when Mother Mary Augustine, a native of French New Caledonia, and four other women took the first steps towards “full autonomy as an independent canonry of Norbertine Canonesses.” Their convent is now called the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph of Tehachapi, California. The community has grown to 20:
The sisters, representing four continents, are a truly international community, bringing with them varied backgrounds prior to their entry into the convent, including young women who entered directly from high school as well as those with experience in various professional fields, women with talents in many areas, with all of them laying their gifts at the service of God.
Many thanks to the sisters for sending me their press release and photos taken by Rick Belcher.