On any typical weekend, the white cassock-clad priests of the Norbertine order from St. Michael’s Abbey in southern California preach in about 35 parishes, sharing the fruits of their contemplative and communal life with the Church.
As canons regular, they are religious priests who live in community and share a charism and common life of prayer. During the week, they are teachers and preachers in area schools, colleges, and catechetical programs.
But the order felt called to bring their preaching and formation beyond the bounds of their abbey and apostolates in the Orange County and Los Angeles areas, and so on All Saints’ Day they launched a digital library called “The Abbot’s Circle” which will provide video, audio, and written resources on the Catholic faith.
“Many people, after they’ve gone through Catechism or Catholic school, they lack further formation in their faith,” Father Justin Ramos, O.Praem., a priest of the order and a Latin teacher, told CNA.
“The Abbot’s Circle is really a great means for people to be able to hear homilies during the week, not just on Sunday, or read reflections and learn about their faith in the various ways in which we offer it.”
The Abbot’s Circle website includes video, podcasts and written reflections, as well as chant recordings and audio lectures and a documentary on the fathers called “City of Saints.”
The digital library, which is free for the first two weeks of its launch, will be a subscription service that donors will be able to access for a monthly donation of $10 a month or more.
Shane Giblin, chief advancement officer for the Norbertine Fathers at St. Michael’s, said the platform was a way to thank and spiritually feed the order’s benefactors, while contributing to the day-to-day costs of running the abbey.
“The guy in the pew on Sunday who’s just trying to make his life work, we want to reach that person and help him make sense of his life and help him grow spiritually,” Giblin told CNA.
“The beauty of the Norbertines is watching them meet people where they’re at…whether they’re highly engaged Catholics, or just very eager to learn more about the faith, or whether they’re just new to their faith and wanting to learn more, they’re able to reach them in a very unique way,” he said.
New content will be added to the platform will be added every week, Giblin said, and will answer such questions about the Catholic faith as: How do we attain salvation? Why do we pray to the saints? What role does Mary play in the life of a priest?
Giblin said the website allows users to submit their questions and prayer intentions, and the frequency of new content allows the priests to respond to the needs of the people using the platform.
The Norbertines also believe The Abbot’s Circle is one way their order is called to respond to the current crisis of abuse scandals in the Church.
“St. Norbert, a Catholic reformer, founded the Norbertines to lift up a demoralized clergy, preach to the lay faithful, and so renew the Church in difficult times,” Fr. Chrysostom Baer, prior of St. Michael’s Abbey, said in a statement about The Abbot’s Circle.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.