Abbey Mission Statement

Daylesford Abbey exists to enrich the church by our Norbertine communio, nourished by contemplation on God’s Word, made visible in worship and service within the local church.

Daylesford Abbey Vision Statement

Apostles of Peace in the Communion of Prémontré Celebrating God’s Presence in Creation God’s gift of Faith empowers us to believe that in a new moment of graced communio we are called:
*to be apostles of peace to our own hearts and for one another,
*to be a healing and reconciling community, a hospitable family, where any of God’s children may find a sanctuary of healing and strength for Christ’s mission.

God’s gift of Hope challenges us to take risks for the sake of our dreams:
*the dream of the Pentecost community with Mary the Mother of Jesus,
holding all in common – even our hearts and minds;
*the dream of Augustine pursuing the one true Lover, calling us to conversion and service,
sharing at two tables our daily bread and the Bread of Life;
*the dream of Prémontré, Norbertine religious vowed to a lifetime of worship in all we do,
gathering around us communion of the baptized.

God’s gift of Love inspires us with a fresh new dream:
to recognize God’s Presence in all that is truly good, wise, beautiful and loving;
to exercise our priesthood in Christ, by giving voice to Creation’s praise,
each time we gather around Word and Sacrament.

For all good gifts, we give God thanks and pray,
that we may be generous and faithful stewards of what has been given into our care.

Vision Statement of the Order of Prémontré accepted and approved by the General Chapter 2006.

Drawn by our merciful and Triune God,
we are called as baptized to follow the poor and risen, Christ,
in a radical and apostolic way of life according to the Gospel,
the Rule of Saint Augustine and the charism of Saint Norbert,
the founder of our Premonstratensian Order.

Our way of life is marked by:
a lifelong seeking after God through fraternal community,
a never-ending conversion by giving ourselves to the church of our profession
in communion with the self-emptying of Christ,
in imitation of Mary pondering God’s Word,
and in ceaseless prayer and service at the altar.

From the choir and altar, we go to serve the human family
in a spirit of simplicity, hospitality, reconciliation, and peace
for the benefit of the Church and the world,
especially where Christ is found among the poor, the suffering,
and among those who do not know him.

We pray that what God’s Spirit has begun in us may be made perfect in the day of Christ Jesus.


European Origins

The Norbertines, also known officially as the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré (or Premonstratensians), are a Catholic religious order of canons regular founded by Saint Norbert in the northern French village of Prémontré in 1121. Vowing themselves to a life of ongoing conversion, Norbert and his followers mavde a further commitment to work for that same kind of renewal in the larger Christian community. Soon Norbertine houses spread throughout medieval Europe. Shortly after Norbert’s death in 1134, the Abbey of Berne was founded in the Netherlands. For centuries to come, that Abbey would minister in nearby parishes and eventually send forth missionaries to spread the Gospel and share Norbert’s vision of the importance of continuing renewal.

The New World

In 1893, Father Bernard Pennings and two other Norbertines from Berne Abbey came to the United States to minister to Belgian immigrants in Northern Wisconsin. Blessed with American vocations, DePere became the site of the first Norbertine Abbey in the new world. In 1925, Bernard Pennings became the first abbot.

The Delaware Valley

In 1932, Abbot Pennings sent a handful of Norbertines to open Archmere Academy, a college preparatory school for boys in Claymont, Delaware. Two years later, in 1934, the Norbertines were asked to open an archdiocesan high school for boys in South Philadelphia. Originally called Southeast Catholic, the name was later changed to Saint John Neumann High School.

Responding to the vocations coming especially from these two schools, the community started a novitiate-seminary in 1954 at the Cassatt Estate at Daylesford in Paoli, PA. In 1956, the community was further invited to open and staff the newly founded Saint Norbert Parish in Paoli, PA. In 1963, the Norbertine Community moved from the Cassatt Estate to Pinebrook, its present site, an 88 acre farm in Paoli. Thanks to the generous support of many friends, the Abbey Church and Residence buildings were completed in 1966. The Abbey Church was blessed on August 15, 1967 and dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption.