From its foundation at Premontre, Norbertines have always included lay women and men as part of our community — what has traditionally been called the “Third Order” (with priests and brothers comprising the First Order and sisters and nuns comprising the Second Order). In the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council and its rediscovery of the role of the laity in the church, we now use the phrase “Norbertine Associates”.
Here at Daylesford Abbey, we are blessed with over fifty Associate members. Committed to be closely aligned to our life and mission, they have gone through more than a year of formation in preparation for making (not vows but) “promises” that are renewed each year. Associates usually join us for Sunday Mass and special feasts, and sometimes for weekday Eucharist or morning or evening prayer.
As a group, they meet regularly four times a year and they gather for a Day of Recollection in Advent and an overnight retreat in Lent. Their leadership comes from a discernment process wherein they recommend names to the Abbot, for the post of Director of Associates. This Director is joined by a small council of Associate advisors who (along with an Abbey priest who serves as their liaison to the professed community) meet before each of the six yearly Associate gatherings.