How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133)
Every six years the Norbertine Order organizes an international meeting of the novice masters and formation superiors for those who are able to participate from canonries all around the world. The Order calls this gathering the Magistri Meeting - "magister" is the Latin word for novice master.
For the last 12 years, since the General Chapter of the Order in 2012, Father Ambrose has served on the Order's Formation Commission, a group of four priests from various houses appointed by the Abbot General. At the 2017 Magistri Meeting at Mondaye Abbey in Normandy, the Formation Commission proposed that the 2023 Magistri Meeting convene at St. Michael's Abbey. At the 2017 meeting, Norbertines from around the Order were excited to hear about the soon-to-be-completed new abbey in Silverado Canyon, and they were eager to have a good reason to visit. The 2023 gathering of the Order's novice masters and formation superiors was just the reason everyone was looking for to make the trip to California, and so Father Abbot Eugene offered our new abbey as the host abbey for the 2023 Magistri Meeting.
After nearly a year of planning, the Magistri Meeting brought about 20 confreres, canonesses, and sisters from 14 canonries all around the world, not to mention the many confreres of St. Michael's Abbey who participated. Several of them were Priors - including the Prior of our mother house, St. Michael's Abbey in Csorna Hungary - and everyone was eager to see the newly completed abbey and to witness the joyful and vibrant religious life that we live here in what was for most of our guests the other side of the world.
The Order's Magistri Meeting is an opportunity for those confreres and sisters who form the young religious in their houses to gather together for the purpose of sharing ideas, discussing common joys and challenges in their important work of formation, and learning from one another. All of our guests participated in the rich liturgical life of our abbey, and they also joined us in the refectory, chapter room, and common room, so that we could all pray together, eat together, and also recreate together as we built one another up in fraternal charity.
The program of the meeting included several formal presentations about the work of formation for the religious life and the priesthood. The presenters included our own Father Norbert Wood, as well as Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, the well-known psychiatrist and author (and good friend of our community) who is well-versed in the strengths and weaknesses that young people bring with them these days as they answer God's call to the priesthood and religious life. There was also a day-long outing to some of the important local sites, including Holy Mass at the Serra Chapel of Mission San Juan Capistrano.
For some of our guests this was their first visit to the United States, so many things that we take for granted - like seeing the Pacific Ocean - were real highlights. After the program concluded, a number of the guests traveled to Tehachapi to visit the canonesses there at the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph.