Stephen Gaertner, O. Praem. became the second prior in the history of Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey on June 1, 2018. In addition to serving as the prior of the abbey, Stephen teaches English and religion courses at Central New Mexico Community College. The Constitutions of our order require that a solemnly professed priest be chosen as prior who, in the absence of the abbot, assumes the key leadership role in the community. The prior is automatically a member of the Abbot’s Council, serving as the secretary, as well as a member of the Finance Committee. Father Stephen was awarded a doctorate in English from Michigan State University in 2015 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2016.

Abbey to Host Third Annual Art Exhibit

This fall, the Norbertine Community will host its third art exhibit at the Abbey featuring the works of local artists and members of our community. The focus this year is Puentes de Compasión (Bridges of Compassion): Reaching for Hope. Artists will be invited to share works that depict how we connect with one another via bridges of compassion, openness, hope, and love. The exhibit will open on Saturday afternoon, November 17, and close on Thursday, December 20. For more information, please contact Celina Chavez at or 505-873-4399, ext. 237.

Graham Golden Installed as Pastor at Holy Rosary Parish

Fr. Graham Golden, O. Praem. was appointed the 5th Norbertine Pastor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community in April. Holy Rosary is one of the largest parishes in the city of Albuquerque. The Norbertines have had responsibility for the pastoral leadership of the parish since 1985.

Holy Rosary has been very much involved with the local Presbyterian Church and its Rio Grande Food Project which feeds the hungry. As a result, Fr. Graham and Ari Herring, the director of the food project, were guest speakers at the annual Catholic Foundation Luncheon. It was a strong witness to ecumenical action in response to a great need in the City. In the spring, Fr. Graham was one of the recipients of the Lumen Gentium Award by the Dominican Ecclesial Institute for his ministry to young adults and teenagers.

Patrick Bergin Makes First Oblate Promises

The Oblates of Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey are individuals living in the world but with a potential lifelong “covenant of friendship” with the vowed members of the local Norbertine community. Each Oblate’s relationship with the Abbey is specific to the gifts and circumstances of that individual. This year during our Community mass for the Feast of St. Augustine, Oblate Patrick Joseph Bergin made his first promises as an Oblate of our community. This occasion marked the end of the two-year novitiate period, and the beginning of a three-year period of temporary promises to the community.

Patrick’s relationship with our community is unique as he is both an oblate and a seminarian seeking ordination to the diocesan priesthood. During the academic year, Patrick resides at the Norbertine Community’s Holy Spirit House of Studies in Chicago.

Improvements to Abbey Grounds

With the generous support of many of our donors, we replaced the weather-worn wooden fence around the Bethany Guest House, Santa Anna hermitage, and the four individual hermitages with long-lasting fencing. Another generous benefactor provided the funds for a new sliding glass door in Bethany House. Access to Casa Maria retreat housing has also been improved. This is all part of our continued effort to enhance the experience of those who come here on retreat.

A New Ministry for Bob Campbell

Father Bob Campbell, O. Praem. has been enjoying his return to hospital chaplaincy serving as the priest for Christus Saint Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe. Christus is the only Catholic hospital in New Mexico and is the oldest hospital in the state faithfully serving its patients for over 150 years. It was originally founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1865. Fr. Bob also expanded his ministry to three Rio Rancho hospitals in October. 

The Abbey Has a Dog

The Norbertine Community of Santa Maria de la Vid welcomed their newest four-legged friend, Sol, to the community in September. Sol is a Blue Heeler / Corgi mix who comes from Canjilon; a small town in northern New Mexico. Though small in stature, Sol brings much joy not only to the community members but to guests who visit the Abbey. Sol is under the care of Brother Patricio Chacon, O. Praem. and resides in the Casa Maria formation wing.

Peter Muller Celebrates 25 Years as a Priest

Father Peter Muller, O. Praem., pastor of St. Edwin parish, celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a Norbertine priest in early July. He was joined, in the celebration, by his parents, three sisters, and several nephews from California, as well as his Norbertine brothers and sisters, and his parish family. The Sunday Eucharist was followed by a delicious luncheon prepared by parishioners. The festivities included a performance by a group of Flamenco dancers from the parish. A Mariachi group also performed at the event.

Artwork at the Abbey

Over the next several newsletter issues, we will use this space to feature one of the statues that enrich our Abbey church building. As a Norbertine abbey, we are maintaining a nearly 900-year tradition of being a cultural center for a creative bridging of art and spirituality. We are also continuing the Roman Catholic tradition of celebrating art as a basic sacramental expression of the human spirit.

Our patronal statue of Santa Maria de la Vid (Our Lady of the Vine) greets guests in the gathering space of our church building, This statue is inspired by a prayerful reading of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) and reflects the moment when the two women encounter each other. Mary is portrayed, by artist Susanne Vertel, as a young and visibly pregnant woman whose form and face radiate the joy and the wonder that she feels at the mystery of the new life unfolding within her. She carries a basket of grapes as a gift to Elizabeth, who is in a more advanced stage of pregnancy, carrying John the Baptist. What is at work here is the unfolding of the mysteries of the vine and the branches.

Comings and Goings

Brother James Owens, O. Praem. and Brother Patricio Chacon, O. Praem. walked in the three-day Pilgrimage for Christian Unity, walking from Ghost Ranch near Abiquiú  to El Santuario de Chimayó.  w  On  September 9 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of our church of Santa Maria de la Vid.  w  Andres Myers of Pittsburg, Kansas recently entered the live-in postulancy program as a step in his discernment of a calling to religious life.  w  Joseph Sandoval, O. Praem. Obl., was recently appointed Director of Communications for Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey. Joseph comes to us with a background in graphic design and photography, as well as finance and higher education.  w  Father Graham Golden, O. Praem. and Ken Griesemer, Norbertine Associate and a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, were among the 3,000 participants in the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry in Texas; over 100 bishops also participated.  w  Anthony Pavamkott, the father of Father George Pavamkott, O. Praem., pastor of Saint Augustine at Isleta Pueblo, died in July and Robert Gaertner, father of Father Stephen Gaertner, O. Praem., died in August. May they rest in peace.