Rev. Stephen A. Gaertner, O.Praem. shares how the ancient Norbertine tradition of hospitality is not only alive and well—but expanding its circle of welcome. Feel inspired to cultivate your own space of stillness in this moving reflection on the Norbertine Spirituality Center located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This past January, the Norbertine Spirituality Center at Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey in Albuquerque’s South Valley, hosted our first “Lunar New Year” retreat. The spiritual fabric of the retreat was interfaith, inspired by the idea that “All are welcome.” Created by Rev. Sara Wolcott, a Quaker minister from New York, the retreat was an intimate experience in which participants did not have to obscure or minimize their religious or spiritual orientation. Instead, they were encouraged to share their unique faith experiences with the group, without judgment.
The retreat was a huge success. Something that speaks to growing spiritual thirst of so many of the Abbey guests who visit us. Yes, the Norbertine Community is an ancient part of the Roman Catholic Tradition. However, the Spirituality Center that Abbot Joel Garner, O.Praem. envisioned for this property was never to be limited to “Catholics only”—quite the contrary.
The newly expanded Norbertine Spirituality Center has increasingly become a refuge for various Christians, pilgrims, mystics, spiritual seekers and the merely curious. The Norbertine Community itself invites all persons to pray and worship with the resident priests and brothers, exemplifying its charism of radical hospitality.
“We offer a safe space of spiritual recharge where persons of diverse backgrounds and even contrasting spiritual paths can enjoy meditation, contemplation community, solitude, and silence.” –Rev. Stephen A. Gaertner, O.Praem
At a time when the nation and world is increasingly characterized by ideological and religious conflict, frenetic busyness, and the incessant toxic noises of news and social media, the inclusive, secluded, peaceful desert environment of our Spirituality Center represents an oasis of literal peace and quiet. We offer a safe space of spiritual recharge where persons of diverse backgrounds and even contrasting spiritual paths can enjoy meditation, contemplation community, solitude, and silence.
Originally opened by Dominican Sisters in the 1960s, our retreat house is surrounded by the rugged beauty of the high desert topography, complete with walking trails and a new Labyrinth. Both the landscape and our spiritual history contribute to the spiritual recharge and emotional healing that so many have experienced here over the past several decades.
“Somehow, the Universal Spirit, or Holy Energy, that has found a home on this small piece of the New Mexico, resonating with Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Indigenous Traditions, Secular Humanists, Agnostics and just about every culture and creed in between.” –Rev. Stephen A. Gaertner, O.Praem.
The Norbertine Community of Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey is Catholic, but the word “Catholic” itself has always connoted “universality.” This acknowledgement of our common needs, questions, wounds, affective and spiritual yearnings make the Norbertine Spirituality Center more important than ever. Somehow, the Universal Spirit, or Holy Energy, that has found a home on this small piece of the New Mexico, resonating with Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Indigenous Traditions, Secular Humanists, Agnostics and just about every culture and creed in between.
Whether our guests spend weeks, days, or even hours at our center, they nearly always leave feeling in some way changed, or even transformed by this Energy, and the welcoming atmosphere of harmony, peace and joy that lies at the heart of the Norbertine Spirituality Center.
“There are spaces where, indeed, all are truly welcome. We welcome you to visit us and discover that it’s true.” –Rev. Stephen A. Gaertner, O.Praem
The refrain from a famous hymn encapsulates best the ethos of our Norbertine Spirituality Center: “All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.” And, though we sometimes forget in hustle and bustle of our busy modern lives, it is good to be reminded that we are all blessed creatures. There are spaces where, indeed, all are truly welcome. We welcome you to visit us and discover that it’s true.
Reflect with Us
Where do you find stillness and spiritual renewal? Share your reflection with us.
Rev. Stephen A. Gaertner, O.Praem. is the Library Director & Librarian at the Norbertine Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey. The Norbertine Community of Santa María de la Vid Abbey is the youngest Norbertine Abbey in the Americas. The Norbertine Order is over 900 years old, one of the oldest Roman Catholic religious orders in the world.
We Conspire is a series from the Center for Action and Contemplation featuring wisdom and stories from the growing Christian contemplative movement. Sign up for the monthly email series and receive a free invitation to practice each month.