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1890 A Parish Priest has a Vision

Monseigneur Noel Joseph Ritchot, parish priest of St. Norbert, has had a busy political life already with his devotion to Louis Riel and the entry of Manitoba into Confederation. But now, the Métis community has fled to Saskatchewan and Montana, leaving Msgr. Ritchot to guide through the turbulence of transitional colonialism. He has choices to make for the development of the Parish of St. Norbert. Msgr. Ritchot writes a letter of invitation to the Abbot of the Monastery in LaTrappe, France requesting that a Cistercian Monastery be established in St. Norbert. He's been saving a beautiful piece of river property for 30 years with the vision of monks building a community here.



1. Louis Riel - prophet, poet and spokesperson for the Red River Métis Nation, Riel was leader of the provisional government prior to Manitoba's entry into confederation. He, along with St. Norbert parish priest Msgr. Ritchot wrote a list of Rights which visioned Manitoba as a culturally egalitarian society.

2. At the turn of the Century, the town of St. Norbert had transformed from a semi-nomadic Métis community subsisting on agricultural and bison hunt, into a booming Francophone town with orphanage, convent, schools and mercantile town.

3. As of 1880, France was in revolutionary upheaval which threatened religious communities who sought refuge in other countries.

4. In the spring of 1892, witnessed by Monseigneur Taché and Monseigneur Ritchot, Dom Jean-Marie Chouteau, the Abbot of Bellefontaine, signed the preliminary contract to establish the monastery of Notre-Dame des Prairies. "Rares, assurait-on au début de la fondation, sont les monastères cisterciens qui jouissent d'une si paisible solitude que celui de Saint-Norbert." Une trappe dans un pays de mission.



From the Archive of Our lady of
the Prairies Abbey, Holland Manitoba