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A Glimpse into the Life of Abbot Pennings

Confrere Support

Abbot Pennings was a great man yet as it is well known no one man is great by himself, it is the people who support him that contribute to his greatness. Some of Abbot Pennings most notable collegues and friends were Keefe, and Killeen.

Anselm Keefe began his relationship with Pennings when he was a student at St. Norbert College and continued when he joined the St. Norbert Priority. Keefe then went on to obtain his doctorate in Biology/Botany, taught for a time, then sevred in the US army as a chaplin and later became an active member of the medical regiment. Most of Pennings and Keefe's interactions were through letters written 1941-1945. In these letters they discussed various topics including World War II, the affects it had on college students, and the biololgy department at St. Norbert College. One notable quote from Keefe to Pennings was, "Your Biology Department is rather weak they told me, I hope it will not lower tthe general standard of the College. You know when people get criticized it spreads fast."(van Stratum, 192) This shows that Keefe was a staunch academic and wanted to portray his concern to Abbot Pennings in a very forward manner.  In reverse, in 1955 Keefe spoke as orator at the second of the three masses where is protrayed Abbot Pennings to be a dedicated, caring and ambitous abbot who servered the people of Wisconsin (and America) like they were his own kin. They were known to be very different people who taught each other and provided support to each other through a good bond. (van Stratum)

Sylvester Killeen was born in Wisconsin, ordained into the priesthood in 1930 and obtained his doctorate in philosophy. He was a confrere for Pennings for most of their relationship but over time Killeen was once head of the Columbus Club, financial administrator for Pennings St. Norbert community and eventually the second abbot of the St. Norbert Abbey. Killeen gave support to Abbot Pennings in a way that many others didn't, Killeen aided Pennings with financial matters; this support became especially important when Abbot Pennings began to get older so in February of 1949 Killeen offically took over all of Pennings financial responsibilities. Yet before that transfer of financial power was reached, Killeen and Pennings were know to differ on opinions, financial and administrative. Despite their differed point of views, confrere Killeen also spoke at one of the masses held for Pennings passing but no detail was given on the content of the sermon. (van Stratum)