Established in what was then known only as Northfield Township, St. Norbert Parish has a history of growth and development concurrent with the community. The parish was founded by the Society of the Divine Word. On Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 1899, the first Mass was celebrated in a cheese factory. Catholic services were held in rustic chapels scattered throughout the area until December 1900 when devotions were conducted in the newly constructed Chapel of the Holy Spirit at St. Mary’s Mission. The congregation was called the “Mission of the Holy Spirit”. Later in 1901, Sisters of the Holy Spirit, missionary workers, arrived from Steyl, Holland and led classes in St. Joseph’s Elementary School.
In 1917 a combination church and school was built on Glenview Avenue (Waukegan Road), and the name of the parish was change to St. Norbert. The building now houses the National Mission Offices of the Society of the Divine Word.
In 1945, following World War II, the Catholic population of the area grew rapidly and it became necessary to relocate to larger, more central location. Land on Walters Avenue was purchased and construction began for a new church and school. On Memorial Day, May 30, 1949, Samuel Cardinal Stritch dedicated a new Northbrook school, chapel and rectory. On that day, members of St. Norbert Church celebrated the golden jubilee of their parish.
Recognizing that St. Norbert was no longer a mission, in 1953, the care of the parish was transferred to the priest of the Archdiocese. In June 1953, Rev. Vincent P. Casey, a former professor at Quigley Preparatory Seminary, became the first diocesan pastor of St. Norbert Parish. The Sisters of the Holy Spirit returned to missionary work and the Sisters of St. Casimir agreed to staff the school.
St Norbert Parish developed over the years to include a magnificent church, school, convent and rectory, enriching the lives of many generations of families. For over 100 years, St. Norbert Parish has served thousands of Catholics. It began as and remains today a symbol of faith and service to God and community.