St Norbert’s birthplace connects family to school

02 May 2023

When Alexandria Patrick was researching high schools for her eldest son, Liam, the place of St Norbert’s birthplace, Xanten that was displayed on the website, caught her attention.

St Norbert’s birthplace in Germany is where Alex’s grandmother, or Oma, was born and it is a destination the family regularly visits.

Alex’s Oma, Paula Otten, was born in Xanten in 1930, some 850 years after St Norbert, and grew up on a farm during the war before the family built the Xantener Stuben tavern which, although no longer in the family, is still a popular restaurant in the town. Paula – who grew up in Xanten with six siblings – moved to England when she was 19 to become a nurse’s assistant, then married Walter Taylor and had three children – Michael, (Alex’s mother) Julie, and Simon.

When Michael and Julie were young, the family went back to Xanten and lived in the family restaurant/home with their grandparents while Walter, a roof carpenter, helped restore the spire at St Viktors Cathedral (Xanten Cathedral), which was in ruins due to being bombed during the war. The Taylor family moved back to Manchester after the spire work was completed and emigrated to Perth to fill a labour shortage in 1969, making suburban Morley their home. The Ottens stayed in Xanten and raised families and livelihoods.

Fast forward to 2023 and Alex, her husband Jaymie and son Liam (Year 6 now), visited St Norbert College for an interview ahead of Liam’s pending arrival. Alexandria explained how she had just returned from visiting Xanten. In fact, she was in Xanten when she received a phone call from the College offering Liam an interview time.

‘We have several remaining family members who still reside in and around Xanten.’

Alex said today, Xanten remains as beautiful and carefully looked after, and is rich in history.

‘There are many interesting facets to the town, with architectural digs occurring in an old Roman settlement (12/13BC) where the Romans built an impressive town and remained for about 400 years.

‘St Norbert’s residence and plaques with information about him remains in the town and his statue is in the main square. His presence is significantly felt here, and the locals seemed to know a lot about his history. My mother and I were fascinated with the connections, and we learnt a lot about Xanten and its rich history.’

The family first heard about St Norbert’s College in Western Australia a year ago when some friends were enrolling their children.

‘I did some research into the school, and I was delighted to see the name Xanten pop up and excitedly looked into all the connections that St Norbert had with my Oma’s hometown,” Alex said.

‘Looking through the school website and reading previous newsletters, we quickly decided that St Norbert College sat with our morals and values. We want our children to be in a fun safe learning environment filled with opportunities and we believe St Norbert’s can deliver that for us.

‘The personal link with St Norbert’s birthplace is really fascinating and our family is excited to make this connection and to be a part of this school community.’

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