Order of Premontre, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, and White Canons

R. D. Joseph E. Dorff, O. Praem.

Birth: May 25, 1920

Death: August 4, 1974

House: St. Norbert Abbey

Our brother Joseph Dorff was born in Philadelphia and was the first Norbertine to complete all 4 years at Southeast Catholic.  Joe joined the Order after his freshman year at the college in 1938 and professed solemn vows in 1944.

Appointed to the faculty of Southeast in 1942, Joe joined the faculty of St. Norbert High in 1944 while preparing for ordination, and was back at Southeast in 1945, where in addition to teaching chemistry, was also moderator of the “Crystal.”

Joe was a true renaissance man; his interests and talents knew no boundaries.  He studied liturgical music at Pius X Institute in White Plains, N. Y. in 1952, attended the Toronto University Medieval  Institute in 1953, taught Gregorian Chant at Daylesford and earned a Master’s in Psychology from Catholic University in 1956. In 1957, Joe became a Research Fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health, in Bethesda, Maryland, and was granted his Ph.D. in experimental psychology.  He was appointed to the college faculty in 1968.

When the new abbey was being built in the late ‘50’s, Joe’s insights were invaluable.  He is the man who is primarily responsible for the stained glass windows in the church, chapter room and abbot’s chapel.  He insisted that the subject matter be something that one could contemplate for a lifetime.

Joe was on the 1969 renovation committee of Old St. Joseph Church and suggested that the plaster walls and ceiling be removed and the structure of the building be revealed.  Not listened to at the time, his view was finally realized in the 2000 renovation.

While presiding at Mass at the college church, Joe died suddenly on Sunday, Aug. 4, 1974 at the age of 54.

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