1910 – 1990 (December 5)
Norbert William Whitley was born on May 10, 1910, to William Whitley and Anna Dolores Ferry in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had one sister. Both of his parents died while he was quite young, and he and his sister were raised by their aunts and uncles. He attended Fitler Public School, and Saint Francis of Assist Parish School, both in Germantown, and Assisi High School for two years, transferring to North Wales High School from which he graduated in 1928. After graduation he became a traveling salesman for a musical supply company. In September 1931, he was accepted as a postgraduate postulant at Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, New York. The following September he entered Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York, where he pronounced simple vows on September 11, 1933. Three years later, on September 11, 1936, he made solemn profession of vows at Saint Mary's Hall, Villanova, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Villanova College in June of 1937, with an A.B. degree in philosophy. Norbert was sent to Collegio Santa Monica, Rome, Italy, where he began the study of theology at the Gregorian University in the fall of 1937. The growing tensions and outbreak of the Second World War compelled him and other Americans to return home. Before leaving, however, he was ordained a priest on May 25, 1940, at the Church of Saint Ignatius by Archbishop Aloisio Traglia. On his return to this country, he continued his theology studies at Augustinian College, Washington, DC. In 1941 he received an S.T.L degree in theology and in 1949 the S.T.D. from The Catholic University.
Father Whitley's was assigned in 1943 to Augustinian College as professor and submaster of professed. In 1945 he was appointed master of professed, a position he held until 1957. In that year he was transferred to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova University, to serve as chaplain of the University. In 1962 he was elected provincial secretary, as a member of the Saint Thomas of Villanova Parish community, Rosemont, PA. In 1965 he was named prior of the new Saint Mary's Hall, the collegiate seminary. From 1969 to his retirement in 1981 he was engaged in the parochial ministry as pastor of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in Atlantic City, New Jersey; prior and assistant at Our Mother of Consolation in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania; prior and pastor of Saint Laurence O'Toole Parish in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and finally assistant at Resurrection of Our Lord in Dania, Florida. In 1981, afflicted with arthritis that over the years had grown worse, he retired to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova, until his death.
Father Whitley loved life, and despite his condition his spirits remained high and his outlook cheerful. He enjoyed going to the shore, having a good meal, and hearing or telling a joke. He kept in touch with many of his former students whom he had trainedduring his years as master in Washington as well as the people with whom he had come in contact during his years of parish ministry.
On December 5, 1990, having reached eighty years and celebrated fifty years as a priest, he died peacefully in Bryn Mawr Hospital. Prior Provincial, John Hagen, O.S.A., was the celebrant at the Mass of Christian Burial on December 7, 1990 in the Villanova Church. James Wenzel, O.S.A., was the homilist. Father Whitley is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.