Sister Norita's admiration for two Benedictine aunts and a Notre Dame teacher spurred her to realize that "God is exciting," and drew her to religious life. Wonder and joy continued throughout her lifelong involvement with liturgical music and prayer. In 1962 she earned the B.A. degree in Music at the College of Saint Benedict, and in 1968 the M.A. degree in Music Education at the University of Minnesota. From 1957 to 1969 she taught music and played the organ in Maple Lake, MN, and Staples, MN, then returned to Saint Benedict's as Renewal Director and Liturgy Coordinator. In 1973-74 Sister Norita served in the Bahamas as music consultant, then traveled westward and for three years taught music at Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, directed the choir and played the organ at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.
In 1977 she founded the Salt Lake Diocesan Office of Liturgy and for ten years coordinated the liturgy at the Cathedral. While in Utah she was elected to the National Board and Executive Committee of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. In 1983 she was awarded an M.A. degree in Liturgical Studies at Saint John's School of Theology. In 1984 she was a keynote speaker at the National Association of Pastoral Musicians Convention in Washington, D.C., and in 1987 audited the Program for Church Leaders at Notre Dame University. In 1990 illness obliged her to return to Saint Benedict's. Here she continued preparing liturgies. In 1996, the Southwest Liturgical Conference presented her with an award reading: "To the Mother Of All Liturgy In Utah," for bringing to birth and nurturing a new vision of liturgy in that area.
Sister Norita Lanners, OSB, 64, died at Saint Scholastica Convent, St. Cloud, MN, in September 1999 after suffering more than ten years from a rare form of cancer of the blood and lymph system. Surviving Sister Norita are two brothers and a sister. While coping with disabling pain for many years, Sister Norita continued expressing her profound spirituality with creativity, gratitude and joy—always believing in the glory of eternal life.
Tribute prepared by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minnesota.