Canon Bruce Memorial Organ Concert: Daniel Schwandt

Saturday May 18 at 2:00pm 

Daniel Schwandt is a doctoral student in organ performance at the University of Notre Dame and Music Associate at Gloria Dei, South Bend, IN.  Formerly he served as Cantor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Chicago, Cantor to the Seminary Community at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and Cantor of Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park (Chicago). He holds degrees in organ and church music from St. Olaf College and the University of Notre Dame. Daniel’s compositions are published through Augsburg Fortress and MorningStar Music, and  he is active as a recitalist, hymn festival leader, and workshop presenter.

Inside 1016: From Broadcast to Podcast

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 8, 10-11)

By Katrina Marshall, Gina Sanders Larsen, and Judy Turba

Ever Ancient, Ever New

From the outside looking in, St. Norbert Abbey seems timeless: the stone exterior, slate roof, 160 acres of natural and landscaped beauty, and the shining cross atop the iconic bell towerever ancient.

Yet within the walls of the abbey considerable activity is taking place: a massive renovation to meet the growing number entering the doors of the abbey and Norbertine Center for Spirituality; an unused space transformed into a state-of-the-art communication center; and a recently launched podcast—ever new.

Take a look inside 1016.

Throughout the years, WBAY-TV held the number-one audience position among the three area television stations. St. Norbert Abbey employed more than 125 people to manage the thriving Green Bay stations alone.

However, by 1974, changes within the broadcast industry were looming. According to Abbot Emeritus Jerome Tremel, O. Praem., “Competition was heating up and Norbertine values were being compromised by the ever-increasing permissiveness in programming.” Given these concerns, Abbot Tremel, chairman of the board of the Norbertine broadcasting conglomerate, with the consent of his council, made the difficult decision to sell the Norbertine Order’s commercial broadcast properties.

Consistent with the mission of St. Norbert Abbey, the monies from that sale were used to endow St. Norbert College, Prémontré High School and Abbot Pennings High School (currently Notre Dame de la Baie Academy), and future retirement and seminarian needs within the order.

Fast-forward to 2017: three creative and energetic seminarians began discussing the possibility of developing St. Norbert Abbey podcasts: digital audio recordings available on the internet that can be downloaded and listened to on a computer or mobile device. Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem., Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., and Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem., spent months researching and strategizing along with Katrina Marshall, abbey communications coordinator, and Judy Turba, abbey external relations and media advancement director.

“I listen to podcasts often, especially when exercising, traveling, or just doing simple chores, like laundry,” explained Frater Turba. “I started to wonder if this was something we could do—develop our own podcast as Norbertines. Sometime later, Jordan told me about a podcast assignment he was finishing at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The timing was beautiful. It felt like God clearly said, ‘Yes! This is something you can and should do!’ ”

In October 2017, the St. Norbert Abbey podcast Canons on the Run was launched. Its mission: to proclaim the Gospel, to give witness to fraternal life as Norbertines, and to educate others in the Catholic faith through modern communication.

Inspiration for the podcast title, Canons on the Run, was conceived from the idea that not only are Frater Neeck and Frater Turba Canons Regular* but also runners (marathon runners for that matter), journeying together, as are we all, running the race that God has set before us.

Frater Neeck and Frater Turba serve as the primary hosts of the podcast, delightfully and unabashedly sharing their Catholic faith, relevant topics, a bit of abbey humor, and of course, some of their conversations that occur while running together.

“Jordan and I happen to do a lot of learning, reflecting, and growing while on our runs. We hope to capture parts of that journey and share our fraternal life with others as we all strive ‘to be of one mind and one heart on the way to God.’ ”

Read More

  • Eyes fixed on Jesus
    By Jenny Snarski
    February 9, 2018
    Superior Catholic Herald
    Diocese of Superior

*Canons Regular are members of a religious order who take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; live in community under a rule (usually The Rule of St. Augustine); and share their property in common. The primary purpose of the life of a canon is to engage in the public ministry of the liturgy and the sacraments.

Heart & Soul: Norbertines and St. Norbert College Share Charisms, Values

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 4-5)

By Gina Sanders Larsen and Judy Turba

(L-R) Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem. (front), Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem., President Brian Bruess, Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem., Fr. James Herring, O. Praem. (standing), Fr. Tim Shillcox, O. Praem.
(L-R) Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem. (front), Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem., President Brian Bruess, Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem., Fr. James Herring, O. Praem. (standing), Fr. Tim Shillcox, O. Praem.

They exist on opposite sides of the Fox River in De Pere, Wisconsin, but the unwavering bond between the Norbertines of St. Norbert Abbey and St. Norbert College is strong and unambiguous. A new college president, a re-energized campus parish, and an innovative first-year student experience illustrate the institutions’ steadfast connection, “to be of one mind and one heart on the way to God” (The Rule of St. Augustine).

With a warm and gracious greeting, Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem., and Judy Turba met with Brian Bruess, recently named president of St. Norbert College (SNC), after his first month in office. During their time together, this most impressive 1990 SNC graduate shared thoughts about his journey, his vision for the college, and its connection to the Norbertine community, as well as what it means to come home.

Being an alum, I believe the stakes are higher for me as I serve in this role as president because St. Norbert College is not only a place I love but also a place that formed me.

—Brian Bruess

Brian Bruess, Ph.D., 50, eighth president of St. Norbert College, is only the second alumnus ever to serve in this role; Fr. Dennis Burke, O. Praem., was the first, and the similarities are striking. “Fr. Burke also followed an exceptional leader, Abbot (Bernard) Pennings, the founder of St. Norbert College,” said Bruess. “I, too, am following an outstanding and tremendously successful leader, Tom (Thomas) Kunkel. Needless to say, their extraordinary leadership is both intimidating and inspiring.” In fact, the year Bruess was born, Fr. Burke was retiring. Bruess remembers vividly from his years at the college a painting of Fr. Burke walking across the campus with then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. “The image has stayed with me all of these years.”

Bruess’ excitement is palpable and contagious. He realizes he is inheriting the helm of one of the top-ranked Catholic liberal arts colleges in the country. “Being an alum, I believe the stakes are higher for me because St. Norbert College is not only a place I love but also a place that formed me. Here I began to contemplate a career in higher education through the encouragement of faculty and administrators. I have had opportunities to serve elsewhere, but I honestly feel called here. It’s my vocation.”

Bruess shared his deep commitment to the college’s mission: “St. Norbert College, a Catholic liberal arts college embracing the Norbertine ideal of communio, provides an educational environment that fosters intellectual, spiritual, and personal development.” The mission statement emphatically stresses the tripartite—Catholic, Norbertine, liberal arts—all of which are inseparable and equally important. “This is the only Norbertine college in the world, and society has never needed St. Norbert College graduates more than now. The charism here is rich and powerful, distinctive and transformational.” Through regular meetings with the abbot and members of the abbot’s council, he will envision with the Norbertine community how best to sustain this mission. “I feel significantly responsible to represent Norbertine values and ensure that these values are woven within all aspects of our education.”

Given Bruess’ experience in higher education, his highly regarded expertise, commitment to Norbertine values, and passion for his alma mater—the sky is the limit. He is ready to serve.

Meet Brian Bruess, SNC College President and Alumnus

President Brian Bruess
President Brian Bruess

President Brian Bruess received bachelor of arts degrees in sociology and psychology from St. Norbert College with master’s and doctoral degrees from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. He most recently served at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, as executive vice president and chief operating officer. During his 21-year tenure there, he also was involved with enrollment management, finance, student affairs, and information technology. Bruess and his wife, Carol, also a 1990 graduate of St. Norbert College and most recently professor of communication and journalism at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, have two children: Gracie, a high school senior, and Tony, a Stanford University senior.

Read More

Heart & Soul: Gateway Seminar for First-Year Students Teaches Norbertine History and Values

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 7)

By Gina Sanders Larsen and Judy Turba

Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem. (left), and Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., visit with students who learn about the history and mission of St. Norbert of Xanten and St. Norbert College through the Gateway Seminar.
Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem. (left), and Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., visit with students who learn about the history and mission of St. Norbert of Xanten and St. Norbert College through the Gateway Seminar.

The inaugural Gateway Seminar for all incoming first-year St. Norbert College (SNC) students is in full swing. The seminar is a recently established graduation requirement; the new students gather once or twice a week during the fall semester in 22 small groups, each led by a three-person teaching team, typically comprised of two staff members and an upperclass student. The diverse teaching teams are charged with introducing the young adults to the history and mission of St. Norbert of Xanten and St. Norbert College. They also help new SNC students acclimate to college life and become familiar with one another and with faculty, staff, and Norbertines on campus who can assist them with their questions or concerns.

“St. Norbert College has had a first-year experience program for a long time, but it’s only this year when it became mandatory, which allows us to increase the number of sessions, deepen the content, and specifically educate our students on our history and mission,” said Fr. Jay Fostner, O. Praem., Ph.D., vice president for mission and student affairs at SNC. “Research demonstrates that first-year experience courses increase retention, help students bond with the institution, and create positive and deeper relationships between students, faculty, and staff.”

Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem., Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem., and Norbertine Associate Ellen Mommaerts, director of the Norbertine Volunteer Community, are each members of Gateway teaching teams. As young men in formation for the priesthood, Frater Turba and Frater Tran are often on campus. Fr. Brennan, SNC vocation coordinator, is also active in the College of Chaplains at SNC (see “Heart & Soul: College of Chaplains Returns to Campus, St. Norbert College Parish”).

“It’s become my new normal to have people approach me and ask questions about the priesthood,” Frater Turba said, especially considering that he is always wearing his white Norbertine habit. “If that’s the one thing that comes of our participation in Gateway— students engaging us in conversation—I think it’s wonderful. We are proof that St. Norbert is not just a man who lived 900 years ago, but through his ‘sons’ is still a living, breathing presence on our campus today.”

Frater Tran first came to the United States from Vietnam as a high school foreign exchange student. His American grandfather is an SNC graduate, and that connection led Frater Tran to attend and graduate from SNC with a business degree before joining the order. “It really does take a village to live and grow,” he said. “I rely on many others to help guide me, and now I help new students make connections that will help them discover new
people and ideas.”

The 2017-2018 SNC first-year class is comprised of 542 students from 13 states and eight countries. “We have abbeys around the world, and Norbertines are an international order. Here we strive to create a campus community that is diverse and welcoming,” said Fr. Fostner. “The Gateway Seminar helps us nurture a community where learning happens within the context of our rich Catholic, Norbertine, and liberal arts traditions.”

Read More

Heart & Soul: College of Chaplains Returns to Campus, St. Norbert College Parish

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 6)

By Gina Sanders Larsen and Judy Turba

(L-R) Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem., Fr. Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem., and Fr. Jay Fostner, O. Praem., are part of the College of Chaplains at St. Norbert College.
(L-R) Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem., Fr. Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem., and Fr. Jay Fostner, O. Praem., are part of the College of Chaplains at St. Norbert College.

The College of Chaplains at St. Norbert College (SNC) was reestablished in late 2016 after several years of relying on one or two ordained Norbertines to lead the campus parish, St. Norbert College Parish. According to Fr. Jay Fostner, O. Praem., Ph.D., vice president for mission and student affairs at SNC, the College of Chaplains affords many more ordained Norbertines the opportunity to participate in the liturgical life of campus while they simultaneously fulfill their regular full-time duties as teachers, students, professors, priest celebrants, administrators, chaplains, and parish priests. “Years ago, students saw a lot more white robes on campus than in recent times. In a sense, the reintroduction of the College of Chaplains is a revival of that tradition.”

To reinstitute the College of Chaplains, permanent Deacon Kevin DeCleene was named full-time pastoral leader of St. Norbert College Parish last fall. He reports to Fr. Fostner, priest moderator. The two men coordinate the participation of several ordained Norbertines in the lives of yearround and student parish members. Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem., and Fr. Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem., will be most active in the College of Chaplains, and are assisted by other Norbertine priests. Together with the five-member staff of the SNC Emmaus Center for Spiritual Life and Vocation, “we’ve already begun to experience renewed energy from Kevin’s enthusiastic leadership. Between the many Norbertines on campus and our talented 70-member staff in the entire division of mission and student affairs, there is such diversity of voices and personalities,” Fr. Fostner said.

St. Norbert College Parish exists to serve the spiritual and liturgical needs of the college’s 2700 students, faculty, and staff, the majority of whom are Catholic. In addition, the parish boasts approximately 415 households in year-round membership. “Our goal is to ensure the college feeds the parish and the parish feeds the college,” Fr. Fostner said. “The plan is working.”

Read More

Fall/Winter 2017 Issue of “Abbey Magazine” Now Available

From an ancient necrology of the Norbertine saints to digital podcasts, the Norbertines of St. Norbert Abbey embrace modes of communication that engage people and glorify God.
From an ancient necrology of the Norbertine saints to digital podcasts, the Norbertines of St. Norbert Abbey embrace modes of communication that engage people and glorify God.

Abbey Magazine is a biannual publication of the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey that illumines life at the abbey and welcomes readers into our life, mind, and spirit.

Featured content » Read this issue » All issues »

Young Adult Catholic Book Study

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 13)

By Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem., leads a book discussion.
Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem., leads a book discussion.

In his talk at the 2010 Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles, Fr. Robert Barron (now Bishop Barron) shared a story about a visit he made to his brother’s house. One day, after his niece came home from school—one of the elite Catholic high schools in Chicago—Fr. Barron couldn’t help but notice her pile of textbooks on the kitchen table: Shakespeare’s Hamlet for her English class, Virgil’s Aeneid for her Latin class, and a tome of complex equations for her advanced physics class. He rummaged through the books in amazement, proud of his niece’s sophistication and intelligence. After moving a few books aside, however, his heart quickly sank. Underneath some of the greatest works of Western civilization was a paperback book full of large, simple print and colorful cartoon pictures—she was using a comic book for her religion class.

Bishop Barron’s story about his niece’s textbooks is familiar to many young adults, including me. Many of us grew up with these religious “comic books” in our Christian formation courses, leaving us unaware of the richness, depth, and beauty of the Christian tradition. Until recently, I had never heard of great Christian novelists or storytellers like Flannery O’Connor or Leo Tolstoy. I had not read the Christology of St. Athanasius of Alexandria or the mystical theology of St. Bonaventure. I did not know that theology had been brought to critically acclaimed films, like Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. In other words, I was unaware that Catholicism had a vibrant, intelligent, and colorful culture that not only passed on the faith in nuanced and sophisticated ways, but also was compelling and enjoyable!

Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.
Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

After our exciting discovery of the vibrancy of Catholic culture, and recognizing the importance of sharing it with other young adults, Adam Horn (director of religious education at St. Bernard Parish, Green Bay) and I decided to start a book club for young adults ages 21-39 at St. Norbert Abbey. During the summer of 2016, we kicked off the group with a Facebook page simply called: “Young Adult Catholic Book Study: Green Bay, WI.” In September of 2016, we read our first work, Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien, with about eight members. After our first event, the book club started to grow. As of August 2017, our Facebook group has 70 members with as many as 18 participants at each discussion.

The fruits of our little book study are many: we have built community; we have read, watched, and discussed several great books and films; we’ve learned much and become “more cultured” along the way. Most importantly, however, we’ve become better at articulating and appreciating our faith. This was the impetus behind Fr. Barron’s story of his niece’s textbooks: to encourage young people to read the great books of the Christian tradition so that they might better understand, preach, teach, defend, celebrate, and thus communicate our faith. We believe that this book club is helping young adults in Green Bay accomplish these goals.

Join Us

If you are a young adult interested in learning to better communicate your faith, simply search “Young Adult Catholic Book Study: Green Bay, WI” on Facebook and join our group. We would love to read, discuss, and journey with you!

Selections from Ongoing Reading List:

Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkein
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
The Death of Ivan Illych by Leo Tolstoy
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick
The Soul’s Journey into God by St. Bonaventure
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Book of Job in the Holy Bible
On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius of Alexandria
The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher
Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment: Preparatory Document for the 2018 Synod on Young People by the Synod of Bishops
Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor



Colleague + Friend

Lessons on Virtuous Friendship from Dr. Paul Wadell

As seen in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 10)

By Fr. James Neilson, O. Praem.

Dr. Paul Wadell (left) and Fr. James Neilson, O. Praem.
Dr. Paul Wadell (left) and Fr. James Neilson, O. Praem.

Maybe it was his smooth Kentucky accent or the fact that he greeted, by name, every student who walked into class. I immediately knew my time spent with Dr. Paul Wadell as a grad student at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago was going to be as enjoyable as it was instructive.

In a course referencing his own book, Friendship and the Moral Life, Paul’s class was more like an invigorating retreat with a group of friends than a series of lectures in a room of strangers. Exalting the virtues as essential components of true friendship, Paul revealed a glorious truth: Being in right relationship with others, cultivating and maintaining a circle of good friends, is nothing less than the very dream of God for each and every one of us.

He modeled for us in our teacher-student relationship the virtues to espouse in our own friendships:

Friendship and the Moral LifeGenerosity

Paul clearly spent a great deal of time in preparing his classroom lectures. They were always rich in facts, personal insights applicable to everyday life, and wonderfully articulated in the most conversational tone. Our lectures were conversations with and among friends.


Paul received us in an atmosphere that valued spiritual understanding and wisdom. We learned that cultivating genuine and deep friendships facilitates the growth and development of the spirit.


Paul invited us to consider a variety of ideas and insights by way of many voices. His recommended reading list was an introduction to new friends; that is, authors we might never know personally, but would know via their writings. Sharing books, authors, works of art, and artists with new and old friends, with colleagues and students, is a lesson in friendship I practice to this day.

I find a wealth of virtuous friendships at my home, St. Norbert Abbey. As confreres, we share intellectual pursuits, mutual respect, collaboration in liturgical celebrations, and warm and inviting conversations at table. Together we believe God’s triune nature is an experience of mutuality. Therefore, as those created in the image and likeness of God, we enjoy a natural orientation toward being in mutual relationship with others. In our friendships we strive to mirror on earth what we believe is the very reflection of God’s own and true self. Today my professor is my colleague at St. Norbert College. I count him as one of the single most influential educators in my life. And I treasure him as a friend.

Paul Wadell, Ph.D., is a professor of theology and religious studies at St. Norbert College. Read his America magazine article, “Not Settling for Less,” which started as a presentation for The Conrad J. Kratz, O. Praem. Abbey Lecture Series at the Norbertine Center for Spirituality in 2014. He also has contributed to Abbey Magazinesee page 12 of the Spring/Summer 2016 issue for his thoughts on “A Ministry of Mercy.”

Fr. James Neilson, O. Praem., is a priest, artist, and teacher. He is an assistant professor of art at St. Norbert College. Read more about his varied ministries.