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Abbey Magazine


Podcast Episode 022: A Norbertine Priest goes to Yale

“Ministers who are overly stressed and experiencing burnout are not effective. It is important that we take time to achieve balance and good health to serve better our confreres in community and in ministry. Finding the time to go fishing takes me away from worldly pressures by engaging in an activity that is, in a sense, purposeless. I soak up the beauty of my surroundings and feel a real connection with creation. I am able to abandon my personal ambitions for a soul-nourishing engagement with the divine.” —Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem. | Fall/Winter 2014 “Abbey Magazine” (page 9

With special guest Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem., and Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., continue their short-and-sweet “summer interview series” with Norbertine guest Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

Currently a doctoral student of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University, Fr. Dougherty reflects upon his vision of the world, and the beauty and wonder of all God’s creation.

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August 2018 Norbertine Celebrations at St. Norbert Abbey

August 7, 2018

St. Augustine

St. Augustine

This August, as the Norbertine community of St. Norbert Abbey celebrates its annual observance of the Solemnity of St. Augustine, five men will take their next steps in honoring their commitments to the order.

On Monday, August 27, 2018, at the First Vespers of the Solemnity of St. Augustine, Charles (Griffin) P. Burris will be vested in the white habit of the Norbertine Order, beginning and deepening his commitment to religious life through a two-year novitiate. Rt. Rev. Dane J. Radecki, O. Praem., abbot of St. Norbert Abbey, will preside over the vestition ceremony.

On Tuesday, August 28, 2018, the Solemnity of St. Augustine, Frater Jordan S. Neeck, O. Praem., will profess Solemn Vows, forming a mutual lifelong commitment to the canonical life between himself and the entire professed community. Abbot Radecki will preside over the solemn rite.

Also on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, Frater Johnathan F. Turba, O. Praem., and Fr. Peter B. Ambting, O. Praem., will profess Simple Vows, committing themselves to the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience: poverty reflects simplicity of life; chastity opens them to growth in the Holy Spirit in union with others; and obedience makes them attentive to God’s will. They profess these Simple Vows on a temporary basis, usually for three years. Abbot Radecki will preside over the solemn rite.

On Wednesday, August 29, 2018, Rev. Frater Patrick M. LaPacz, O. Praem., will be ordained to the priesthood. The ordination will be celebrated by Most Rev. David L. Ricken, DD, JCL, bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

Also on Wednesday, August 29, 2018, Frater Neeck will be ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Ricken.

On Sunday, September 2, 2018, Rev. LaPacz will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Green Bay.


In the News

Updates: vocations from the Diocese of Superior
By Jenny Snarski
November 2, 2018
Superior Catholic Herald
Diocese of Superior

Norbertine community welcomes five men
August 22, 2018
The Compass


August 28, 2018 — Solemnity of St. Augustine 2018

Bishop and Doctor of the Church | Author of Our Rule of Life
Celebrating the Solemn Profession of Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem., and the Simple Profession of Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., and Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

A Lifelong Commitment to Canonical Life

from St. Norbert Abbey on Vimeo


August 29, 2018 — Mass of Ordination 2018

Celebrating the Ordination to the Priesthood of Fr. Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem., and the Ordination to the Diaconate of Deacon Jordan Neeck, O. Praem.

from St. Norbert Abbey on Vimeo


Rev. Frater Patrick Michael LaPacz, O. Praem.

Ordination to the Priesthood

Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

Deacon LaPacz, 31, is the son of Terrence and Mary (Berg) LaPacz of Green Bay and a member of St. Agnes Catholic Church.

Frater LaPacz was vested in the white Norbertine habit in August 2012, professed Simple Vows in August 2014, and professed Solemn Vows in August 2017. That year he also was ordained a transitional deacon.

A 2005 graduate of Notre Dame de la Baie Academy, Deacon LaPacz graduated from St. Norbert College (SNC) in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He later graduated from Conception Seminary College, Mo., in 2011, with a bachelor’s degree in philosophical and theological studies. In May 2018 Deacon LaPacz graduated from Catholic Theological Union (CTU), Chicago, with a master’s degree in divinity.

After his priestly ordination, Deacon LaPacz will be involved in parish ministry in Chicago for the next two years.


Frater Jordan Samuel Neeck, O. Praem.

Profession of Solemn Vows and Ordination to the Diaconate

Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem.

Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem.

Frater Neeck, 29, is the son of Howard and Lynn (Matuszewski) Neeck of Phillips, Wisconsin, and a member of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Catholic Church.

Frater Neeck was vested in the white Norbertine habit in August 2013 and professed Simple Vows in August 2015.

He graduated from SNC in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and previously worked as an accountant at MarquipWardUnited in his hometown. In December 2018 he will complete a master’s degree in divinity at CTU. As part of his studies, Frater Neeck completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Summer 2017, and this past spring he had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land for three weeks.

Closer to home, Frater Neeck serves as co-host with Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem., for St. Norbert Abbey’s podcast Canons on the Run. This creative endeavor sparked an invitation from Abbot General (Emeritus) Thomas Handgrätinger, O. Praem., for Frater Neeck and Frater Turba to serve on the Media and Public Relation Working Group for the 2018 General Chapter in Rome.

After being ordained to the diaconate, Frater Neeck will minister for one year at Old St. Patrick’s Parish in Chicago, where he also ministered with the parish’s youth ministry program during his time as a student at CTU.


Frater Johnathan Fredrick Turba, O. Praem.

Profession of Simple Vows

Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

Frater Turba, 30, is the son of Michael and Patricia (Fredrick) Turba of Platteville, Wisconsin, and a member of Immaculate Conception Church in New Richmond, Wisconsin.

Frater Turba was vested in the white Norbertine habit in August 2016.

Upon completion of his high school studies in Platteville, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in choral music education, emphasis in voice and piano.

Since graduating from college Frater Turba served as an elementary, middle, and high school teacher of general music and as a choral director for the Iola-Scandinavia School District in North Central Wisconsin. During his novitiate, Frater Turba helped create (and currently is co-host) of the podcast Canons on the Run, which reflects on life in formation as a member of St. Norbert Abbey.

This fall Frater Turba will begin his studies toward a master’s degree in divinity at CTU.


Rev. Peter Bernardus Ambting, O. Praem.

Profession of Simple Vows

Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

Fr. Ambting, 45, is the son of the late Peter H. and the late Wilhemina (Vos) Ambting of Doetinchem, Netherlands, and a member of St. Martin Parish in Beek, Netherlands.

Fr. Ambting was vested in the white Norbertine habit in August 2017.

He graduated from the Secondary Agricultural School of Doetinchem in 1991 and from Higher General Continued Education schooling in 2002. After being admitted into the seminary for the Archdiocese of Utrecht, Netherlands, in 2001, he earned a master’s degree in theology (Pastoral Theology) in 2007.

Fr. Ambting was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Utrecht in 2008, and served three years as associate pastor in Parochie De Wijngaard in Arnhem before becoming the pastor of the Roman Catholic Parish of Maria en Laurentius for four years. In 2014 the archbishop named him the pastor of another neighboring parish as well. He served as a pastor of these two parishes (the parishes comprising 19 previous parishes) for two years. Just before he left for the United States, the parish merged again and became Parish Maria Laetitia (The Joy of Mary). Since 2008 Fr. Ambting has enjoyed leading groups to the Holy Land for a Dutch pilgrimage organization. For him this is both an important ministry and something he likes to do.

Upon completion of his Norbertine novitiate, Fr. Ambting will serve as a chaplain at St. Norbert College Parish at Old St. Joseph Church.


Frater Charles Peter Burris, O. Praem.

Vestition

Frater Charles (Griffin) Burris, O. Praem.

Frater Charles Burris, O. Praem.

Frater Burris, 22, is the son of Richard Burris and Stacey Cicero of Shawano, Wisconsin, and a member of Sacred Heart Parish.

In 2014 Frater Burris graduated from Shawano Community High School. In 2018 he graduated from SNC with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in theology and religious studies. He also studied abroad in Maynooth, Ireland, where he focused on Irish Medieval history and archeology.

Throughout his college years Frater Burris was active at St. Norbert College Parish, serving on the parish council and staff. Additionally, he participated in student and institutional groups working to improve and raise awareness of environmental issues on campus.

Two Brothers, One Calling

On May 27, 2017, Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem., was ordained to the priesthood. The Mass of Ordination was celebrated by Bishop David L. Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay in the St. Norbert Abbey Church.

Pictured: Frater Michael Brennan, O. Praem. (right), and Christopher Brennan, C.S.C., in 2013.

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 15)

By Katrina Marshall

Like most siblings, Frater Michael Brennan, O. Praem., and his younger brother Christopher Brennan, C.S.C., have their differences. “Chris is stronger but I can run a lot farther,” said Frater Michael, tennis player and basketball coach. “Despite being smarter [and] more handsome …” began football player Christopher, laughing, “I’m probably more of an introvert.” Regardless of their contrasting hobbies and personalities, these brothers have something very special in common.

On August 28, the Feast of St. Augustine, De Pere Norbertine Frater Michael professed Simple Vows at St. Norbert Abbey. Less than four weeks previous on August 3, Christopher, of the Congregation of Holy Cross, professed First Vows at his Novitiate in Cascade, Colorado. Despite their 12-year age difference, the Brennan brothers are both on track to become priests within the next few years.

“When Mrs. Pearson asked my third grade class at Queen of All Saints to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, this is the picture I drew. My mom kept it all these years; 31 years later, I finally grew up.” —Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem. | as seen in Surprised By Joy

“When Mrs. Pearson asked my third grade class at Queen of All Saints to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, this is the picture I drew. My mom kept it all these years; 31 years later, I finally grew up.” —Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem. | as seen in Surprised By Joy

The brothers have strong Indiana roots, born and raised in the Hoosier State. Reflecting on their religious lives growing up, both remember praying at meals, participating in the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent, and going to Church regularly. “I knew I was going to be a priest since I was seven years old,” said Frater Michael. Christopher knows that passion for becoming a religious got passed on. “It made for an environment in which a vocation for priesthood was a normal thing to consider. Mike’s discernment is a big part of my story,” he said. The men’s Uncle Ted (their mother’s brother) will also celebrate his 50th year of priesthood in May 2017. Frater Michael graduated from St. Norbert College, the only Norbertine college in the world, in May 1999. The following month, he began the Alliance for Catholic Education Program (ACE) at the University of Notre Dame. As part of his Masters of Education program, he taught and coached in Louisiana, Chicago, and Atlanta for several years.

He returned to De Pere as a novice at St. Norbert Abbey in August 2011 and spent his novitiate year at Holy Spirit House of Studies, the Norbertine house of formation, in Chicago. Frater Michael spent his Second Year Novitiate and Apostolic Year at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy in Green Bay, teaching math and theology to area high school students.

Christopher followed a slightly different path than his older brother. He entered the University of Notre Dame not only as a college student, but also as an undergraduate seminarian at Old College, the Congregation’s formation and discernment program. After a year-long postulancy at Notre Dame as a senior, Christopher graduated in 2012 and spent the next year at the Congregation’s Novitiate in Colorado.

Both Frater Michael and Christopher agree that, while being blessed with a vocation to priesthood and religious life is wonderful, starting to recognize a particular religious community as “home” is even more special.

As he takes his next step toward becoming a priest, Frater Michael will return to live at Holy Spirit House of Studies, where he will prepare for the priesthood at Catholic Theological Union, starting by earning his Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Theology with a concentration in ethics. Christopher will begin his Masters of Divinity at Notre Dame, living at Moreau Seminary.

Frater Michael said he feels passionately about serving others and learning from those who may have much to give but lack the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter. At the heart of his vocation is the Eucharist. “The Eucharist is why I’m Catholic, and why I’m drawn to the priesthood.

“I’m truly blessed to be in formation at this time,” said Frater Michael on the day he professed his Simple Vows. The journey toward priesthood is one he is sharing with not only his blood brother, but also his community brothers, the men in formation with him.

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