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St. Norbert Abbey’s “Best Single Photo”

July 9, 2018

At the Catholic Press Association’s 2018 Catholic Media Conference held in Green Bay June 12-15, this photo from the St. Norbert Abbey bell tower took third place in the “Best Single Photo” category among all magazine submissions from U.S. and Canada Catholic press.

As the highlight of a feature entitled, “Hark, the Glad Sound!”, the photo was submitted by St. Norbert College Magazine staff after it first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue (page 15).

According to the judges’ notes:

The perspective is extremely unique and highlights not only the size and quantity of the bells, but the intricacy of the engravings and the mechanism that runs them. The colors of the aging bells are are also nicely offset by the whites of the priests robes, and although older show through as bright and vibrant.

Very Rev. Bradley R. Vanden Branden, O. Praem., Named Prior of St. Norbert Abbey

June 20, 2018

The Rt. Rev. Dane J. Radecki, O. Praem., abbot of St. Norbert Abbey, with the support of the Norbertine community, has announced the appointment of the Very Rev. Bradley R. Vanden Branden, O. Praem., as prior of the community of St. Norbert Abbey, effective June 16, 2018.

The role of prior is that of a religious superior and vicar of the abbot. In the absence of the abbot, he functions with full authority. The prior’s position is primarily pastoral in nature, reaching out to those who serve and live within the Norbertine context and ministering to them on a one-to-one basis. He also represents the abbot and community at religious and civic events, meetings and celebrations.

Fr. Vanden Branden, son of Joan and Tom Vanden Branden, is a native of De Pere and lifelong member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. He is a graduate of West De Pere High School (2005) and St. Norbert College (2009). Fr. Vanden Branden earned master’s degrees in divinity and theology (liturgy) from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Fr. Vanden Branden served as deacon at St. Ann Catholic Church in Lansing, Illinois, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 2016.

He served as chaplain at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy, Green Bay, where he also taught theology, and as a sacramental minister at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. He currently is a member of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission.

Fr. Vanden Branden succeeds Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem., who served as prior to the Norbertine community since June 2013.

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Why Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem., Chose Norbertine Life

By Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

When I first started thinking about priesthood as a young man, I contacted the Norbertines, because their way of life, balancing action and contemplation—all while serving the local community, attracted me.

However, I eventually joined the seminary for the Archdiocese of Utrecht, Netherlands, my home country. Looking back, I think this was primarily a school choice, not looking beyond my education. While I am glad of the seminary I chose, after I earned my degree and was ordained and assigned, I started to miss the community life that I had in the seminary. To me the life as a diocesan priest was somewhat lonely and I started thinking about Norbertine life again. After a time of discernment, I left the diocese in 2017 and became a member of St. Norbert Abbey.

Community is what I was looking for and community is what I found.

—Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.
Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem. (right), Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem. (center), Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem. (left)

Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem. (right), Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem. (center), Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem. (left)

I also appreciate the fact that within Norbertine life there is a variety of ministerial possibilities; while for a diocesan priest, parish life is the only ministry one can experience.

For me the main reason to join St. Norbert Abbey was community. Community is what I was looking for and community is what I found. During the abbey’s daytime schedule, there are several built-in community moments: Morning, Noon, and Evening Prayer, and also meals and recreation. I really appreciate these moments.

I was emotionally moved a couple of years ago when I was visiting the Abbey. It was during Vespers that the elderly and ill Norbertines received the anointing of the sick. An older Norbertine became emotional after community members laid their hands on his head as part of the ritual. Another Norbertine noticed the tears in his eyes, came out of his choir stall, laid a hand on his shoulders, and consoled him. To me, this is community: to be there for one another, in particular when you need one another.

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