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The Blessing of an Abbot

June 29, 2018

Abbot Dane Radecki, O. Praem.

Abbot Dane Radecki, O. Praem.

Most Rev. David L. Ricken, Bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, blessed the seventh abbot of St. Norbert Abbey, Rt. Rev. Dane J. Radecki, O. Praem., on July 2, 2018, in the Church of St. Norbert Abbey.

In attendance were the abbot general of the worldwide Norbertine Order, Most Rev. Thomas A. Handgrätinger, O. Praem., Rome, and prelates from around the country and the world, including:

  • Abbot Marcus Champia, O. Praem. | Jamtara Abbey, India
  • Abbot Dennis Hendrickx, O. Praem. | Berne Abbey, Netherlands
  • Abbot Eugene Hayes, O. Praem. | St. Michael Abbey, California
  • Abbot Joel Garner, O. Praem. | Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey, New Mexico
  • Abbot Dominic Rossi, O. Praem., Abbot Emeritus Richard Antonucci, O. Praem., and Abbot Emeritus Ronald Rossey, O. Praem. | Daylesford Abbey, Pennsylvania
  • Abbot Emeritus Gary Neville, O. Praem., Abbot Emeritus Jerome Tremel, O. Praem., and Abbot Emeritus E. Thomas De Wane, O. Praem. | St. Norbert Abbey
  • Rt. Rev. James Herring, O. Praem. | Immaculate Conception Priory, Delaware

Abbot Radecki honored his predecessors by wearing something from each of the prior six abbots:

  • the mitre and ring of Abbot Bernard Pennings, O. Praem., founding abbot of St. Norbert Abbey
  • the pectoral cross and crosier of Abbot Sylvester Killeen, O. Praem.
  • the wanga stone of Abbot Jerome Tremel, O. Praem.
  • the ring of Abbot Benjamin Mackin, O. Praem.
  • the medallion of Abbot E. Thomas De Wane, O. Praem.
  • socks from Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem.

Following the liturgy a reception was held on the front lawn of St. Norbert Abbey, followed by dinner at St. Norbert College. More than 450 people were in attendance.

There was a livestream of the event on St. Norbert Abbey’s YouTube channel at 2 p.m.

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July 1, 2018 — Evening Prayer (Vespers)

The Church of St. Norbert Abbey


July 2, 2018 — Mass

from St. Norbert Abbey on Vimeo


The Abbot Radecki Coat of Arms

By Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

Radecki Coat of ArmsThe Abbot Radecki coat of arms is divided into two halves: the left half contains the coat of arms of St. Norbert Abbey, and the right half the coat of arms of Abbot Radecki.

The principal symbol in the St. Norbert Abbey coat of arms is a red diagonal cross on a silver field. A pair of red medieval shears is centered in each angle. These shears are symbolic of the Counts of Gennep, the house to which St. Norbert of Xanten belonged (1080-1134).

Located at the top of the shield are two gold fleurs-de-lis on a blue field, symbolic of France where the Order of Prémontré (Norbertines) was founded, and which St. Louis of France conferred upon the Order of Prémontré. Gold and blue are the colors of France. Between the fleurs-de-lis, a silver crescent moon is located. This symbol of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary reflects to whom the Church of the United States of America is dedicated.

Above the shield is a crosier, indicating the abbatial status of St. Norbert Abbey. The superimposed letters A and M on a star denote the angelic salutation Ave Maria, and the Marian invocation Star of the Sea.

The principal symbol in the Radecki coat of arms is the gold beehive and bees on a field of blue, which are taken from the medieval Radecki coat of arms. Bees are noted for their industry and creativity. They work unceasingly, not just for themselves, but for the common good of the hive, producing the “gold” of honey and wax, worthy to be burned as candles on the altar at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The three bees in number denote the Trinity and the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

White-capped blue waves divide the lower right field into two parts and are derived from Abbot Radecki’s French-Canadian maternal heritage (Villeneuve), the waters of Green Bay, and his love of water from his youthful years with his relatives in Upper Michigan.

The upper-right quarter contains a burning lamp of wisdom resting on a book of learning, denoting the abbot’s lifetime of ministry in education. The red background is taken from the Polish national flag denoting the abbot’s Polish heritage.

Above this shield is a mitre, a tall two-sided headdress worn by abbots as a symbol of their office, denoting both the Old and New Testaments.

Abbot Radecki’s motto, or rule by which to live—“Walk Humbly with God”—is taken from the Prophet Micah 6:8:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with your God.”


Pontifical Insignia

At his blessing on July 2, 2018, Abbot Dane Radecki, O. Praem., honored his predecessors and respected the wonderful tradition of St. Norbert Abbey by wearing something from each of the prior six abbots.

1. Mitre and Ring

Pontifical Insignia

Pontifical Insignia

Abbot Bernard H. Pennings, O. Praem.
First Prior (1893-1925)
First Abbot (1925-1955)

The mitre symbolizes the abbot’s role of leading his flock in the race to salvation to final victory in Heaven. Its meaning is derived from St. Paul’s analogy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on a merited crown awaits me …” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

The abbatial ring symbolizes the abbot’s marriage to the Church and his spiritual parentage over his religious community. The power of the ring is significant, in that it binds the religious to their abbot and his teaching on all spiritual matters.

2. Pectoral Cross and Crosier

Abbot Sylvester M. Killeen, O. Praem.
Coadjutor Abbot (1947-1955)
Abbot (1955-1970)

The pectoral cross symbolizes the strength and protection needed against all evil and all enemies, and for an abbot to be mindful of the Passion and Cross of Jesus Christ.

The crosier (shepherd’s staff) symbolizes the pastoral authority of a prelate. The abbot, like Christ, is symbol of a good shepherd who must lead his community along the path of salvation, disciplining and protecting them as needed.

3. Wanga Stone

Abbot Jerome G. Tremel, O. Praem.
Coadjutor Abbot (1969-1970)
Abbot (1970-1982)

This semi-precious gem is in the form of a touch stone conveying joy and harmony to its owner and is thought to eliminate anxiety from one’s life.

4. Ring

Abbot Benjamin T. Mackin, O. Praem.
Abbot (1982-1994)

This simple gold band ring symbolized a “simplicity of lifestyle” stemming from the vow of poverty.

5. Medallion

Abbot E. Thomas De Wane, O. Praem.
Abbot (1994-2003)

This bronze medallion of Blessed Jacob Kern, O. Praem., was blessed at the beatification ceremony by Pope John Paul II on June 21, 1998.

6. Happy Socks

Abbot Gary J. Neville, O. Praem.
Abbot (2003-2018)

This joy-filled gift to Abbot Radecki contains the symbol of the bee from his coat of arms and includes the inscription “bee happy.”

Cloister Art Gallery Exhibit

See further meaning and history of the symbols of the office of an abbot in the exhibit Abbots, Accessories, Achievements in the St. Norbert Abbey Cloister Art Gallery.


June 2018 Norbertine Celebrations at St. Norbert Abbey

May 23, 2018

Great West Window in the Church of St. Norbert Abbey

Great West Window in the Church of St. Norbert Abbey

On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, the Solemnity of St. Norbert, Rt. Rev. Dane Radecki, O. Praem., abbot of St. Norbert Abbey, will preside at Mass at 4 p.m. in the abbey church.

This sacred celebration also honors:


In the News

The Oshkosh Northwestern
May 24, 2018



Rev. Bartholomew A. Agar, O. Praem.

60th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood

Fr. Bartholomew Agar, O. Praem.

Fr. Bartholomew Agar, O. Praem.

Fr. Agar, native of Philadelphia, graduated in 1955 from St. Norbert College (SNC) with a B.A. degree in philosophy. His studies continued at Columbia University, New York, from where he earned an M.A. degree in music and music education. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 1958.

Fr. Agar served on the faculty at St. Norbert High School, De Pere, from 1955-1959, and St. John Neumann High School, Philadelphia, from 1959-1972. In 1972 he continued his music career at SNC as a professor of music and eventually was appointed chair of the music department. Upon his retirement in 1995 he was named professor emeritus of music. Fr. Agar served as the St. Norbert Abbey organist from 1951-2000. He was instrumental in acquiring the abbey’s Casavant organ.

Fr. Agar currently resides at St. Norbert Abbey where he serves in internal ministry.


Rt. Rev. E. Thomas De Wane, O. Praem.

60th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood

If anyone wishes to realize God’s blessings, simply look back at the story of one’s life … and yes, include the mistakes and failures. ‘All is grace!’

—Nouwen
Abbot Emeritus E. Thomas De Wane, O. Praem.

Abbot Emeritus E. Thomas De Wane, O. Praem.

A native of Green Bay, Wis., Abbot De Wane graduated in 1955 from SNC with a B.A. degree in philosophy, Latin, and history. He continued his studies at Marquette University, receiving an M.Ed. degree in 1964 and a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Chicago in 1970. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 6, 1958.

Abbot De Wane taught at Prémontré High School, Green Bay, from 1958-1964. From 1968-1972 he served as dean of students at SNC, returning in 1973 to Prémontré High School as principal. In 1984 he was named director of teacher education at SNC and in 1994 was elected the fifth abbot of St. Norbert Abbey. In 2005 Abbot De Wane was named prior of St. Moses the Black Priory in Raymond, Mississippi, where he currently serves.

Abbot De Wane has served on the board of trustees of SNC and on the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity, Green Bay.


Very Rev. Eugene E. Gries, O. Praem.

50th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood

He must increase and I must decrease.

—John the Baptist
Fr. Eugene Gries, O. Praem.

Fr. Eugene Gries, O. Praem.

A native of Neenah, Wisconsin, Fr. Gries, prior of Santa María de la Vid Abbey, Albuquerque, received his B.S. degree in business administration from SNC in 1962, and an M.S.I.R. degree from Loyola University Chicago. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 19, 1968.

In 1970 he was named dean of men at SNC, where he eventually served as the vice president for student life, pastor of the college parish, and director of campus ministry. Fr. Gries was appointed vocation director during this time. He eventually served for 15 years on the board of trustees.

Fr. Gries has served as prior of St. Norbert Abbey, St. Moses the Black Priory, Jackson, Mississippi, and Santa María de la Vid Abbey. He also served on the pastoral team of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community, Albuquerque.

In 2009 the board of trustees of SNC announced that a new residence hall would bear his name in recognition of his service to the college.


Rev. Peter J. Renard, O. Praem.

50th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood

Eat and drink what is offered to you.

—Luke 10:7
Fr. Peter Renard, O. Praem.

Fr. Peter Renard, O. Praem.

Green Bay native Fr. Renard is a 1964 graduate of SNC, earning a B.A. degree in philosophy. His graduate degrees include an M.A. degree in economics from the University of California-Los Angeles and an M.B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 19, 1968.

Fr. Renard has served numerous parishes around the state and country. He also served on the faculty of SNC and as hospital chaplain locally and around the country. In 2004 Fr. Renard became involved with the Diocese of Green Bay as chaplain and pastoral care worker to the Hmong/Lao community. He played flute and oboe with the Allouez Village Band for 20 years.

Fr. Renard has been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1978 and held the positions of council chaplain and state chaplain. In 2007 he received the Fourth Degree. He currently assists leadership at both the assembly and district levels.


Very Rev. James T.  Baraniak, O. Praem.

25th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood

Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem.

Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem.

Fr. Baraniak, an Antigo, Wisconsin, native, received a B.A. degree in theology and psychology from SNC and M. Div. and M.A. in liturgy degrees from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. He was ordained to the priesthood on January 3, 1993.

Following his ordination Fr. Baraniak was appointed associate pastor of Old St. Joseph Church and associate director of campus ministry at SNC. In 1996 he was named associate pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, De Pere, and in 2004 was named pastor of Old St. Joseph Church. He served the Norbertine community as vocation director from 1995-2007 and again from 2014-2018.

Since 1997 Fr. Baraniak has served as chaplain to the Green Bay Packers and has been a sacramental minister at Green Bay Correctional Institution for the past 19 years. Currently Fr. Baraniak is prior of St. Norbert Abbey. As of June 16, 2018, he will serve as house superior and master of professed at Holy Spirit House of Studies, Chicago.


Rev. James P. Neilson, O. Praem.

25th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood

Fr. James Neilson, O. Praem.

Fr. James Neilson, O. Praem.

A native of Springfield, Illinois, Fr. Neilson received a B.A. degree in art education from SNC and an M. Div. degree from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. He continued his art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana; and Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, from where he earned an M.F.A. degree in three-dimensional mixed media sculpture. He was ordained to the priesthood on November 13, 1993.

Fr. Neilson lectures across the country on topics related to art and spirituality. His own artwork was on display at the Neville Public Museum, Green Bay, where he took first place and best in show awards at the 62nd Art Annual Exhibition (2006). His work most recently was on view at the Mary-Frances and Bill Veeck Gallery, Chicago.

He presently is an assistant professor of art at SNC and recently received the college’s Student Life Educator of the Year Award.

Podcast Episode 003: Transformative Meals: Opportunity for Encounter

Fr. Alfred McBride, O. Praem. (left), Abbot Emeritus E. Thomas De Wane, O. Praem. (center), and Fr. Andrew Cribben, O. Praem. (right), in the dining room (refectory) at St. Norbert Abbey.

Fr. Alfred McBride, O. Praem. (left), Abbot Emeritus E. Thomas De Wane, O. Praem. (center), and Fr. Andrew Cribben, O. Praem. (right), in the dining room (refectory) at St. Norbert Abbey.

To share a meal, and not just food, but also affection, stories, events, is a fundamental experience.

—Pope Francis

When is the last time you sat down together with loved ones and enjoyed a meal, good conversation, events of the day? Given the fast-paced culture in which we live, it has become the norm to grab a meal on the go, or eat while tuned into television or smart phones. But sharing a meal at home or in the Eucharist can be a transformative experience—an opportunity to encounter Christ within ourselves and one another.

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