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Fall/Winter 2017


Norbertine Publishes Chapter on “Lessons from a Catholic Campus”

October 31, 2017

Student Life in Catholic Higher Education: Advancing Good Practice

Student Life in Catholic Higher Education: Advancing Good As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 20)Practice

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 20)

Fr. Jay Fostner, O. Praem., Ph.D., vice president for mission and student affairs and assistant professor of psychology at St. Norbert College, recently published “The Death of a Student: Lessons from a Catholic Campus”—one of 34 chapters in the book, Student Life in Catholic Higher Education: Advancing Good Practice.

Published by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, this book is meant to be a very practical guide for new student affairs leaders at Catholic colleges and can be ordered online: www.accunet.org/publications.

Surprised By Joy

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 14-15)

By Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” —Frederick Buechner (A favorite quote of Fr. Brennan)

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” —Frederick Buechner (A favorite quote of Fr. Brennan)

Words do not adequately express how deeply I have encountered God throughout the last several months.

<em>“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.”</em> —Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

“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.

On May 27, the 50th anniversary of my Uncle Ted’s ordination to the priesthood, I was ordained “a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:3) by Bishop David Ricken at St. Norbert Abbey. Throughout my ordination weekend and the ensuing days, I have been continually surprised by joy. In describing joy, C.S. Lewis once wrote, “It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me …” I echo this sentiment; but I know for certain that I am home: I am home at St. Norbert Abbey, I am home in the overwhelming humility and joy of being continually invited into the brokenness and blessedness of the People of God.

Is it really possible for a 40-year-old man who has dreamt of being a priest since childhood to be surprised by joy? (See drawing above.) I can tell you from experience—yes, I have known forever that I wanted to be a priest. And yes, I have repeatedly been surprised by joy. My ordination weekend (Mass of Ordination, “First Mass” of Thanksgiving, and related celebrations) and the weeks following continue to overwhelm my heart and soul with joy. Words do not adequately express how deeply I have encountered God throughout the last several months.

May 27, 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 Church of St. Norbert Abbey.

May 27, 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 Church of St. Norbert Abbey.

Saturday morning, ordination day, I was in the abbey dining room and bumped into one of our elder priests, who suffers from dementia. I shared, “Father, they’re ordaining me today.” Startled and a bit confused, he replied, “What?” I repeated, “I will be ordained a priest today.” This time my words registered, and his face lit up as he said, “They are?” Smiling, he gave me a tender and loving hug and added, “Congratulations!” With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat I responded, “Thank you, Father!” In the abbey dining room, I was surprised by joy.

Recently, I joined Deacon Kevin DeCleene, pastoral leader of St. Norbert College Parish, and two friends in the home of a fellow parishioner who was preparing to have back surgery. As we gathered around her kitchen table for the Anointing of the Sick, I was overcome with the goodness and grace of this sacred moment. Around our neighbor’s kitchen table, I was surprised by joy.

These are but two specific examples of how I have been surprised by joy throughout the last several months. In addition, I have been surprised by the joy of making eye contact with family and friends throughout my weekend of ordination and First Mass, of consecrating the Eucharist, and of hearing confessions. My prayer is that God will continue to surprise me with joy as I seek to serve God and neighbor as “a priest forever.”

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.

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