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.

St. Norbert College’s European Norbertine Heritage Tour 2018

May 21, 2018

Roggenberg Abbey in Germany

Fr. Jay Fostner, O. Praem., is leading the 2018 European Norbertine Heritage Tour offered by St. Norbert College.

Prior de regimine James Herring, O. Praem., and Br. Jacob Sircy, O. Praem., are traveling along with Fr. Fostner and more than 30 others.

Since 2006 the college has offered faculty and staff the opportunity to participate in the tour and the Cornerstones Seminar. This opportunity encompasses foundational and core Norbertine values and traditions, as well as Norbertine history.

Historical Highlights

Photos and captions by Br. Jacob Sircy, O. Praem.

Roggenburg Abbey | Germany

Schlägl Abbey | Austria

Geras Abbey | Austria

Strahov Abbey | Czech Republic

Magdeburg, Germany

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Lenten Reading Suggestions

Lenten Reading

Looking for inspiring books that will enhance your Lenten journey? We asked a few prolific readers within the Norbertine community for suggestions. Below are their recommended titles.

Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection

By Pope Benedict XVI

Recommended by: Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem., and Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Pope Benedict takes his readers through the familiar stories surrounding our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection while adding unique reflections and insights earned from a lifetime of study, prayer, and reflection. This book not only makes you rethink what you know of Jesus of Nazareth but also fall in love with him again.

Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery of Easter

By Hans Urs von Balthasar

Recommended by: Fr. Matthew Dougherty, O. Praem.

Named a cardinal of the Church by Pope (Saint) John Paul II shortly before he died, Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) was one of the great theologians of the post-Vatican II Church. Mysterium Paschale is one of Balthasar’s most influential works, especially for its unique take on Christ’s decent into hell. At times, this work can be a bit jargon-filled and difficult to read, but for those comfortable with theological language, it is a profound and worthy book.

Fr. Michael Weber, O. Praem.

Fr. Michael Weber, O. Praem.

Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI

By Pope Benedict XVI

Recommended by: Fr. Michael Weber, O. Praem.

I’ve used Pope Benedict’s devotional throughout the last couple of years for reflection. Although these are daily meditations throughout the year, they are particularly powerful, well written short reflections on Scripture passages—including Lenten messages.

Abbot Emeritus Jerome Tremel, O. Praem.

Abbot Emeritus Jerome Tremel, O. Praem.

The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully

By Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B.

Recommended by: Abbot Emeritus Jerome Tremel, O. Praem.

Grace and wisdom flow from some 40 short essays. A rich source of reflection for anyone approaching or experiencing the elder years.

Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

i am through you so i

By Brother David Steindl-Rast

Recommended by: Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

Brother David, one of the most significant spiritual teachers and international speakers of our era, tells his incomparable rich story spanning the nine decades of his life.

Brother David and his TED Talk also can be found online.

Written for Our Instruction: Theological and Spiritual Riches in Romans

By Thomas D. Stegman, SJ

Recommended by: Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

This book sets forth and makes accessible an under-appreciated aspect of St. Paul’s theology on the life of the Spirit. In his letters, Paul often reminds his readers/hearers about the gift of the Spirit they have already received.

Everything Ablaze: Meditating on the Mystical Vision of Teilhard de Chardin

By David Richo

Recommended by: Fr. James Herring, O. Praem.

Richo describes our calling to discover the sacred heart of the universe, grow into planetary consciousness, and participate in the great work ahead of us. A rich resource for meditating.

—Ursula King
Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

By Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams

Recommended by: Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

The author invites these two spiritual leaders and close friends to share their experiences of deep and abiding joy, most particularly in the face of profound suffering. This book has both confirmed and challenged my understanding of hope, joy, and suffering amidst the blessedness and brokenness of our shared humanity.

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your TransformationThe Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation

By Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell

Recommended by: Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem.

Fr. Richard Rohr invites us to enter into one of the central tenets and mysteries of Christianity: our God is relationship, our God is community. Made in this image and likeness, we are invited to be transformed by our God, who constantly calls us into relationship. I’ve had this book on my shelf since late last summer; perhaps Lent will be the perfect time to jump in.

Between the Pages Book Discussion

Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 10-11 a.m.

Tony Pichler, director of the Norbertine Center for Spirituality at St. Norbert Abbey, is facilitating a book discussion on The Divine Dance. Details and registration »

Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

iBreviary—Office of Readings

Recommended by: Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

When I start my day reading the Office of Readings, my heart is much more open to God’s presence throughout the day. Simply download the iBreviary app, click on “Breviary” and then select “Office of Readings.”

Hope for the Flowers

By Trina Paulus

Recommended by: Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

This simple book tells a beautiful allegory of letting go of our comforts in life and finding the courage to move through death to a life greater than anything we could have imagined. I find this book so insightful in reflecting on my own struggles, identifying what comforts I am holding on to that I may need to let go of, and visiting anew the need to give my life completely to God.

Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

The Way of Gratitude: Readings for a Joyful Life

Editors: Michael Leach, James Keane, Doris Goodnough

Recommended by: Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

The Way of Gratitude is a treasure trove of writings that inspire and prod one to think seriously about things that most of us just take for granted. The editors have assembled the writings of well-known authors who open the meaning of “gratitude” to make its practice useful and joyful. Authors such as James Martin, SJ, Henri Nouwen, Joan Chittister, O.S.B., and even David Brooks help you rethink your own response to gratitude.

Deacon Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

Deacon Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

The Magnificat Lenten Companion 2018

Recommended by: Deacon Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

This booklet contains reflections and short prayers for every day in Lent and helps keep one focused through one’s Lenten journey.

Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

The Long Loneliness: An Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist

By Dorothy Day

Recommended by: Frater Anh Tran, O. Praem.

Through Dorothy Day’s autobiography of her life as a devout Catholic, a lover of Christ, and a tremendous champion for the poor, we gain insights regarding the call of true discipleship within our lives and the beauty of the Paschal Mystery.

More opportunities to celebrate the season of Lent at St. Norbert Abbey »

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