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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.

Read More


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.


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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Welcome Home Brian Bruess, Ph.D.

September 29, 2017

(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.

President. Alumnus. Friend.

President Brian Bruess

President Brian Bruess

The Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey congratulates Brian Bruess, Ph.D., on the occasion of his inauguration as the eighth president of St. Norbert College.

In the News

Heart & Soul: Norbertines and St. Norbert College Share Charisms, Values
By Gina Sanders Larsen and Judy Turba
Fall/Winter 2017 (pages 4-5)
Abbey Magazine

MHS alum named college president
Bruess heads St. Norbert, considered a top Catholic liberal arts colleges in US
October 26, 2017
The Monroe Times

Highlights From Inauguration, Heritage Week and Homecoming 2017
October 16, 2017
St. Norbert College (YouTube)

St. Norbert College holds inauguration for new president, Brian J. Bruess
October 11, 2017
The Green Bay Press-Gazette

Inauguration Day for new St. Norbert College president
October 11, 2017
FOX 11

Inauguration of new St. Norbert College president takes place Oct. 11
October 5, 2017
The Compass

The Inauguration of Brian Bruess Eighth President of St. Norbert College
September 21, 2017
St. Norbert College

Presidential Inauguration
St. Norbert College

Inauguration ceremonies set for new St. Norbert president
FOX 11

Livestream

St. Norbert College is streaming the inauguration ceremony live at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 11, 2017.

Watch live (YouTube) »


October 11, 2017 — Mass of Celebration

Theme: Fiat Lux (“Let there be light”)

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