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Rev. Xavier Gerald Gilbert Colavechio, O. Praem.

April 7, 1931 – March 22, 2018

Fr. Xavier Colavechio, O. Praem.

Fr. Xavier Colavechio, O. Praem.

Fr. Colavechio, age 86, a member of the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey and a Norbertine priest, passed into God’s Eternal Kingdom on March 22, 2018.

Fr. Colavechio was born on April 7, 1931, in Philadelphia to Archibald and Catherine (McCrossen) Colavechio.

In 1948, Fr. Colavechio graduated from Southeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia. He graduated with a B.A. degree in philosophy from St. Norbert College (SNC) in 1952 and continued his education, earning graduate degrees in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, in 1957, and from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., in 1959.

Upon entering St. Norbert Abbey, he was vested as a novice on August 28, 1948. He professed Simple Vows on August 28, 1950, Solemn Vows on August 28, 1953, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 29, 1955. He celebrated the 60th anniversary of his priesthood ordination on June 5, 2015.

Fr. Colavechio taught at SNC for more than 15 years, where he also served as chairman of the humanities division for much of his tenure. He was known to most of the college students as “Rocky.”

He later served as the rector of the Norbertine Generalate in Rome.

In 1989, Fr. Colavechio was one of the original members of the Norbertine Priory of St. Moses the Black in Raymond, Mississippi, where he served as administrator and pastor of St. Mary Parish, Jackson, Mississippi, and vocation coordinator until 2003.

Upon his return to De Pere, he was appointed director of the Norbertine Center for Spirituality at St. Norbert Abbey and held that position for two years.

From 1999-2005, he served on the Board of Trustees of SNC.

In 2005, the Norbertine Abbot General appointed Fr. Colavechio to represent the order to a small community of priests who were seeking affiliation with the Norbertine Order. This appointment found him traveling to Sant’ Antimo, Italy, and during his several visits he worked with the community—teaching about the history, customs, and constitutions of the Norbertine Order.

In addition to this, Fr. Colavechio also assisted at St. Agnes Parish, Green Bay, and ministered at the Quad Parishes of Green Bay.

In his later years, he resided at St. Norbert Abbey, working in internal ministry.

Fr. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Colavechio is survived by the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey; one sister, Sr. Regina Fidelis, I.H.M., in Immaculata, Pennsylvania; and three nieces: Patricia Colavechio, Kathleen Colavechio, and Anna Barr, all of Philadelphia.

He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers: Thomas (Nancy) Colavechio and Rev. Francis Colavechio; and one sister: Sr. Therese Maureen Colavechio, I.H.M.

The Norbertine Community is grateful for the extraordinary care Fr. Colavechio received from the abbey medical and nursing staff.

Arrangements

Visitation will be held at the Church of St. Norbert Abbey on Palm Sunday evening, March 25, 2018, beginning with Vespers of the Dead – Reception of the Body at 5 p.m. and continuing until 8 p.m.

Visitation will continue at the abbey on Monday of Holy Week, March 26, 2018, from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m.

The Mass of Christian Burial, expressing our faith and hope in the promised glory of the Lord’s Resurrection, will be held in the abbey church on Monday, March 26, 2018, at 10:30 a.m.; the Very Rev. James T. Baraniak, O. Praem., prior administrator of St. Norbert Abbey, will serve as principal celebrant; the Rt. Rev. Jerome G. Tremel, O. Praem., abbot emeritus, will serve as the homilist at the concelebrated funeral liturgy.

Burial will follow immediately in the St. Norbert Abbey Cemetery.

Ryan Funeral Home, De Pere, is in charge of the arrangements.

Read More

The Sights and Sounds of Lent

Marian Shrine in the St. Norbert Abbey Church

Marian Shrine in the Church of St. Norbert Abbey

By Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

The Meaning of “Lent”

Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

Some authors say that the word “Lent” is derived from the word “lengthen.” Seasonally, this means that the days are getting longer, that they are lengthening. We are heading toward spring.

Environmentally, in the Church year, this is the time for spring house cleaning. Getting rid of all that is not necessary. Putting out of sight those things that might distract us from the task at hand.

Some authors refer to Lent as the “desert experience.” A desert is a barren, dry, quiet place. One only hears the whisper of the wind and the shifting of sand. The days are hot by day and cold at night. Most Lenten days are cloudless with a myriad of stars at night—a cosmic fast and feast. It’s a time of deprivation and promise—a reminder of death and the promise of new life.

Lent, like all the seasons of the year—and much like life itself—is a paradox. A balancing of opposites. That’s why I say it’s time for spring cleaning. It’s time to create an atmosphere that’s conducive to solitude, contemplation, and memories.

Fr. John Buscemi, an artist and liturgical space consultant, writes that Lent is built on images of ashes, thirst, emptiness, and promise. Memories can help us unlock this power. But memories require solitude—an aloneness beyond loneliness. And solitude is necessary for creativity, reflection, and understanding.

… A cosmic fast and feast. It’s a time of deprivation and promise—a reminder of death and the promise of new life.

—Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.

Ash Wednesday

I like to think of Ash Wednesday as a memento mori—a reminder of death. Our American culture does not like reminders of death and I think that is sad. Death is the counterpart of the paradox of life. We don’t have one without the other. “Unless the grain of wheat falls to ground and dies—it cannot live.”

Reminders of our mortality are good for us. They keep us thinking straight and value orientated. That is what Ash Wednesday is all about—last year’s palms, from the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Passion Sunday becoming this year’s ashes—a reminder of the life/death cycle.

The imposition of ashes in the form of a big, bold cross on our foreheads is a reminder to all that “we are dust and to dust we shall return.” Medieval artists depicted this reality on their tomb engravings. They often pictured a skeleton speaking to the viewer: “What you are, I once was. What I am, you will become.” The acrid smell of burnt fronds reminds us of our own decomposition and of this reality.

The St. Norbert Abbey thurible offers a fragrant sacrifice of praise.

The St. Norbert Abbey thurible offers a fragrant sacrifice of praise.

Smell

The purpose of the use of incense during Lent is to carry prayer heavenwards, and in this sense it is a symbol of the priestly office. Incense, with its sweet-smelling perfume and high-ascending smoke, is typical of the good Christian’s prayer, which, enkindled in the heart by the fire of God’s love and exhaling the odor of Christ, rises up a pleasing offering in His sight (cf. Amalarius, De eccles. officiis in P.L., CV).

Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem.

Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem.

Color

Purple is the liturgical color of the Lenten season. The color purple is often a symbol for royalty, wealth, or status. In the Gospel of Mark (Mark 15:16), Roman soldiers clothed Jesus in purple before scourging him and crucifying him. In this sense, they were mocking his supposed royalty. Although they were clearly doing this as a mockery it’s also a bit ironic since Jesus was, in fact, royalty.

Sacrament of the Sick

Sacrament of the Sick

Sacrament of the Sick

The Sacrament of the Sick is frequently celebrated during the season of Lent, especially for oneself or for those who are dear to us. In the anointing ceremony myrrh is used in the blessed oil. Myrrh is the gum or viscid white liquid that flows from the acacia tree, found in Africa and Arabia. It was a custom of the Jews to give it to those who were condemned to death by crucifixion. Myrrh is commonly interpreted as symbolizing kingship, due to its use as an anointing oil, or death, due to its use as an embalming oil. Its perfume will quiet one’s anxiety and impart calmness.

Marian Shrine in the St. Norbert Abbey Church

Marian Shrine in the St. Norbert Abbey Church

Devotions

Fitting devotions during the season of Lent are:

  • devotion to Mary, as the Mother of the Crucified Christ, Our Lady of Sorrows
  • the rosary, especially with meditation on the sorrowful mysteries of Christ
  • the Stations of the Cross

Fasting, abstinence, and almsgiving are long-standing traditions, as well as the practice of the corporal and spiritual Works of Mercy, which Pope Francis so enthusiastically encourages.


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

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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