Vanden Boogard


The Sandwich Generation: Fr. Dane Radecki, O. Praem.

Norbertine Priests Juggle Work, Family, and Health Concerns with the Help of their Brothers in Christ

As seen in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 9)

By Gina Sanders Larsen

Managing Editor, Abbey Magazine

Fr. Dane Radecki, O. Praem.

A Norbertine priest chooses a new family upon his entrance to the order—his confreres, or brothers—yet the man’s family of origin “is understood to be an important part of the community, too,” said Fr. Dane Radecki, O. Praem., current interim pastor of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Greenville, Wisconsin. Fr. Radecki, 66, has regular responsibilities to support his aging parents’ care and the care of his adult brother, Jeff, who has ongoing medical needs. “I manage my brother’s finances and I am his health care power of attorney. Mom is 86 and Dad is 90 and still living independently in Pulaski, but I expect my family caregiving will continue to increase,” Fr. Radecki said.

Up until his recent sabbatical and assignment to St. Mary’s, Fr. Radecki was a leader in the Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) system and called upon to consult for Catholic education programs across the country. As with so many other families, no amount of professional responsibility removes the obligation to family caregiving. “Those surprise calls in the middle of the night, or the decision to ‘clean the place,’ or an upcoming surgery, or someone losing her ability to drive—I rely on the generosity of my (Norbertine) community when it comes to caregiving. It’s something you step up and do as a son and a brother,” Fr. Radecki said, noting that his brother and sister also share these responsibilities.

When someone is amazed I still have my parents with me, I realize each moment with them is a blessing.

—Fr. Dane Radecki, O. Praem.
Fr. Dane Radecki, O. Praem.

Fr. Dane Radecki, O. Praem.

Fr. Radecki returns to St. Norbert Abbey weekly, from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon. “The concept is to recharge, but that doesn’t always happen. I may have a funeral, or an emergency call from my brother in Pulaski, and this is when I catch up on his finances,” Fr. Radecki said.

While with his confreres at the abbey, Fr. Radecki slides into the comfortable daily ritual of his community. “Serving in a parish, I miss the communal prayer of the abbey.” Long morning walks are his healthy habit, Fr. Radecki says, but he’s been known to choose more sleep over long strolls. “Sometimes the fatigue wins out,” he said, laughing.

The future is uncertain for Fr. Radecki as he waits to see how his family’s needs will change in the coming months and years. He wonders about moving his mother into the rectory with him so he can be her primary caregiver. “Yet these responsibilities do not weigh heavily on me,” he said. “When someone is amazed I still have my parents with me, I realize each moment with them is a blessing.”

The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation: Fr. Andrew Cribben, O. Praem.

Norbertine Priests Juggle Work, Family, and Health Concerns with the Help of their Brothers in Christ

As seen in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 8)

By Gina Sanders Larsen

Managing Editor, Abbey Magazine

Fr. Andrew Cribben, O. Praem.

Fr. Andrew Cribben, O. Praem., 53, is one of 11 children born into a Dodge County, Wisconsin, farming family. No stranger to hard work, he is currently the pastor of the 1400-family St. Willebrord Parish in downtown Green Bay, which just celebrated its 25th year as one of the region’s largest and most vital Hispanic Catholic churches. Seventy percent of parish families are Hispanic in language, culture, and tradition, and 30 percent are native English speakers.

“Our Hispanic families are primarily young with children, and our English-speaking members tend to be elderly,” Fr. Cribben said. “Changes in immigration law enforcement have caused a new wave of worry and uncertainty. We work every day to be companions to many long-term and well-established Hispanic people in Green Bay and the people who know them. My biggest challenge is parish unity in the midst of so many different pastoral needs.”

Fr. Cribben lives at the parish rectory and returns to St. Norbert Abbey, just a short car ride away, for meetings or supportive discussions with his confreres. “A group of us gathers intentionally to support one another in our active ministry. We share a desire to be happy, healthy, and holy. It’s where I experience the love and support I need to serve the people of our parish.”

The Norbertine Order’s personnel committee has been responsive to Fr. Cribben’s call for more help at the always-bustling St. Willebrord. Fr. Jack MacCarthy, O. Praem., came on as assistant pastor nearly two years ago, fluent in Spanish and Hispanic culture after decades of pastoral and medical service in the jungles of Peru. Fr. Cribben is confident in and thankful for his confrere’s expertise and compassion. “We can discuss pastoral and spiritual concerns of our parish members and community issues,” he said. “To have a confrere at my side is a great benefit to us both, I believe.” Together with Fr. MacCarthy and Br. Jacob Sircy, O. Praem., up to 12 Norbertines regularly assist Fr. Cribben with twice-daily Masses and eight weekend Masses at the parish. “Several of our elderly priests speak Spanish, so we can gather up to eight bilingual confessors for special events like our recent women’s retreat,” Fr. Cribben said.

I am working to regain healthy habits so I can stay productive and available to the people who need me.

—Fr. Andrew Cribben, O. Praem.
Fr. Andrew Cribben, O. Praem. (center)

Fr. Andrew Cribben, O. Praem. (center)

High on Fr. Cribben’s list of concerns is providing capable, Spanish-speaking Norbertines to serve at St. Willebrord Parish. “I hope and pray I have many more years at St. Willy’s, but given the size and complexity of our parish, I’ve already started discussions with the abbey personnel committee about a transition plan. How will we prepare? I rely on the members to help us with longer-term plans,” he said.

Fr. Cribben said self-care is often sacrificed in the midst of his hectic schedule and the heavy emotional and spiritual demands of his flock. “As a farm boy, my exercise was our daily work on the farm, and that has gone away,” Fr. Cribben said. “I am working with Dr. John Gray (abbey health advisor) to try and regain some healthy habits so I can stay productive and available to the people who need me.”

The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation: Fr. Steven Vanden Boogard, O. Praem.

Norbertine Priests Juggle Work, Family, and Health Concerns with the Help of their Brothers in Christ

As seen in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 7)

By Gina Sanders Larsen

Managing Editor, Abbey Magazine

Fr. Steven Vanden Boogard, O. Praem., served honorably as U.S. Navy officer and Catholic chaplain until his medical retirement in 2010.

Fr. Steven Vanden Boogard, O. Praem., served honorably as U.S. Navy officer and Catholic chaplain until his medical retirement in 2010.

He graduated from high school in Kimberly, Wisconsin, at the height of the Vietnam War era and enlisted in the U.S. Navy just weeks later. After his service as a hospital corpsman, Fr. Steven Vanden Boogard, O. Praem., now 63, enrolled at St. Norbert College and was ordained a Norbertine priest in 1988. Fr. Vanden Boogard taught high school for five years and was then commissioned a U.S. Navy officer and Catholic chaplain, a role in which he served honorably until his medical retirement in 2010.

“I have been on more than 100 ships on official navy business, everything from harbor tugs, frigates, and destroyers to the John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier,” Fr. Vanden Boogard explained. At his busiest and most dangerous time, he was the only Catholic priest military chaplain on U.S. military bases in 2006 in Fallujah, Iraq, where he pastored two chapel parishes, served four battalions and an army brigade, and supervised five junior chaplains.

Today, Fr. Vanden Boogard lives at St. Norbert Abbey in the dedicated medical wing after enduring cancer while serving in the navy in 2007. Multiple myeloma attacked his kidneys and led to thrice-weekly dialysis before a kidney transplant in May 2015. His cancer is in remission, yet Fr. Vanden Boogard is awaiting a further surgery to remedy related medical complications.

Fr. Steven Vanden Boogard, O. Praem.

Fr. Steven Vanden Boogard, O. Praem.

“I feel as if I am just 10 percent of what I once was. I used to travel far and wide—the mountainsides, fields, valleys, and seas—‘looking for lost sheep.’ I ministered to both Catholics and non-Catholics. I helped people become full members of the Catholic Church, celebrated the sacraments, and wrote scores of benedictions and invocations,” Fr. Vanden Boogard said of his 17 years in the navy.

Despite his chronic health condition, Fr. Vanden Boogard still celebrates an occasional community Mass at the abbey for and with his confreres. The bishop asked him to serve as a priest celebrant at St. Hubert/St. Peter’s in Rosiere and Lincoln, and at St. Francis Xavier/St. Mary of the Snows in Brussels, Wisconsin, a role that leaves him free of administrative duties but vital to the spirit and people of these small rural parishes.

Admittedly, it’s now a different type of living in community, a switch from the U.S. Navy to the Norbertines, each with their own sets of rituals and routines. “Since August 1979 St. Norbert Abbey has been my home. After being away for a long time, it is good to be back.”

The Sandwich Generation

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