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Vanden Branden


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.


Very Rev. Bradley R. Vanden Branden, O. Praem., Named Prior of St. Norbert Abbey

June 20, 2018

The Rt. Rev. Dane J. Radecki, O. Praem., abbot of St. Norbert Abbey, with the support of the Norbertine community, has announced the appointment of the Very Rev. Bradley R. Vanden Branden, O. Praem., as prior of the community of St. Norbert Abbey, effective June 16, 2018.

The role of prior is that of a religious superior and vicar of the abbot. In the absence of the abbot, he functions with full authority. The prior’s position is primarily pastoral in nature, reaching out to those who serve and live within the Norbertine context and ministering to them on a one-to-one basis. He also represents the abbot and community at religious and civic events, meetings and celebrations.

Fr. Vanden Branden, son of Joan and Tom Vanden Branden, is a native of De Pere and lifelong member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. He is a graduate of West De Pere High School (2005) and St. Norbert College (2009). Fr. Vanden Branden earned master’s degrees in divinity and theology (liturgy) from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Fr. Vanden Branden served as deacon at St. Ann Catholic Church in Lansing, Illinois, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 2016.

He served as chaplain at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy, Green Bay, where he also taught theology, and as a sacramental minister at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. He currently is a member of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission.

Fr. Vanden Branden succeeds Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem., who served as prior to the Norbertine community since June 2013.

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Why Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem., Chose Norbertine Life

By Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem.

Growing up in a Norbertine parish, there were often a variety of Norbertine priests that would cycle through to celebrate Mass. My family and I were always left with the feeling that Norbertines were community-minded men. Still today, I value community life as a great source of support and challenge. It is nice to know that on this journey toward God, I am not walking alone but have the support of my brothers in the community.

… I value community life as a great source of support and challenge.

—Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem.
Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem. (standing, right), at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy.

Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem. (standing, right), at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy.

The opportunities for ministries that our community affords has been a great blessing. I have very much enjoyed my time as chaplain at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy and being able to carry on the mission to another generation of students at the school. Often I hear stories from alumni about their beloved Norbertine teachers. Being able to share in the legacy that exists at Notre Dame is a great blessing to me.

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