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

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