Order of Premontre, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, and White Canons

R. D. Robert C. Vande Hey, O. Praem.

Vande Hey
Birth: July 19, 1924

Death: June 10, 2009

House: St. Norbert Abbey

Father Robert Clarence Vande Hey, O. Praem., age 84, a member of the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere, WI, and a Norbertine priest, passed into God’s eternal kingdom on Wednesday, June 10, 2009.

Father Vande Hey was born on July 19, 1924 in Hollandtown , WI , to Peter and O’Delia (Meulemans) Vande Hey.  His home parish was St. Francis Seraph Parish, Hollandtown, WI .

In 1942, Father graduated from the Salvatorian Seminary,   St. Nazianz, WI.  He received a B.A. degree in Philosophy from St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI , in 1946 and a Ph. D. in Biology from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN in 1961.

Upon entering St. Norbert Abbey, he was vested as a novice on August 28, 1943.  He professed Simple Vows on August 28, 1945, Solemn Vows on August 28, 1948 and was ordained to the Priesthood on June 11, 1949.

For the first years after his ordination, Father Vande Hey taught at Southeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia before his assignment to the biology faculty at St. Norbert College in 1955.  (He retired as professor emeritus in 1989).  Over time, he attended graduate and post graduate classes in biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Notre Dame, and Mount St. Mary College, Los Angeles, the latter with a Research Fellowship awarded by the Atomic Energy Commission.

His doctoral dissertation drew international recognition, accolades , and honors.  Father Vande Hey received a post-doctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Health’s U.S. Public Health Service to study at the University of Mainz, Germany, where he continued mosquito research under the director of the Institute of Genetics, the world authority on mosquito genetics.  Father Vande Hey’s research and its results were published in various professional journals.

Other ministries included formation with students at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago; chaplaincies at St. Mary’s Hospital, Duluth, Minnesota, and Benedictine monasteries of nuns in Duluth and in Idaho; and associate pastorates in Madison and Wyoming. 

He was the first Norbertine to encourage the adoption of an Order-wide International Website to enhance communication within the Order and to increase knowledge of the Order worldwide.  His strong, good humored advocacy eventually won the day among the Order Hierarchy, resulting in www.premontre.org and the Internet Commission of the Order. 

Father Vande Hey is survived by the Norbertine Community; three brothers, Earl, Eugene (Virginia), and Arthur (Teresa); three sisters, Gladys Tennessen,  Sr. Eugenia, OSF, and Grace (Marvin) Zwick.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

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