Biographies

Father Norbert J. Rans, MM

Born: September 16, 1918
Ordained: June 15, 1947
Died: August 20, 2005

Father Norbert Rans died on Saturday, August 20, 2005 at St. Teresa’s Residence, Maryknoll, New York. He was 86 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 58 years.

Norbert Joseph Rans was born on September 16, 1918, near Springfield, Minnesota, son of Andrew and Hedwig Rans. The family of five children lived on a farm, and schooling took place in a rural one-room school house. He attended Nazareth Hall Preparatory Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. After graduation, and after hearing a talk given by Father James B. Walsh, M.M., he entered Maryknoll at Maryknoll Apostolic College (Venard) in Clark’s Summit, Pennsylvania on September 8, 1939. He was ordained a Maryknoll priest on June 15, 1947.

Because of his talents and gifts, Father Rans was assigned to the Chicago Promotion House. However, he was to live and work in Minnesota, with the hope of opening a Maryknoll House in that state. The house opened in Minneapolis in 1951 and Father Rans was appointed its Director. In 1953 he was appointed Promotion Director of the Chicago area. Three years later he was appointed Director of the Philadelphia House. In 1964 Father Rans was appointed Director of Promotion at Maryknoll Center in New York. On July 8, 1971, after completing his term as Director of Promotion, he was given a special assignment for promotion work in St. Louis and later in Los Angeles. This special assignment had to do with the Offices of Special Giving and Mission Projects. He continued in this work from Maryknoll, New York, funding mission projects with the gifts of generous benefactors, many of whom he had personally discovered and cultivated. This remained part of his work throughout his lifetime.

During his many years with the Development Department he was promised a mission assignment several times, but each time the promise had to be rescinded because his special talents were needed in the United States for the good of the Society.

In July 1974, Father Rans was assigned to the Treasury Department as Assistant Treasurer for Society Properties and Technical Giving. In this position he supervised the remodeling of the Walsh and Price buildings as well as the renovations and additions made to St. Teresa’s Residence at Maryknoll, New York. After the Loma Prieta, California, earthquake in 1989, which severely damaged the Maryknoll Residence at Los Altos, he was in charge of the reconstruction and renovation of that Residence.

Father Rans was one of the founders of CODEL and served a term as its President. He was responsible for the establishment of the Koch Foundation which, over the years, has provided substantial funding for innumerable mission projects of Maryknollers and other missioners. He was also the first Treasurer of the National Catholic Development Conference, Inc.

On June 1, 1995, Father Rans participated in the Mission Recognition Ceremony during which he received the Mission Cross in acknowledgment and appreciation of his mission commitment, mission vocation and mission accomplishments.

Father Rans served at Maryknoll, New York, as an Assistant Treasurer with varied responsibilities, where his talents and experience were a valuable resource for the Society.

Wake services were held at 4:30 p.m. on August 25, 2005 at St. Teresa’s, with Father Paul Belliveau officiating, and at 7:30 p.m. in Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center where Father Charles Huegelmeyer officiated and Brother Martin Shea read the biography. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel on August 26, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. Father Richard Callahan was Principal Celebrant and Father Joseph Heim homilist. Burial followed in Maryknoll Society Cemetery with Father John Sivalon conducting the graveside service.