Meet Father Norman Tanck, CSB
The Basilians have been part of my life since ninth grade. It has been a blessing to live the Basilian Way of Life in community with them.
From Catholic environments to diverse ministries, a journey of a dedicated Basilian Priest is a journey of faith, community, and personal growth. Father Norman Tanck, CSB shares his inspiring journey from his Catholic upbringing to his fulfilling life as a servant of God, and through his role as the director of Associates for USA and Canada.
Born in Rochester, New York, Father Tanck’s parents, both hardworking individuals, provided for their family while instilling strong Catholic values. Growing up, Father Tanck attended Aquinas Institute and was surrounded by all things Catholic, from school and convent to the parish hall with its unique bowling alley and downstairs bar. The vibrant traditions were in the air he breathed, influenced primarily by his Polish grandmother and the working-class community he was a part of.
It was during his time at Aquinas that Father Tanck had his first exposure to the Basilians, a community of religious priests who staffed the school. Their presence left a lasting impression on him, especially during the hopeful atmosphere following the conclusion of The Second Vatican Council. Witnessing the harmonious interactions among the Basilians and their commitment to community life and priesthood, Father Tanck felt a profound calling within himself.
Joining the Basilians meant embracing a life of service and dedicating himself to community life and the priesthood. The support he received from his family was unwavering, and his decision was met with encouragement. He vividly recalls the peaceful and structured year spent at the Erindale novitiate which prepared him for the religious life and its inherent demands. After completing his novitiate year, Father Tanck embarked on his journey of education and formation.
After novitiate Father Norm began his teaching career in Rochester. September 1st marked his first day as a teacher, where he was handed a Spanish book and was told he be teaching starting on September 3rd. Teaching young minds proved fulfilling. After two years of teaching high school, he started his studies in Theology in Toronto and in his supervised ministry transitioned to pastoral work at the Newman Centre, engaging with young adults and campus ministry.
Ordained as a deacon, Father Tanck continued his work in campus ministry at St. John Fisher College, collaborating closely with fellow Basilian Father Joe Travoto, CSB, who was a major influence in him becoming a Basilian. Fr Tanck’s dedication and commitment were recognized leading to a role in academic counseling and support for students. His career path took him to various institutions, including Nazareth College, where he became the director of campus ministry. Immersed in an interfaith environment, Father Norm worked tirelessly to foster a supportive and inclusive community.
Throughout his journey, he embraced new challenges and roles. From being a dean of student life back in Rochester to serving as a vicar general of the Basilian Fathers and engaging with lay associates expanded his horizons and deepened his understanding of the Basilian mission. Father Tanck’s years of ministry were marked by transitions, whether it was leading the development of chapter committees or promoting vocations and supporting Basilian houses.
His commitment to personal growth led him to enriching experiences, such as a sabbatical year and continuing education courses. Father Tanck embraced hobbies like reading extensively, traveling, and engaging with politics and secular topics. Yet, his true joy stemmed from the vibrant community life he shared with fellow Basilians. Baptisms and Holy Week celebrations hold a special place in his heart, allowing him to connect with parishioners on a deeper level.
Challenges were not absent from his path. Frequent moves, leaving jobs, and adapting to new environments tested his resilience. However, with the support of his community and the Council, he faced these challenges head-on. In times of transition, he relied on the bond formed with his fellow Basilians. Finding solace and encouragement in their shared meals, conversations and unwavering support, Father Tanck’s relationship with God underwent a transformation since becoming a Basilian.
Personal growth and unforeseen opportunities pushed him beyond his own expectations, enabling him to develop skills in administration, counseling, and individualized formation. Each step of his journey unveiled new surprises and challenged him to overcome his own reservations. As he continues his ministry as an associate pastor at St. Basil’s in Toronto, Father Tanck finds fulfillment in the diverse and multicultural community he serves.
With each passing day, he cherishes the joy, camaraderie and deep sense of purpose that comes with being a Basilian priest. His unwavering commitment to God, his community, and his own personal growth continues to inspire those around him, ensuring that Father Tanck’s journey remains an enduring testament to faith and service.