GREEN BAY –– Lee Nagel, executive director of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership for the past eight years, died in his sleep May 26. He was 66.
Lee Nagel, executive director of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, died in his sleep May 26. He was 66. Born in Bismarck, N.D., he studied briefly for the priesthood at St. Mary’s seminary in Winona, Minn. Nagel was finishing his eigh th year as the conference’s executive director. (CNS photo/courtesy National Catechetical Conference on Leadership)His funeral Mass was to be celebrated June 3 at Resurrection Church in Green Bay, with Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Morneau of Green Bay as the main celebrant. Burial was to follow at St. Joseph Church Cemetery in Champion.
On July 1, 2007, Nagel was appointed as executive director of the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership. Prior to that he was a national consultant for RCL Benziger, a Catholic publisher of parish catechetical materials.
Before Benziger, he was Green Bay’s diocesan director of total education for more than 15 years, a position he said was guided by faith.
Nagel’s reliance on faith guided his life and vocation as a Catholic educator, author, speaker and storyteller, according to friends and colleagues from the Diocese of Green Bay.
“We read in the Gospel of St. John that Jesus came to bring us life, life to the full. Lee Nagel lived life to the full, with passion and joy and good humor,” said Bishop Morneau. “He was dedicated to the Gospel and spent his energy in doing the work of evangelization, sharing the good news of Jesus. Lee was a storyteller, a friend to many.”
Joe Bound, who succeeded Nagel as director of education for the Green Bay Diocese, said Nagel was “a man of faith and spirituality.”
“He understood peoples’ longing for God and knew various ways to reach people through stories,” said Bound. He also said Nagel was skilled in planning major events either in the diocese or for the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership. He was also a very popular retreat leader and presenter who will be “missed not only in the diocese, but also nationally.”
Nagel, born Feb. 19, 1948, in Bismarck, North Dakota, attended Catholic schools and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, and a Master of Arts degree in elementary education and teaching from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He also completed post-graduate studies in leadership and human behavior at the United States International University in Alhambra, California.
After beginning his career as a grade school teacher, Nagel went on to serve as admissions director at the University of Mary in Bismarck for 15 years. He was then hired as Green Bay diocesan director of Total Catholic Education, serving as superintendent of schools and director of adult faith formation, youth ministry and catechesis.
During his 15 years in Green Bay, Nagel was remembered for his “special skill for blending prayer, song, story and liturgical environment into a worship experience that people felt compelled to participate in,” according to a 2005 article in The Compass, diocesan newspaper of Green Bay.
Nagel was a gifted retreat leader and author. His books include “Living for the Lord,” “Love Beyond All Telling,” “Inspired by the Spirit” and “Journey of Faith.” He was also a popular national speaker on topics relating to Catholic schools and religious education.
When he resigned, Nagel described his work in the Green Bay Diocese as “good years.”
“I’ve been blessed. I’ve always been impressed with the commitment to education in this diocese,” he said. “I’m always in awe and will continue to be in awe of the hours and hours donated by staff and volunteers. There are many wonderful people who care. Stewardship is alive in so many ways.”
Nagel is survived by a sister, Colleen Erba, and her husband, Francis; brother, Galen and his wife, Marleen Bye; nieces, Kyla, Kyri, Krista and Anna Marie; and nephew, Joseph.