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Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

Why Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem., Chose Norbertine Life

By Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

When I first started thinking about priesthood as a young man, I contacted the Norbertines, because their way of life, balancing action and contemplation—all while serving the local community, attracted me.

However, I eventually joined the seminary for the Archdiocese of Utrecht, Netherlands, my home country. Looking back, I think this was primarily a school choice, not looking beyond my education. While I am glad of the seminary I chose, after I earned my degree and was ordained and assigned, I started to miss the community life that I had in the seminary. To me the life as a diocesan priest was somewhat lonely and I started thinking about Norbertine life again. After a time of discernment, I left the diocese in 2017 and became a member of St. Norbert Abbey.

Community is what I was looking for and community is what I found.

—Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.
Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem. (right), Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem. (center), Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem. (left)

Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem. (right), Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem. (center), Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem. (left)

I also appreciate the fact that within Norbertine life there is a variety of ministerial possibilities; while for a diocesan priest, parish life is the only ministry one can experience.

For me the main reason to join St. Norbert Abbey was community. Community is what I was looking for and community is what I found. During the abbey’s daytime schedule, there are several built-in community moments: Morning, Noon, and Evening Prayer, and also meals and recreation. I really appreciate these moments.

I was emotionally moved a couple of years ago when I was visiting the Abbey. It was during Vespers that the elderly and ill Norbertines received the anointing of the sick. An older Norbertine became emotional after community members laid their hands on his head as part of the ritual. Another Norbertine noticed the tears in his eyes, came out of his choir stall, laid a hand on his shoulders, and consoled him. To me, this is community: to be there for one another, in particular when you need one another.

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