August 2017 Norbertine Celebrations at St. Norbert Abbey

August 21, 2017

St. Augustine

St. Augustine

On Sunday, August 27, 2017, at the First Vespers of the Solemnity of St. Augustine, Rev. Peter B. Ambting will be vested in the white habit of the Norbertine Order. Rt. Rev. Gary J. Neville, O. Praem., Abbot of St. Norbert Abbey, will preside over the vestition ceremony.

On Monday, August 28, 2017, the Solemnity of St. Augustine, Frater Patrick M. LaPacz, O. Praem., will profess Solemn Vows, forming a mutual lifelong commitment to the canonical life between himself and the entire professed community. Abbot Neville will preside over the solemn rite.

On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, Frater LaPacz also will be ordained to the diaconate by Most Rev. Robert F. Morneau, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Green Bay.

Read more about vestition and the Norbertine religious habit »

August 27, 2017 — First Vespers of the Solemnity of St. Augustine

Vestition of Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

An Outward Sign of an Inward Spirit

August 28, 2017 — Solemnity of St. Augustine

Bishop and Doctor of the Church | Author of Our Rule of Life
Celebrating the Solemn Profession of Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

A Lifelong Commitment to Canonical Life

from St. Norbert Abbey on Vimeo

August 29, 2017 — Mass of Diaconate Ordination of Deacon Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

Frater Patrick Michael LaPacz, O. Praem.

Profession of Solemn Vows and Ordination to the Diaconate

… I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me this year as a Norbertine deacon.

—Deacon Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.
Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

Frater LaPacz, 30, is the son of Terrence and Mary (Berg) LaPacz of Green Bay, Wis., and is a son of St. Agnes Parish in Green Bay.

Frater LaPacz was vested in the white Norbertine habit in August 2012 and professed Simple Vows in August 2014.

A 2005 graduate of Notre Dame de la Baie Academy, Green Bay, Frater LaPacz graduated from St. Norbert College in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He also studied at Conception Seminary College in Missouri from 2009-2011, and is completing a Master of Divinity degree at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago.

“My solemn profession and diaconate ordination were special days for me. My journey to this point has been long, but it was worth the wait. I’m so glad I was able to celebrate these days with friends and family, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me this year as a Norbertine deacon.” —Deacon Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

Read More

Fr. Peter Bernardus Ambting, O. Praem.


… I look forward to take time for contemplation and reflection during the novitiate.

—Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.
Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

Fr. Ambting, 44, is the son of Peter H. and Wilhemina (Vos) Ambting of Doetinchem, Netherlands, and is a son of St. Martin Parish in Beek, Netherlands.

Fr. Ambting graduated from the Secondary Agricultural School of Doetinchem in July 1991 and from Higher General Continued Education schooling in August 2002. After being admitted into the seminary for the Archdiocese of Utrecht, Netherlands, in 2001, he earned a master’s degree in theology (Pastoral Theology) in August 2007. Fr. Ambting was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Utrecht on May 17, 2008, and most recently served as the pastor of the Roman Catholic Parish of Maria en Laurentius (a merged parish comprising 19 previous parishes) since 2010.

The first-year Norbertine novitiate (in which Fr. Ambting will participate) will take place at St. Norbert Abbey.

“After saying farewell to my parish in the Netherlands on July 2, emptying my house, and organizing the move to the U.S. in the weeks afterwards, finally the moment of vestition was here. It was the result of two and a half years of discernment since I first visited St. Norbert Abbey. That was a pretty long time. Because of the distance I was only able to make it to De Pere during my yearly summer vacation. I also wanted to finish the merger of the two parishes where I was the pastor.

I have been a priest for more than nine years, and always felt the desire for community life. The vestition with the white habit was for me an external sign of an internal movement. It felt good to take this first step, but I also realize the call to community life will be there every day as a gift and a task. After 10 years of working in a parish I look forward to take time for contemplation and reflection during the novitiate.” —Fr. Peter Ambting, O. Praem.

The Gift of Presence

By Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem.

Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem., reflects in the cemetery of St. Norbert Abbey.

Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem., reflects in the cemetery of St. Norbert Abbey.

Between January and May of this year, I had the pleasure of partaking in an extended unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, otherwise known as CPE. CPE is the program for those who want to be certified chaplains and work in settings such as hospitals or nursing homes. Also, completing a unit of CPE is a requirement for seminarians in many dioceses and religious communities, including the St. Norbert Abbey community. In CPE, one gains self-knowledge and grows as a pastoral minister through clinical hours and group processing. There were four other students in the unit besides myself, guided by our CPE supervisor.

I completed my clinical hours as a chaplain intern in two hospitals and a nursing home/assisted-living facility in the Chicago area. Anyone who has taken part in CPE would agree that certain ministerial encounters stick with you. I recall a number of times going to the room of a patient who had just died and offering spiritual support to any family or friends present. I do not think anything can fully prepare you for handling these or similar situations, because each person, each family, is unique, and the dying experience for loved ones impacts people differently. In such situations, I recall feeling like there was something more I should have been doing. However, the family or friends of the deceased were often just grateful for my presence. In their time of sorrow, my presence and support meant more to them than I realized.

Early on in my unit of CPE, I was on the other side of such a sorrowful situation—the unexpected death of my brother in early February. My family and I, as well as many others, grieved over his death. That first week, especially the first few days, were tremendously hard for me. It did not seem real at times. I just wanted to see my brother again. However, it was the presence and support of those around me that helped me through that difficult time.

My family, friends, CPE supervisor, and group members were there for me. My fellow brothers in Norbert were also present and supportive, such as Frater Jordan Neeck, O. Praem., who drove me from Chicago to St. Norbert Abbey the morning after I received the news of my brother’s death. There was also Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem., who reached out to my parents upon learning the news. And how can I forget the many Norbertines present at my brother’s funeral Mass. It is moments like these that show me I joined the right community—a community of faithful brothers who care.

Ironically, I learned about grief in CPE as I grieved over the loss of my brother. Grief can be thought of as a wound that starts out large but gets smaller over time. However, like a scar, it will never go away. In my opinion, the supportive presence of those close to us can help with the diminishment of grief. I experienced this supportive presence myself and am glad I was able to minister to others in such a way as a chaplain intern in CPE.

Where We Minister

As stated in the mission of St. Norbert Abbey, “We give ourselves in service to one another and to people in need, with special emphasis on service and advocacy for the poor. We commit ourselves to our traditional ministries, while being open to new apostolates.”

Members of the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey minister at hospitals and nursing homes, among other apostolates.

If you are considering a vocation to Norbertine religious life and/or priesthood, call 920.337.4333 or e-mail to speak with a member of St. Norbert Abbey’s vocations team.

Learn more »

Religious Life is a Full Life / La Vida Religiosa – Una Vida Plena

As seen in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 2-3)

Br. Jacob Sircy, O. Praem., and Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem., walking in a Chicago South Side neighborhood.

Br. Jacob Sircy, O. Praem., and Frater Patrick LaPacz, O. Praem., walking in a Chicago South Side neighborhood.

By Fr. John Bostwick, O. Praem.

Translated by Sr. Guadalupe Muñoz, RGS

Crash! Crash! Crash! The young Norbertines peeked out from behind the curtains in the rectory office to discover six or seven young men using an old railway tie to try to batter down the door. What to do? The fraters were alone in the rectory. It was nighttime in 1968. Finally, one of them—probably naïvely—decided to engage the gang members and went outside to confront them.

After a little yelling and ranting, the situation calmed down but the conversation continued. The gang members were curious about these white boys, who they were, and how they lived. As they heard that the religious lifestyle embraces vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the boys’ response was a mixture of awe and skepticism. The most memorable comment was, “You don’t have money; you don’t do drugs; you don’t have sex. What the ____ do you live for?”

Many people view religious life as a life of sacrifice; they see it in terms of what the vowed woman or man gives up. But this is a distortion, however innocent. While it is true that the vowed life involves asceticism, a distinct discipline, this way of living is ordered to maximum freedom—freedom for love, service, and community.

Commitment can be the path to freedom for any person. We all make choices that exclude other options. In marriage a person commits self to one person “forsaking all others” until “death do us part.” The vows of religious, or equally, of marriage, are not focused on deprivation, but on freedom. They are a purposeful choice for something that is perceived as a good, positive, and fulfilling way of living and loving.

Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). The vows of religious are one time-tested and honorable way of living in that fullness.

Por Padre John Bostwick, O. Praem.

Traducido por Hermana Guadalupe Muñoz, RGS

(Ruido … Ruido … ) Los jóvenes Norbertinos se asomaron desde atrás de las cortinas en la oficina de la rectoría para descubrir a seis o siete jóvenes utilizando un palo viejo de ferrocarril, intentando destruir la puerta. ¿Qué hacemos? Los frailes estaban solitos en la rectoría. Era de noche en 1968. En fin, uno de ellos, a lo mejor ingenuamente, decidió confrontarlos y salió a ver que querían.

Después de un rato de gritar y argumentar, la situación se calmó pero la conversación siguió. Los miembros de la pandilla … curiosos acerca de estos muchachos vestidos de blanco … ¿Quiénes eran? y ¿Cómo vivían? … Mientras escuchaban que el estilo de vida religiosa implica los votos de pobreza, castidad y obediencia, la respuesta de los jóvenes era una mezcla de pavor y escepticismo. El comentario más memorable fue: “Ustedes no tienen dinero; no usan drogas; no tienen relaciones sexuales. ¿Para qué, viven … pues?”

Mucha gente considera la vida religiosa como vida de sacrificio; la ven en términos de lo que la mujer o el hombre con votos sacrifica. Pero esto es una distorsión, aunque sea inocente. Aunque es cierto que la vida con votos implica ascetismo, una disciplina distinta … esta manera de vivir produce la máxima libertad para amar y para el servicio en comunidad.

El compromiso puede ser camino hacia la libertad para cualquier persona. Todos hacemos elecciones que excluyen otras opciones. En el matrimonio una persona se compromete con otra persona “renunciando a todos los demás” hasta que “la muerte nos separe.” Los votos de religiosos, al igual que los del matrimonio, no se enfocan en la privación, sino en la libertad. Son una opción a propósito para algo que se percibe como manera buena, positiva y satisfactoria para vivir y amar.

Jesús dijo, “He venido, para que tengan vida y la tengan en plenitud” (Juan 10:10). Los votos de la vida religiosa son una manera probada por los tiempos y una manera honorable de vivir en esa plenitud.

Pin It on Pinterest