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Brother Ambrose Okema

I was born and raised in a small town called Kalongo in northern part of Uganda. I come from a family of eight children. I, together with my siblings, was educated at the Catholic parish school in the same area which was operated by the Comboni Missionaries. We lived not far from the parish and the best place we had was the church.

I can recall that my parish had priests and brothers and I came to admire the work they did. When I was 12, I became interested in the priesthood. When I reached 13, my priest granted me permission to join the Altar servers group. It was so exciting to learn how to serve on the Altar.

When I reached 16, I applied to join the Apostle of Jesus minor Seminary and graduated after four years. Upon graduating, the political instability in Uganda intensified. After two years, I was able to resume a normal life. I attended a vocational school that was operated by the Benedictine monks. This was my first encounter with monks. I liked that students were allowed to attend morning Mass with the monks every day and on several occasions I attended Lauds and Vespers. I felt touched in my heart seeing and hearing how the monks pray and how each one took responsibility for his specialized work and at the end of the day, they come together pray and live as brothers in a monastery.

I became interested in learning more about the monks’ life so I reached out to one of the monks who was the boarding Master. He introduced me to the Vocations Director who invited me to come and see the monastery for a week. By the end of my visit, I gained an appreciation for the whole way of life with the priests and the brothers all praying and living together.

After a few additional visits, the Vocation Director encouraged me to explore the notion of becoming a monk. I already knew that this was the path for me. Since becoming a monk, the monastery has allowed me to learn more in seeking God by observing the life according to the customs of a monastic community. I love the Benedictine way of life and how it is centered on structured Prayer and Work (Ora et Labora). As a novice, I feel the joy of fraternity in the community and I am privileged to live and serve with others. God calls each one of us from near and far for a purpose that His name may be glorified. I have found peace here. I enjoy learning more about monastic history and spirituality and I feel strengthened in my vocation.

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