Friday, May 26, 2017

Off-Hill Supervisors Honored at Appreciation Dinner

by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Tuesday, April 25th, Mount Angel Seminary hosted its annual Appreciation Dinner. This dinner is meant to honor and express our thanksgiving toward the pastoral ministry supervisors, the pastoral intern supervisors, and the seminarians’ spiritual directors.

Each year, seminarians are assigned a field education placement, and once a week they go off-hill for various ministries. Food banks, RCIA programs, parish youth groups, prisons, and homes for the elderly are among the many opportunities that seminarians have to serve the wider community.
MAS Polyphony, an a capella group consisting of second-year theologians from five different dioceses, performed a rendition of Ubi Caritas, featuring Myrna Keough, the seminary’s Coordinator of Music and Liturgy. Viane Ilimaleota, a seminarian from the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago, also sang two songs accompanied by a guitar.

This year’s dinner was coordinated by seminarians John Mosier (Diocese of Boise) and Ethan Alano (Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon). Mosier prepared a short video presentation highlighting some of the school year’s major events and photographs of seminarians doing ministry.

Established in 1889, Mount Angel Seminary is the largest seminary in the western United States, forming men for the Catholic priesthood. Founded by the monks of Mount Angel Abbey, the seminary serves both graduate and undergraduate seminarians from the western United States, Canada, the Pacific Islands, and as far away as Hungary, as well as seminarians from various religious communities and many lay students.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Seminarians and Faculty Honored at Annunciation Dinner

Story by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Tuesday, March 21st, students, faculty, staff, and guests of Mount Angel Seminary gathered in the Aquinas Dining Hall to celebrate the annual Annunciation Dinner. At the dinner, guests shared fellowship and honored particular members of the community for their contributions and achievements. The awards and their winners are listed below.

The Saint Benedict Award for outstanding progress in both graduate and undergraduate human formation was presented to graduate student Deacon Nathan McWeeney (Theology 4) of the Diocese of San Diego, and undergraduate student Dustin Busse (College 4) of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon. The award is given to those seminarians who best exemplify the highest formational ideals of the seminary, who model the Benedictine charism, who live the values of the Kingdom and actively proclaim the Good News, who love the Church, and who manifest servant-leadership in the seminary community.

Deacon Chad Green (Theology 4) from the Archdiocese of Seattle was presented the Saint Michael the Archangel Award for his special contributions to the seminary and its programs. This award is given to a student who has contributed significantly to the life of the seminary by establishing something new and beneficial or, through exceptional fidelity, commitment, creativity, and good will, has furthered something already established.



The St. Anselm Award was presented to John DePalma (Pre-Theology 1) of the Archdiocese of Seattle, in recognition of that philosophy student whose love of learning, excellent academic record, appreciation of philosophy and the liberal arts, rigorous self-discipline, active classroom participation, and outstanding leadership ability have gained him the respect of the faculty and the admiration of his peers.



The Saint Thomas Aquinas Award for outstanding academic achievement from a theology student was presented to Deacon Joseph Walsh (Theology 4) of the Diocese of Reno. This award is given in recognition of that student whose love of learning, excellent academic record, outstanding ability to articulate Catholic theology, rigorous scholarly research, active classroom participation, generosity with time and talent, and strong leadership ability have won the respect of the faculty and the admiration of students.

Deacon Andrés Emmanuelli Peréz (Theology 4) of the Diocese of Sacramento received the Saint Paul Award for outstanding progress in developing preaching skills. The award is based on the ability to proclaim the Word of God, call to conversion those who hear the Word, and the ability to possess a comfortable presence at the ambo.

The Saint Bonaventure Award for outstanding contribution from a faculty member was presented to Dr. Shawn Keough, associate professor of theology and Church history at the seminary. The award is based on the ability to teach effectively and generosity with time and talent which have inspired students and won the praise of colleagues. This is the second time that Dr. Keough has won this award since joining the faculty; he also received this award in 2013.

Deacon Zani Pacanza (Theology 4) of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon received the Bishop Connolly Prize for his essay entitled “The Two Facets of Christ through the Eyes of John.” Given in honor of the Most Reverend Thomas Connolly (d. 2015), former bishop of the Diocese of Baker, this prize is awarded to a seminarian whose submitted project best represents the theme of the theological symposium. Most recently, the topic of the theological symposium was “Issues in Christology,” and was given by noted theologian Rev. Thomas Weinandy, OFMCap.

Mount Angel Seminary began forming men for the priesthood in 1889 and is now the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States, and the only seminary in the West that offers both a college and a graduate school of theology.  Since its inception 128 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests, and many qualified religious and lay men and women as well, for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Monday, May 1, 2017

CRS Offers Short Talk on Water

by Hilda Kleiman

On Tuesday, April 18, the seminary community received a lunch-hour talk by Mr. Paul Hicks, the Senior Technical Advisor for Water Resources at Catholic Relief Services.  He has worked for Catholic Relief Services for 18 years and was able to come to Mount Angel Seminary on his way to a specialty coffee conference in Seattle.

Mr. Hicks titled his talk "Integral Ecology: The Confessions of a Catholic Development Worker."  In his talk he spoke on how he has been inspired by Pope Francis and his encyclical Laudato Si and shared three lessons he has learned as a development worker.

Lesson #1 - He and agencies such as CRS cannot solve other peoples problems for them.  Hicks described CRS as a relationship agency that may assist communities with developing the relationships within their own communities that will enable them to address their own problems.

Lesson #2 - He has learned to embrace conflict, to understand that the way toward a better situation is often by working through conflict rather than avoiding it.

Lesson #3 - Development work is inherently political and includes advocacy, particular concerning the common good and natural resources.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Irish Community Celebrates with MAS

by Garrett McGowan

On March 12th, the Irish community of Mount Angel Seminary held their Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. This is the second party the Irish community has held, and this year the Irish community has now become one of the official cultural communities of the seminary. Everyone is welcome to join the Irish community, regardless of heritage.

Many people joined in for a night of Irish music, dancing, and poetry, along with corned beef with cabbage and Irish beer. Irish soda bread with Irish butter was part of the meal, with some desserts. One seminarian made a traditional drink similar to Bailey’s with egg in it.

The celebration was held at the bookstore located on Mount Angel Abbey’s hilltop called The Press. The seminary’s Vice Rector for the College, Fr. Terry Tompkins, and Fr. William Dillard, the Director of Spiritual Formation, told Irish stories and jokes. Deacon Bill Zondler sang songs with the Irish band, which was organized by Deacon Nathan McWeeney and Michael O’Connor. The Irish tricolor was proudly displayed in the center of the room were the acts were being held.

One of the focuses of the Irish community is to give people a look at Celtic spirituality and to bring all the different communities on the hilltop together. With many Catholics in America being of Irish decent and many seminarians of Irish decent at Mount Angel Seminary, they wanted to share their heritage with everyone. The Irish have elected new officers for next year and are looking forward to a third party for next year’s Saint Patrick’s Day.

Dr. Cummings Takes a Sabbatical

by Garrett McGowan

This year Dr. Andrew Cummings, the associate dean of the college and a professor of philosophy at Mount Angel Seminary, has been on his sabbatical to work on his new book.

He is taking a six-month sabbatical from teaching to complete his new work. A sabbatical is a paid period of leave for a college professor, taken approximately every seven years, for them to focus on a field of work, study, or travel related to their field of expertise.

The content of the book will follow a debate between two famous philosophers, Georg Hegel and Friedrich Schleiermacher. The conversation that took place between the two men was how to know what the essence of Christianity is. Dr. Cummings said, “Their problems are our problems today.” Dr. Cummings has been doing research on this subject for some time. He said that you must study other peoples’ works to find your own voice and to know what experts are saying. Extra motivation for this was for Dr. Cummings to keep himself on top of philosophy.

Each philosopher takes a different stand. Hegel is on the side of concepts, coming at faith from a logical standpoint. Schleiermacher believes that faith comes from feelings, that there must be something deep down in the soul. Dr. Cummings sees this argument as a question that still troubles many people today.  He doesn’t have a title yet. However, he is considering using a quote from Hegel, “Is a dog a Christian?” that is coming from the concept that dogs act off emotions.

The type of philosophy that this would fall under is two kinds: philosophy of religion and metaphysics. Dr. Cummings says that there is a touch of theology in there as well. Another reason that Dr. Cummings chose this subject to work on is because both of these men are Lutherans, and in time Dr. Cummings thinks it would be interesting to research the Catholic Church’s response to their viewpoints.

Dr. Cummings also is hoping that seminarians will read his book in order to get them interested in these questions. Dr. Cummings asked, “How can you know something without pursuing it yourself?” He said he hopes that this book will be published. In order for that to happen he will need a minimum of 200 pages before moving on to the next step.

The writing process for Dr. Cummings is not one that is set in stone, meaning that he does not have a specific goal for what he will do when he gets up in the morning. He does, however, believe that you have to set your mind on getting something done, even if it’s a page or a sentence. Dr. Cummings said, “You have to move forward.” He refuses to leave his desk until something has been done. He says “Push yourself, force yourself.”

Friday, January 13, 2017

Seminary Community Honors Vietnamese Martyrs

by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Friday, November 18, in St. Joseph Chapel at Mount Angel Seminary (MAS), the Rev. Joseph Nguyen, OSB, a monk of Mount Angel Abbey, celebrated a Mass in honor of the Vietnamese Martyrs, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions. The seminary community was joined by many others from the Vietnamese community in the Salem and Portland areas.

After the altar was incensed at the beginning of Mass, Fr. Joseph and the newly-ordained deacon, Br. John Vianney Le, OSB, offered incense before an icon of the 117 Vietnamese martyrs, who were canonized in 1988 by Pope St. John Paul II. The act of offering of incense is a sign of respect and reverence in the Vietnamese culture.

Commenting on the Gospel passage proclaimed at Mass (Matthew 10:17-22), Fr. Joseph noted that with these words, “Jesus announced the persecutions that his disciples would have to undergo. He spoke to his apostles and to his disciples of all times. He spoke very frankly, telling them what they may expect if they choose to follow him. Jesus did not present to his followers any false promise, but in the fullness of truth that always accompanies his words, he prepares his disciples for the words: Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and have them put to death.”

“What Jesus announced in the Gospel reading today,” Fr. Joseph continued, “happened in the apostolic times and has been repeated in different ages of history in various locations. That is also what happened in the time of the religious persecution of the Vietnamese Christians. Since 1533, . . .  throughout three centuries, with some periods of tranquility, the Church in Vietnam has undergone persecution . . . Over 130,000 Vietnamese Catholics were martyred.”

“You and I may not be called to shed our blood because of our faith in Jesus Christ,” he concluded, “but we are all called to be witnesses of the Gospel message. Each day we are challenged to be faithful to the vocations which God has given us. Each day we are called to live with Christian integrity, to speak the truth with love, and to be sacraments of God’s presence and love to one another and to the whole world.”

Mount Angel Seminary began forming men for the priesthood in 1889 and is now the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States, and the only seminary in the West that offers both a college and a graduate school of theology.  Since its inception 128 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests, and many qualified religious and lay men and women as well, for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Day of Recollection Focuses on Four Last Things

by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, Mount Angel Seminary (MAS) hosted its bi-annual day of recollection for all diocesan seminarians. Seminarians attended the morning Mass in the Abbey Church, so that the hilltop community could celebrate All Souls Day in common.

Two conferences were given by Fr. Thomas Reeves, OCD, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Fr. Thomas, an alumnus of Mount Angel Seminary, serves as a spiritual director for the seminary and the rector of the House of Studies for the California-Arizona province of the Order of Discalced Carmelites in Mount Angel, Oregon.

Fr. Thomas began his conferences with a quotation from Cardinal John Henry Newman’s sermon, “The Second Spring,” noting that the Church invites us during the month of November to pray for the souls of the dead, but also to never despair of God’s mercy. Responding to this invitation, his conferences focused on the traditional four last things: death, judgement, hell, and heaven.

In the morning, he reflected on death and judgement. “The reason that we have hope when facing death,” he said, “is because Jesus Christ has given new meaning to death . . . And now the souls that walk through the door of death with Jesus will have the light of life.”

“In the presence of Christ,” Fr. Thomas said of judgment after death, “the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal, even to its furthest consequences, the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life. And everyone will see the grace of God’s design and his plan for humanity.”

In the afternoon, he reflected on hell and heaven. “In the Book of Genesis the Lord asked Adam after he had sinned, ‘Where are you?’ And that’s a question we’ve tried to answer today . . . Where am I personally in my relationship with Jesus Christ? We began this morning by reflecting on death and judgement that we shall all pass through; and this afternoon we’re concluding with the two possible ends, either life with or without God; and we go now to the rest of the evening considering where we are.”

The day was spent in silence to encourage personal prayer and devotion. Fr. Thomas was available throughout the day for individual spiritual direction.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Reflecting on Movie Reviews with the UGP

Editor's Note: After completing his final centerpiece for the Unfamiliar Genre Project, Br. Jesus Romo also composed this final reflection in which he shares his overall experience with this major component of the journalism class at Mount Angel Seminary.

A Final Reflection on the Unfamiliar Genre Project

I often had the experience of feeling out of context when members of my religious community were discussing movies because I did not know much about the components of a movie.  There are two aspects that I wanted to learn from this project.  First, I wanted to learn how to identify the key elements of a movie.  Secondly, I wanted to learn how to be able to think critically about movies and give my own opinion.  I will say that throughout this journey, I learned more than simply these two elements.
 
The first step I took in the project was to look for samples of movie reviews.  I remember going to the library and asking for the Statesman Journal, a local newspaper.  Since they did not have it, my first attempt at researching the topic was not very positive.  The next time that I had the journalism class, I went back to the library with Dr. Kleiman, my journalism professor, hoping to find the newspaper, and it was not there.  We looked at other journals, and we did not find any movie reviews in them. 

Another option for my research was the internet, so I signed up for the New York Times website and I found many movie reviews there.  However, since I wanted to see a greater variety of reviews, I looked for more at the Catholic News Service web page and at rogerebert.com, and there I found what I wanted.  Although, the experience did not seem positive at the beginning, I learned later on that everything I did was part of the journey, and every step was important.

I chose to look at movie reviews of films that I had already watched in order to have a better understanding of the review and how it related to the movie.  Once I chose the samples that were of interest, I began to read them.  I had not read any movie reviews before, so it was a new experience for me.  Some of them had vocabulary that was unfamiliar to me, so it took me longer to read and understand them, but I knew, from my experience at the beginning of the project, that it did not matter how much time I was going to spend because everything was part my journey. 

From reading the samples, I learned that there are different rhetorical devices that I could use to write my own movie review, such as questions that help to engage the audience and comparing the movie with another movie of the same genre.  I also learned that I need to be patient and see the value of every step that I take on any future project because everything is part of the learning process.

After my research and reading different samples of movie reviews, the next step was to choose a movie that I wanted to review.  I had a couple in mind. One was the classic story Gone with the Wind, written by Margaret Mitchel, and the other was Peaceful Warrior, a film based on a true story, written by Dan Millman and Kevin Bernhardt.  After thinking for a while about which one to choose, I decided to do my review on Peaceful Warrior because it is a story that I identify with.  I identify with the story because the transformation that Dan Millman, the main character, went through is similar to the process that I am going through in my formation as a Missionary of the Holy Spirit and as a future priest.

The next step in my project was to put into words what I had learned from my research, from reading movie reviews samples, and from watching the movie.  I did not know where to start, but as soon I began to write, I remembered what I learned in journalism class. The questions who, what, why, how, when, and where should be answered in a narration.  These questions served as a guide for my writing, but I found some other difficulties. 

One of the difficulties that I had was thinking critically about the movie.  I believe that because of my personality I find it difficult to judge other people’s work and give my own opinion about them, especially when I have to refer to a negative aspect of their work.  In the first revision of my paper, Dr. Kleiman encouraged me to include more of my own opinion in some parts of my review.  Although it was difficult, I did it, and it helped me to express what I thought about the movie.

Another skill that I was able to practice in the process of writing my review was being open to receive feedback and corrections.  Fr. Alex Rubio, MSpS, a member of my religious community, helped me by making grammatical corrections and he also helped me to choose words that better express the ideas that I wanted to communicate.

Now that I have finished my project, I feel pleased with the work that I did and with everything I have learned throughout this process.  Now I am able to more clearly identify the key elements of a movie; therefore, I can be more critical when I watch a movie and be part of movie conversations.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Reviewing Films with the UGP

Editor's Note: This semester journalism student Brother Jesus Romo choose to focus on movie reviews for his Unfamiliar Genre Project.  The review below is the final centerpiece of his project.

* * *

Reality Vs Fiction: A Movie Review of Peaceful Warrior

Peaceful Warrior
Cast: Scott Mechlowicz as Dan Millman, Nick Nolte as Socrates, Amy Smart as Joy, Tim DeKay as Coach Garrick, Ashton Holmes as Tommy, Paul Wesley as Trevor, B.J. Britt as Kyle

Directed by Victor Salva

Written by Kevin Bernhardt

Based on the book Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Genres: Drama, Romance, Sport

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 120 minutes

June 22, 2006

If this movie is based on a true story, why does it have many scenes that could never happen in reality?  The movie Peaceful Warrior is based on the book Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, which is based on a true story. Within the fiction scenes in the film the author wants to show the reality that Dan Millman, played by Scott Mechlowicz, was experiencing throughout his internal transformation in order to inspire his audience.

In the first scene of the movie we find Dan Millman having a nightmare.  In the dream he is doing gymnastics when he falls and his leg breaks off into many pieces.  Socrates, played by Nick Nolte, appears in his dream sweeping up the little pieces of Dan’s leg.  This scene is important because it is a foreshadowing that the author uses to highlight another scene that will come later in the movie.
       
After the nightmare Dan cannot fall back asleep so he goes to a gas station, and there he meets Socrates who is the gas station attendant.  When Dan exits the gas station’s store, he turns back and sees Socrates on the roof.  Given that there is no way for him to have gotten up there so quickly, Dan is amazed, and he asks Socrates how he got up there.  Why does the author use this supernatural event at this moment of the movie?  Perhaps he wants to represent a striking experience for Dan which makes him come back to Socrates, but, it would have been more inspiring if the author had stuck more to reality.
  
After the encounter at the gas station with Socrates, Dan begins a process of inner transformation.  He is a prideful person.  Dan believes that he has everything he needs in life: he comes from a wealthy family, he has good grades in college, he is a good gymnast, he has friends, and he can have as many girls as he wants to sleep with him.  Here, Mechlowicz could have done a better job portraying an arrogant character, so his transformation process and his role as a dynamic character would have been more noticeable to the audience.  

 Since he is not able to sleep at night, he goes to visit Socrates again at the gas station.  Here the author shows that Dan is looking for deeper meaning in his life.  Dan thinks that he knows everything, so he tells Socrates to ask him anything he wants; therefore, Socrates asks him if he is happy.  Dan does not feel comfortable and does not know what to answer because this question moved a deep feeling of emptiness inside of him.

The relationship between Socrates and Dan helps us to see that we need the guidance of others in our searching for happiness.  Nolte does a remarkable job performing as Socrates.  He is like a wise father that knows what is better for his son.  Socrates has the wisdom and the experience to know what is better for Dan, but Dan have to discover it for himself, and Socrates is there just to guide him in his journey. 

This film is worth watching especially by youth who feel empty and do not find meaning in what they do.  In this way Peaceful Warrior is similar to the movie Good Will Hunting (1997) written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.  They are both based on a true story, and the main characters think that they can do anything by themselves until they find someone who questions them and accompanies them in the important decisions of their lives.  This movie is also worth watching by youth because it shows that we do not always have the control over our own plans for life.  About halfway through the movie, Dan is driving a motorcycle, and he hits a car at an intersection.  His leg breaks into seventeen pieces, and pieces of glass from the car fall onto the floor, which is reminiscent of the opening scene.  The doctor tells him that he will be able to walk again, but he will not be able to compete in gymnastics again.
 
There are some scenes in this movie that are confusing because it is hard to tell what is actually happening or what is simply the imagination of a character.  For instance, there is a scene where Dan is following Socrates, and he enters into the gym where his coach and his companions are.  Socrates is already seated on a rafter that supports the roof of the gym; Dan climbs up to where Socrates is, and he begins to hear everyone else’s thoughts.  Socrates wants Dan to be aware of how thoughts can take control over him if he does not focus on the present.  At that moment, Dan falls from the rafter, and all of a sudden, they both appear at the gas station.  I was surprised and confused by this unexpected shift of scenes, so this feelings made me focus my attention on the teaching that Socrates was giving Dan.
  
The soundtrack is proper for the events that are happening and helps the audience to get more engaged with the movie.  It also helps the audience to figure out that a significant event is about to happen.  For example, the soundtrack that is used when Dan is going to crash on his motorcycle allows the audience to imagine that a tragedy is going to occur.

Peaceful Warrior is worth watching because it shows the value of true friendship and true love.  When Dan is going through this crisis, Joy, played by Amy Smart, Dan’s friend and a college student who studies at the same college that Dan does, gives him unconditional support; along with Socrates, she accompanies him in these difficult moments.

One of the most intense scenes in the movie --and a key moment to Dan’s transformation-- is when he intended to commit suicide. Dan goes to the top of a tower intending to jump from there.  There he encounters another person just like him who is a part of himself that he has to let go.  I supposed that this person represents his own pride.  This is also one of the confusing scenes because we do not know if Dan actually went to the tower or if it was happening internally.  When he let go of this part of himself he suddenly appeared on his bed.  Because this film is a based on a true story, the author could have made a more clear distinction between the things that physically occurred and those that happened internally.

The author leaves the audience with the question of whether Socrates is real or if he only represents Dan’s intuition.  Near the end there is a scene where Socrates and Dan are at a bar and Socrates tells Dan that he was the one who chose him.  Dan asks him if he is saying that he made him up and Socrates just smiles.  By the end of the movie, Dan wants his coach and his companions to meet Socrates, so he goes to look for him at the gas station, and Socrates is no longer there; someone else is working in his place.  I do not know what the author’s purpose for doing this was, but it leaves the audience with uncertainty and curiosity.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

College Students Help with Food Drive

by Anthony Rizo

On October 8, the College One seminarians went to help Silverton Area Community Aid (SACA) sort food for those who are in need in their annual food drive.  The process was simple, with people bringing in bags filled with different kinds of food, including cereal, canned soup, rice and pasta. There were also some personal items like soap and toilet paper.

We sorted the products into categories and placed them at a table labeled for those products  One person was at each table placing the products neatly into a box, and we had one person going around collecting these boxes and bringing them to the packaging table.  There the boxes were taped up and labeled.  Finally, a person with a trolley stacked a couple boxes and took them downstairs to be organized. We did this until noon, and during our time there, we talked with the locals of Silverton and became familiar with the community.

As we were working, all of us noticed that the people were part of different religions; but we all had the same goal to serve those in need. The community was nice overall and asked us about seminary and why we chose this path. After the food drive, we met at a park close by to talk about our experience during our ministry. We all got the same out of it, knowing that helping someone in need is beautiful. Even though we could not see who we were helping out, the thought of someone receiving food just made us happy.