Thursday, May 5, 2016

Newman Readers Club Offers Spiritual Growth

by Rodrigo Llorente

The Newman Readers Club is a meeting with the goal of knowing more of the works of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Each Wednesday afternoon, a group of seminarians get together at the Mount Angel Abbey retreat house to read and discuss one of Newman’s sermons.

Hot cocoa, some snacks, a warm and cozy room plus a homily written by John Henry Newman are some of the ingredients of the club.  Each meeting starts with a short prayer after everyone has taken his spot. A shared reading is followed by some questions and discussions in a friendly environment. The attendance at the meetings has varied between seven to twelve participants.

The Newman Readers Club gathered in the retreat house.

Andy Ruperto, a student from Theology 3 and the Diocese of Fresno, said that he came to the meetings because of two reasons: “The content of the homilies was very powerful and the insights of the other seminarians helped make the message more real in my life.”

This is the fourth year the Newman Reader Club has been held by members of the St John Society. The coordinator this year was Nicolas Facile, a student of Theology 3. Facile shared, “We wanted to offer something to those seminarians that were seeking for more. Reading Newman trains intelligence, provides theological criteria, and helps understanding and meditating upon reality. It illumines daily life with faith.”

The homily read last week was “Christ manifested in remembrance,” and it deals with the ways God bestows his blessings on us. We do not perceive them until afterwards, when we remember the events. Newman writes, “Such is God's rule in Scripture, to dispense His blessings, silently and secretly; so that we do not discern them at the time, except by faith, afterwards only.”

John Henry Newman was an Anglican priest that converted to Catholicism in 1845, after leading a movement of renewal in the Church of England. His works have been influential for specific areas of theology such as the development of dogma and the role of the laity in the church. Some of his ideas played a great influence for the Second Vatican Council.

Newman’s writings are characterized by a great faith, a rigorous historical research and great literary quality. Among his prolific works it’s possible to find sermons, novels, poems, prayers and theological investigations. He has been characterized as one of the best English prose writers of the 19th century.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Healthy Start for MAS Weight Loss Group

by Garrett McGowan

At Mount Angel Seminary, seminarian Kurt Zelkie from the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon has decided to fight obesity here on the hilltop. Kurt, a former army medic, has started a weight loss group at the seminary called “He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease,” for which he won the seminary’s Saint Michael the Archangel Award this year. The Saint Michael the Archangel Award is given to a member of the seminary community who establishes something new for the benefit of the seminary.

The main focus of this group is to get seminarians to change their lifestyle, to change what they eat, and to also get into an exercise routine. Members write out a plan on how they will lose weight and hand it in to Kurt to help them with their routines. Weekly meetings are held every Friday afternoon. Seminarians step on the scale and record their weight in a logbook as soon as they get in. Kurt does blood pressure tests and blood glucose tests. There is a tape measure available to check waist sizes.

At the meetings, discussions are held on weight loss tips. Kurt shares information on food and diets, and other seminarians are welcome to share information. Kurt said, “If God made it, eat lots of it; if man made it, eat less.” Some of the members have already lost over twenty pounds with the help of the new group.

The seminarians hold each other accountable by sitting together at meals and looking at one another’s plates. If something doesn’t look good the member will be told to rethink his decision. Chad Hill from the Archdiocese of Seattle said, “One of the main focuses of the group is making a lifestyle change, not just going on a diet. This is so that you won’t just lose the weight and then gain it back when you go off the diet."

There are no requirements to join the group; anyone is welcome. This is not just a group for those who need to lose weight; it is also for those who may be thin and yet have diabetes or high cholesterol. If there is a health problem caused by certain foods, this group is dedicated to helping seminarians get on the right track.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Seminarians Honored at Annunciation Dinner

Story by Phillip J. Shifflet; photos by Ace Tui

On Tuesday, March 15th, students, faculty, staff, and guests of Mount Angel Seminary gathered in the Aquinas Dining Hall to celebrate its annual Annunciation Dinner, to share fellowship and to honor particular members of the community for their contributions and achievement. 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 Deacon Leon Vigil (Theology 4) of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, a graduate student in the theologate, and undergraduates Ryan Dixon and Ace Tui (College 4) of the Dioceses of Fresno and Honolulu, respectively. 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.

Newly-elected Abbot Jeremy Driscoll addresses the seminary community
for the first time since his election.

Kurt Ziehlke (Theology 2) from the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, 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 Randy Hoang (College 4) of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, in recognition of the undergraduate seminarian 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.

Division chairs Deacon Leon Vigil and Randy Hoang
after receiving their awards

 The Saint Thomas Aquinas Award for outstanding academic achievement from a graduate student was presented jointly to Deacons Mark Uhlenkott and Cody Williams (Theology 4) of the Dioceses of Boise and Helena, respectively. This award is given in recognition of those students whose love of learning, excellent academic records, 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 Anthony Ahamefule (Theology 4) of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon 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 a demonstrated comfortable presence at the ambo.

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 127 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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Annual Symposium Focuses on Technology

by Dean Marshall

On March 7-8, 2016, Mount Angel Seminary held its annual formation symposium, which seeks to expound on a topic of particular relevance for future priests and those involved in priestly formation. This year’s presenters, Sister Mary Timothy Prokes, FSE, and Fr. William Holtzinger of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, presented on the topic “Social Media and Virtual Reality.” Presented in three sessions over the two days, the symposium consisted of lectures, small-group sessions, and feedback sessions amongst the entire seminary community.

Monday morning’s session, hosted by Sister Mary Timothy, covered the current state of social media and technology in society, as well as its impact on ministry. Asking the question, “How are we changing as persons and how does that [impact] our relationship with the Divine Person…with truth?”, Sr. Timothy noted that social media and related technologies have affected how people relate on the personal level.

Noting authors such as Sherry Turkle, Sister Mary Timothy demonstrated how new forms of communication can result in a split persona, divided between digital and real-life identities. She noted that to combat this and to ensure that social media is used in a positive manner, society needs to use it as a way to enable “better face to face contact” and more meaningful communication, rather than communication that is hampered by a divided identity.

Immediately following this session, small groups were able to discuss their own experiences, covering topics such as recognizing the reality of being a public person, how to use social media as a communications and evangelization tool, and how it can be used for recognizing the profound human need for not just communication, but rather genuine communion.

On Monday afternoon, Fr. William Holtzinger, Pastor of St. Anne’s Parish in Grants Pass, Ore., presented on the topic, “Effective Uses of Media in the Parish Setting.” Fr. Holtzinger noted that “technology will help us continue that journey of communion” referenced during the morning session. He proceeded to highlight several tools that have proved useful in his own work as a parish priest, including technologies geared towards social media outreach, website design, administrative planning and scheduling, and personal productivity.

Recalling the words of Pope Francis, Fr. Holtzinger reminded those gathered that “technology can be both a help and a hindrance.” He demonstrated that in order to be successful, technological tools need to allow ministers to “serve better and reverence persons, increase communication, [and enable] better time management.” According to Fr. Holtzinger, technology is, at its core, a tool to “help ministers journey with and encounter people.”

Concluding the formation symposium on Tuesday morning, Sr. Timothy moved beyond the present state of technology and looked to where it may take society in the future. Recognizing the constantly changing state of technology, she invited the seminary community to ask, “What is happening to us, as a people and as a church, in the way we use these instruments?”

Sr. Timothy examined topics including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and genetics, drawing on Pope St. John Paul II’s teachings on Theology of the Body to show how to keep the focus on the reality of the human person and the necessity for genuine love. Noting that as future priests, those gathered would have to answer many difficult questions in the future, a greater value needed to be placed on “face to face and eye to eye” communication, thereby allowing an enduring respect for both the physical and spiritual aspects of the human person.

The annual symposium provides an opportunity for those gathered to examine topics that would not normally be addressed at length in the classroom, allowing for discussion of a wide variety of matters pertinent to priestly ministry. Established by the monks of Mount Angel Abbey, the seminary serves both graduate and undergraduate seminarians from the 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, March 21, 2016

Volleyball Season Starts Up at MAS

by Chi-Nhan Vo

The Mount Angel Guardians Volleyball team has formed for the 2016 season under the leadership of seminarians Chad Green, Diocese of Seattle; Santiago Torres, Diocese of Calgary; and Dalton Rogers, Diocese of Fresno. Currently composed of fourteen members, the team will begin playing competitive games against area teams, the first of which took place scheduled for March 19.

Weekly volleyball games have been held at Mount Angel Seminary since the beginning of the academic year. These friendly recreational group games were a highlight of the week for many players. In one night, players would rotate out and play as many as five games together. “I've been really pleased to see so much enthusiasm from both new and returning seminarians in being a part of the volleyball program at Mount Angel,” said Chad Green. “It has been a great opportunity for guys from different classes to interact and get to know each other.”

“I really love the dynamics of team sports,” said Philip Holy of the Diocese of Calgary. “In volleyball you really have to rely on your teammates.”

Hernan Wences sets up a spike for Philip Holy.

Captain Dalton Rogers readies for a smash.

Captain Santiago Torres receives a passed ball with a set.

“Individual agility and skill are important, but even more important is your ability to be counted on,” said Dalton Rogers, agreeing with Mr. Holy. “It takes dedication, humility, selfless concern for your teammates, and bravery to face whatever your opponent sends your way. Volleyball is a great metaphor for the spiritual life and the fraternal nature of the presbyterate.”

Now that the season is beginning, team members practice for one hour twice a week, after which recreational games are played for another hour that are open to all seminarians. During practice, the team members drill technical skills like passing and setting, as well as various strategies and formations.

While many members of this year’s team have experience with past years, others are new both to the seminary and to volleyball. “I had a lot of fun being a part of last year's team, so I wanted to make sure the same opportunity for fun, exercise, and fraternity would be offered to the new seminarians this year,” said Chad Green.

Father Teo Brea Starts Priestly Ministry

By Rodrigo Llorente, SSJ; photos courtesy of the Saint John Society

Friendly, joyful and pious - all of these match Fr. Teo Brea’s character. After spending four years in formation at Mount Angel Seminary, he was ordained in July 2016 for the Saint John Society. Over email, MAS Journalism interviewed him to see how he has taken all he learned to his ministry.

Fr. Teo, what is your ministry at this moment?

At this moment I am collaborating in the formation of the members of the SSJ. In Pilar's House we receive those in their second year of the so called “probation” time and those studying philosophy. In this task, I do team work with other priests of the SSJ.

I also collaborate as a chaplain of St. Matthew's College and am a pastoral counselor of a team formed by lay adults who minister in 2 jails in the area.

What has been your experience as a priest in these months since the ordination?

Looking back after these six months of priesthood in the St. John Society, a word quickly pops up: PRIVILEGE.

What do you mean by privilege?

By privilege I understand the keen awareness of having received a gift, a call, a mission that exceeds by far what I could have ever possibly anticipated or expected. It is the privilege of letting Jesus extend his public life in me. Eleven years ago, he called me for the first time. Since then privileges began: the privilege of a deep friendship with him, the privilege of preaching his word, the privilege of being a witness of his power in the life of many, the privilege of being called to such an ambitious project in the St. John Society, the privilege of friendship and common life. All these privileges have remained and have been strengthened throughout these years.

Fr. Teo preparing the Blessed Sacrament for adoration
In what ways has Mount Angel formation been useful for your ministry?

The experience of four years of reading, studying and praying about Jesus and the Revelation and years of “spiritual retreat” -  Mount Angel taught me how to celebrate in both a solemn and “contemporary” way. I was exposed to a liturgy that can speak to the neo-pagan.

How have the formation of Mount Angel Seminary and the formation you have received from the Saint John Society worked together?

A key principle of the formation of the SSJ is “assimilate, purify and elevate.”  That means we try to have the capacity to assimilate all the good that exists in the world.  “Purify” means incorporating the new from a core identity . . . trying to discern what can helps us to our mission.  “Elevate” means we take the new and try to improve it . . .

Two specific examples of this:

The organization of the social events: the Aquinas Dinner, the Annunciation Dinner etc. I have learned and tried to assimilate the style of organization that combines excellence, a friendly atmosphere, beauty, and the capacity to commend others and to recognize the success in their fields.

The Liturgy: assimilate the solemnity of the Abbey that fits perfectly with the New Evangelization.

Fr. Teo during his first Mass

After this time as a priest, what advice would you give to a fellow seminarian?

Kneel down to receive from Jesus all what he wants to teach. The deepest lessons are received right next to the tabernacle!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Twenty-Seven Seminarians Take a Step Closer to the Priesthood in Annual Ministries Mass

Story by Dean Marshall

Mount Angel, Ore. – On what promised to be a joy-filled evening on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 27 seminarians gathered together in the Mount Angel Abbey Church to be instituted into the ministries of Acolyte and Lector during Mount Angel Seminary’s annual Ministries Mass. These men, from twelve dioceses and religious communities from around the United States and beyond, took their next steps toward the Catholic priesthood.

Photo credit: Brother Lorenzo Conocido

Presided over by the Most Rev. Michael Barber, S.J., Bishop of Oakland, those being instituted in the ministries were called to make a full and heart-felt response to their vocational calling. In explaining the meaning of the evening’s ceremony, Bishop Barber recalled historical Church practice in regards to minor orders, and highlighted that the ministries of Lector and Acolyte are “not merely hoops that we go through on the way to ordination, [but they] are intimately connected to your ordination to the priesthood.” Bishop Barber continued, saying that in regards to priesthood, “there is a grace that precedes the administration of the sacrament, a grace that is poured out in its fullness on the day the sacrament is given, and then the grace that is continued to be poured out every day thereafter.”

Bishop Barber exhorted the seminarians to a response worthy of the call, stating that an appropriate response to “this great gift of God, this loving you, this choosing you” was found in the Book of Daniel from the Mass’s readings:  each man must respond to his new ministry “with contrite heart and a humble spirit,” so that, as seen in the texts from the Roman Missal which refer to the priest’s offering to God, each individual’s sacrifice made “in Your sight this day be pleasing to You Lord God.” The bishop reminded the men that no matter the circumstances, if they followed the Lord “unreservedly, they will not lose…will not be put to shame” as long as the Lord is made the center of all of their actions, living a life of faith and prayer, and following where the Lord calls in all things. Concluding the homily, Bishop Barber reminded them “this is where the Lord needs you, where the Church needs you, where the people of God needs you.”

On behalf of the (arch)dioceses and religious orders served by Mount Angel Seminary, Bishop Barber conferred the ministries of Lector and Acolyte on the following men: from the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, Gerson Espinosa Velasco, Stephen Kenyon, and Kurt Ziehlke were instituted as Acolytes; from the Archdiocese of Seattle, Jacob Hayden was instituted as a Lector while Benjamin Bray, Carl Sisolak, and Anh Tran were instituted as Acolytes; from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Joseph Baltz, David Gallegos, Santiago Henderson, and Timothy Meurer were instituted as Lectors; from the Diocese of Sacramento, Ryan Mahar was instituted as a Lector while Dean Marshall, Germán Ramos-Plaza, and Steven Wood were instituted as Acolytes; from the Diocese of Boise, John Moiser was instituted as a Lector; from the Diocese of San Diego, Raymond Napuli and Michael O’Connor were instituted as Lectors; from the Diocese of Orange, Michael Rizzo and Phillip Shifflet were instituted as Lectors; from the Diocese of Oakland, Javier Ramirez was instituted as an Acolyte; from the Diocese of Yakima, Henrry Mendez-Fajardo was instituted as an Acolyte; from Mount Angel Abbey, Br. Timothy Kalange O.S.B. and Br. Jesús Maria Leija, O.S.B. were instituted as Lectors; from the St. John’s Society, Santiago Feu and Rodrigo Llorente were instituted as Acolytes, and from Prince of Peace Abbey, Br. Bede Clark, O.S.B. was instituted as a Lector and Acolyte.

A reception was held for the new Lectors, Acolytes, visitors, faculty, and staff in Aquinas Hall following the Mass.

Established in 1889, Mount Angel Seminary is the largest seminary in the western United States, currently celebrating its 127th year of forming men for the Catholic priesthood. Founded by the monks of Mount Angel Abbey, the seminary serves both graduate and undergraduate seminarians from the United States, Canada, the Pacific Islands, and as far away as Hungary, as well as seminarians from various religious communities and many lay students. Currently, the seminary offers undergraduate degrees in philosophy with possible double majors in religious studies or literature, a Master’s degree in philosophy for seminarians in the Pre-Theology program, and Master’s degrees in theology for those preparing for ordination as well as for lay students.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ministries Mass 2016: A Photo Essay

Editor's Note: More written details of this year's Ministries Mass will be forthcoming on MAS Journalism.  The Mass took place on March 1, 2016, in the Mount Angel Abbey Church, and the Most Reverend Michael C. Barber, SJ, Bishop of Oakland, served as the presider.

Ministries Mass 2016: A Photo Essay by Br. Lorenzo Conocido

Br. Lorenzo Conocido is a Benedictine monk and a former student of Journalism class in the Seminary. He is a photo enthusiast and regularly contributes to the Abbey’s online photo album and Mount Angel Abbey’s official website. You can also enjoy and follow his personal photography here.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

College One Seminarians Serve Portland Underprivledged

by Chi-Nhan Vo

On February 11, 2016, the Mount Angel Seminary College I class underwent their second-semester of pastoral immersion at St. Andre Bessette Parish in downtown Portland, Oregon. Through the Red Door Retreat day program that St. Andre Bessette offers, the seminarians served free meals and conversed with guests, in addition to performing other duties, and reflected upon their experiences in group prayer.

The seminarians arrived at St. Andre Bessette at 7:00 in the morning and were welcomed by Ms. Becky O’Neil McBrayer, Director of Community Programs, and a number of other regular volunteers, who quickly set the group about at their tasks.

The majority of seminarians worked to serve food, sharing coffee, a hot meal, and fellowship with all who came through the parish doors. Others worked behind the scenes in the kitchen, in the food pantry, the clothes closet, and in the arts room. “When we finished we were able just to speak to the homeless people,” said Alex Valtierra, Jr., seminarian of the Diocese of Sacramento. “It showed how they are hungry- hungry for communion with other people. To be treated the same.”

After finishing the service at around noon, Fr. John Patrick Riley, C.S.C., Pastor of St. Andre Bessette, led the seminarians in celebrating Mass in the chapel below the dining hall. “What was really interesting and powerful for me was that this wasn't just any normal soup kitchen for the homeless, this was a parish,” said Andre Sicard, seminarian of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. “As you walk in, the tabernacle, the altar, the church is right there . . . next to the place where the mission of the church is happening with the guests. It really made a vivid image of what Pope Francis calls for, ‘a Church for the poor, of the poor.’”

Mass was followed by a short walking tour of the area surrounding St. Andre Bessette. Seminarians were introduced to the MacDonald Center, the Sisters of the Road Cafe, and the Blanchet House, all of which provide similar support services for those in need.

Finally, the group returned to St. Andre Bessette for group reflection. As a whole, the group expressed their pleasure in being able to serve and, through that, to be served, but also disappointment in not being able to do more to aid the poor. However, seminarian Thien Hoang of the Archdiocese of Portland commented, “Sometimes we aspire to do something big and great to help others, but a lot of the times, doing the simple thing, such as helping the poor directly through institutions such as St. Andre Bessette, can make the biggest difference.”

St. Andre Bessette parish has operated out of its current location at SW 5th St. and Burnside St. in Portland since 1971. It was founded in 1919 as the Downtown Chapel by Mr. P.J. Hanley in order to provide relief services to those veterans returning from World War I.

Since then, the Chapel has strived through depressions and wars to, in the words of its mission statement, “welcome all people – rich and poor, housed and homeless, healthy and ill- to share in the love of Christ through [its] Hospitality.” The parish runs many community programs in order to support Portland’s large homeless population, many of whom are unemployed and suffering from mental illness.

MAS Celebrates Lunar New Year

story by Phillip J. Shifflet; photos by Ace Tui

On Saturday, Feb. 13, the Vietnamese community at Mount Angel Seminary hosted a celebration of the Lunar New Year. This year, Huong Dinh, a seminarian for the Diocese of Oakland, serves as the President of the Vietnamese community.

The festivities began with a Mass in the Abbey Church at 10 o’clock that morning. The Reverend Bartholomew Dat Pham, SDD, the Pastor of Our Lady of LaVang Parish in Portland, celebrated the Mass. The seminary community was joined by other seminarians, priests, religious and lay people from the Vietnamese community in the Salem and Portland areas.

“Tết [Lunar New Year] is one of our most important events for the Vietnamese people,” Fr. Pham said in his homily. “Actually, in Vietnam, we normally take three months to celebrate the New Year.”

The Mass was followed by a reception in the Damian Center. The Masters of Ceremonies were Br. John Vianney Le, OSB, a monk of the Abbey, and Chi-Nhan Vo, a first-year seminarian from the Archdiocese of Portland. The reception included traditional Vietnamese food, music, and dance.

Guests of the hilltop perform a traditional dance associated with Tết.

Members of the Vietnamese community perform during the reception.

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 127 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.