Thursday, December 18, 2014

MAS Holds Theological Symposium on Liturgy

Photo and story by Phillip J. Shifflet

St. Benedict, Ore. — On Monday, November 24 and Tuesday, November 25, Mount Angel Seminary held its annual theological symposium. This year, Monsignor Kevin W. Irwin was the keynote speaker.

Msgr. Irwin is one of the foremost liturgists in the United States. Born in 1946, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York in 1971. He now teaches at the Catholic University of America, where he previously served as the Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies and now holds the Walter J. Schmitz Chair of Liturgical Studies. He is a prolific writer and speaker. His books include Context and Text; Liturgy, Prayer, and Spirituality; and Liturgical Theology: A Primer.

Msgr. Irwin’s symposium was entitled “The Benedictine Charism and Liturgical Formation in Seminaries,” and it spanned across three conferences: a morning and an afternoon conference on the 24th and a final morning conference on the 25th. In his conferences, he spoke on liturgy as a privileged act, liturgy as a communal experience, and liturgy as a unique act that makes present the Paschal Mystery.

From left to right: Rev. Msgr. Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of MAS; Rev. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, professor of theology at MAS; Rev. Msgr. Kevin Irwin; and Rev. Dr. Owen Cummings, Academic Dean of MAS. 

In his Letter to Seminarians, Pope Benedict XVI wrote on the importance of studying the liturgy: "The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church’s liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer." This year’s theological symposium was certainly a part of the knowing, understanding, and loving the liturgy that Pope Benedict XVI called for.

After the community Mass in the Abbey Church on Monday, November 24, the faculty, staff, students, and guests of MAS gathered in the Damian Center for the beginning of the theological symposium. Each conference was followed by an extended period for questions. Symposiums are a standard part of the formation program at MAS, and typically they focus on theological or human formation-related issues. Earlier this year, to celebrate the inauguration of its Master of Arts in Philosophy program, MAS held a special philosophical symposium.

Mount Angel Seminary, established by pioneer monks, began forming men for the priesthood in 1889.  MAS is 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.

This year, MAS celebrates its 125th anniversary. Since its inception, it has formed thousands of priests with sound philosophical and theological studies for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Time Lapse of Fraternity: Fall Social Events at Mount Angel Seminary

a photo essay by Randy Hoang

Community Day

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! - Psalm 133:1

Community Day is the first event of the seminary school year where both collegians and theologians, old and new, gather to build fraternity though recreational games.

Seminarians Peter Murphy, Greg Snyder, Felipe Villalobos, and Isaac Allwin prepare to race down the hill at the annual Community Day.

Seminarian Michael Kelley leads his teammates of College II and Theology Ii in a competition.

Cody Ross takes charge in holding up the tower as his teammates including Theology III and College III watch.

The seminary community engages in the last activity of the day, a water balloons toss.

College Beach Weekend

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but his disciples did not realize it was Jesus. - John 21:4

The seminary is a place of discernment.  In that spirit, at the beginning of the each year the college heads to the Oregon coast for fraternity.

Ace Tui and Isidore Slade grill shrimp and pork as preparation for the Vietnamese pork and shrimp Vermicelli dinner served on the first night of the annual college beach weekend held at Camp Meriwether on the Oregon Coast.

Friday night after dinner, students enjoy the sunset together.

After the sunset, Marco Serna and Huong Dinh play of game of Jenga.

Saturday night, collegians gathered for a bonfire and s'mores.

All Saints Social

For this is the will of God, your sanctification. - 1st Thessalonians 4:3

The seminary community gathers each year on the occasion of the Solemnity of All Saints to celebrate with food, drink and games.  All this is to celebrate the saints and together promote the universal call to holiness through examples of dressing up as saints.

Conor Baer, Timothy Ferguson, and John Hesla enjoy drinks and food at the beginning of the All Saints Social.

Tyler Johnson, dressed as Saint John Paul II, describes his costume to the audience of seminarians and formators.

Tyler Johnson, Deacon Edgar Sanchez, Dario Rinaldi, Joshua Keatley, and Peter Murphy were among the seven contestants in the saints costume competition.

Karaoke Night

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! - Psalm 95:1-2

As the semester comes to a close, the seminary joined together for a night of snacks, drinks, and laughter and song at the Karaoke Night held at the Press.

Arjie Garcia starts the night with Johnny Cash's "Redemption Song."

Dario Rinaldi moves the crowd as he sings Aerosmith's song "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing."

Oscar Anaya, Ivan Arevalo, and Carlos Orozco together sing "Tu Carcel" by Marc Anthony.

While we may come from different places and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one.
- Albus Dumbledore

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Spiritual Lessons of Aikido

by Garrett McGowan

Editor's Note: The reporter for this story is also a member of the Aikido class.

Here on the hilltop Mr. James Sisley offers a class in Aikido. The class is offered every semester. The focus of the Aikido class is to teach students how to develop a calm mindset that they can take out of the Aikido class and into the world. The way Aikido teaches this is by its philosophy of being in a state of peace and harmony. To some this may seem like a strange class to offer at a Catholic seminary. Many people have misconceptions of Aikido because it falls into the category of martial arts, and therefore it must be violent.

The philosophy of Aikido teaches the opposite. The word Aikido is Japanese translating into English as “way of life.” Aikido focuses on harmony and being at peace. It is also for this reason that Aikido does not have any tournaments. The focus is never to win a fight when under attack but rather to quickly and calmly defuse the situation peacefully.

Aikido is a defense martial art. When people who do Aikido take people down to the mat they always protect themselves while at the same time looking out for the safety of the man attacking them. By looking out for the safety of the attacker, students are focused on a peaceful mindset and not injury to the other person. Mr. Sisley tells us in class, “It is easy to hit, but it is hard not to hit.”

Aikido teaches its students how to protect themselves without fighting. Aikido does not use any punches, kicks or strikes of any kind. When students make contact with their attackers, they become one with them. When they face the same direction they can see life from their perspectives. Isadore Slade, a college-two seminarian, said that the Aikido class has helped him learn how to stay relaxed in stressful situations. He says that after class he feels more relaxed and able to concentrate more in class and while doing his homework assignments.

Mr. Sisley working with Isidore Slade

Mr. Sisley said that when we take a deeper look into Aikido and its philosophy, we see that there is nothing contrary to Catholicism. During an attack students are given many opportunities to attack those who attack them, but because Aikido emphasizes harmony, peace and love, the students never take advantage of these moments. Instead the students forgive the people who attack them and show the attacker the way down to the mat gently.

So we can see that Aikido teaches us to forgive, something that Jesus focused on. Students are taught that when they hurt someone who has attacked them what is really happening is they are becoming weak because they are no longer practicing self-control, discipline, love and forgiveness. The student is no longer able to come together the way Aikido teaches because he or she has fallen away from harmony.

As two people come together in Aikido they become one. Aikido’s philosophy teaches that when people are attacked what is really happening is the other person seeking communication. An attack is really a gift because the student can see what it is the other is looking for. This opens the door for communication between two people, leading them to an understanding that violence is never the answer to resolving a conflict. Maybe there can be a chance to become friends.

This is best expressed through a move called “Tankan,” which means, “turning the body.” An attacker can grab someone’s wrist and by turning to his side both people are now looking at the world together.

Jesus teaches Catholics to turn the other cheek, and if someone is looking for a way to learn how best to do that, I highly recommend Aikido. These teachings that we find in Aikido almost mimic the teachings of Jesus.  Aikido is love for your fellow man. Many conflicts take place in our heads; Aikido seeks to remove that. A person must be relaxed to practice Aikido; very little strength if any at all is needed. People can take these teachings off the mat and into any place or situation they may enter. I strongly recommend all seminarians join Mr. Sisley for a semester.

MAS Athletics Starts a New Sport

by Frank Villanueva

Mount Angel Seminary has yet again added a new sport to the hilltop.  Ping pong, also known as table tennis, has been played here on the hilltop for many years, but it has never been a coordinated sport until now.  Seminarian Anh Tran from the Archdiocese of Seattle has helped to change the face of this sport here at Mount Angel.

Anh has been playing ping pong since he was 12 years old but has been serious about it for the last 11 years.  His love of the sport and his enthusiasm for getting others involved in it has been the driving force behind this growing sport here on the hilltop.  There is a ping pong table on the basement floor of the Anselm building in the dormitory, and most seminarians play there.  However, the increase in the interest in the sport has brought outsiders onto this mountain top, and they have brought along with them four more tables.  These tables have been generously donated to the seminary on a loan basis.

Every Saturday between 1 and 4p.m., people from Salem, Portland, and many other places in Oregon come to join the seminarians for a game of ping pong.  “Saturdays are more convenient for open play, and it is easier for any seminarian who has an interest in picking up this sport to come and try out” Tran said.

Tran also explained some of the history of ping pong.  Ping pong is a game that originated in England during the early 19th century where it was played by those who were of upper-class as an after dinner parlour game.  However, their way of playing and the set-up was quite different than what we see today.  Those who played the sport would line several books across a long table to create what we see today as the net. They would also use books as paddles and a golf ball for their ball.

This unconventional way of after dinner entertainment gave the name table tennis.  Shortly after this, the sport gained popularity amongst the families, which led game manufacturers to sell equipment commercially.  Early rackets were often pieces of parchment stretched upon a frame, and when swung it generated an unusual sound that went sort of like “wiff-waff.”  From that came the name “ping pong.”  Later, a famous game developer, Parker Brothers, purchased trademark rights which gave them trademark rights for the term “ping pong.”  In the 1920s these rights forced the various competing associations to change their names to the original “table tennis.”

Sports have proven to be a healthy part of a seminarian’s life.  When asked how ping pong has helped in his vocation, Tran said, “it helps me in my [confidence] and [gives me] encouragement.”  Tran also said, “the most important of all is [the] human relations that are fostered with those who [come to play] this sport” and that’s what makes this game so much fun.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Seminarians Promote Vocations to Youth

by Randy Hoang

On Saturday Oct. 25 a group of seminarians, including myself, had the priviledge of showing 35 high school students along with three chaperones from Our Lady of Lavang Parish in Portland around Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary. In giving this tour, we were not only able to expose the students to the abbey and seminary but also helped to promote vocations.

The seminarians involved included second-year seminarian Ivan Arevalo from the Diocese of Monterey, third-year seminarians Brian Kim, Emilio Gonzalez and Huong Dinh from their dioceses of Orange, Fresno and Oakland respectively and first-year theologian Anh Tran from the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The day started out with noon prayer with the monastic community, followed by a shared meal with the seminary community. Msgr. Joseph Betschart, the President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary, shared a few words with the students about the daily life at seminary. After lunch the students were exposed for the first time to a first class relic of the uncorrupted left hand of St. Ambrose Barlow, shown to them by Br. Gregory Benavidez from the Abbey. Following that was the tour of the famous museum underneath the monastery.

Fr. Theodore Lange, a priest of the Archdiocese of Portland a and human formation director at Mount Angel Seminary, along with Deacon John Paul Le of Mount Angel Abbey, were among the speakers promoting vocations. Fr. Theodore spoke on the significance of the vocational call of marriage, while Deacon John Paul Le spoke about Benedictine monastic life. The day concluded with an open session for questions and answers hosted by the seminarians. The majority of the questions revolved around the daily schedule of seminary and each of our vocational testimonies.

In expressing what the day was like for her, Youth Coordinator Agnes Khanh Le, an alumus of Mount Angel Seminary, said that “our trip to Mount Angel was like a date with God.” She continued to say that it was a great opportunity for the students to leave their comfort zone of an ordinary classroom and “embrace new ways in meeting God.” All in all, she said “the experience was a wake up call toward consciousness and an invitation to begin a vocational journey in faith.”

In reflecting on his interaction with the youth, Emilio Gonzalez mentioned that he was once in their shoes with the same vocational questions. He said that he is “truly thankful for what the Lord has allowed me to grow in  - greater knowledge and purifying of my own vocational call.”

The purpose for the youth trip was to promote the awareness of different vocational calls. As sixteen year old Helen Nguyen said, “it was awesome to see many young future priests [seminarians]. They inspired me to think of the Church with a youthful spirit.”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sidekicks Take the Stage at MAS

News Brief by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB
Photos by Frank Villanueva and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

The afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 10, the Performance Studies class offered the culmination of their work for the semester, a short play entitled Inside Every Sidekick is a Superhero.

The publicity poster for Inside Every Sidekick is a Superhero

From the program for Inside Every Sidekick is a Superhero

The play was directed by Performance Studies professors Mark Woolman and Kathy Akiyama, with the script written by Kathy Akiyama.  The Performance Studies students made up the cast.

The cast was supported by Dr. Katy Leamy and Fr. Peter Arteaga who provided props, and Matthew Knight who worked on publicity.

Front Row: Prof. Mark Woolman; Matthew Knight as Mr. Spock; Chad Hill as Rex Hill, a Life Coach/The Joker; Isaac Allwin as Robin; Jerome Jay as Samwise Gamgee; Prof. Kathy Akiyama.  Back Row: Fr. Peter Arteaga;
Dr. Katy Leamy as Miss Kitty; Kevin Clark as Friar Tuck;
Br. William Petry as Dr. John Watson.

Inside Every Sidekick is a Superhero was received with much laughter and enjoyment by the audience of seminarians, faculty, staff, and friends of the seminary.

Performance Studies Helps Students Grow in Confidence

by Greg Snyder

The Performance Studies class, taught by faculty members Ms. Kathy Akiyama and Mr. Mark Woolman, currently has six seminarians in the class as well as theology professor Dr. Katy Leamy. Among the students is Chad Hill, a College 2 seminarian from the Archdiocese of Seattle.  Hill said that priests who are more confortable in public situations will likely be more effective in their ministries.

Chad Hill explained that the goal of the performance studies class is to use acting and improvisation games as a means to help seminarians learn the skills of public speaking. These activities help one to grow more comfortable being in front of a crowd, which is integral to the life of any Catholic priest.

The class helps students to think on the spot and react appropriately to other people; it also helps them to learn to change their speech according to the feedback they are getting from the audience. Learning to perceive the audience’s reaction is important in helping one become an effective and engaging speaker. Additionally, this class is designed to help students learn how to be loose and relaxed in tense situations.

The class practices games and skits to help grow in familiarity with being at peace while in these situations. Hill said, “When we are up in front of others, we naturally have a fight or flight mechanism that we employ in various ways that can either hurt or help our performance.”

He explained further, "For someone who is not familiar with being in front of a crowd, their physical disposition will tend to be tense and so learning the skills necessary to maintain control over our bodily response will help us deliver the messaging that we desire.” During class they do physical exercises that train the body to be relaxed in the speaking posture and use different stretches or body positions that help loosen any tension build up, for example, realigning the neck, spine and head.

Hill described a game they act out: "We take an object, putting it into the middle of the room and pretending it is something that it is not and use it in a different way, to repurpose it so you learn to think outside of what it actually is, to expand the scope of your imagination and reactions.” They also act out game shows, giving them an opportunity to test the waters and use some of the physical loosening skills that they may have picked up along the way in class.

Another skit they like to practice to boost their improvisational acumen is one where two students start a scene or situation of their choice and after a few seconds they freeze and other students take their place, repeating the process to keep the creative juices flowing. The goal, said Hill, is that scene changes should be quick in order to get students to think on the spot and move in the moment with ease.

Tension in the body can manifest itself in the tension in one’s voice, and the more tense one is, the more likely it is that one will make mistakes in one's delivery, as well as compromise the ability to react positively to audience feedback.” Hill stressed the point that “being tense is a trigger to stuttering.”  

Jerome Jay, a fourth-year college seminarian from the Archdiocese of Portland, described how improvement happens rather quickly: “After playing a game for even a half of the class, you could feel yourself improving by leaps and bounds. As new games came up, it becomes easier to jump into them and succeed.”

The selected textbook, Confessions of the Public Speaker by Scott Berkun, speaks about psychological factors of which people should be aware. Primarily, the book is about an individual, the author, and the journey he took to becoming a good public speaker.  It is about practical steps of repetition, of trial and error. In the book the author also talks about the role of technology and the fact that it is important that one have a good grasp of how it works. A complete grasp of your content beyond the medium of technologies is critical so that if technology fails, one can still deliver the content competently.

At the end of the semester, the class will put together a small production that is designed to showcase the abilities and improvements of the students in acting, improvisation and speaking. The performance is open to the whole hilltop community when announced.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

All Saints Social is an Annual Event at MAS

by Huong Dinh

Mount Angel Seminary’s All Saints Social was celebrated on Friday, Oct. 3 in the Aquinas Dinning Hall with the involvement of many formation directors and seminarians.

The All Saints Social was on Halloween, which basically means the night before All Saints Day. There is a little difference between Halloween at the seminary and in other places. At the seminary, seminarians dressed up as saints rather than other popular Halloween costumes. According to Ace Tui from the Diocese of Honolulu, a seminary social chair, the main goal of the social night was “to showcase the artistic talent or gifts that our seminarians have” through the imaginative way they design their costumes.

This year, the social night was combined with dinner, so people participated in the event more than last year. Abbot Peter Eberle from Mount Angel Abbey and a human Formation Director at Mount Angel Seminary led the opening prayer to start the event, and then people enjoyed the food, beer, and social.

After dinner there were games, which were led by Stephen Cieslak from the Archdiocese of Portland and Carlos Orozco from the Archdiocese of Seattle. The first game was called Telephone Charades, where a line of players acted out actions written on a board until the last player tried to guess what was written by describing what they saw from the player in front of them. The second was called Junk In Your Trunk. The players had Kleenex boxes tied to their lower backs with six ping pong balls inside, and they had to see who could empty the box as soon as possible.

The last game was called Mad Dog. Each player was given a ruler with two open tic-tac boxes taped on the ruler, one at each end. They held the ruler in their mouths, and they shook their heads up and down and side to side but not tilted in order to empty the boxes of tic-tacs. People were excited as the games took place, especially when the formation team joined in.

In deciding the costume winner, Father Ralph Recker from Mount Angel Abbey and a human Formation Director at Mount Angel Seminary, Deacon Pio Afu from the Diocese of Samoa and Zachary Ferell from the Diocese of Tucson were chosen as judges. Afterward, each attendant stepped onto the stage and introduced the saint costume. Joining in the costume contest this year was Father Peter Arteaga from the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit. He dressed up as St. Peter Verona.

Judges Deacon Pio Afu, Zach Ferell, and Father Ralph Recker

Costume contest winner Emilio Gonzalez as Saint Francis

The winner of costume contest was Emilio Gonzalez from the Diocese of Fresno who dressed up as Saint Francis. He shared that he chose St. Francis because he was impressed by his poverty and humility. He wanted to be like St. Francis to “become poor to present the humility of God.” Gonzalez also shared that the costume was a better way to introduce to others the saints rather than reading about them because it was a real example. He said saints not only “give us hope that one day we will meet them in heaven, but also remind us that many of them were sinners.”

Isidore Slade and his winning pumpkin

The winner of the carving pumpkin contest was Isidore Slade from the Diocese of Samoa. The best pumpkin was voted by all the people attending the social night.  Slade shared that he carved the pumpkin with the spirit of Halloween in his mind. He explained that the light within the pumpkin symbolized the merciful heart of Jesus even though his face was ugly. He added that we could not evaluate people by their appearances.

The social night ended at 8:30 p.m. It brought the seminary community together and gave seminarians some relaxing time after their midterms.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The October Wind

a photo essay by Carl Sisolak

The hilltop experienced a fall windstorm in October 2014.  This is the force of nature, and while it probably wasn't the strongest windstorm, we are reminded that we always have to expect there to be changes when we are challenged by the Holy Spirit to grow in our faith.

Sometimes the change hits us like a storm.  After all, the Apostles experienced the same on the Sea of Galilee! (Mark 4:35).  We need not be afraid when Jesus is with us.  He is our calm in the storm.


Blown Over


From the Fury


Left Behind

Make a Wish

On the Road Again


Shades of Fall

Shadow Stuff


The View


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stewardship and Theology Class Debuts at Mount Angel Seminary

by Carl Sisolak

This fall semester a new class called Special Questions in Moral Theology: Stewardship and Simplicity is being taught by Dr. Katy Leamy. The class already has three students and is currently an elective class.

Leamy said that the class focuses on the theology behind being a good steward of the environment, on the questions that look at how we find God in creation and how he speaks to us through creation. She said that we need to be aware that all of creation is a revelation of who God is.  The object of focus in this class is food and how what we eat connects us to God’s creation and our stewardship over it.

Leamy said that “there is a concern, especially here in the Northwest, with understanding how we can be in harmony with nature. She explained that "we need to think about this even in regards to the food we eat.”

Food, she said, is a gift.  Leamy said, “When you get a gift you want to honor the giver. If you get a gift and you just break it you are not honoring the giver.”  Leamy said that food is chosen as the focus of this class because with food we begin to realize that most human, spiritual, communal, ethical dimensions of this gift are realized around the dinner table. We honor the giver of the gift of food by asking how the food came to our table.

For example, Leamy said we have to consider the cost of labor and whether farmers were exploited in the process, as well as whether poor nations are getting fair living wages for the food they produce.  We also have to consider the impact to the environment of our food production, as well as the living conditions of the animals that are processed for food.  Leamy said that this does not mean she is advocating everyone to stop eating meat. The class is about promoting ways to allow for the flourishing of all creation.
Leamy said that the class also approached the question regarding our rights, responsibilities and expectations with regard to creation and our care for it.   Leamy said there are ways the lessons from the course apply themselves to community life here on Mount Angel. She said we should be asking ourselves questions on how we consume or waste food and other resources.

Leamy also said that as a gift, creation has a focus on aspects of giving and receiving, a lot of which is scripturally based. She said the Eucharistic Prayer is as an example of this Christian focus on the idea of giving and receiving.
Leamy said we have to be reminded that we should express our gratitude for the gifts we are given because gratitude can be forgotten with entitlement.

The students of the class also gave their input as to the value they find in taking this class. Student Alex Woelkers, a Theology III studying for the Diocese of Helena, said the idea of simplicity applying to the food we eat resonates with him because “ in the past [he] worked with the poor, and he realized priests are called to live with simplicity.
Derek Twilliger, a Theology III student studying for the Diocese of San Diego, said that “there are many practical applications for the class as pastoral leaders of a parish community."  He said, “We can convey the value of what Pope Francis calls returning to a simpler way of living.”

Cody Ross, a Theology III student studying for the Archdiocese of Seattle, said, "I liked being able to do practical things in the class, a hands on approach to learning, such as going out and doing field trips.”

Twilliger also said, "This class will benefit other students by getting them to ask questions they wouldn’t normally ask and raise awareness as to whether we are living Gospel vaules in our everyday lives.”

Leamy said she has already had several speakers come to her class, most notably Chef Paul from Bon Appetit who spoke of the philosophy of buying food locally and Jerry Grandin, a geologist with the State of Oregon who spoke about conservation of the Columbia River Watershed. The class also has taken some field trips such as to a nearby farm and a winery to look at the ethics found in the processing of food.

Leamy said stewardship is about God not just wanting us to follow the rules by going to church but wanting our lives to be enriched by our being connected to others.   Leamy said the course might be offered again next fall semester if there is continued interest.