Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mount Angel Seminary Celebrates 127th Commencement Exercises

by Phillip J. Shifflet

“The fields are ripe! O bless the Lord, our God!” echoed through the Abbey Church as Mount Angel Seminary (MAS) celebrated its annual Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises at the end of its 127th year of forming men for the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

On Friday, May 13th at 4pm, students, faculty, staff, family, and friends of the seminary gathered with the monastic community to celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass in the Abbey Church. The Reverend Stephen Clovis, Vice-President for Administration and Director of Pastoral Formation, served as the principal celebrant and delivered the homily. Myrna Keough and the Seminary Liturgical Choir provided music for the Mass, which included Kevin Allen's polyphonic composition of "Domine Non Sum Dignus."

Fr. Clovis opened his homily with an oft-repeated saying of Pope St. John Paul II: "In the plans of Divine Providence, there are no coincidences." He quoted from the late Roman Pontiff because the Gospel reading used for the Baccalaureate Mass was not specially chosen for the event - rather, it happened to be the reading from the Lectionary for the day. In the reading from St. John's Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Fr. Clovis further commented, "It's a Gospel that's incredibly rich, offering us a deep source from which to draw great spiritual insight."

In his homily, Fr. Clovis reflected on the importance of three words from the Gospel reading, "words that elevate the exchange between Jesus and Peter from what might first appear to be an interrogation of sorts, to a level of personal encounter with profound implications." These words were "you," "me," and "my." Seemingly insignificant, but rich with meaning. Fr. Clovis ended his reflection by exhorting both the graduates and congregants: "May all you do, may all you are, may all you proclaim in word and deed be a resounding 'yes' to the one who calls you in love to care for those he calls his own. And in all things, may God be glorified in you."

The Commencement Exercises were held the next day, Saturday, May 14th at 10am.

The Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle, delivered the commencement address. He began his address with a question: "Who's wise?” “Wisdom," he went on to say, "is not necessarily the product of a lot of education... Sometimes wisdom is expressed in eloquent words, and other times it's expressed in silence." Given these considerations on wisdom, one might rightly ask: where, then, does true wisdom come from? Archbishop Sartain gives the answer: "True wisdom comes from relationship with Jesus, one that's fed by prayer and humble ongoing conversion." He ended his address on a hortatory note: "Your conversion will demonstrate your wisdom, who is Jesus. Your conversion will make you hunger and thirst for a deeper understanding of what you have learned at Mount Angel... May Jesus be praised and glorified in all we do. And may our serving and striving after him make us wise."

G.P. Palestrina’s composition of “Sicut Cervus” was performed as a musical interlude by Mount Angel Polyphony, an a capella group comprised of seminarians Ethan Alano, Tim Meurer, Raymond Philip Napuli, Phillip Shifflet, and Luke Stager. The Reverend Mister Anthony Ahamefule, a graduate of the seminary Theology program for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, delivered the annual senior farewell. Msgr. Betschart gave the final remarks, and the Right Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, the newly-elected Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey, imparted the final blessing upon the graduates and congregants.

Mount Angel Seminary offers undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, with possible double majors in Literature or Religious Studies. At the graduate level, the seminary offers the Master of Divinity degree and Master of Arts degrees in Philosophy and Sacred Theology, as well as the Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology degree offered in affiliation with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, Italy. This year, the seminary granted 17 undergraduate degrees and 29 graduate degrees to seminarians, religious and lay students from around the United States and the Pacific Islands. Additionally, three seminarians received certificates of completion for the pre-theology program.

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.  Since its inception 127 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Mount Angel Seminary – Graduating Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts:  
Oscar Luis Anaya Cuevas - Fresno
Huong Dinh - Oakland
Ryan Paul Dixon - Fresno
Gerson Alfonso Espinosa Velasco - Portland in Oregon
Emilio Gonzalez - Fresno
Jesús Gonzalez - Reno
Neil Giancarlo Frivaldo Guan - Las Vegas
Randy Hoáng - Portland in Oregon
Br. Timothy Kalange OSB - Mount Angel Abbey
Brian Kim - Orange
Walter Martinez - Fresno
Br. Rudolfo Martinez Guevara MSpS - Missionaries of the Holy Spirit
Peter Joseph Murphy - Boise
Luis Alejandro Núñez Lara - Monterey
Nicholas Lee Paige-Schneider - Baker
Eseese Filipo Tui - Honolulu
James Wallace - Juneau
   
Pre-Theology Certificate of Completion:  
Joshua Daniel Falce - Boise
Junghoon Park - Seattle
Br. Benjamin Dinh Tran OSB - Mount Angel Abbey

Master of Arts (Philosophy):
Ethan Kevin Alano - Portland in Oregon
Br. John Cannon III OCD - Discalced Carmelites
Cheeyoon Timothy Chun - Orange
Joshua Thomas Keatley - Portland in Oregon
 
Master of Divinity:
Anthony Chijioke Ahamefule - Portland in Oregon
John Janer Becerra - Portland in Oregon
Alexander A. Estrella - Sacramento
Arjie Dacua Garcia - Portland in Oregon
Edgardo Josué Garcia Valazquez - Sacramento
Br. John Vianney Lê OSB - Mount Angel Abbey
Juan Jesus Maldonado - Fresno
Joseph Huân Nguyen - Orange
Cody Lane Ross - Seattle
Cesar Solorio Maldonado - Fresno
Derek Wayne Twilliger - San Diego
Mark W. Uhlenkott - Boise
Tetzel Ballogan Umingli - Portland in Oregon
Leon J. Vigil - Santa Fe
Cody J. Williams - Helena

Master of Arts (Theology):
Anthony Chijioke Ahamefule - Portland in Oregon
Andres M. Emanuelli Perez - Sacramento
William Bradley Hall
John Kucera - Boise

Friday, May 13, 2016

Joe Paddock: "Prison Ministry Creates an Oasis in Jail"

by Rodrigo Llorente, SSJ

Since September of 2015 students of Mount Angel Seminary started working in the Oregon State Penitentiary. Every Tuesday and Thursday seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary drive to the prison to carry on activities of evangelization and formation inside the prison. Joe Paddock, a seminarian for the Diocese of Helena, was interviewed on his experience and impressions on his time of ministry in the prison.

When Mount Angel students arrive at the prison, they go through multiple check stations, where they are scrutinized due to security reasons. Paddock shared about the place: “It's cold and sterile. It's weird, when you go the bar gate opens and then closes behind you and then you have this guy asking questions: what are you bringing in there?  They have to make questions but you are not used to this. The assumption there almost is that you are doing something wrong until you prove that you are not. I suppose they want to make that stance because they want to make it a safe place.”

After going through several bar gates they arrive to the room where they hold their meetings. Paddock was surprised by the inmates’ reaction to them: “Once I got in the room my impression was immediate acceptance. The guys are just incredible! They are very on fire and they are very hungry. They’ve been praying for us at least for a month before we even got there!”

Paddock highlights the heroic faith of these men: “These guys a lot of times are persecuted because they are faithful. Some of them are amazing. What do they do when they go back to their cell? They read the Catechism. There is one guy that is studying Greek and translating. They have a lot of prayers books.  They are studying the Bible and they hold them as precious gifts that they got from our group. And they are really devout. A lot of the other prisoners look at them and think how these guys think that they are holier than us! It’s tough for them to be faithful. I have a lot of admiration for these men.”

The meetings consist in a communion service followed by a catechetical session. Paddock really values the opportunities for talking one-on-one with prisoners:  “Sometimes a guy has a tough day so we go out in the hall to talk. They need to take something out of their chest because there is a lot of bad stuff going on there. This is clearly an oasis for them. Away from all that! Is a beautiful time where they can relax.”

When asked about what has impacted Joe the most, a word quickly popped up: “Conversion. These guys had hit rock bottom and now they have opened their hearts to Christ.”

This impacted his way of viewing and approaching the prisoners: “These people look like good people that made a mistake and now they are atoning for them. To really get to know these guys on a personal level made me take a really humble approach and seeing them as children of God.”

Paddock testifies with confidence about God’s action in the prison: “It is amazing what Christ is doing in these people’s lives. We receive 10 times more that those guys get from us.”

Reviewer Offers Final Reflection on the Unfamiliar Genre Project

by Chi-Nhan Vo

Editor's Note: MAS Journalism has also published Chi-Nhan's restaurant review.

I chose to work on a food review as an unfamiliar genre primarily because it sounded fun to do, even as a class assignment: combining writing, food, and meticulous analysis into one package is a dream come true for me. Even my sister used to poke fun at me when we’d try new foods, calling me “Gordon Ramsay” as I tried to use important-sounding words to describe a meal, but despite this predisposition to the assignment I’ve never formally done a written review of anything. The UGP sounded like a perfect opportunity for me to try something new.

On starting my research, my enthusiasm only grew. More and more these days, user-driven aggregators like Yelp or Google Reviews are the big players in the game, where people always turn to in deciding on a restaurant. It makes sense, really: professional reviews don’t have the advantage of providing an averaged opinion of a place, and are susceptible to bias or even bribery in extreme cases. Most damning is the fact that they’re unavoidably longer: when someone’s deciding on this place or that, what they need is the down and dirty, as quickly as possible.

This trend in restaurant reviews makes for a great opportunity for me to do a traditional one. Looking at all the different reviews I could find, I found that there was a lot more variety in tone, style, organization and focus than the image of the traditional point-by-point breakdown that I had pictured. These days, an in-depth review has to have something unique about it to draw people in.

My own review ended up being structured fairly basically, not too far from that uninspired point-by-point formula; considering that this is my first time with reviewing, I suppose that’s to be expected, although it doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. At the very least, I hoped to mitigate the tedium with vivid detail in all five senses, as well as with personal detail about the restaurant, emphases which I borrowed from my collected reviews.

Sitting down for an extended, professional interview was probably the highlight of the research process. I didn’t find anything particularly different about researching the writing process of a food review from any other academic problem, but conducting an interview, looking someone face-to-face, is a whole different sort of problem that can’t simply be researched. Thankfully I’d had brief experience asking single questions to people on the hilltop in my work for the journalism blog, but that didn’t stop my nerves during the interview. It wasn’t unpleasant in the end, though, and I think I could do it much more easily if it ever comes up again. The quotes I got ended up being a great help in writing my review as well. I’m sure there will be a next time, so when it comes I want to have more interaction: rather than simply moving from question to question as written, I could have done a better job of drawing out more information in a natural, conversation-like manner from the interviewee’s responses.

There was also an issue of integrity in the writing process. After all, one bad review can wreck a business in extreme cases, and I certainly didn’t want to do that to people that I’d met face-to-face. But on the other hand, I couldn’t cover up any flaws in good journalistic conscience. My solution was to be honest, but phrased gently. Thankfully this wasn’t a huge issue seeing as how I genuinely enjoy the restaurant, but in one particular case regarding the restrooms my word choice was pointed out to be unfairly inaccurate. By simply using honest, concrete descriptions, I was able to balance my interests as well as improve the quality of the writing itself, as I exemplified when I spoke on the bathrooms: rather than simply calling them “filthy,” I described them as being “dim, cramped and scarred with discoloration” to paint a much more accurate picture.

I quite enjoyed writing this restaurant review as part of the Unfamiliar Genre Project. I didn’t experience any major bumps along the way, and by working continually with Sr. Hilda I could continually refine my project into something worthwhile. I was able to practice research skills and descriptive writing, and I also was able to get new experience in conducting an interview and professional courtesy. My bank account doesn’t share my satisfaction, of course, but my very happy taste buds provide some needed balance.

I would recommend this project highly to any seminarian, for the simple fact that it allows ample room to tackle something interesting while still pushing the bounds of comfort. Not only did it provide an opportunity to practice writing skills, it forced me into learning interviewing skills, both of which are highly useful to a student. Moreover, the hands-on nature of the project breaks up the tedium of lecture classes.  It was a great experience for sure.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Journalism Student Explores Restaurant Reviews

by Chi-Nhan Vo

Editor's Note: This semester, journalism student Chi-Nhan Vo chose to do the Unfamiliar Genre Project with a focus on restaurant reviews.  MAS Journalism is pleased to publish his final centerpiece, a review of a favorite local restaurant.

Thai Dish: A Seminary Favorite

Chef and owner Manos Jantarasri serves up traditional Thai favorites in a small but homey space.

It’s a quiet Thursday evening in Mount Angel, as most evenings are: cold and rainy, just begging for a warm meal to bring it together. Thankfully, there’s a perennial favorite next door in Silverton’s Thai Dish, a cozy, unassuming hole in the wall that’s played host to years of hungry seminarians. Some seminarians and I decided to take a closer look at the restaurant that’s so often recommended to hilltop newcomers.

Thai Dish is the work of Mr. Manos Jantarasri and his family, who moved to Oregon and opened his restaurant in 2001. Mr. Jantarasri had worked and studied at various other restaurants in California, where he’d first come in the US, to learn how to conduct a business.

He gives all the credit for his love and skill for cooking, however, to his mother, a journey that he’d begun long before he’d come stateside. “Since I was 8, everything she did, I watched and I did it too,” he says, reflecting back on his childhood in Thailand with a smile. “I was always asking questions. It was hard work, very tiring, but I liked it.”


This homegrown, down-to-earth background seems to be the driving force behind the restaurant’s creative energy, including the décor. Many newer Thai restaurants in Portland are lavishly decorated from floor to ceiling with ornate paintings and bronze and gold statues. Thai Dish, on the other hand, is rather humble in comparison: its modest space is peeling with paint in the corners, and the hallway and restrooms around the back aren’t much more impressive, dim, cramped and scarred with discoloration.


However, its walls and tables are collaged with pictures and clippings of Thai people and places, mixed in with crayon drawings collected from the restaurant’s younger patrons through the years. When these sights come together with the wonderful sounds of relaxed conversation and sizzling plates, it’s clear why such a place has become a town fixture. “[Since I first opened] many people have moved to this town. It’s very safe, good for kids,” says Mr. Jantarasri. “Many of my customers are families.”


The food itself exemplifies the same sense of pleasant intimacy. “A lot of other restaurants, they . . . change to a more American taste,” notes Mr. Jantarasri as he describes the sweeter, saltier palate of American-oriented cooking. “I try and make very traditional Thai style.” The menu isn’t short by any means, filled with all the old Thai standbys of curry, rice, stir-fry, and noodles, and a fair variety of drinks, appetizers and desserts, but it also isn’t needlessly long: there’s more than enough to be able to pick and choose without being overwhelmed. Most dishes also have the option of choosing a degree of spice, anywhere from barely-noticeable to fire-in-the-mouth. There’s also usually a choice of meat, all of which are delicious, although the seafood options are rather pricey.

Service at Thai Dish is very friendly, doing a good job of checking in through the meal without being overbearing. Only one server is usually operating at a time, though, so service can be somewhat slow depending on how full the restaurant is. Orders do come out surprisingly quick, though, just enough to get settled and comfortable before the plates arrive.


A number of visits allowed us to sample through a good portion of the menu. As in other southeast Asian cuisines, a soup is often the first portion of a meal, most famously the spicy and sour Tom Yum. Thai Dish’s version comes out on an impressive flaming burner that keeps it warm and turns eyes as it makes it way to the table. The broth, while not short on sour citrus flavor, is a little less complex than other restaurants’, but goes down easily without sticking heavily in the throat as the usual Tom Yum does.

Curry is usually the first dish that comes to mind with Thai food, and is a great measure of the restaurant’s quality as a whole. The red curry at Thai Dish is nothing short of amazing, boasting a host of vegetables like eggplant, green pepper, and bamboo that manage to retain individual taste and texture amongst the rich, flavorful curry. The smell, too, hints enticingly at the curry’s complex flavors without hanging pungently in the air. If anything, the only problem with it is that it’s a rather small portion relative to the price: even including the rice, a college-aged male could down two helpings without much trouble.


Another centerpiece of the Thai restaurant is sweet, silky-smooth Thai Iced Tea, which Thai Dish does quite well: it’s definitely on the sweeter end of the spectrum, but it’s not overpowering, and the finish is relatively light. The presentation of layers of red and orange under the cover of perfectly-sized ice is quite appealing as well. The smaller size is proportionally expensive, which is a great excuse for upgrading to the almost-too-large size.

Stir-fried dishes are some of the restaurant’s most popular, and for good reason, as with the fried rice which exemplifies traditionally complex, multifaceted Thai flavors like savory, sour, and sweet: every bite has something new, bursting with chaotic flavors that somehow form a cohesive whole. The uneven textures are somewhat jarring, though: large slices of tomato and tiny bits of onion, peas and carrots don’t mesh well together. Both the satisfying pad Thai and crispy rad nah noodles are favorites of ours, which have a more unified taste and texture that is no less delicious. There’s no more satisfying sight to greet hungry eyes than a plate of rad nah, a deep-fried crown of golden perfection and laden with earthen greens and browns. All of these are fair portion sizes for a hungry seminarian, and nothing at Thai Dish disappoints for taste.

“Maybe I am going to retire soon, take a break,” reflects Mr. Jantarasri, rubbing his shoulder as he thinks back on the years of hard work he’s put into establishing Thai Dish. “But my customers keep [coming] back,” he says wryly. With such a homelike taste of Thailand in the middle of Silverton, Oregon, who’s to blame them?

Thai Dish
209 N Water St # A, Silverton, OR 97381
(503) 873-8963

Hours: 11-10 Sat & Sun, 11-9 all other days
Environment: small, but cozy and down-to-earth dining room
Service: quick and competent, although prone to bottlenecks
Taste: great range of traditional Thai flavors
Options: plenty for vegetarians, especially with tofu, although ubiquity of eggs makes it tougher for vegans
Price: mid-range, not especially cheap or too expensive

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

MAS Faculty Presents Her Musical Sabbatical

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

The afternoon of May 10, Kathy Akiyama, an associate professor at Mount Angel Seminary, offered a Shakespeare lecture recital to the seminary community as part of her 2015-2016 sabbatical.  She performed with Debra Huddleston, a collaborative pianist.

Ms. Akiyama offered four sets of songs from the plays of Shakespeare, and between each set she offered a short talk in which she explained the place of each song in its given play.  36 of Shakespeare's 38 plays include songs, many of which would have been familiar to Shakespeare's contemporaries.

Professor Kathy Akiyama with her vocal coach and body mapping trainer, Cynthia McGladrey at the conclusion of her recital.

Along with her musical work, Ms. Akiyama's sabbatical has included work on book on themes of love.  She will return to teaching in the fall.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Appreciation Dinner Honors Supporters of Mount Angel Seminary

story by Dean Marshall; photos by Ace Tui

Saint Benedict, Ore. – On Tuesday, April 19, 2016, Mount Angel Seminary celebrated its annual Appreciation Dinner, held to give thanks to various members of the seminary community, particularly those involved in the Pastoral and Spiritual Formation of the seminarians.

After praying Vespers in the Abbey Church and a brief social, community members and guests gathered in the dining room of Aquinas Hall to begin the evening’s festivities, led by Deacon Leon Vigil from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe acting as Master of Ceremonies.

After Prior Vincent Trujillo, O.S.B. of Mount Angel Abbey led an opening prayer and grace before dinner, everyone gathered was treated to musical interludes, including the vocal quartet Mount Angel Folk singing “How Deep the Father’s Love,” consisting of seminarians Chi-Nhan Vo of the Archdiocese of Portland, Phillip Shifflet and Brian Kim of the Diocese of Orange, and Andriel Ruperto of the Diocese of Fresno. The Mount Angel String Quartet also performed, and it consisted of seminarians Cheeyoon Chun from the Diocese of Orange, Raymond Philip Napuli of the Diocese of San Diego, Luke Stager of the Archdiocese of Portland, and Father Rory Pitstick from the Mount Angel Seminary faculty. They played the first movement from Motzart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”

The members of Mount Angel Folk during their performance

The chairs for the dinner were John Mosier of the Diocese of Boise and Randy Hoang of the Archdiocese of Portland.

After dinner, several groups of people were recognized for their contribution to the seminary community, including spiritual directors, deacon supervisors and pastoral ministry site supervisors who work with seminarians off-site at placements such as food banks, R.C.I.A. programs, prisons, and homes for the elderly, to name a few.

Of special note during the evening was the recognition of Mrs. Nancy Holt, the Associate Director of Pastoral Formation, who received this year’s Saint Bonaventure award, presented by Msgr. Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary. The Saint Bonaventure Award is given each year for an outstanding contribution from a faculty member. Mrs. Holt would later say, “It is an honor and joy to be involved in this work. Receiving the St. Bonaventure Award affirms the past years of service and encourages me for the future. The paraphrased statement of Dag Hammarskjold, 'For all that has been -- Thanks; for all that will be -- Yes!,' characterizes my response on receiving this award.”

Mrs. Nancy Holt and Msgr. Joseph Betschart

Mount Angel Seminary is the oldest and 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.

The seminary is supported by a wide variety of individuals, clergy, religious, and lay people, who generously donate their time, talent, and treasure in order to further the seminary’s mission of, as the Most Rev. William H. Gross, C.Ss.R. of Oregon City said in 1889, “send[ing] forth angels in flesh and blood to promote, as not even angels in heaven can do, the glory of God on earth."

Monday, May 9, 2016

Writing Center Sponsors Successful Write-In

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

The evening of Sunday, May 8, the staff of the Mount Angel Seminary Writing Center hosted another end-of-the semester Write-In at the Press for the seminary community. 

All students were welcome to bring their final essays and other projects to the Write-In.  Writing assistants Philip Shifflet, Matthew Knight, and Isaac Allwin, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, the faculty coordinator for the Writing Center, were available for consultation and assistance.

Both college and theology students took part in the Write-In.  The assignments they brought included those for Research Writing, various literature classes, philosophy classes, and church history classes.

Write-In events are also planned for the the 2016-2017 school year.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

MAS Celebrates Saint Peter Chanel

by Dean Marshall

Saint Benedict, Ore. – On April 27, 2016, the Mount Angel Seminary community celebrated a votive Mass in honor of Saint Peter Chanel, missionary to Futuna and patron of Oceania. Father Andrew Schwenke, O.S.B., of Mount Angel Abbey was the main celebrant, accompanied by concelebrating priests from the Mount Angel Seminary faculty.

Saint Peter Chanel, known as the “proto martyr of the South Seas,” spent his time as a missionary traveling to the Canary Islands, Wallis, and other islands, before finally settling on Futuna. On his eventual martyrdom as a result of the local king’s jealousy, Fr. Schwenke said, “St. Peter Chanel's blood is the seed of the Church and the witness of God's Word that converted the whole island of Futuna.”

The Mass commemorating St. Peter Chanel also included several traditional symbols of Pacific Island culture, including the use of the traditional Samoan “ifoga,” an act of reconciliation that took place during the penitential rite of the Mass. The Mount Angel Seminary Samoan and Pacific Island community, led by Ace Tui of the Diocese of Honolulu, organized the celebration.

Mount Angel Seminary, in operation since 1889, hosts a diverse community of seminarians studying for dioceses in the Western United States, Canada, the Pacific Islands, and Hungary, in addition to seminarians from various religious communities and several lay students as well.

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.