Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mount Angel Seminary Holds Theological Symposium on the Cross of Christ

Photo and story by Phillip J. Shifflet

St. Benedict, Ore. — On Thursday, November 12 and Friday, November 13, Mount Angel Seminary (MAS) held its annual theological symposium. This year, Rev. Donald Senior, CP, was the keynote speaker. Fr. Senior is a Passionist priest and renowned Scripture scholar who holds both a licentiate and doctorate in sacred theology from the University of Louvain in Belgium. For 23 years, he served as the President of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, one of the largest theologates in the country. In addition to teaching courses in New Testament Studies, he currently serves as Chancellor of CTU. He is the author of numerous publications and books, including Jesus: A Gospel Portrait, The Catholic Study Bible, and most recently, Why the Cross?

Fr. Senior’s symposium was entitled “The Memory of the Passion,” and it concentrated on the meaning of the cross. The symposium spanned across three conferences: two morning conferences and an afternoon conference. All conferences were followed by a period for questions. In his first conference, he reflected on the process and meaning of crucifixion in the first century (i.e., what the contemporaries of Jesus would have understood about crucifixion). In his second conference, he showed how the meaning of the cross was transformed from an instrument of torture and death to “the sign of life and unconditional love.” He made frequent references to New Testament texts, especially to St. Paul and to the Gospels of St. Mark and St. John. In his final session, he spoke of the theme of the cross in relation to discipleship. The Christian community, he said, “is to live in the shadow of the cross and let it have an impact on the way we deal with each other… We are to live in the spirit of self-transcending and self-giving.”

From left to right: Deacon Owen F. Cummings, Academic Dean of MAS; Rev. Msgr. Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of MAS; Rev. Donald Senior, CP; and Rev. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, Professor of Theology at MAS.

Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation on the formation of priests, discusses the role of the cross in a seminarian’s formation: “Spiritual formation has its roots in the experience of the cross, which in deep communion leads to the totality of the paschal mystery.” In his conferences, Fr. Senior helped the community to enter more deeply into the experience of the cross. Affirming this in his closing remarks, Msgr. Betschart thanked Fr. Senior with these words: “The incredible insights that you shared with us… I think we will never look at the cross the same way again, as a result.”
Symposia are a standard part of the formation program at MAS, and typically focus on theological or human formation-related issues. Last semester, MAS held a formation symposium with Fr. Michael Casey, OCSO, who presented on lectio divina. Last year’s theological symposium was focused on the liturgy, with conferences by Msgr. Kevin Irwin.
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 126 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.

Joel Kibler Reflects on Prayer for Seminary’s Fall Day of Recollection

Story by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Wednesday, November 5, 2015, Mount Angel Seminary (MAS) hosted its bi-annual day of recollection for seminarians. In the morning, Mass was celebrated in St. Joseph Chapel by the Most Rev. Peter L. Smith, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon. Thereafter followed four conferences on the topic of prayer given by Joel Kibler, a lay brother and the superior of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise.

On-campus days of recollection are held once per semester at MAS and seek to respond to the Program for Priestly Formation’s exhortation that “the Seminary program and spiritual direction should teach seminarians to value solitude and personal prayer as a necessary part of priestly spirituality. Occasions for silence and properly directed solitude should be provided during retreats and days of recollection” (PPF 121). The entire day is spent in silence, with several conferences to help foster personal prayer.

In his homily, Bishop Smith reflected on the passage from the Gospel of St. Luke where Jesus addresses the great crowds, saying, “Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?” (Luke 14:28). The seminary, Bishop Peter said, is trying to help us be prepared. “If you look at the life of Jesus, he was always available for ministry. Yet, the disciples and apostles would find him off by himself praying, being with the Father. We have to do that. Brothers, we cannot give what we do not have.” In anticipation of Kibler’s conferences, Bishop Smith defined prayer as “a relationship with the risen, glorified Lord. A relationship that is very unequal, but ultimately one in which Jesus wants to make us his friend.”

Kibler’s morning conferences, entitled “That Christ May Shine in Us” and “Noise, Too Much Noise,” laid the foundations for the experience of prayer and growth in holiness and sought to enumerate some of the things in our culture that are obstacles to cultivating a life of prayer. In the first conference, he wished “to remind us to raise our consciousness to a higher level to a world inside of us, to this interior world where Christ and His Father and the Holy Spirit dwell. But there's this problem. Our growth in love of God is blocked by many, many obstacles in the external world.” In the second conference, he spoke primarily of this problem of noise, particularly of information noise, as an obstacle to the life of prayer. “How can we ever know the love of God when his voice and his tender touches are drowned out by the noise of all this information? This immersion [in the media] is a major obstacle in years of formation.”

Kibler’s afternoon conferences, entitled “From Complexity to Simplicity” and “So That We May Shine in the World,” touched on the need to become simpler and how this can affect our living in the world. “If we want a genuine friendship with God,” Kibler said in his third conference, “which is at the heart of Catholicism and is certainly at the heart of ministry, then we need to simplify our environment. But not only that: we need to simplify ourselves.” He encouraged us to move from a complexity of life to a simplicity of heart, where we can overcome a love of self so that we can love just one thing, namely the Lord. In his final conference of the day, Kibler reflected on the person of St. Paul, who shone as a light in the darkness and who understood that there was only one sorrow – not to be a saint. “The more we shine in the world,” Kibler said, “the more the Lord rejoices.”

The Brotherhood of the People of Praise, of which Bishop Smith is also a member, has status in the Catholic Church as a private association of the faithful. Its members are associated with the charismatic ecumenical group People of Praise, and its priests are incardinated in the Archdiocese of Portland.

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 126 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, November 23, 2015

Seminarians Make a Difference at Local Shelter

by Brother William Petry, M.Sp.S.

On Saturday, Oct. 10th, half of the second-year college seminarians volunteered at St. Joseph Shelter in Mount Angel as part of their pastoral formation. St. Joseph Shelter is a ministry that serves a variety of people in the local area. It was founded by the Benedictine Sisters at Queen of Angels Monastery in 1988. The shelter used to serve as a college in the 60s and 70s but was repurposed for the shelter in the late 80s.

The seminarians were greeted by Mike Norman, one of the directors of the shelter who serves along with Jennifer Johren. Mike greeted them with a smile as he finished a meeting with someone in his office. He began briefing the group about the history and mission of the shelter at the reception area of the building. During this time he was interrupted by three or four workers who asked him for directions, keys, or his signature. It was evident that Mike is very busy in his work to keep this shelter running.

The facility at St. Joseph Shelter can house up to 11 families, and Mission Benedict, their food pantry, feeds up to 200 local families. They also have a house for immigrant workers called Casa de Refugio St. Jose, which houses up to 80 men. As Mike showed the seminarians the food pantry he explained that the shelter is currently under construction; nevertheless, they chose to keep it open. “Let’s help more people and modify our office space,” explained Mark regarding the rationale behind the changes that are being made. After its construction, the shelter should be able to house up to 17 families.

The College Two students before they headed for St. Joseph Shelter.

After the short tour, Mike showed the group their task: a main office at the entrance of the shelter. It had accumulated many things and needed to be cleaned. The seminarians didn’t need any more directions. They started working, some directing, while others chose his corner with which to work. A wooden cabinet was removed and placed in a storage building, and all of the items in the office were organized and then cleaned. Within a few hours, the office was good as new. The group worked well together and efficiently completed their task. At the conclusion of their experience Marc Jenkins shared, “It was a great time to see the brotherhood between us as we worked.” 

Fall Write-In Offers Assistance and Companionship

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

The third Write-In offered by the MAS Writing Center was held the evening of Friday, Nov. 20, at the Press.  All seminarians were welcome to come and work on their final writing projects for the semester.

The fifteen students who attended the Write-In worked on variety of projects, including essays for Writing in the Humanities, capstone projects, theological essays, MA theses, and lessons plans for field education assignments.  The MAS writing assistants, Phillip Shifflet, Dean Marshall, Matthew Knight, and Isaac Allwin were available to offer feedback on drafts and to answer questions.  Sister Hilda Kleiman, MAS faculty member and writing center coordinator, was also available.

The MAS Writing Center Staff (left to right): Phillip Shifflet, Matthew Knight, Sr. Hilda Kleiman, Dean Marshall, and Isaac Allwin

The Write-In was organized by writing assistant Phillip Shifflet and academic chairs Matthew Knight and Steven Wood.  Nathan McWeeney, a seminarian and barista for the Press, made coffee by request.

Guardians Soccer Wraps Up the Season

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

This Saturday the Guardians soccer team ended their season with a loss against Central Oregon Community College, giving the Guardians a season record of 0-7-2.

In the first half of Saturday's game, COCC scored twice.  One of the COCC players also received a red card due to the language he used with the referee.  The third goal for COCC came shortly into the second half after a penalty kick by the Guardians.  With four more goals for COCC, the game ended with a score of 0-7.

The 2015 Guardians Soccer Team

This last game of the season was attended by other seminary students, family of the players, and seminary faculty.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hispanic Seminarians Create an Altar to Commemorate All Souls Day

by Br. Jorge Haro, M.Sp.S.

On November 2, the Feast of All Souls, the seminary community created an altar in Saint Joseph Chapel to remember those who died during this year, especially Fathers Joseph Nguyễn Thắng and Paschal Cheline, members of Mount Angel Abbey whose pictures were placed on the altar.

Altars like this are part of a well-known Mexican tradition. This year, the altar was decorated under the guidance of Francisco Garcia, a seminarian of Monterey and Walter Martinez, a seminarian of Fresno, both members of the seminary’s Hispanic community.

Altars like this one involve a very personal and spiritual process because people have the chance to remember their loved one’s life and legacy. Altars are made to celebrate life and memories, not death. Martinez said, “It is to honor their lives, so others may know a little bit more about them . . . and to let them know that we continue to love and pray for them."

The portion of the altar featuring Father Paschal Cheline, OSB

Some of the food offered on the altar.

Garcia explained that according to the Mexican tradition that predates the arrival of the Spanish in the Americas, every object that is placed on the altar has its significance and meaning. The altar is made in three pyramidal levels representing life here on the earth, in purgatory, and in heaven. A crucifix, symbolizing that it is Jesus’ death that gives life to everything, crowns the higher part of the altar. Flowers, candles, food and drinks were placed to honor the life of Father Joseph Nguyễn Thắng and Father Paschal Cheline. This year, a book was placed also in the front of the altar, so seminarians and visitors may write the name of their relatives and friends that died to remember them in prayer.

Martinez said that another objective of the altar is to show seminarians other Catholic traditions from around the world: “It is a way of showing our culture … and perhaps they may incorporate this tradition back in their home parishes.”

The altar is part of other Christian spiritual activities on the Feast of All Souls. Mount Angel Seminary commemorates, together with the monastic community, this day with the Mass for the deceased, followed by a procession to the monastic community cemetery.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Deacon John Becerra Sets the Altar at St. Luke's in Woodburn, Oregon

by Luis Trujillo

The newly ordained deacons that continue their studies at Mt. Angel Abbey Seminary are assigned to continue their pastoral formation at a local parish. Deacon John Becerra for the Archdiocese of Portland is placed at St. Luke’s Parish in Woodburn; he serves as a deacon and prepares for his upcoming priestly ordination in June of 2016.

The Parish

The parish is made up of 2150 families of which 60% are Hispanic and the rest are Anglo. It is a vibrant community that keeps busy year round with catechetical programs, celebration of the sacraments, and different ministries. Fr. Jim Coleman, the pastor, is a native of Salem and a 1968 graduate Mount Angel Seminary.

Fr. Coleman has been the pastor for the past two and a half years and is proud to support the Pastoral Formation team by having a deacon serve at his parish. The parish has a total of five masses during the weekend and is also in charge of St. Agnes, a mission parish in Hubbard. Fr. Coleman is assisted by another graduate of Mount Angel Seminary, Fr. Scott Baier, who also served as a deacon there during his deacon year and is now associate pastor.

The Call to Serve

Deacon John described his experience at the parish as a true joy in his heart and looks forward to spending as much time as possible with the community. He stated, “To be a deacon is a great responsibility; we are performing a ministry in the name of Jesus.”

Deacon John will attend the Saturday night vigil and will take turns attending the masses in Spanish or English on Sunday. His other activities include participating in the catechizing of the confirmation group, the RCIA groups for the Anglo and Hispanic communities, and other ministries like the meetings for the Knights of Columbus and visiting the families.

Deacon John Becerra

Pastoral Formation at Mt. Angel Seminary

The seminarians of Mount Angel are all assigned to ministries off-site that will help form their pastoral qualities in the pillar of Pastoral Formation. Fr. Steven Clovis, the director of Pastoral Formation, said, “My first priority when assigning a deacon to a parish is to assign a deacon to a good example of priestly service.”

The importance lies completely in the deacon learning and being guided by the community and the mentorship of the pastor. Fr. Clovis said, “I try to assign the deacons to those pastors in the archdiocese whom I believe are good mentors, teachers and not just good pastors.”  Fr. Coleman said, “My hope is that Deacon John gets pastoral experience, and especially gets to know what concrete parish life looks like.”

For Deacon John, Fr. Coleman is a wise fatherly figure who has forty-two years of experience since his ordination. “I look up to him and I respect him; I will follow my pastor,” Deacon John said. “I ask him questions about various matters from administration to his understanding on moral questions.”

Deacon John expressed a feeling of care for the community and asks that we pray for him and for the whole deacon class. In turn he will pray constantly for the people of St. Luke’s and prays that God will help him understand what He wants him to say.

Two Mount Angel Seminarians Ordained as Deacons

story by Br. William Petry, M.Sp.S.
photos courtesy of Arjie Garcia

Arjie Dacua Garcia and Tetzel Ballogan Umingli received their diaconate ordination on Saturday, October 10th at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Portland by Archbishop Alexander Sample.

Arjie and Tetzel are both students of Mount Angel Seminary in their last year of theological studies and both belong to the Archdiocese of Portland. For this special celebration they were accompanied by various priests, including Msgr. Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary. Several fellow seminarians of the Archdiocese of Portland and other classmates also attended the Mass. Both of their families gathered together before Mass, in joyful preparation along with other parishioners and friends to participate in this pinnacle moment for both of these men.

Archbishop Sample gave a homily encouraging both seminarians in this new phase of their vocation, referring to both of the candidates by name in his address. He initiated his homily reiterating the mission of service of the diaconate. He exhorted them at the beginning that “you are first and foremost configured to Christ the servant . . . you will always be deacons, those called to serve."

Archbishop Sample then focused on the promise of celibacy that they made at this celebration. He particularly invited them to see this commitment as a gift and not as a burden or “a hoop we make men jump through to become priests.”  He concluded his homily heartening Tetzel and Arjie, “give your heart completely to Christ, give your hearts completely to the people you are now called to serve."

Archbishop Sample laying hands on Arjie Garcia

Archbishop Sample laying hands on Tetzel Umingli

Various family members and parishioners stood up at the moment of the ordination, showing the reverent silence and joyful excitement they felt during this special moment. As the deacons received the Gospel and their dalmatics, the liturgical vestments of a deacon, they externally displayed what the supernatural grace of Holy Orders conferred on them spiritually.

Both Tetzel and Arjie were beaming with an exuberant smile as they joined the other clerics down the procession when the celebration came to a close. After the celebration, filled with gratitude, Deacon Arjie reflected, “It felt good . . . but in all of it, I was humbled in the sense that God has confirmed His plan for me to serve Him in this kind of life.” 

Friday, November 20, 2015

College One Delivers for SACA Food Drive

by Santino Ambrosini

Before there can be a story to tell, there always has to be a beginning. That is where our class of College 1 came into play. As we met in front of the Damien Center at 8:30 a.m., we realized we were about to start what we would most likely be focusing on for the rest of our lives, joining together to help others when they need it most. This we were going to do with our involvement in the Silverton Food Drive.

After our prayer for a successful immersion, we started our trip to SACA or Silverton Area Community Aid. Upon arrival we were taken into the building to get a tour. The entrance was the receiving end through which the large amounts of food that were donated would enter. Just inside the door and down a few stairs, there was the large stocking area with many shelves. To the right of the shelves were the two large walk­-in fridges/freezers that SACA recently got to keep the products in edible condition.

Once we got the basic information about what they did in the stock area, we moved on to the actual part where people who need food would actually receive that help. It was a smaller area compared to the stockroom but big enough for a nicely-sized group of people to move freely around. In this area they had food products on the shelves and in the two full-size fridges against the wall.

When we moved on to the waiting area, we could see the location where people could pick up clothes that were donated. Clothes that were donated were placed on a plastic shelf within sight of the door. They even had a small table for children with coloring books where they could be entertained while their parent or guardian was with a SACA member or waiting for their turn.

Connected to the waiting area was the office for SACA. In this area is a desk with a computer, printer, and other supplies that people in need might not have. The main purpose of this station, after asking our tour guide, is for people to have the tools to look for a job, to communicate with family, or just get information on topics that interest them.

Members of College One prepare for their deliveries.

After finishing our tour of the facility, we were brought back to the back entrance (receiving area) where we all gathered to hear what our part in the Food Drive was going to be. Because of some scheduling complications, we actually wouldn’t partake in the actual food drive which was the next weekend. Our part was going to be the delivering of the food drive bags throughout some neighborhoods in Silverton.

We broke up into three groups with three different routes. Our drivers would be our small group leaders. Even though our time estimate for the bag delivering was to be around three hours, with some teamwork we were able to finish in an hour and a half. There were some exciting times during the delivering, like dogs chasing us, people thinking we were trying to vandalise their property, and one of our vehicles getting a semi-flat tire.

In the end, we all made it safe and sound back to the seminary. There we all gathered together to eat our meal and have a reflection on our finished work with SACA. It was a very fruitful weekend which we all made possible.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Guardians Soccer Loses to Portland Community College

News brief by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

During one of their rainiest games of the season, the Guardians faced and lost to Portland Community College on Sunday, Nov. 8, with a score of 3-4.  The game also resulted in injuries for both teams.

The Guardians chased PCC throughout the game, keeping the score tied at 2-2 and 3-3 for some time.  The first two goals, one for PCC and one for the Guardians, were scored shortly after the beginning of the first half.  Both teams made numerous attempts to score during the first half, with the ball bouncing off the top of the goal several times.

In the second half, the game was tied by a goal scored by Andres Guerra.  Later in the half, PCC pulled ahead with a goal scored by penalty kick.  Minutes later Andres scored again to tie the game 3-3.

The day before, the Guardians lost during an away game against Oregon State.  Their record now stands at 0-5-2 for the season.