Saturday, April 30, 2011

Experiments in Theology

Last night Mount Angel Seminary started a new endeavor in outreach and evangelization - "Experiments in Theology."  The evening was hosted by Brother Jonah Wright, a monk of Mount Angel Abbey and a professor of theology, and is modeled on the popular "Theology on Tap."

Brother Jonah Wright welcomed all of the guests at the door before offering his remarks.
Seminarians, faculty, and many people from off the hill gathered at the seminary coffeeshop for a brief talk by Brother Jonah and further conversation and discussion.  Brother Jonah entitled his remarks "Is God relevant today?" and asked his listeners to consider what it means to turn away from God.

Brother Jonah also emphasized that theology is more about questions than answers.  If a person thinks he has all the answers, he explained, then he doesn't have God.

The gathering provided an opportunity for the seminarians to learn from the experience and questions of the off hill guests, and the guests had the chance to discuss the talk with the seminarians.

Men and women from the local parishes found a comfortable place to enjoy the evening.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Final Hike of the Year

On Holy Saturday, Father Ralph Recker took a group of seminarians on a final hike of the school year.  They carried a large cross to the top of the mount and paused for a picture before returning home to celebrate the Easter Vigil.

Father Ralph lifts the cross among the seminarians who took part in the hike on Holy Saturday.
Thank you to Romple Emwalu for submitting this photo.  For an additional story about hikes with Father Ralph, click on the label for Br. Peter Tynan on the right to see his story entitled "Hitting the Trail."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Community and Life Lessons

Our practicum student Mat Olson interviewed one of his fellow seminarians, James Balajadia, as they conclude their time at Mount Angel Seminary:

This May I am graduating from the Collegiate Program at Mount Angel Seminary.  One of the more colorful characters within the seminary community is James Balajadia.  James and I have studied and lived together for the past four years.  We even traveled to California and toured the eighteen Spanish Missions.  James studies for the Diocese of Chalan-Kanoa, an American Commonwealth Territory near Guam.  Recently, he organized the second annual Community Day on the hilltop.

James Balajadia and Mat Olson at the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, CA, during spring break.
What brought you to Mount Angel Seminary?
Being so far away in Saipan, I never thought that I would get the chance to study here in America at Mount Angel Seminary.  I remember when I was a senior in high school; I thought I was going to the Philippines to one of the many seminaries there.  However, in a last minute decision, my bishop at the time decided that he wanted me to go to Mount Angel and be with my diocesan brother Tony Muna, a former seminarian, who was already here at Mount Angel.  He wanted to keep us together at the same seminary.

After four years of studying at Mount Angel Seminary, what has been a highlight of your seminary experience?
The biggest highlight of my seminary experience has definitely been meeting so many different people here.  I have made many friendships here that I hope will continue for the rest of my life, despite the fact that I am so far away across the Pacific.  Formation here has also allowed me to grow in maturity, and I have come to grow in self-knowledge as well.

Would you talk about Chamorro/Saipan culture?
Chamorro culture is a very community oriented culture.  It's all about the family life.  Chamorro culture is also one that emphasizes respect and hospitality to everyone, especially to elders.  Back home is very laid back, unlike the busyness here in America.  We are one family in the islands (Marianas) and we make sure that there is plenty of food to eat and enjoy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Bang Bang Club

NPR has posted a review of the film based on The Bang Bang Club, which I mentioned in yesterday's post.  Greg Marinovich, one of the photographers featured in yesterday's interview on Fresh Air, is the primary character in the film.  The review includes several film clips as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

War Photography

This afternoon on NPR's Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed two war photographers, Joao Silva and Greg Marinovich.  Silva is recovering from loss of his legs below the knees and internal injuries due to a land mine, and Marinovich has been shot four times.

Together the two men have coauthored the book The Bang Bang Club, which is just now being released as a film.  This work concerns the time they spent covering the civil war and last days of apartheid in South Africa.

In their interview they openly discuss their injuries, helping those they are photographing in war zones, and how their injuries have or will affect their future work.  Listen to the interview carefully and take in the weight of their commitment and bravery.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Death of Tim Hetherington

The journalist Tim Hetherington was killed yesterday in a mortar attack in Misrata, Libya. 

He had dual US-UK citizenship and was a highly respected photographer of war zones and the trauma caused by war and combat.  He had received an Oscar nomination for his work in documentary films.  His colleagues and friends spoke of his grace in terribly difficult circumstances and his love for the people he covered.

Visit the above link for more about Hetherington, including video clips of him discussing his work.  Let us pray for him and for all the journalists in harm's way.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Good Food and Drink at Mount Angel Seminary

One of our practicum students has written a profile Dianne Mitchell, another person who serves behind the scenes at Mount Angel Seminary:

Keeping People Fed at Mount Angel Seminary
Brother Peter Tynan, OSB

Have you ever had the responsibility of preparing 400 to 600 meals a day?  Dianne Mitchell does because she is the head chef for Mount Angel Seminary.  She coordinates a small platoon of 20 food service workers comprised of sous chefs, bakers, pantry workers, kitchen assistants, and dishwashers.  She admits that it is not an easy job, but it is a job she loves.

Mitchell takes great pride in her work.
Mitchell says, "I have been in the food service industry since 1974 and worked my way up the ladder to where I am today.  I love to cook and make people happy."  Many of the seminarians agree that she is succeeding at making people happy.  Helena seminarian David Severson, for example, notes, "All things considered, we eat pretty well here at Mount Angel.  We are especially treated well by the kitchen."  Portland seminarian Joseph Nguyen adds, "I appreciate the positive attitudes of the people who work for our food service.  They can really lift your mood on a gloomy day."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Formation Symposium: Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti

Today was the first day of Mount Angel Seminary's annual two-day formation symposium for its student body.  This year's presenter, Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, is a priest of the diocese of Syracuse and the former president of Saint Luke's Institute

His presentation is entitled "Priesthood Today: Psychological Wellness and Spirituality."  He conducted two surveys of priest wellness, one in 2004 and another in 2009.  Overall, this survey provides concrete data that contradicts the stereotype of Catholic priests as lonely, depressed, and isolated men who are deeply unsatisfied with their work. 

He found that 90% of the priests surveyed were happy as a priest.  After discussing this important finding, he discussed with the seminarians elements of what makes a priest happy, including inner peace, his view of celibacy, his relationship with God, and his relationship with his bishop.

While Msgr. Rossetti's presentation is important for all of our students, is also has implications for the work of our journalism students and program.  His comments and the discussion with seminarians that followed clearly indicated the disconnect between his findings and the typical image of a Catholic priest in the media. 

As journalists, we are committed to the truth, to verifying our facts, and respecting our sources and our audience.  Msgr. Rossetti's presentation indicates that one way our journalism students can fulfill that commitment is by sharing the good news about the Catholic priesthood and the work of Mount Angel Seminary.  May we continue to do so as we plan for and anticipate the work of the journalism program for the 2011-2012 school year.

For more information about the program, contact Sister Hilda Kleiman at or approach any of the journalism students listed on the right.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day of Presidental Election

Today at noon the Hispanic Community of Mount Angel Seminary invited the seminary students, faculty, and staff to join them for a lunch of Mexican food, including handmade tortillas.  During the lunch, the Hispanic Community elected Guillermo Ramirez as their president for the 2011-2012 school year.

Seminarians prepare to cast their ballots for the next president of the Hispanic Community.
Parishioners from Moses Lake and Warden in the Diocese of Yakima, Washington, traveled many hours so they could provide the food that was enjoyed by all.

Two of the parishioners of Moses Lake and Warden enjoy the lunch they provide for the seminary community.
Seminarians and guests enjoy their lunch - Guillermo Ramirez, the new president, is on the far right
 This event is another fine example of a potential story for our journalism students, particularly since it brings together a number of elements of seminary life - our ethnic communities, shared celebrations, music, and the support of many friends of Mount Angel Seminary.