Saturday, March 31, 2012

Concluding the Lenten Season

As we approach Holy Week and the end of Lent, journalism student Emmanuelle del Castillo posts this story about the observances of Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesdsay and the Lenten Season
by Emmanuelle del Castillo

Wednesday, February 22, 2012, Ash Wednesday, was a day of recollection for Mount Angel seminarians.  A day of recollection is a day when one focuses on the spiritual aspect of life.  Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season.  The Mass for Ash Wednesday was celebrated in the Abbey Church by Bishop Burns of the Diocese of Juneau.  The bishop also held the retreat of the day for the seminarians.

Though there are no classes on Ash Wednesday, Mount Angel seminarians started the day with Morning Prayer and the distribution of ashes in the Abbey Church.  Two conferences were held by Bishop Burns.  Then in the evening seminarians had exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  The last event was the Stations of the Cross.  Experiences were positive as Neil Guan, a seminarian for the Diocese of Las Vegas said, "It was an excellent day to not have classes but to focus [on] our start of the Lenten season."

The topic that Bishop Burns talked about revolved around what is to be expected with the priesthood.  One of the subjects the bishop talked about was the reminders of the sacrifices of the priesthood.  As Matthew Olsen of the Diocese of Fresno said, "It is very nice of Bishop Burns as he sets our mood for the Lenten Season and to be referring to Scripture."

The Lenten season, a period of forty days of fasting and preparation for Easter, includes different forms of fasting.  Fasting may be permanently observed throughout one's life or be temporary and occur throughout the forty days.  To fast is to deprive oneself of things or actions that are not needed and to concentrate more deeply in prayer.  Some fasting examples are waking up earlier to pray, giving up favorite drinks or food, and using less free time.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Wrapping Up the Capstones

This week the fourth-year college seminarians finished their capstone projects.  AJ Vander Vos, Bradley Fisher, Luis Madrigal, Michael Khong, and Br. Efrain de la Cruz presented their work to fellow seminarians, MAS faculty, and off-hill guests.

AJ Vander Vos

AJ entitled his project "A Discussion of Redemptive Suffering for Christians."  Dr. Andrew Cummings served as his director, and Fr. Aelred Yockey, OSB, Fr. Jerome Young, OSB, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Bradley Fisher with some of the texts from his project.

Bradley Fisher entitled his project "The Silver Chair of Discernment: Finding God's Will in C.S. Lewis' Narnia."  Dr. Creighton Lindsay served as his director, and Dr. Jeffery Nicholas, Ms. Kathy Akiyama, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Luis Madrigal outside of Annunciation before his presentation.

Luis Madrigal entitled his project "Heroic Hobbits: Adventure, Charity, and The Lord of the Rings."  Dr. Jeffery Nicholas served as his director, and Dr. Seymour House, Dr. Stewart King, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Michael Khong shortly before his presentation.

Michael Khong entitled his project "Divorce Among Vietnamese Catholics in America: Causes, Effects, and Pastoral Responses."  His director was Fr. Thien Dang, and Dr. Stewart King, Ms. Linda Weigel, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

The last capstone presentation was given today by Br. Efrain Razo de la Cruz.  He entitled his project "Human Dignity and Ecology."  His director was Dr. Jeffery Nicholas, and his readers were Dr. Duncan Parks, Dr. Stewart King, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Upcoming Theology on the Hill

The next Theology on the Hill will be offered Friday, April 20th, starting at 6 p.m. in the Store at the Press at Mount Angel Abbey.

The topic will be political theology, and the presenters will be Dr. Jeffery Nicholas and Br. Jonah Wright, OSB.  Join the presenters and seminarians of Mount Angel Seminary for lively conversation as well as pizza and drinks.

Brian Bergeron, a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Helena, serves as a host for Theology on the Hill
All are welcome!  For more information, contact Br. Jonah at

Capstone: Artistotle Quan

Another philosophical capstone was wrapped up on Wednesday of this week.  Artistotle Quan presented his project that he entitled "The Omni-Perfect God and Evil: The Christian Response to the Problem of Evil."

Aristotle Quan outside the library shortly before his presentation.

Dr. Andrew Cummings served as the director for Aristotle's project, and Dr. Jeffery Nicholas and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Snow in March!

Last night Mount Angel Seminary experienced a rare event - a major snowfall in March!  Due to the snow, 9 a.m. classes were cancelled.  A number of members of the seminary community took the opportunity to take in the unusual snowy scenes and to try their hands at building a snowman.

Gabriel Feld and Zachary Ferell, two college-one seminarians, enjoy the snow before class.
Dario Rinaldi and Romple Emwalu, two seminarians from Hawaii, took advantage of the rare opportunity to build a snowman.  A few moments later the snowman was properly dressed with a bright blue tie.
Anselm Hall, the main residence of the college seminarians
A rare snowy Willamette Valley in March

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Contemplative Capstone: Bryce Lungren

Yesterday afternoon Bryce Lungren, a fourth-year college student studying for the Diocese of Helena, presented his capstone project.  Bryce entitled his project "The Phenomenology of Contemplation: A Philosophical Treatise on the Experience of Teresian Prayer, Anthropology, and Time."

By bringing together philosophical discussion and Carmelite spirituality, Bryce's project demonstrated the interdisciplinary nature of the capstone project.

Bryce before his presentation with an icon of Edith Stein that was painted by Brother Claude Lane, OSB.

Details of the icon painted by Brother Claude Lane, OSB.

A large photograph of Edith Stein that Bryce also brought to his presentation.
Bryce provided prayer cards with icons Edith Stein for those who attended his presentation.  On the back of the prayer card with the above icon by Brother Claude, Bryce wrote and included the following prayer:

Edith Stein, in your search for truth you entered the cloister of Carmel to contemplate the love of our Eternal Father.

Teach us, we pray, that from your seat now in Heaven, we may learn to imitate Jesus Christ crucified with the faithfulness you showed in your life, even unto death.

Through your intercession, may the power of the Holy Spirit penetrate our hearts and minds with the wisdom that surpasses all understanding.


Dr. Andrew Cummings, a philosophy professor at Mount Angel Seminary, served as the director for Bryce's project.  Ms. Kathy Akiyama, Fr. Aelred Yockey, OSB, and Sr. Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Capstone Triple

Three capstone projects were presented by fourth-year college students of Mount Angel Seminary on Friday, March 16th.

At 10 a.m. Alfred Guerrero presented his project, which he entitled "Theosis and Liturgy: A Historical Study of the Transformative Power of Roman Catholic Liturgy."  

Alfred before his presentation with a icon of the crucifixion.
 Father Richard Keolker, a professor and spiritual director at Mount Angel Seminary, directed Alfred's project.  Ms. Linda Showman, Mr. Jim Sisley, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

At noon Edson Elizzaras presented a project focused on addiction and Alcoholics Anonymous.  He entitled his project "The Transforming Power of Grace: Recovering from Alcohol Addiction to a New Identity through the Twelve-Step Program."  

Edson shortly before his presentation.
 Ms. Kathy Akiyama, a professor of English Communications at Mount Angel Seminary, served as Edson's director.  Dr. Ursula Tabor, Mr. Jim Sisley, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

At 2 p.m. Hung Le presented the third capstone of the day.  He focused on the relationship between the priest and Jesus Christ as a moral guide.

Hung shortly before his presentation with the Abbey Church in the background.
Fr. Thien Dang, OSB, a professor of Religious and Biblical Studies at Mount Angel Seminary, directed Hung's project.  Fr. Paschal Cheline, OSB, Abbot Peter Eberle, OSB, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Capstone Double

As the month of March rolls on, more capstone projects are presented by the fourth-year college students of Mount Angel Seminary, including Clyd Jesalva and Ian Perez.  Both Clyd and Ian presented their work yesterday.

Clyd's project focused on philosophy and is entitled "The Human Person's Ultimate Ordination to the Absolute." 

Clyd Jesalva with the bell tower of Mount Angel Abbey in the background.

Mr. Mark Woolman, a philosophy professor at Mount Angel Seminary, served as the director for Clyd's project, and Ms. Kathy Akiyama, Ms. Linda Showman, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Ian Perez focused his project on several utopian novels, primarily Utopia by Thomas More.

Ian before his presentation with a painting of Thomas More and several of the books he discussed.

Dr. Seymour House, a professor of history and literature at Mount Angel Seminary, served as Ian's director.  Dr. Jeffery Nicholas and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Science Capstone: Conor Martin

After two literature capstones at Mount Angel Seminary, the subject shifted to science with the capstone presentation by Conor Martin.  Conor entitled his project "Evidence for a Creator: Contributions of Cosmology and Philosophy."  With the combination of these two areas of study, Conor's capstone demonstrated the interdisiplinary nature of the capstone project.

Dr. Duncan Parks, as associate professor of science and mathematics at Mount Angel Seminary, served as the director for Conor's project.  Dr. Andrew Cummings, Brother Jonah Wright, OSB, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Literature Capstones: Dean Marshall and Patrick Arguelles

Yesterday afternoon Dean Marshall presented his capstone project, which he entitled "From Hobbiton to Mordor: A Journey into the Moral Ethos of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth."  He discussed the place of good and evil in the works of Tolkien, and he provided a reading guide for those who were inspired to read the works of Tolkien after his presentation.

Dean Marshall pauses for picture with his well-worn copies of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
Dr. Creighton Lindsay served as the director for Dean's project, and Dr. Jeffery Nicholas, Mr. Mark Woolman, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as his readers.

Another literature capstone followed Dean's presentation.  This morning Patrick Arguelles presented "Phenomenology of the Pastoral: A Historical and Critical Analysis of the Pastoral through the Lens of Phenomenology."  He applied his discussion of the pastoral to several short stories by Ernest Hemingway.

Patrick also paused for a picture with a key work from his capstone.

 Dr. Creighton Lindsay also served as the director for Patrick's capstone.  Patrick's readers were Father Paschal Cheline, OSB, Ms. Linda Showman, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB.

Many more capstones will be presented by the fourth-year college seminarians in the next two weeks.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Capstone Project: Ricardo Rusega Lorera

This afternoon Ricardo Rusega Lorera presented his capstone project in the lobby of Annunciation at Mount Angel Seminary.  He chose this location because it is the home of a large mosaic of the Annunciation.

Ricardo combined phenomenology, a branch of philosophy, and iconography for his work.  He entitled his project "Phenomenology and Icon: The Annunciation Mosaic as an Intelligible Object."

Ricardo pauses for a picture shortly before his presentation.   

The figures in the mosaic are more than life size - photo by Mark Woolman
Mr. Mark Woolman served as the director for Ricardo's project, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, and Dr. Duncan Parks served as his directors.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Capstone Presentation: Joshua Sia

Yesterday afternoon Joshua Sia, a fourth-year college student studying for the Diocese of Sacramento, presented his capstone project.  He entitled his project "Autonomous Freedom and the Catholic Church: A Critique of Total Autonomy in the Light of the Perspective of the Catholic Church."

Dr. Andrew Cummings served as the director for Joshua's project, and Dr. Seymour House and Fr. Richard Keolker served as his readers.

Many more capstones are scheduled for the next two weeks, and updates will be posted on the journalism blog.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Capstones: Matthew Olsen and Grant Boggs

Yesterday two fourth-year college students at Mount Angel Seminary presented their capstone projects.

Matthew Olsen presented his project in the Store at the Press, the location of the seminary bookstore and coffee shop.  His project focused on the experience of art and on several of his own paintings.  Mr. Mark Woolman served at the director for his project.

Matthew with one of his paintings in the background.

Later in the afternoon Grant Boggs shared his capstone on Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity.  He discussed the life of Mother Teresa, the charism of her order, contemplation in action, and the spiritual darkness that she experienced for much of her life.

Ms. Kathy Akiyama served as the director for Grant's project, and Father Rory Pitstick and Father Aelred Yockey served as his readers.

Grant pauses before his presentation behind several books on Mother Teresa and the constitutions she wrote for her order.

Watch the journalism blog for future posts about the capstone projects as they occur throughout March.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Season for Capstone Projects

Capstones: Synthesizing the MAS College Experience
by Bryce Lungren

Editor's Note: Both the reporter for this story and the editor of this journalism blog are involved with the capstone projects this year.

With graduation on the horizon, Mount Angel Seminary's fourth-year collegians are working hard to put the final touches on the Capstone projects.  For almost year now, MAS college students have been busy pondering, researching, and writing on a topic of their choice that is designed to be the crowning jewel in their college career.

According to the MAS academic catalog, the Capstone project "represents the culmination of the student's academic undergraduate experience at Mount Angel Seminary."  This project affords the student the opportunity to focus intensively on one major topic.  While doing so, the Capstone is intended to synthesize elements of different disciplines he has studied throughout his college experience.

As a required four-credit course in the Bachelor of Arts program at MAS, the catalog further states that the Capstone project consists of two major components, a twenty-page research paper and an oral presentation.  The thesis draws primarily from one of the three undergraduate majors offered at MAS: Philosophy, Philosophy/Religious Studies, and Philosophy/Literature.

In an email interview, Dr. Jeffery Nicholas, the director of the Capstone Program, said that this project is similar to a typical college's senior thesis project but is unique in that it is interdisciplinary.  This is also one of the strengths of the MAS Capstone Program, said Nicholas.  He went on to state that "originally, universities focused on interdisciplinary studies -- and Thomas' Summa is a prime example of such."

One of the main purposes of the Capstone project is to prepare students for graduate level studies.  "First and foremost," stated Dr. Nicholas, "it reinforces the tools and knowledge that students have learned in their undergraduate program.  Second, it prepares them to write longer papers, including an MA level research paper.  Third, and finally, students are asked to reflect on how their specific research topic prepares them for pastoral ministry."

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Famous Civil Rights Photograph

As I have been looking for materials on photography to add to the journalism course and the journalism blog, I came across the book Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick.

Margolick's subject is a famous photograph, taken by Will Counts on September 4, 1957, of fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford attempting to enter and desegregate Little Rock Central High School in Alabama.  As Elizabeth walks forward surrounded by a crowd of parents, students, and soldiers, a white girl, Hazel Green, screams ugly racial insults at her.

What were some of the unknown circumstances that contributed to this photograph?  What happened to Elizabeth and Hazel both before and after this famous day?  Margolick explores the hard and sometimes surprising answers to these questions.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A New Language Instructor

Journalism student Matthew Olsen has submitted this story on one of the many new faculty members who arrived at Mount Angel Seminary this year.

Anna Lesiuk: A New Language Instructor on the Hill
by Matthew Olsen

Mount Angel Seminary has welcomed a few new instructors to its staff this year.  Anna Lesiuk is one of the new instructors at Mount Angel Seminary.  Last semester Dr. Lesiuk taught two courses in Spanish and a course in Latin for Reading.

Dr. Lesiuk started working at Mount Angel Seminary in August as the new school year began.  She comes to Mount Angel Seminary from her previous university, the University of Oregon.  Dr. Lesiuk taught Italian for four years at the University of Oregon while she worked on her doctorate in Romance languages. 

After the initial interview, there were still a few more questions to be answered.  This was done through email, and the questions and answers went as follows: 

How do you approach teaching a language?

Here at the seminary, I am teaching Spanish and Latin, and since one of the languages is "dead" and the other alive and well, my approach differs from classroom to classroom.  With modern languages it is important to insist on the active, communicative skills, so I am trying to encourage the students to speak in class as much as possible.  I am also trying to speak Spanish as much as possible, including, for example, giving directions in Spanish.  I usually avoid giving grammatical explanations in the target language in 1st and 2nd year courses.  (Explaining grammar in the students' native tongue is helpful at the earlier stages of the 2nd language learning process.)

With my Latin for Reading course I am trying to cover some basics of Latin grammar and to introduce students to the idea of reading simple texts in Latin: basic prayers, elements of the Latin Mass and well-known excerpts of the Vulgate.  We focus on the passive skills necessary for reading with comprehension which, in the case of a highly inflected language like Latin, involves, among other things, some memorization of paradigms for declensions and conjugations.