Monday, May 28, 2012

Graduation 2012 - Part III

We continue with the reflections that Mount Angel Seminary faculty member Ms. Kathy Akiyama gathered during this year's commencement exercises.  Ms. Akiyama's daughter Jasmine took the accompanying photo.

More Reflections on Graduation 2012
by Kathy Akiyama

During the commencement celebration inside the Abbey Church, many profound reflections were shared.  Monsignor Richard Paperini, this year's commencement speaker, shared two reflections inspired by others.  First, drawing on the thoughts of French novelist Leon Bloy, he said, "Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God."  He also drew on Cardinal Timothy Dolan, saying "a joyless priest is an oxymoron."

During his farewell address, Deacon Federico Dundas said, "The light of Christ . . . has strengthened what is noble and strong in us over the past four years."  He prompted the graduates to "show the light beyond the light of humans to the light of God" and concluded by saying "Let there be light!"

After the group picture of the faculty and the graduates of 2012, more graduates, students, and faculty shared their reflections.

Zani Pacanza, a pre-theology student who has completed his philosophy studies, said "Graduating from philosophy and moving on to theology gives me an excitement I can't describe.  It's good to finish one chapter of life, and it's even better to start another chapter, a new chapter.  I'm just glad."

Michael Dion, another pre-theology graduate, said later in an email, "I saw myself growing during my entire time at Mount Angel and am grateful for the opportunity to study there.  It was a real blessing."

Luis Madrigal, a graduate from the college, said "It's interesting to see what a big deal this little piece of paper is.  I feel like the bigger deal is that I have to say good-bye to all the people I know."

Tony Lopez, a first-year college student, said "It's overwhelming.  There's a lot of people you meet who are going to go away.  However, there is a good side because now you have a good reason to visit them all over the world.  It's beautiful.  Like Deacon Federico said, these guys are the light of the world."

Luis Madrigal and Tony Lopez

President-Rector Monsignor Paperini, who is departing after many successful and fruitful years at the seminary, shared his thoughts: "I'm thrilled that graduation is over because now I can relax.  My job is done and I feel good about my nineteen years here.  We have accomplished a lot together, and it has been a real blessing in my life."

Dr. Elaine Park, Academic Vice President, said, "Graduation is such a joyful celebration, and the theme of joy in Monsignor Paperini's address expressed the spirit of the day perfectly.  It's been a privilege to be a part of Mount Angel for so many years, and this graduation was such a joy-filled celebration, a wonderful send-off for all who are leaving the hilltop."

Abbot Peter Eberle, OSB, the Director of Human Formation, said, "I always wonder where the year has gone to.  It's a wonderful event.  It's kind of sweet and sorrowful at the same time.  You know lots of fellows will be leaving that we won't see again, but it's a happy event nonetheless.  And when God gives us weather like this, it's especially beautiful."

Lastly, Father Ralph Recker, OSB, a formation director and the Director of Admissions said, "I don't know what it's like to give birth, but to send them out, it's wonderful to complete them.  It's a great feeling to prepare them as much as you can and then let loose, cut the cord, and wish them well.  We've done all we can."

Editor's Note: The comments from Dr. Elaine Park were added to this story on June 8, 2012.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Graduation 2012 - Part II

On May 12, 2012, the morning of the commencement exercises for Mount Angel Seminary, Kathy Akiyama, a member of the English Communications faculty, gathered responses from members of the seminary community on the events of the day as they waited to process into the Abbey Church.  Ms. Akiyama's daughter Jasmine took the photos that accompany her story.

You may also read an earlier post and enjoy more photos of this year's graduation.

Reflecting on Graduation 2012
by Kathy Akiyama

Warm and welcoming sunshine poured from clear blue skies as parents, relatives, friends, faculty, staff, administrators, and other well-wishers gathered to celebrate the achievements of students who had completed their College, Pre-Theology, or Theology programs.

A festive mood permeated the 2012 Commencement celebration.  I decided to collect quick impressions to share.  At first, most people thought it weird to talk into my pink-encased iPhone, but as they relaxed they offered witty, thoughtful, and engaging comments.

Standing in two lines ready to process into the Abbey Church from the Damian Center, the College and Theology graduates waited in anticipation.  Grant Boggs summed up what several felt: "I'm so excited I don't even know what to think - just super happy."  Patrick Arguelles said that he felt "scared and nervous at the same time" like Alfred Guerrero who said, "I've got butterflies!

The undergraduate students at the head of line as the graduates prepare to march to the Abbey Church. (photo by Sister Hilda Kleiman)

Bradley Fisher noted the importance of the day: "This is the culmination of three and a half years and it's a lot."  A peal of laughter sounded around Conor Martin's reflection: "After four years of college, I realize I know absolutely nothing."

Clyd Rex Jesakva

Graduate AJ Vander Vos laughs with Ms. Kathy Akiyama

Mark Godinet offered a prayer: "Thank you Lord - finally four years done," and Clyd Rex Jesalva prayed eloquently, "Not to us, Lord, but to you be the glory."  Many voiced gratitude like Ricardo Ruesega: "I am happy to graduate, thanks be to God."  AJ Vander Vos summed up by saying, "Thank you to all the teachers and God who brought me to this place."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Blocks in Communication

The essay below by Zani Pacanza is also from Kathy Akiyama's course Ministry in a Multicultural Church.  Another essay by Zani can also be found on our journalism blog.

Editor's Note: The article mentioned in this essay is part of the assigned reading for the course.  Other reflections from this class can be found by clicking on the label "Ministry in a Multicultural Church" under Labels on the right.

When Getting Ahead is Not Good
by Zani Pacanza

Obstacles.  Barriers.  Hindrances.  Stumbling Blocks.

In the article "Stumbling Blocks in Intercultural Communication" by LaRay M. Barna, six main hurdles were mentioned in regard to interactions among people from different cultures.  First is the assumption of similarities where you assume that what a certain gesture or word means to your culture is the same with another person's culture.  Second is language difference, when the same word has two or several different connotations between different cultures.  Third is non-verbal misinterpretation, where you pick up a non-verbal cue of another person wrongly.

Fourth is preconceptions and stereotypes, where you put someone's cultural orientation in a box based on your own labels.  Fifth is the tendency to evaluate or to judge people's words and actions based on our own biases.  Lastly, we have tension or high anxiety when we feel uneasy or uncomfortable interacting with people from a different cultural upbringing or background.

Zani Pacanza

As I read each stumbling block, I realized one thing: all of it has a common denominator.  Each stumbling block falls under the shadow of presumption, our tendency to presume the meaning of someone's behavior based on what we know from our own culture and from the stereotypes we know in regard to other cultures.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2004 edition), to presume is to "take upon something without warrant, to dare, to take for granted."  In other words, to presume is to get ahead and interpret something without enough basis.  My experience tells me that this is, indeed, the biggest reason why frictions or misunderstandings arise in intercultural communication.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Empathy in Ministry

Now that the 2011-2012 academic year is completed, the Mount Angel Seminary Journalism blog will be featuring the written work of various seminarians over the summer.  Their work comes from a variety of courses from the college and the graduate school of theology.

This piece is another reflection from Kathy Akiyama's course Ministry in a Multicultural Church.  It was submitted Joshua Keeney, a third-year college student from the Diocese of Sacramento.

Empathy - by Joshua Keeney

When reflecting upon the first chapter of Empathy in the Global World by Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, a strict definition of empathy seemed elusive in the beginning and difficult to grasp once discovered.  I attempted to identify the significant aspects that affect its definition and how it applied to my life in specific circumstances.  This venture led to an increased focus on the area of cultural empathy and more precisely toward its second critical point of "imaginative placement."  It emphasizes that "one must be able to 'see' through the eyes of others, creating both a subject and an object-oriented focus that can shift, depending on whether the lens . . . is reflecting one as a subject or object" (Calloway-Thomas 13).  That is to say, we must be able to go outside of our "self" and step into the other's vantage point while leaving our own view behind.

Joshua Keeney

Another vital piece, which will relate well to my specific experience, is the "reciprocal relationship between two interacting individuals, even if one is not physically present" (Calloway-Thomas 13).  This describes the idea that one person can have an effect on another even though one person is not in the sensate vicinity of the other.  Placing myself in another's "shoes" and making hasty judgments have always been difficult, but this will be upon what the proceeding paragraphs concentrate.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Graduation 2012

On a beautiful sunny morning, Mount Angel Seminary held its 2012 Commencement Exercises.  In his commencement address, Monsignor Richard Paperini, President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary, spoke of the mission of each graduate and all the members of the hilltop community: to go out to all the world and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Today's graduation, said Monsignor Paperini, reminds all of us of our responsibility to proclaim the gospel.

Prior to the commencement exercises, the graduates, seminary faculty and monks of Mount Angel Abbey processed from the Damian Center to the Abbey Church.

College graduates Michael Khong and Edson Elizarraras

Theology graduates Maximo Stock and Frederico Dundas, both members of the Saint John Soicety

College graduates Joshua Sia, Bradley Fisher, and David Soares

College graduates Luis Madrigal and Matthew Olsen

College graduates Patrick Arguelles and Aristotle Quan with Master of Arts graduate Maria Pia de Leon

College graduates Dean Marshall and Bryce Lungren

Faculty member Nancy Holt with Master of Arts graduate Khanh Diem Le

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Seminary Beach Bash!

Tonight two seminarians, Burt Mello and Joe Fleming, hosted a BBQ and party for the entire hilltop community.  Seminarians, seminary faculty and staff, abbey employees, and families present for graduation this coming Saturday enjoyed the party.  Enjoy the pictures!

The organizers of the Beach Bash - Burt Mello and Joe Fleming.
Fr. Paperini, the president rector of Mount Angel Seminary, was given an icon by the theology four students that was painted by Brother Andre Love, OSB.
Academic Dean Dr. Elaine Park enjoyed dinner with Dr. Creighton Lindsay, the Assistant Dean for the College.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Laity in the Multicultural Church

The next reflection from Ms. Kathy Akiyama's course Ministry in a Multicultural Church has been submitted by Daniel Steele, a pre-theology student from the Diocese of Yakima.

Doctors and Saints
by Daniel Steele

In considering a topic for my second theological reflection, I found myself a bit dry in subject matter.  After flipping through a few different chapters in John Allen's book The Future Church, chapter five provided me with a topic I had personal experience with that could provide a benefit in parish ministry.

The chapter is entitled "Expanding Lay Roles" and starts off with a number of great stories of  lay men and women who took their own initiative based off a particular local need to start an institutional outreach of some kind.  It was very inspiring and reminded me of a few extraordinary lay individuals I know in my life.

Daniel Steele

In reflecting on the impact these extraordinary lay individual's lives have on the local community and the world at large, I realized a unique and important role the laity have in representing Christianity to the secular culture.  They are like the face of the church, the place of contact between Christ and the outside world.  They are the ones who are in the world.  They are Christ's ambassadors who speak on behalf of Him whom they know.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ancient Prophets and Contemporary Culture

This semester in the Scripture class on the Prophets, the third-year theology students were asked to apply the concepts and lessons they had learned from the ancient prophets to contemporary culture for their final exam.  Brian Bergeron from the Diocese of Helena submitted this response.  Dr. Elaine Park taught the course and led the way through the prophetic writings.

The Prophet and the Shepherd
by Brian Bergeron

In light of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, modern day Christians recognize Jesus Christ as "the good shepherd," sent to do the Father's divine will (John 10:1-18).  Specifically mentioning the role of the shepherd, the Gospel of John discusses that the sheep hear and know the voice of the shepherd (10:3-4), that the sheep will follow their shepherd (10:4), and that the sheep flee from the stranger amongst them (10:5).

However, the prophets of YHWH found in the Old Testament knew of the Incarnation only through prophesy, and oftentimes through the word of God passing through them.  As such, while the prophets of the Old Testament regularly acted as both prophet and shepherd, only a handful of them specifically mentioned their role as shepherd in their prophetic mission.  Thus, the prophetic shepherding of Amos,  Ezekiel, Isaiah (Deutero-Isaiah), Moses, Jonah, and Zechariah bear witness to the prophetic task placed before these respective men who have been called by God to His people back to right relationship.

Brian Bergeron

As the Gospel of John attests, the role of the shepherd is to bring the people back to God.  Further developed, the role of the shepherd draws its full strength from the fact that it is God, and not the individual, who seeks the fallen away sheep.  According to the Webster's Dictionary, a shepherd is "a person who protects, guides, or watches over other people" (1211).  As people of faith, we would further stipulate that a shepherd works on behalf of God who sends the shepherd out to protect, guide and watch over the people of God.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Doing and Being in Ministry

Hans Mueller, a pre-theology student studying for the Archdiocese of Portland, has submitted a reflection from Ms. Kathy Akiyama's course Ministry in a Multicultural Church.

For Vs. With 
by Hans Mueller

As I read the chapter "Cultural Assumptions and Values," the section that stood out most to me was about activity, and how "in American society, the dominant mode of activity is doing" (159).  This focus on doing leads to the assumption that the value of a person depends on how much he/she can do and how hard a worker that person is.

In direct contrast to this focus on doing is a focus on being which can be found in many other cultures.  According to the text being values the "experience of humanity rather than tangible accomplishments" and that people have a "natural and given position in society" (159).  This distinction helps me understand a couple of experiences I have had as a chaperone doing mission work, once in Tijuana, Mexico, and another on an Indian reservation in Washington.

Hans Mueller

On the trip to Tijuana, our leaders emphasized the importance of not only working for the people, but working with the people and being with the people; the leaders stressed solidarity.  Each morning we were there we would work at laying concrete, and we would continue work a little after lunch, but then we would be told it was time to stop and to do some other activity either with the people we were serving or somewhere else in Tijuana.  Many of our group did not want to stop working; they have come to serve, not to have fun.  I myself did not see why we should quit work, but I went along with what we were told and benefited greatly from it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Reflecting on Transition Shock

AJ Vander Vos, a college-four seminarian from the Diocese of Helena, has submitted this reflection from the course Ministry in a Multicultural Church, which is taught this semester by Ms. Kathy Akiyama.

A Reflection about Transition Shock: Putting Culture Shock in Perspective - by AJ Vander Vos

In Transition Shock: Putting Culture Shock in Perspective, Janet Bennett constructed some brilliant thoughts based on what others have said concerning shock.  She borrowed some ideas of different types of shock from other writers and placed them all "under the general category transition shock" (215).  In my reflection I wish to follow her format of discussing symptoms, responses, stages, resolutions, and potentials and then relate my personal experience in each of these sections.  My experience of transition shock came in the form of culture shock when I traveled to Mexico for five weeks.

Concerning symptoms, Bennett writes that the symptoms of transition shock vary from person to person.  She gave a number of examples such as fear of personal harm, theft, anxiety, irritability, and being homesick.  When I first arrived in the airport at Guadalajara until the end of the first week in Mexico I experienced many of the symptoms mentioned above.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

MAS Irish Band 2012

Last night the Irish Band performed for a small crowd in the MAS bookstore and coffee shop.  The guests enjoyed food and Irish beer as they listened to the band.  The evening also featured a song for which the audience wrote the lyrics, as well as an open mic session.

Beth Wells, the director of the seminary bookstore and host for the evening, with Brad Fisher, one of the band members.

Andriel Ruperto opened the evening playing his guitar and singing "Lord of the Dance."  A former band member joined the group for the evening with his whistle.

The evening featured a variety of instruments including guitars, whistles, drums, harmonicas, and simple hand-clapping.

Seminarian John Hall with his guitar and Fr. Pius X Harding with his drum.

Brother Nicholaus Wilson, a seminarian and monk from St. Martin's Abbey in Washington, closed the evening with a solo rendition of "Be Thou My Vision."

Friday, May 4, 2012

Appreciation Dinner - Part Two

Ivan Garcia, a college-one seminarian studying for the Diocese of Tucson, adds his photos to the others covering the Appreciation Dinner held last week.  Thank you, Ivan!

Ivan Garcia; Dean Marshall, a graduating college seminarian; and Jonathan Cheever, one of the servers for the Appreciation Dinner.

Andriel Ruperto and Minh Do, two of the servers for the dinner, and Alfred Guerrero, the main organizer of the event.

Alfred Guerrero with Marina Keys, the seminary's registrar and financial aid officer, during the social before the dinner.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More Multicultural Reflections

This is the first of two reflections from the course Ministry in a Multicultural Church that have been submitted by Zani Pancanza, a pre-theology seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.  The course is taught by Ms. Kathy Akiyama.

A Reflection on "Many Face's in God's House"
by Zani Pacanza

Editor's Note: "Many Face's in God's House" is an article that is part of the assigned reading for this course.  It is written by Fr. Virgilio Elizondo, Jaime Phelps, and Peter Phan.

Inculturation.  If there is one thing that stood out to me as the main point of the article "Many Faces in God's House," this is the beauty and complexity of "inculturation."  This means that the Catholic Church here in America is composed of different races and ethnicity.  The majority of the Church's population is still native-born Americans.  However, people from other nations have migrated here and brought with them the gifts of their culture and tradition.

Zani Pancanza

In past years, this country has seen an influx of people coming from different ethnic groups: 1) Hispanics who come from Latin America (e.g. Mexico, Colombia, Argentina);  2) Africans coming from such countries as Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, aand Ghana; and 3) Asians (e.g. Filipino, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hawaiians, and Samoans).  All these have made the Church in the United States very diverse and rich in terms of varied cultures, beliefs, and identities.

The article gave very concrete and clear characteristics of the three ethnic groups.  For the Hispanics, Fr. Elizondo enumerated five main traits: home-centeredness, love for festivities, sense of devotion, visual-orientedness, and avant-garde attitude.  For the African-Americans, Dr. Jaime Phelps listed seven values: love of learning, deep spirituality, quest for self-governance, service-oriented, a sense of commitment, race pride and development of enterprise.  Lastly, Rev. Peter Phan gave 10 Asian characteristics.  According to him, Asians are: institutional, passive, conservative, individualistic in piety, vocation-oriented, devout, festive, spiritual and compassionate.

I must agree that not all traits listed are positive.  Of course, different cultures would carry both positive and negative characteristics.  However, what is striking to me is the fact that these ethnic groups feel the warm welcome of the American Catholic Church.  The United States opened its arms to people from other places.  They made a home for themselves here and somehow they felt they belong.  Dr. Phelps said in the article "To be human is to belong to the whole community."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Reflection on The Future Church

Michael Dion, a pre-theology seminarian from the Archdiocese of Seattle who is in Ms. Kathy Akiyama's course entitled Ministry in a Multicultural Church, offers this reflection on the writing of John Allen Jr.

Demographics in The Future Church
by Michael Dion

John L. Allen Jr. is known as an expert of the going-ons of the Catholic world.  As a writer for the National Catholic Reporter who covers the Vatican beat, he has a particularly advantageous viewpoint when it comes to understanding the trends of the Catholic Church.  In The Future Church, he examines the trends that he considers to be particularly important.  The chapter on "New Demography" was of great interest to me.  I have chosen to reflect on the demographics of the world and Church as it relates to the elderly and the future, in light of my own experience and my understanding of the Gospel.

Michael Dion

Statistically speaking, many areas of the world are heading towards an age crisis.  Allen cites fertility rates to support this thesis.  Most of Europe is below the 2.1 children per woman necessary to maintain a stable population, and as a result, the future indicates that those countries will have more old people needing support from fewer and fewer young people.

This country has managed to stay above or around the replacement rate, due much in part to Hispanic families, but even that trend is not certain to continue.  This does not bode well for either the young or the old if they are planning to live the kind of life everybody nowadays expects to live.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Appreciation Dinner 2012

Last Tuesday Mount Angel Seminary held its annual Appreciation Dinner.  The evening included recognition of the field supervisors and spiritual directors of this year's seminarians, as well as recognition of the four religious communities that support the seminary by enrolling their members in the seminary: the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, the Carmelites, the Saint John Society, and the monks of Mount Angel Abbey.

Andy Mendoza, a college-one seminarian from the Diocese of Yakima, submitted these photos from the evening.

Seminarians Grant Boggs, Ruben Arocan, Jeff Moore, and Geoffrey Daigh were part of a group providing music during the social preceding the Appreciation Dinner.

The seminarians in the black ties and aprons were among those who served the dinner to the faculty, guests, and their fellow seminarians.

Alfred Guerrero, the head organizer of the Appreciation Dinner, smiles with Dr. Stan Mazur-Hart, a member of the seminary faculty.

Ruben Arocan and Joshua Sia, pictured here, formed a quartet with Frank Villanueva and Ryan Francisco to provide entertainment during the dinner.