Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mass of Candidacy

On October 25, 2012, the community of Mount Angel Seminary celebrated Mass and the rite of admission to the candidacy for ordination as deacons and priests for nine of its seminarians. 

The celebration took place as one of three major events at the seminary on October 24 and October 25: the installation of the new President-Rector, Father Joseph Betschart, the Mass of Candidacy and the Episcopal Council Meeting.

The following semiarians were admitted to the candidacy:

For the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon: Peter Andele, Francisco Bringuela, and Martin Tavares Hernandez

For the Diocese of San Diego: Alex DePaulis and Lauro Minimo

For the Diocese of Vac: Pal Juhasz

For the Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Dominic Pierson

For the Diocese of Spokane: Brian Sattler

Archbishop John D. Vlazny, the Archbishop of the Portland in Oregon, served as the presider and homilist for the Mass.  In his homily he said to the candidates, "Don't try to solve the mystery of why you were called to the priesthood - live with it."  As the candidates stepped forward, he asked them to declare their intentions with faith, hope, love, and courage.

At the conclusion of the Rite of Admission, Archbishop Vlazny said, "The Church receives your declaration with joy.  May God, who has begun the good work in you, bring it to fulfillment."

Music for the Mass was provided by the seminary choir and included a tenor solo by John Hesla.

Many of the bishops, religious superiors, and vocation directors who were present for the meeting of the Episcopal Council also celebrated the Mass with the seminary community.  Those present included Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker; Bishop Randolph Calvo of the Diocese of Reno; Bishop Jaime Soto of the Diocese of Sacramento, Bishop John C. Wester of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Father Domenico DiRaimondo, the Provincial for the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit; Father Matthew Williams, the Provincial of the Order of Discalced Carmelites; and Abbot Gregory Duerr, the abbot of Mount Angel Abbey and chancellor of Mount Angel Seminary.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Synod of the New Evangelization - Part V

This post continues Father Jeremy Driscoll's journal entry for October 22, 2012, a part of his reports on his experience during The Synod of the New Evangelization.

Readers may find Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV here on the MAS Journalism blog.

Monday, October 22, 2012:

Last week Cardinal Dolan gave a very nice reception at the end of one day for all the Americans in Rome for the Synod - so the bishops, the theologians, the helpers, the journalists.  It was a good gathering, and I enjoyed a lively conversation with John Allen.  Monsignor Peter Wells was also there, whom I like very much, a high functionary in the Secretariat of State.

After that party Cardinal Dolan flew to New York so that he could be present at the Al Smith dinner he was hosting for President Obama and Mitt Romney.  He was back in the Synod Hall 36 hours later.  He is amazing and bigger than life.  At the cocktail party I told him, "Have a good trip and meeting with the president and Governor Romney."  When I saw him shortly after, upon his return, I couldn't resist the opportunity to say, "How did the dinner in New York go last night?"  He remains very friendly to me every time our paths cross.

On Friday evening, Fr. Bruno, the Master General of the Dominicans, with whom I ride back and forth from Sant' Anselmo each day, invited three Nigerian bishops to dinner at Santa Sabina and invited me to join them.  It was a joyful affair.  Bishop Badejo, who is in my small group, and I get along very well, with lots of jokes but also serious work getting done.  He was one of those at the dinner.  The two others were just as fun.  So, that was a sweet evening.

I actually have time to write this today because of the day being off.  I appreciate this down time before the last push.  There is a Vermeer exhibit at the Scuderia, and I went this morning.  My eyes relaxed as they rested on the beautiful paintings.

One other little vignette to record before I close this day's reflections: on Saturday morning, after the session, I ran into Archbishop Fisichella leaving the Synod Hall, and he invited me to walk across the piazza with him to his house, which is very nearby.  He changed into his suit, and then we walked to his office.  This let us have about 30 minutes of conversation about how the whole Synod was going.  He is always extremely perceptive.  I wrote a review of his book on the New Evangelization (English version) which appeared in the English version of Osservatore Romano this week.  Good timing on my part and, of course, intended!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Synod of the New Evangelization - Part IV

We continue with the publication of the diary that Father Jeremy Driscoll has been keeping while he has been in Rome taking part in The Synod of the New Evangelization.  He offers a lengthy entry for October 22 that will be divided into two posts.

Readers may find Part I, Part II, and Part III of Father Jeremy's diary on the MAS Journalism blog.

Monday, October 22, 2012:

The Synod was so busy last week that there literally was no chance to record impressions, even if I had many.  Today, Monday, the Synod as a whole is not meeting.  The bishops who were elected recorders of the language groups and other helpers have used the weekend and today to assemble into one list a set of propositions generated by us last week in twelve different language groups.

Last week we spent several more days listening to individual interventions by the bishops, with me refining the technique of dealing with the tedium of this as described in my entry of October 13.  So the richness is just piling up.  On Wednesday Cardinal Wuerl gave a midway summary of what had been said so far, and we were to hear this and bring it to our language groups, divided by language, to work toward formulating propositions.

I very much enjoy my language group work.  Just for the record I want to note some of the countries present in my English-speaking language group, just to give some idea of the breadth of perspective that I had after two days of working with them:

Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay

Cardinal Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi

Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace

Archbishop Chinnappa of Madras

Archbishop Esua of Bamenda, Cameroon

Archbishop Ferrao of Goa

Archbishop Kovithvanaji of Bangkok

Archbishop Molina Palma of Los Altos (Guatemala)

Archbishop Pinder of Nassau in the Bahamas

Archbishop Souraphiel of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia

Archbishop Tartaglia of Glasgow

Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei

Bishop Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria

Bishop Winston Sebastian Fernando of Badulla, Sri Lanka

Bishop Kicanas of Tucson

Bishop Ladjar of Jayapura, Indonesia

Bishop Mafi of Tonga

Bishop Separy of Aitape, Papua New Guinea

Father Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, the Prior General of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate in India

There are three other experts besides me: Mme. Anna Kai-Yung Chan from Macao, China; Dr. Petroc Willey from Great Britian, Father Nielnicki from Drohiczinensi, Poland.

As auditors were Father de Guzman from Makati City in the Philippines; Mme. Patricia Nwachkwu from Nigeria; Zoltan Kunszabo, a married deacon from Budapest, and Mr. Manoj Sunny from Kerala, India.

As a fraternal delegate we had Dr. Timothy George, representing the World Baptist Alliance and coming from Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Alabama.


So we were in a room all day Thursday and part of Friday trying to craft propositions for the whole body of bishops.  There were so many points of view, so many concerns; but in the end we managed to come to some kind of consensus.  It was the decision of the moderator how much or not the experts would participate in the discussion.

The reason for the possible distinction is that this is a Synod of bishops, and in strict sense theological experts would only intervene if there were some sort of technical theological question or even error unfolding.  But in our group Cardinal Garcias gave us permission to be completely involved in the discussion.  In part I'm sure this stems from our nearly ten years of work together in Vox Clara.

In any case, I was glad for this opportunity, and as our work advanced many of the other bishops told me they appreciated my contributions. In the end, I was able to influence propositions that put the mystery of the Trinity and our share in it as the fundamental content of new evangelization.  Or, from another direction, a proposition that draws attention to our entry into trinitarian life in Baptism and then regularly sustained through the Eucharist.

I was also able to push at least an effort on the part of us Catholics to recover Sunday as the Lord's Day, knowing well that we increasingly are up against a culture that would rather spend Sundays in other ways.  Finally, I urged we stress the absolute novelty of the Incarnation and Resurrection as the distinctive message of Christianity, a message never to be exhausted and amazing to any and all who hear it with open hearts.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Interview with Father Jeremy on Vatican Radio

As the Synod of the New Evangelization comes to a close, Father Jeremy has been interviewed on Vatican Radio.  He discusses his work during the Synod in the areas of fundamental theology and the liturgy, as well as the primary concerns that have been expressed by the Synod Fathers.

In his interview, Father Jeremy speaks of "renewing the central content of the Christian faith," God incarnate and living among us in Jesus Christ.

Listen to the interview and watch the MAS Journalism blog for more posts containing diary entries from Father Jeremy during his time with the Synod of the New Evangelization.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Synod of New Evangelization - Part III

The MAS Journalim blog continues with the publication of journal entries from Father Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, that he has written during his participation in the Synod of New Evangelization.  Readers may find Part I and Part II on our blog as well.

Father Jeremy's entry for October 13, 2012:

There would be no end to little stories to tell.  At the beginning of the day as we arrive, at the 30 minute coffee break in the morning, and then leaving in the evening, there are many occasions to meet people we know or don't.  So I get a few minutes this way here and there with Caridnal Pell, Cardinal Gracias, or Archbishop Fisichella.  I met Cardinal Dolan from New York on the stairway the first day, and he was very friendly and said he was pleased when he saw me named to the Synod.  "Way to go!" he said.  He also asked how Fr. Betschart was doing and sent greetings.

Then I've met many new people, all really fine.  Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville has been very friendly, and on the days when I take my noon meals at NAC, he has offered me his sitting room as a place to rest and get some work done during the break.  That has been very helpful, and I am getting to know and appreciate him more each day.  Each day I ride back and forth from Sant' Anselmo in the car of the Master General of the Dominican Order, Fr. Bruno Cardore.  He is a very pleasant man, French.  We are getting on very well.

On some days we hear as many as 50 interventions of 5 minutes a piece.  This can become tedious, and the words simply don't go in any more.  But I found an attitude that helps me: I think when ever again will I be able to hear a bishop from Mali, from Thailand, from Uruguay, from Japan, from Finland, from Romania, etc., telling me of his pastoral concerns.  So while one is talking, I look closely at the video monitor that displays his face; I listen; and I say a little prayer for his diocese and country.  In addition the Holy Father's example sustains me.  He is sitting there listening attentively to every one.

It is difficult still to see how all these interventions can be brought together into some coherent whole.  Since I can't see how (yet?), I'm just taking it as a massive exposure to the breadth and length of the Church's reach - of the Gospel's reach - in every part of the world.  I cannot imagine another occasion in my life where I will receive an exposure like this.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Synod of New Evangelization - Part II

Today the Mount Angel Seminary Journalism blog continues with the publication of diary entries from Father Jeremy Driscoll,OSB, a member of the seminary faculty who is taking part in the Synod of New Evangelization.  His first diary entry may be found here.

Father Jeremy's entry for October 12, 2012:

Yesterday's Mass celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II was something really wonderful.  I found myself very moved, more than I expected to be.  First of all, the morning was beautiful, sunny and cool.  We arrived at the piazza around 9:15.  Passages from the Council documents were being read over the microphone in various languages.  And as I listened to those texts, it dawned on me with force what a grace and gift from the Holy Spirit the Council has been for the Church.  Then we prayed the rosary, Luminous Mysteries, in Latin; and the Mass began.

There was an enormous procession of mitred bishops and cardinals, and the Pope pointed out in his homily that with this long procession there was a desire to recall the procession 50 years ago of all the bishops entering St. Peter's Basicila for the Council.  It was beautiful.

I sang the Latin Introit and the Gloria with great joy and gratitude.  The first reading was done in English, and it was very well proclaimed.  It came forth as something great from God, its message filling the world with hope and wisdom.  Even more forceful was the second reading, which was sung in Greek in a haunting oriental tone.  The Gospel was sung in Latin.  This was the first time that the newly composed Mass for New Evangelization was used.  The Mass was in Latin, but the English given in the booklet was from my translation.

The Pope's homily was really splendid.  No point in trying to summarize it here.  It is there for the record.  It represented a strong affirmation of the authority of the Council, stressing the importance of the documents themselves as opposed to some vague "spirit of the Council."  It is also the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Pope spoke strongly about that as well.

Cardinal Levada invited me to a pranzo to celebrate the CCC because he had played a major role in its formulation.  He invited also Cardinal Schonborn from Vienna, the person who perhaps had the strongest role in shaping it.  Cardinal Calic from Argentina, who also worked on it, was also there.  In addition, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles and Bishop Brown of Orange were also there.  The conversation was very interesting because, at my urging, I got them reminiscing on different stories associated with the seven year work of composition of that great treasure for the Church.

[Editor's Note: At this point Father Jeremy explains he waited for and finally met with Fr. Frederico and Fr. Lucas of the St. John Society].  I didn't mind waiting because there was a candle-light procession arriving in the piazza, commemorating the procession made 50 years ago when the Council opened.  By the time they got there, the piazza was filled with some 20,000 people holding candles, in prayer thanking God for the Council and praying for the Synod.  Pope Benedict appeared at his window at 9 p.m., spoke a few words and gave his blessing.  What a day!

This morning's session was normal enough, but we were all invited to a big banquet hosted by Benedict XVI himself to thank the bishops and all of us for the work of the Synod.  It was a beautiful meal: not extravagant but certainly celebratory. 

I was sitting at as wonderful table with bishops from Sudan, Indonesia, Liberia, Ireland, Tanzania, Scotland, and three other experts, two from the Philippines and one from China.  We had great fun, combined with serious discussion.  The three Africans were on the young side, and I realized that after many years of teaching Africans at Sant' Anselmo, I know where their funny bone is.  I kept hitting against it.

We were to go back to work after a short siesta, but the Pope gave us the rest of the day off.  Rejoicing all around.

Tomorrow, Saturday, we have another full day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Installation of Father Joseph Betschart

Editor's Note: Watch this blog for more photos of tonight's event.

Tonight the community of Mount Angel Seminary installed Father Joseph Betschart as the new President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary during a celebration of the Votive Mass of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest.  Archbishop John Vlazny served as the celebrant of the Mass, Abbot Gregory Duerr served as the homilist, and the celebration was attended by the monastic community, seminary faculty and staff, seminarians, seminary board members, and many friends of the seminary.

The theme of love and gratitude for the priesthood was present throughout the celebration.

In his homily, Abbot Gregory explored three blessings, beginning with Jesus Christ, our savior and priest over the house of God.  Second, he expressed gratitude for Archbishop Vlazny and his fifteen years of service as the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.  Third, he explained he was grateful for Father Betschart and his willingness to serve the Church in his new position.

Father Betschart was preceded as President-Rector by Monsignor Richard Paperini.  Paperini retired as the President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary in June.

Father Betschart enjoys dinner in the Damian Center with members of the hilltop community.

After the homily, Father Betschart made the Profession of Faith and took the Oath of Fidelity.  He was presented with three symbols of his new office: a book of the Gospels, a stole, and an icon of Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest.

As he presented the stole to Father Betschart, Abbot Gregory said, "Recieve this stole a symbol of the authority of your office and a sign that you have chosen to bear the yoke of Christ and to carry his cross in the spirit of willingness and love."  The icon was written through the hand of Br. Andre Love, a monk of Mount Angel Abbey.

Before the final blessing, Father Betschart addressed the assembly.  He said, "It is so good to be home here with you," and that he could not begin to express how much he loves serving as a priest of Jesus Christ.  After thanking everyone attending the installation, he said, "We all foster priestly vocations" and make "an invaluable contribution" to the mission of Mount Angel Seminary."

"This is your seminary," explained Father Betschart, "because these will be your priests."

Editor's Note: As of 7:30 a.m on October 25, 2012, the spelling of the name of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon has been corrected.

Reports from the Synod of New Evangelization

Father Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, a monk of Mount Angel Abbey and a professor of systematic theology at Mount Angel Seminary, was recently appointed a theological consultant for the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, a new department of the Vatican. 

In that capacity, Father Jeremy is attending the Synod of New Evangelizaton taking place in Rome this month.  In several posts over the next week, the journalism blog of Mount Angel Seminary will be publishing portions of the diary Father Jeremy is keeping during his time in the Synod.

We begin with his thoughts from October 11, 2012:

Today is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  This past Sunday the Synod opened with a Mass in St. Peter's Square with Pope Benedict XVI.  As a peritus to the Synod, I was permitted to concelebrate, and this is the first time I have ever concelebrated with a pope.  On Monday the Synod's work began in the Synod Hall.  There was great energy in the room as the more than 250 cardinals, archbishops, and bishops - all called Synod Fathers - gathered with 45 periti and 50 auditors, 20 heads of religious orders.

The schedule is very demanding.  We listen to one talk after another by the Synod Fathers.  I was surprised and edified to see that the Pope attended all the sessions of the first and second days and part of yesterday's.  We experts are to listen for particular themes and then write them up in summary form for a talk that Cardinal Wuerl will give on Wednesday of next week.  Fr. Juan Xavier Flores (rector of Sant' Anselmo) and I were assigned to listen to the theme of liturgy, anything that touches on the liturgy in any way.

The view from Father Jeremy's seat in the Synod Hall

We meet mornings and afternoons.  Sometimes we hear longer talks.  For example, yesterday we heard Archbishop Rowan Williams.  He gave an outstanding talk, and it created a beautiful energy in the hall.

Yesterday we also met in "small" groups according to language.  I was put in a group of which Cardinal Gracias is the moderator and Archbishop Tartaglia of Glasgow the secretary.  There are 25 in our group, 18 bishops, and the rest being experts or auditors.  The first meeting, lasting some 3 hours, was very interesting for the variety of experiences: different African countries, Asia, Caribbean, USA, all in the same room.  Everywhere the experience of the Catholicity of the Church is very tangible.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

More Journalism Reflections

Another new journalist for Mount Angel Seminary, Peter Lawongkerd from the Diocese of Oakland, offers some of his thoughts on his work thus far from his recent reflection paper:

The very interesting point I found [in chapter one of The Elements of Journalism] is that the bottom line of journalism is to provide people information they need to know so that they can be self-governing and so everybody is on the same page.  The journalist's job is to keep people up-to-date on daily news and to make it easy for people to be informed.

Peter Lawongkerd - photo by Sister Hilda Kleiman

As I have enrolled in the journalism class, I can call myself "little journalist."  So my job is to provide information and write small articles about the events that go on at the seminary.  Since the seminary is a big community, it is very important to keep all the seminarians up-to-date.  Also, it is important to inform people that live off the hilltop because the seminary is a tourist place where many people from different areas come to visit.

In chapter four, we discussed the journalism of verification.  Kovach and Rosenstiel said, "Journalism alone is focused on getting what happened down right" (80).  They [journalists] have to have evidence to prove their case, just like people need evidence to prove something right or wrong; this is how a journalist would do his job.

How can I apply this to my daily life in the seminary?  If I am going to write an article about some events that are happening on the hilltop, I need to find the truth and provide the reader with correct information.  I need to get the facts right and straight forward in a way that is crystal clear for the reader.  For instance, if I am going to write about the college beach weekend, I need to answer the "WH" questions - who, what, when, why, how - and other information that the reader needs to know.  [Editor's note: Peter's story on the college beach weekend is forthcoming on this blog].

In addition, the information that I provide to the reader needs to be true and not rely on my own opinion.  I have to be able to present the facts about what I say.  If I say the college beach weekend was not good because the weather was bad and it was cold, one way in which I can support this by presenting testimonies of other people.  That would be great to have as a journalist so that the reader sees the message from another person's view and just from the journalist's.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reflections from a New Journalist

Over the course of the semester, our new journalism students reflect on their experience and their study of the text The Elements of Journalism.  Below Raul Barriga from the Diocese of San Francisco offers some of his thoughts on his experience thus far:

The elements of journalism that we have discussed thus far will shape my practice as a journalist by creating a sense of appreciation for the possibilities that I can encounter in practice.  Three insights that I encountered in this journalism class are the elements of photos, the experiences involved in interviews, and the continual development of journalism methodology or principles.

Some difficult elements of [photography] are the informational, passive, and active elements of a photo.  These are just some from among the many elements involved in photos.  The judgment of some of these elements in a photo seemed quite arbitrary for my inexperience.  In spite of the difficulties in trying to assemble a good photo with elements, I nevertheless have tried to incorporate them into the photos I have taken for this class.  I tried to use the rule of thirds, for example, when I took a picture of a soccer event.  Thus, I try to carry what I learn from this class into my daily plans as a journalist.

Raul Barriga - photo by Sister Hilda Kleiman

"Life is a bunch of interviews": these are my own words after being in Sr. Hilda's office and noticing some pictures she has on her wall.  I found myself captivated by asking her to elaborate more on the background of those pictures.  Thus, I came to appreciate the way this simple situation accounts for every day life as we communicate information to each other.  The experiences I have encountered in interviews for this class have been great ways for me to learn about things that I would otherwise not have been able to know were it not for asking a person in an interview.

The mace and chain used in graduation ceremonies here at Mount Angel Seminary and brought to our class by Cindy May are a great example of two interesting subjects.  [Editor's note: Raul's story based on this interview is forthcoming on our journalism blog].  The interview in class was supposed to be about the mace and chain, and May made this clear to me, but I saw two stories joined into one: the mace and chain themselves and Cindy May and her creation of the mace. 

These are just some of the great treasures of people that I can learn from through their interviews.  I can see how this principle can apply to working and even just having conversations with everyday people.  This is what I learned from our interview with May.

The content from our readings seemed to me as a whole other side of journalism in terms of its theory.  Upon beginning to read, I encountered myself with a state of affairs or baggage that journalism has had through its history.  The examples of interviews that a journalist encounters seem great in my experience, but the readings of our book seem to portray to me a whole other side of journalism that alludes to the profession.

The seriousness of this profession makes me think twice about being a journalist because I think of the pressure of having to create newsworthy material for people.  The notion of verification, for example, seems important to everyone so I would be careful in expressing an account of an event.  Nevertheless, I am open to the readings that I could otherwise not have known about.

All in all, I feel that this class has gotten off to a good start.  The ideas for possible tasks as a journalist keep coming in as I try to finish the last work, which may be typical to a professional journalist.  I look forward to the experiences that I will be having throughout the rest of this class, even though it will not be enough to cover the vast treasuries that journalism has to offer.  Thus, I feel that I have made up my mind: I will settle with what I can afford to be - a journalist for life.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kicking Off Pastoral Formation

Ms. Linda Showman, the associate director of pastoral formation for Mount Angel Seminary, has submitted this post on an important portion of her work with MAS seminarians:

Pastoral Formation Learning Agreements
by Linda Showman

In addition to deacons and those in pastoral internship, an enthusiastic body of 132 seminarians is involved in pastoral formation at Mount Angel Seminary.  99 are at an on-site pastoral placement, 13 are involved in College One events, and 20 are engaged in hilltop ministries.

As College One students become accustomed to seminary life, they have two day-long opportunities to begin exploring their sense of service as a group endeavor.  [Editor's note: visit this link for more about one of last year's opportunities].  Those with on-site placements set out weekly in small teams to supervised assignments which allow them to understand the relational nature of ministry and to develop the skills needed for service.  Hilltop ministers are graduate seminarians who have considerable experience and who are honing their pastoral skills in a variety of ways in this community.

All of the seminarians are striving to integrate the pillars of formation - human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral - in a conscious and intentional way.  Their primary tool for this is the Learning Agreement.

Theology I seminarian Cody Ross of Seattle
is first in line to submit his Learning Agreement to Pastoral Formation administrative assistant Nikki Martin.

The Learning Agreement has a vision of five goals: demonstration of personal and spiritual maturity, identification of call to ministry as rooted in baptism, integration of Catholic faith in ministerial work, engagement in ministry with sensitivity, and collaborative leadership with service.  With an emphasis on virtue, each seminarian determines specific actions which will move him in the direction of these goals.

This a process that began August 30 with the Pastoral Formation Conferences, during which the seminarians reviewed the purpose and requirements of the program.  At this time they received their assignments.  Those with on-site placements then contacted their supervisors and attended an orientation.

They began going to their assignments on September 18 and had lunch with their supervisors on September 27.  Finally, on Friday, October 12, after due deliberation and three weeks of actual experience at their site, the seminarians submitted their Learning Agreements.  At the end of the semester the students will review their time in placement in both a self-evaluation and a theological reflection.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ordinations to the Diaconate

This morning the community of Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary and many guests celebrated the ordination to the diaconate of Chrispine Otieno of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon and Carlo Tejano of the Diocese of Sacramento.  The Most Reverend John G. Vlazny, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, served as the presider.

With the ordination to the diaconate, Deacon Chrispine and Deacon Tejano begin their final year of priestly formation.  In his homily, Archbishop Vlazny said that ministers are the most successful when they are whole and humble servants seeking to do the will of God.

The deacon is a steward of God's great mysteries and "a steward of the poor and needy and looks after them" said the Archbishop.

The guests at the ordination included many friends and family members of Deacon Chrispine and Deacon Carlo.  Musicians for the liturgy included the seminary choir, the Filipino schola, and trumpeters Geoff Daigh and Jeffery Moore.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Theology on the Hill: Does Free Will Still Exist?

Last night Mount Angel Seminary hosted the first session of Theology on the Hill for the 2012-2013 school year.  Dr. Andrew Cummings and Dr. Katy Leamy, both faculty members of Mount Angel Seminary, held a discussion entitled "Does Free Will Still Exist?"  Deacon Brian Bergeron, a seminarian for the Diocese of Helena, served as the moderator.

Dr. Cummings and Dr. Leamy began the discussion by outlining the more extreme positions regarding free will from the perspectives of philosophy and theology.  Within philosophy, explained Dr. Cummings, the extreme positions are represented by Jean Paul Sartre and B.F. Skinner.  Sartre argued people are 100% free; Skinner argued that science will eventually be able to predict every aspect of human behavior.

Dr. Katy Leamy is offered hospitality by Beth Wells, the manger of the Store at the Press.

Fr. Theo Lange, a formation director for Mount Angel Seminary, and Br. Nicolaus Wilson, a seminarian from St. Martin's Abbey, visited with the guests who arrived for Theology on the Hill.

Dr. Andrew Cummings, Deacon Brian Bergeron, and Dr. Katy Leamy take their places as Theology on the Hill begins.

According to Dr. Cummings, most philosophers today are looking for the middle ground between these two positions.

Dr. Leamy explained two extremes positions regarding free will from a theological perspective.  The first extreme, she said, states that if there is a God, people aren't free because God is in control.  If God is not in control, the unlimited power of God is limited.

The second extreme position states that since people experience freedom, God sacrificed some of his freedom in order to establish freedom for humanity.

Finding a more workable approach to free will in theology, explained Dr. Leamy, requires defining freedom in terms of relationship rather than in terms of control.  This approach enables both God and humanity to be free and in relationship with each other.

After their brief presentations, the seminarians, faculty and staff, and off-hill guests offered questions and discussion in response to Dr. Cummings and Dr. Leamy.  Deacon Brian encouraged vigorous discussion when he said, "I am not a cheerleader, and this is not a pep rally."  He explained that different points of view and questions were welcome.

The next Theology on the Hill will take place on Friday, November 16th, at 6:15 p.m. at the Store at the Press.  The topic will be journalism and will feature Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, the editor of this blog, and two of her journalism students, Raul Barriga and Peter Lawongkerd.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A New Year of Theology on the Hill

This Friday evening marks the beginning of a new year for Theology on the Hill, a gathering and invitation to discuss theological questions with Mount Angel Seminary faculty and students.  Dr. Andrew Cummings and Dr. Katy Leamy will present this Friday's topic, "Does Free Will Still Exist?"

Brian Bergeron serves as a host for Theology on the Hill.

The gathering begins at 6:15 p.m. at the Store at the Press of Mount Angel Abbey.  Pizza and beer will be provided, and all are welcome.  For more information contact Brian Bergeron at, or find Theology on the Hill on Facebook.