Emma Hare: A Field Education Supervisor in Mount Angel
Story by Daniel Miller
San Diego, California, 1990: Emma Hare is born.
Oxford, Michigan, July 2007: Hare graduates from high school, and in whirlwind manner applies for, is accepted into, and begins training for a year of service work with the Regnum Christi apostolic movement.
Wicklow, Ireland, May 2008: Having completed a demanding academic year at Woodlands Academy Boarding School as Dean of Discipline for 120 teenage girls she described as "sweet and spoiled," Hare is asked by her spiritual guide to take six weeks to discern a vocation to the religious life. After avoiding her spiritual guide upon her return to the United States, Hare obliges.
Wakefield, Rhode Island, December 2008: With consultation from her spiritual guide, Hare decides religious life is not her calling. She returns to Silverton.
Silverton, Oregon, August 2009: Prompted by the youth minister at St. Paul's Church, Hare becomes involved with teen ministry, leading her to coordinate the junior high program as a volunteer and later become certified through the Center for Ministry Development.
Mount Angel, Oregon, April 2012: Hare is hired as the Director of Youth Ministry for St. Mary's Church.
Like many seminarians, Emma Hare's vocational journey surprised and enlightened her. As part of her duties at St. Mary's Church, Hare is one of 64 field education, deacon, and pastoral intern supervisors that work with Mount Angel seminarians. In this role, she partners with the seminary in providing off-campus ministry opportunities that build skills and enhance personal development for those pursuing the priesthood.
This year she welcomed into youth ministry Br. John Paul Le, OSB, and Frankie Villanueva, seminarian for the Diocese of Honolulu. The two joined Hare and the youth of St. Mary's on Sunday mornings. With Hare's help, Br. Le and Villanueva built mentoring relationships with the high schoolers, taught catechetical lessons, facilitated small group discussion, participated in the confirmation retreat, and worked on interpersonal skills. Hare expressed gratitude for their service.
"I think the seminarians feed a lot of their supervisors," she said. "The reflections they write are refreshing and renewing to hear."
In her first year as a supervisor, Hare found that she was both giving and receiving instruction in her relationship to the seminarians.
"It has been a learning process as far as what's expected of me," Hare said. "I try to be a bridge between what the seminarians are feeling and what the kids need from them."
Hare appreciated the ideas, inspiration, role modeling, and personality that Br. Le and Villanueva offered. Taking part in the vocational growth of the seminarians produced moments of grace. Hare remembered a few in particular: After having been reserved much of the year, Br. Le broke out dancing during the confirmation retreat. The teens joined, laughing, cheering, and dancing along with him. She also recalled how Br. Le took the time to learn each teen's name and speak with each person. Villaneuva contributed his characteristic energy, she said, and that invited youth into activities and made for livelier gatherings.
For their part, Br. Le and Villaneuva valued Hare's ability to speak with the youth, show compassion, and engage young people with the Catholic faith.
"She loves the young people. She has a lot of energy for them and great compassion," Br. Le said.
Villaneuva echoed his ministry partner's sentiment: "One of the things I learned in this experience was how important it is as a leader in the church to go beyond the title of seminarian or youth minister. A lot of times to these kids Emma was a friend, confidant, aunt, and even a mother to some of them."
She also gave the teens and seminarians occasion to connect. Br. Le recalled counseling a teen struggling over whether to be confirmed. He told the teen the decision was an individual one over which to pray. The next week, the teen reported back to Br. Le: He was ready to receive the sacrament.
"It's beautiful to see a student make their own decision like that and to desire the sacraments and finish their Christian initiation," Br. Le said.
For Hare and many field education supervisors, the partnership with Mount Angel seminarians builds the vocational story of all persons involved. Constructive dialogue and collaboration are the fruits of the program.
"It's helpful to have them around and to be able to bounce ideas off of them," Hare said. "I love having other people involved with the mission and who are in love with Christ as much as we hope to be."