Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ordinations to the Diaconate

Last night Archbishop Alexander Sample ordained four seminarians of Mount Angel Seminary to the diaconate.  The new deacons are Jose Isaac Alejandro de la Cruz, Br. Teresio Caldwell, O.S.B., Br. Andrew Schwenke, O.S.B., and Br. Leonel Varela, O.C.D.

Readers may view videos of the ordination by Br. Lorenzo Conocido, O.S.B., on The Hilltop Blitz.

Going Back to the Roots: Fr. Richard Keolker

by Jose Morales

Having been at Mount Angel Seminary for 22 years, Fr. Richard Keolker is full of stories.  One of his favorites is how he ended up teaching at this seminary.  "I love teaching these fine young men because I find that this is a way for me to multiply my priesthood and to share my gifts and talents to the whole world," said Fr. Keolker.

Fr. Keolker is from the Diocese of Yakima and arrived at Mount Angel Seminary in 1991.  He was asked to work at the seminary after submitting a seminarian's evaluation during the seminarian's pastoral year.  When Fr. Keolker was first at the seminary, he primarily taught the fourth year of theology.

Father Richard Keolker on a recent beautiful fall day
at Mount Angel Seminary

He taught Pastoral Care of the Sick and Reconciliation; these two were the principal courses.  Then he went though a period of time that he called "utility in the field" where he just taught about everything in the college and theology, and now he just teaches Vatican II Documents and serves as a spiritual director.

Fr. Keolker is able to find his priesthood being multiplied because he says that "what I teach to the student they will later pass on to the people of God."  So far, this has turned out to be true because the people he has taught have now multiplied their ministry as well.

Some of the seminary students that have multiplied his priesthood and have multiplied the talent of other professors as well are Fr. Theodore Lange, Fr. Jacob Stronach, O.S.B., Fr. Ralph Recker, O.S.B., Fr. Pius X Harding, O.S.B., Fr. Liem Nguyen, O.S.B., and many other monks.

The current president-rector Msgr. Joseph Betschart, Sr. Hilda Kleiman, O.S.B., and Sister Gertrude Feick, O.S.B., also went through school here in Mount Angel Seminary from the time he was teaching here.  He clarified that not all were his students, but that they were all students while he was teaching.

After 22 years, Fr. Keolker said he has seen many changes, but the most important one he recalls is the "growing diversity of the student body, as far as origin, age and all kinds of cultural backgrounds."

Fr. Keolker commented, "When the formation team started, it was only based on rules and regulations; there was really no structure to it."

According to Fr. Keolker, the formation team today has brought change to the seminarians, one that goes with a new era.  Now it is not about rules and regulations; rather, it is about working with the seminarian on a personal level of maturity, making sure that this seminarian is ready and capable of embracing the world.

The formation team brings seminarians to know the four pillars of formation, and to not only know them by name but also to put them into practice.  This way the formation team can see the maturity of the seminarian.

The formation team has brought hope to the forefront of the seminarians and has taught them how to be men of hope.

The formation teach was able to achieve its goal by developing a structure over the years.  Father Keolker explained, "This was not an easy task for the formation team, but it was not impossible, and they managed to achieve it."  In order to have gotten to where the team is now, the formation development went through many different president-rectors over the years; they all planted their seed of wisdom and understanding of what formation should be like.

Fr. Keolker concluded by saying, "The results of the formation team were all thanks to one person, Blessed John Paul II, when he wrote his document Pastores Dabo Vobis.  The rectors studied them and interpreted the document in the best way possible and simply put it into practice."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Third Press Conference Recognizes Faculty and Student Activities

Story by Daniel Miller; Photos by Sister Hilda Kleiman, O.S.B.

Journalism students recognized two multi-year projects reaching completion this summer during a press conference on Friday at noon.  Among four guests, Bookstore Manager Ms. Beth Wells spoke about the consolidation of the gift shop from the Guest House into the Press Building, and Dr. Elizabeth Farley shared her journey to defending her doctoral thesis in May, completing studies in Mariology through the University of Dayton.

Two others also spoke.  Fr. Theodore Lange described his recent pilgrimage to Rome for the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the upcoming basketball season was addressed by Alex Woelkers, the basketball coach-player and seminarian for the Diocese of Helena.

The expanded Bookstore now sells coffee and snacks, gifts, sacramentals, souvenirs, textbooks, and many school supplies at the west end of the Press Building.  The gift shop's move in July was the culmination of a five-year discussion with the monastic community about how best to perform the evangelistic and catechetical work of the bookstore, Wells said.  She said the new space more than doubles square footage for gifts and memorabilia, consolidates staffing to one location, expands services the Bookstore offers, and allows for more efficient work.  Additionally, Wells noticed increased interaction between seminarians and visitors.  Though many people enter initially flustered by the move from the old location, in about 15 minutes of perusing, Wells said many customers have said to her, "This is wonderful."

Ms. Beth Wells

Dr. Elizabeth Farley

The training Dr. Farley received in her field allows her to teach a class on Mariology, offer retreats with a Marian focus, and lecture about the topic.  She said she wants to share with seminarians a two-fold understanding of Mary: First, that she is the Mother of the Christ the seminarians are studying to become, and second, that she was the formator of Jesus from infancy to the cross.  After 10 years of pursuing a second Masters degree and her doctorate, Farley called this a "terminal degree," meaning it would be her last.  She said her husband Jerry told her in jest that she is forbidden to study anymore.  "It's been a wonderful pilgrimage for me, and I'm happy to pass it on," Farley said.

Freshly back from Rome, Fr. Lange represented the seminary in concelebrating a Mass with Pope Francis and distributing communion as part of the Consecration events.  Pope Francis presented catechesis on Mary, the untier of knots, on Saturday, Oct. 12.  That day the Shrine of Fatima was processed through the streets of Rome, Fr. Lange said, reaching the point where Blessed John Paul II had been shot in an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981.  The former pope placed the bullet that impacted him that day in the crown of the Shrine of Fatima.  On Sunday, Mass culminated the weekend's events, and the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart was a simple, prayerful rite, Fr. Lange said.

Fr. Theodore Lange

Alex Woelkers

Woelkers spoke last, expressing excitement as basketball begins with the first game on Saturday, Nov. 2.  The player-coach said the addition of new players and return of the players from last year's 4-6 squad, which he said was among the school's most competitive in recent memory, have raised expectations for the season.  Mount Angel's athletic programs have experienced a revival in recent seasons, Woelkers said, while continuing to emphasize fraternity, evangelization, and formation as future priests.  "I try to remember that coaching someone is a real privilege because it's not just about helping them in sports or getting the most out of them but being a part of their life," Woelkers said.

The press conference was the third and final event of its kind for students in the journalism class who use the experience to craft questions, generate material for stories, and hone interview skills.  To learn more about the journalism class, please see the syllabus for the course.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another Point of View: Mount Angel Employees Talk about Work on the Hilltop

Story and photos by Nicolas Facile

"How is the work at Mount Angel?"  Mary Sternhagen, the custodian for Annunciation, one of the buildings of Mount Angel Seminary, answered with a smile, "It is too good to be true!"  She summarized with this expression the opinion of the interviewed employees of the hilltop.

The custodians emphasized how comfortable it is to work here because of the environment.  Jose Rojas, the custodian for Anselm, said: "If I need to define how work is here in a word, I think that it will be peace, tranquility, harmony."  Percy Thompson, the custodian for Mount Angel Abbey Library, said, "This is a quiet and peaceful place.  You feel safe.  It is like a big family with students and professors."

Jose Rojas

Melinda Holderness, the Circulation Supervisor for the Library, underlined how important it is for her personal life, especially the faith life: "My faith has more depth with so many seminarians and monks because of the example of the people who live here.  I'm thankful to be here."

Mary Sternhagen expressed how important it is for her prayer life using a funny expression: "Here in the seminary, I am doing my Ph.D!  Yes!  I 'Praise Him Daily!'  I love the possibility to have Mass every day at the beginning of my day and work near the presence of Jesus in the chapel."

Cindy May, the Executive Secretary of Academics for Mount Angel Seminary, said: "I like my job very much.  I enjoy watching the seminarians grow in their formation.  It is a blessing to be here and be a witness of the formation of a priest."

Cindy May

According to these comments, we can understand how pleasant it is to have a job in a spiritual environment such as Mount Angel Seminary.  It is healthy, peaceful, and rewarding.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jose Morales Becomes an MAS Journalist

by Brother Marinus Kim, O.S.B.

Editor's Note: This is the final installment of the introductions to our new journalism students this semester.

Jose Morales, a College II seminarian, decided to study journalism this year.  He is studying for the Diocese of Oakland.  During this interview, he shared his vocation story and reasons for joining MAS Journalism.

To prepare himself to be a parish priest someday, he said that he has to "make good communication with people . . . I should be understanding many events to promote the church's activity also."

Jose Morales

Peter Lawongkerd, another seminarian who was his RA last year, recommended that Jose take the journalism class.  Peter said, "If you take the Mount Angel journalism class, you will have a good chance to write stories, to improve your writing skills and techniques."

According to the syllabus for the journalism class, the course "introduces students to the field of journalism and trains them to write for the Mount Angel Seminary Journalism Blog, the Mount Angel Seminary website, the Mount Angel Letter, and other publications of the seminary."

Jose tries to join as many seminary events as possible, and said he will share events with other people through journalism this year.  In order for him to do this, he said, "I will make some schedules to interview with the soccer players, several staff in the seminary or monastery, and the Benefit Dinner, which is a yearly event.  Furthermore, I will make a good photo to emphasize the reality and the importance of the moment."  Jose hopes to deliver seminary news to people more accurately and in a livelier manner with the skills he will learn in the class.

Jose was born and grew up in Mexico until 1999.  He is the youngest of ten siblings.  They lived in the countryside.  His parent's faith is the primary influence in the discernment of his vocation at a young age.  His desire for the priesthood started to grow gradually, and he finally decide to discuss it with his pastor.  His pastor told him the seminary would be a good experience, and even if his discernment led him out of the seminary, he would still gain a good experience.

Friday, October 25, 2013

MAS Celebrates the Mass of Candidacy

Photos by Brother Lorenzo Conocido, O.S.B.

Yesterday the community of Mount Angel Seminary celebrated the admittance of 17 seminarians to the candidacy for ordination as deacons and priests, and the photos below share a glimpse of that celebration.

After the homily, the candidates were called forward to be examined by Archbishop Alexander Sample.

The Archbishop among the priests of Mount Angel Seminary and Mount Angel Abbey during the Eucharistic prayer.

Some of the candidates, seminarians, and other members of the assembly during the Eucharistic prayer.

Archbishop Alexander Sample with the seminarians
of the Archdiocese of Portland.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Seventeen Seminarians Admitted to Candidacy

This morning 17 seminarians of Mount Angel Seminary were admitted to the candidacy for ordination as deacons and priests.  Archbishop Alexander Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland presided at the Mass.

Photo by Br. Lorenzo Conocido, O.S.B.

The candidates (not in the order pictured above):

Pio Gamic Afu - Samoa Pago Pago

Anthony Chijioke Ahamefule - Portland

Jose Isaac Alejandro de la Cruz - Santa Rosa

Scott Christian Baier - Portland

Fredy Bonilla Moreno - Portland

Timothy Thomas Ferguson - Marquette

Edgardo Josue Garcia Velazquez - Sacramento

Jose Victor Gutierrez de Anda - Sacramento

Bernardo Lara - San Diego

Carlos Malaver Parada - Great Falls-Billings

Rodrigo Paredes - Portland

Edgar Eloy Rivera Torres - Portland

Jorge Alberto Robles Cuevas - Fresno

Marinello Ruel Saguin - Los Angeles

Edgar Sanchez Garcia - Santa Fe

Angelo David Trujillo - Salt Lake City

Glicerey Dolera Tupasi - Portland

What the MAS Journalism Blog for more coverage of this morning's liturgy.

Jesus Gonzalez: Why Join MAS Journalism?

Story and photo by Jose Morales

Editor's Note: This post continues our introductions to the MAS journalism students this semester.

Jesus Gonzalez, a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Reno, is taking the journalism class this year for many reasons, but he said the most important reason is "the fact that I never had the opportunity to take a journalism class in high school."

Jesus Gonzalez

He did not want to let this opportunity go by, especially because we have one of the Benedictine Sisters teaching it.  The professor is Sister Hilda Kleiman, O.S.B., who was his professor last year for Reading Literature.  He said Sister Hilda helped him a lot in his writing skills, and he hopes to improve his writing techniques while taking the journalism class with her.

So far, he has learned a lot from the handouts he has received in the journalism class.  An example he gave was the handout entitled "Working in Public Relations."  He said that it showed him many examples of how to gain the attention of people while trying to send a message.  Jesus said an example that stood out for him the most was where it talks about tying in the news events of the day.  He said this was important for him because many people do not tie in the news events of the day because it is hard to keep up with daily events.

Press Conferences for MAS and the NBA

This year's class includes some press conferences, and this has been a memorable experience so far for him.  Having the press conference at Mount Angel Seminary brought him memories of a real life conference he attended in Las Vegas in 2011.

He went to an NBA press conference that was dealing with the NBA lockout in November of 2011.  This was in regards to the players' union.  Here he experienced a real life conference; he saw all kinds of reporters starting from ABC News to FOX News and sports journalists.  He describes the conference room being full of reporters: "It was so crowded that I couldn't count all the reporters.  Easily there were more than eighty."

During the conference, he was able to sit in thanks to some of his friends who are journalists.  He said that one of the owners of the NBA seemed to be coming to an agreement with the basketball players, but the union kept asking for more.  Jesus talked about the conference being chaotic.  He said people were bombarding the union, the players, and the owners with questions.

He described the conference held in Mount Angel Seminary as peaceful, orderly, respectful, and well-organized.  He looks forward to more conferences and hopes to be ready the next time he is in a real conference like the NBA lockout one.

Covering the Samoan Community

This year Jesus wants to interview the Samoan community and ask them about their St. Peter Chanel Mass.  He wants to learn the Samoan culture and symbolism behind the mass.

For example, Jesus asked Ace Tui, a seminarian for the Diocese of Hawaii and a native of Samoa, Pago Pago, what was some of the major symbolism involved in the St. Peter Chanel Mass.  Ace Tui said that in addition to the gifts of bread and wine, fresh "ulas" or leis would be giving out at this time.

He explains that this is a further visible and unbroken sign of our unity.  The many flowers composing each "ula" or garland signify the many people of God, each with their own colorful charisms.  The thread holding all the flowers together is a symbol of Christ uniting all in heaven and on earth, Ace Tui explained.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

MAS Soccer Ties with Lewis and Clark

This afternoon the MAS Guardians soccer team played a close home game against Lewis and Clark and ended the afternoon 1-1.  The field was foggy when the game started, but the sun and play grew more intense as the game continued.  Both goals were scored in the second half of the game.

The goal by Lewis and Clark:


The goal by the MAS Guardians:


Watch the MAS Journalism Blog for more about our soccer team and other MAS sports!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Br. Lorenzo Conocido Joins MAS Journalism

By Brother Lorenzo Conocido

In chapter 54 of the Rule of Saint Benedict, it states that the abbot is to provide all things necessary - tunic, belt, shoes, knife, handkerchief.  Included in the list are a stylus and writing tablets as personal necessities.  In this day and age, monks have access to computers and color printers, not to mention even android tablets and wifi.  Whether it's hours in the scriptorium or seconds on a blog site, writing is part and parcel of a monk's life.

Brother Lorenzo Conocido - photo by Sister Hilda Kleiman

Better Late Than Never
So taking a journalism class this semester just made a lot of sense to me as a monk.  However, I almost missed the class having been stranded in the Philippines due to my visa processing as I tried to come back home after attending my father's funeral last summer.

Coming three weeks late to Sister Hilda's journalism class, I was humbled by her generosity when she accepted me in the class and allowed me to catch up on what I missed.  Part of what I have to make up for, though, is to interview somebody in the class and write and an article about the person as a profile introduction of this year's journalism students.  However, since everybody in the class has already been paired up with somebody, I am left with nobody but to humbly introduce myself as the latest (yes, by three weeks!) addition to this year's journalism roster.

A Little about Myself
I'm Brother Lorenzo, a junior monk from Mount Angel Abbey.  I entered the monastery in 2011.  With my background in marketing, photography, and web development, I was assigned to work on the Abbey website and am now the website administrator.  That's the major reason why I'm taking this class.  Keeping a website current requires that you should have a journalism toolkit handy - writing, following stories and people, interviewing persons, researching, taking photos, and these are the things I want to learn in this class.

Today, social media and networking has become the common platform for communication, and I hope to contribute to our MAS Journalism Blog as well as our website stories that reflect our community life, photos that capture real moments of real people, and most of all our testimonies of experiences of Christ here on the hilltop.

You, My Story
On the other hand, journalism can be somewhat counter-cultural to a monk.  I remember back in my postulancy formation that one of the norms that was introduced to us was the custody of the eyes, meaning gawking at people and always looking out for some action that interrupts the atmosphere of silence and recollection, whether in thoughts or in words.  Verse 56 of Chapter 7 of the Rule even says that a monk should control his tongue and remain silent unless asked a question since in a flood of words you will not avoid sinning (Prov. 10:19).  I should stop here right now!

However, if there's also one thing the Rule encourages me to pursue in this class it's found in the very first word of the its Prologue.  The word is Listen.  I love listening to people's stories - experiences and emotions that are unique to each individual, aspiration that moves a person, moments that edify the spirit!  This is why I'm here, in this class, not to stick my nose to where it doesn't belong, but to lend an ear, and with your permission, to write something about it and share it with others in the spirit of service and charity.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Second Press Conference Highlights Seminary Faculty

Story by Daniel Miller
Photos by Sister Hilda Kleiman, O.S.B.

The evolution of the soccer program and the hobby of raising tropical fish highlighted Mount Angel Seminary's second press conference on Friday.  Dr. Andrew Cummings talked about his experience as a player and faculty advisor in soccer, and Fr. Jacob Stronach, O.S.B., spoke about the two fish tanks and numerous water-based pets he maintains.

Journalism students prepared questions for the press conference and practiced interviewing Dr. Cummings and Fr. Stronach as part of their coursework.  This was the second of three press conferences scheduled to promote potential campus stories and hone journalistic skills.

Press conference speakers Dr. Andrew Cummings
and Fr. Jacob Stronach, O.S.B.

Dr. Cummings described how the seminary's soccer team grew from spontaneous internal play in 2005 to become part of the Cascade Collegiate Soccer League that competes at a club level against area rivals such as Willamette University, Oregon State University, and Reed College.  Being part of a league allows for referees, nicer fields, and stiffer competition, Cummings said, and as a result, players at the seminary have had to train more rigorously.

"It's important at the physical level for the guys, but it also helps to put Mount Angel out there in the open," Cummings said.  "I have the impression that some people didn't know we existed.  People take us more seriously, especially after we've won a few games."

The soccer team tied 4-4 in their first match against Willamette on Sept. 29, won their second to open the season, and they have nine more games scheduled.  Cummings said he anticipates the team to finish in the middle of the standings for the seven-team league.  He also expressed hope for a revitalization of the seminary soccer field.

"We share the field with a family of gophers.  I've been assured we might be able to resurface the field in the near future," Cummings said.  "Hopefully the gophers will have to move out.  With a little bit of work, it really could be a nice area for soccer."

MAS Journalism students Jesus Gonzalez, Daniel Miller, and Romple Emwalu (front row) and Brother Marinus Kim, O.S.B., and Brother Lorenzo Conocido, O.S.B. (back row)

Fr. Stronach then spoke about his affinity for fish and how he acquired the tanks and creatures for his office and personal room in Anselm Hall.  Most of Fr. Stronach's collection of fish is freshwater species from the Amazon in South America.  Among them are angelfish, neon tetras, hatchet fish, and discus fish, which have had difficulty surviving.

Since his office sits along the main thoroughfare of Anselm Hall, many have noticed the 60-gallon tank there.  Fr. Stronach said the fish can offer a sense of peacefulness to seminarians in formation and others who enter his space, a statement he says psychological studies have shown to be true.  The equipment and supplies for the fish came out of Fr. Stronach's personal vacation budget with permission from monastery Abbot Gregory Duerr, O.S.B.

Fr. Stronach asked for the abbot's blessing to begin the project this summer because he had enjoyed raising fish before coming to the monastery and wanted to take up the hobby again.  The fish are now the centerpiece to his office and room.

"I think that a fish tank is either the prettiest thing in your house, or it's the ugliest thing," Fr. Stronach said.  "If you don't maintain them, not only is it not going to be a healthy environment, but it's going to be an eyesore."

Luckily, Fr. Stronach enjoys the process of cleaning and caring for the fish, he said.  His interest in fish has also spread to others.  Fr. Stronach bought a beta fish for his fellow monk, Fr. Aelred Yockey, O.S.B.  Fr. Yockey's fish is named Mary and resides just around the corner from Fr. Stronach.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nicolas Facile - Journalist

By Frank Villanueva

Editor's Note: This post continues our series of introductions to the new MAS journalism students.

Nicolas Facile is a seminarian studying for the Saint John Society.  This is his first year here at Mount Angel Seminary.  Nicolas comes to the seminary from Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Nicolas hopes that this experience in journalism will help him in the area of journalism, which he says is "another way of communicating" to others about the good news of Jesus Christ.  "Taking journalism will allow me the opportunity to collaborate with others and help to begin the stages of communication in the ministry of the priesthood," Facile said.


Before entering the seminary, Nicolas was the owner of a radio station program called "Luz del Mundo," which translates to "Light of the World," where he would help to evangelize and spread the good news of the Gospel through radio media.  The program was transmitted by a public radio company in a very small town in the Argentinean desert.

His audience varied from the young and old, the business worker, single parents, families who were Catholic and to those who were not.  In a town of only 2,000 people, Nicolas' goal was to use radio media "as an apostolic tool to help transmit the Gospel" to those who were hungry for more than what they were getting and to those who would otherwise have no other means of receiving the good news.

The program included music to go along with the various topics of discussion and a priest question and answer segment where people could call in and ask questions they might have about the topics being talking about and to get priestly advice.

In addition to this passion for media, Nicolas has a great love of reading.  One of his hopeful projects that he would like to pursue in the journalism class is to write about the history of libraries.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Brother Marinus Kim: Monk And Writer

Story and Photo by Romple Emwalu

Editor's Note: This story continues MAS Journalism's series of introductions to our journalism students this semester.

Brother Marinus Kim, OSB, is a Korean monk from Saint Paul Abbey in New Jersey.  Brother Marinus is a third-year student in pre-theology at Mount Angel Seminary.  He is taking the journalism class as part of his course requirements.  He said, "I take journalism to improve my writing skill, and I find it very helpful."  Writing is not Brother Marinus' favorite subject, but as a monk he has to be strong and humble and work with it.  He said, "I have to do my prayer as a monk and study hard in order to pass the class."

Brother Marinus Kim, OSB

Brother Marinus loves Mount Angel Seminary because students and staff are very helpful.  He said, "They love to help people like me to be able to speak English fluently."  He finds Mount Angel Seminary a good school that helps seminarians, especially those whose second language is English.  Students, priests, and staff are very generous with their time to help students like Brother Marinus to be a good student and to be able to comfortably share about his knowledge and culture.

He said, "Taking classes with Sister Hilda is very helpful because she helps me to learn how to speak and write effectively; this is why I also take journalism class because I know I can learn from her and improve my writing skills."

Brother Marinus is interested to write about his life at Mount Angel Seminary.  He hopes that one day he can have his own journalism blog where he can share his own experience about the seminary's life to share with his brother monks and friends.  He sees journalism class as an opportunity to be able to reach his interest.  When he becomes a priest he can share about the ministry he will be involved with.

Brother Marinus' monastery is dominated by Korean, and most of the time they speak Korean.  He said, "When I came to Mount Angel I had to be very careful to make sure I use the correct word when I speak in English."  Brother Marinus really loves to pray with his brother monks and to learn new things from them.

He said he would like to be sent to South Korea and help the people there if his superior allows him.  He would also love to serve his brother monks at his own monastery in celebrating the Eucharist daily.  With the skills he gains in the journalism class he would be better able to serve his community.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Seminarians Study Shakespeare, Encounter Characters

By Daniel Miller

Picture this: The Shakespearean comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream set in 1964, the king and queen morphed into a priest and nun set to leave their religious vows to be married, the four young lovers played by two black and two white actors, ripples from the Second Vatican Council and the Civil Rights Movement onstage amid the poetic musings of history's most renowned playwright.

These directorial choices aroused varying responses among the 17 seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary that attended the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on Sept. 27 and 28.

Mount Angel Seminary students, faculty, and guests on the bricks outside the Thomas Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Photo by Paula House.

"That was jarring," seminarian Paul Grandi of the Diocese of Tucson said.  "It added a layer to the play beyond what Shakespeare intended.  It took me out of his world."

The seminarians journeyed four-and-a-half hours to Ashland, Oreg., to see A Midsummer Night's Dream and King Lear.  The trip to Ashland is an annual staple for those double-majoring in literature and philosophy and other interested students.  Literature Professor Creighton Lindsay said the tradition started around 2006 with a group of seven students.

"I like it when the students get excited about something, whether they are critical or not," Lindsay said. "It's a joy to share my appreciation of things, when students give themselves over to the pleasure of theatre."

King Lear similarly evoked varied reactions.  In a climatic scene of the cognitively declining king enduring a tremendous storm, two of the main characters were stripped of their positions and seeming dignity.  They were also stripped of all but their underwear.  Some liked the symbolism.  Others thought it went too far.

"They do that just to get a reaction out of us," said John Hesla, seminarian for the Archdiocese of Portland.

Grandi appreciated the scene.

"They captured some moments beautifully, like Lear in the storm and his descent into madness," Grandi said.

In addition to the plays, seminarians experienced sleeping over at the Southern Oregon University Newman Center, a game of bocce ball in the park, sharing dinners at Standing Stone Brew Pub and Pasta Piatti, and time away from campus.

"It's nice to be off the hill to just relax with other seminarians and the good doctors and their wives," Hesla said, referring to two of the four faculty members that also attended, both of whom brought their spouses.

For 10 individuals, Saturday featured a backstage tour of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Students were led by an actor as a tour guide, sat in the green room, saw a time-lapse set change, walked behind and on the Elizabethan Stage, and learned that student groups such as theirs make up 25 percent of ticket sales.

"Studying literature in general and Shakespeare in particular is a wonderful way for seminarians to challenge themselves," Lindsay said.  "Students tell me literature is good training for becoming a priest, because in literature you get to explore a variety of the types of people you might see in your diocese or parish."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Perspective in Photography

On Monday the journalism class had an excellent discussion about photography and the journalism blog, both in terms of the artistic characteristics of a good photograph and the editorial decisions that must be made when selecting photographs for the blog.

As a follow up to our discussion, a story from the most recent edition of Weekend Edition Sunday from National Public Radio adds to our understanding of the artistic element of perspective.  Aerial photographer John Wark has been flying above the wildfires in Colorado, capturing the devastation and even the beauty of this disaster.