Thursday, December 18, 2014

MAS Holds Theological Symposium on Liturgy

Photo and story by Phillip J. Shifflet

St. Benedict, Ore. — On Monday, November 24 and Tuesday, November 25, Mount Angel Seminary held its annual theological symposium. This year, Monsignor Kevin W. Irwin was the keynote speaker.

Msgr. Irwin is one of the foremost liturgists in the United States. Born in 1946, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York in 1971. He now teaches at the Catholic University of America, where he previously served as the Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies and now holds the Walter J. Schmitz Chair of Liturgical Studies. He is a prolific writer and speaker. His books include Context and Text; Liturgy, Prayer, and Spirituality; and Liturgical Theology: A Primer.

Msgr. Irwin’s symposium was entitled “The Benedictine Charism and Liturgical Formation in Seminaries,” and it spanned across three conferences: a morning and an afternoon conference on the 24th and a final morning conference on the 25th. In his conferences, he spoke on liturgy as a privileged act, liturgy as a communal experience, and liturgy as a unique act that makes present the Paschal Mystery.

From left to right: Rev. Msgr. Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of MAS; Rev. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, professor of theology at MAS; Rev. Msgr. Kevin Irwin; and Rev. Dr. Owen Cummings, Academic Dean of MAS. 

In his Letter to Seminarians, Pope Benedict XVI wrote on the importance of studying the liturgy: "The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church’s liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer." This year’s theological symposium was certainly a part of the knowing, understanding, and loving the liturgy that Pope Benedict XVI called for.

After the community Mass in the Abbey Church on Monday, November 24, the faculty, staff, students, and guests of MAS gathered in the Damian Center for the beginning of the theological symposium. Each conference was followed by an extended period for questions. Symposiums are a standard part of the formation program at MAS, and typically they focus on theological or human formation-related issues. Earlier this year, to celebrate the inauguration of its Master of Arts in Philosophy program, MAS held a special philosophical symposium.

Mount Angel Seminary, established by pioneer monks, began forming men for the priesthood in 1889.  MAS is the oldest and largest seminary in the Western United States, and the only seminary in the West that offers both a college and a graduate school of theology.

This year, MAS celebrates its 125th anniversary. Since its inception, it has formed thousands of priests with sound philosophical and theological studies for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

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