by Randy Hoang
On Saturday Oct. 25 a group of seminarians, including myself, had the priviledge of showing 35 high school students along with three chaperones from Our Lady of Lavang Parish in Portland around Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary. In giving this tour, we were not only able to expose the students to the abbey and seminary but also helped to promote vocations.
The seminarians involved included second-year seminarian Ivan Arevalo from the Diocese of Monterey, third-year seminarians Brian Kim, Emilio Gonzalez and Huong Dinh from their dioceses of Orange, Fresno and Oakland respectively and first-year theologian Anh Tran from the Archdiocese of Seattle.
The day started out with noon prayer with the monastic community, followed by a shared meal with the seminary community. Msgr. Joseph Betschart, the President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary, shared a few words with the students about the daily life at seminary. After lunch the students were exposed for the first time to a first class relic of the uncorrupted left hand of St. Ambrose Barlow, shown to them by Br. Gregory Benavidez from the Abbey. Following that was the tour of the famous museum underneath the monastery.
Fr. Theodore Lange, a priest of the Archdiocese of Portland a and human formation director at Mount Angel Seminary, along with Deacon John Paul Le of Mount Angel Abbey, were among the speakers promoting vocations. Fr. Theodore spoke on the significance of the vocational call of marriage, while Deacon John Paul Le spoke about Benedictine monastic life. The day concluded with an open session for questions and answers hosted by the seminarians. The majority of the questions revolved around the daily schedule of seminary and each of our vocational testimonies.
In expressing what the day was like for her, Youth Coordinator Agnes Khanh Le, an alumus of Mount Angel Seminary, said that “our trip to Mount Angel was like a date with God.” She continued to say that it was a great opportunity for the students to leave their comfort zone of an ordinary classroom and “embrace new ways in meeting God.” All in all, she said “the experience was a wake up call toward consciousness and an invitation to begin a vocational journey in faith.”
In reflecting on his interaction with the youth, Emilio Gonzalez mentioned that he was once in their shoes with the same vocational questions. He said that he is “truly thankful for what the Lord has allowed me to grow in - greater knowledge and purifying of my own vocational call.”
The purpose for the youth trip was to promote the awareness of different vocational calls. As sixteen year old Helen Nguyen said, “it was awesome to see many young future priests [seminarians]. They inspired me to think of the Church with a youthful spirit.”