Monday, June 8, 2015

Mount Angel Seminary Celebrates 126th Commencement Exercises

Story by Phillip J. Shifflet

“The fields are ripe! O bless the Lord, our God!” echoed through the Abbey Church as Mount Angel Seminary (MAS) celebrated its annual Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises at the end of its 126th year of forming men for the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

On Friday, May 8th at 4pm, students, faculty, staff, and family and friends of the seminary gathered to celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass in the Abbey Church. The Most Reverend Joseph Tyson, Bishop of Yakima, served as the main celebrant and Reverend Monsignor Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of MAS, delivered the homily. Myrna Keough and the Seminary Liturgical Choir provided music for the Mass, which included a rendition of “He, Watching Over Israel” from Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah.

Msgr. Betschart reflected in his homily on the call to be a witness, from Acts 1:8 – “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” He quoted Pope Francis, who said in a Regina Caeli address that “a witness is a person who has seen, who recalls and who tells.” These three dimensions of the witness then formed the basis for Msgr. Betschart’s reflections.

In his homily, Msgr. Betschart reminded the graduates that their time in the seminary was really all about being formed and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit in order to be and to become the Lord’s witnesses to the world, and that only in witnessing to Jesus Christ and the power and the joy of his life and love present and active in the world do our lives acquire their full meaning. And so, as he said, “Jesus Christ cannot be just one more thing or even one more person in our lives. He must be everything in our lives. If we have him, we have everything – and if we don’t have him, no matter what else we may have, we have nothing.”

The Commencement Exercises were held the next day, Saturday, May 9th at 10am. Bishop Tyson delivered the commencement address. He said, “Today is not so much about taking ‘leave’ of seminary as much as it is about being ‘sent’ on a mission.” In his commencement address, he reflected on a quotation from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, writing that he dreams of “a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.” At the end of his address, Bishop Tyson reminded the graduates “that discernment starts with listening to the desire God has planted in our hearts, recalling how those around us have confirmed this desire and shaped this desire and then the discernment continues in testing that desire through the vocational experiences that come in regular formation in the seminary and in our pastoral assignments.”

Maurice Duruflé’s composition of “Ubi Caritas” was performed as a musical interlude by Voces Fidei, an a capella group comprised of seminarians Frankie Villanueva, John Hesla, Phillip Shifflet, Stephen Cieslak, and Gregory Snyder, all of whom graduated MAS with undergraduate degrees this year. The Reverend Mister Pio Afu, a graduate of the seminary Theology program for the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago, delivered the annual senior farewell. Msgr. Betschart gave the final remarks, and the Right Reverend Gregory Duerr, OSB, the Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey, imparted the final blessing upon the graduates and congregants.

Mount Angel Seminary offers undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, with possible double majors in Literature or Religious Studies. At the graduate level, the seminary offers the Master of Divinity degree and Master of Arts degrees in Philosophy, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Theology, as well as the Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology degree offered in affiliation with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, Italy. This year, the seminary granted 13 undergraduate degrees and 37 graduate degrees to seminarians, religious and lay students from around the United States and the Pacific Islands. Additionally, two seminarians received certificates of completion for the pre-theology program.

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.  Since its inception 126 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Mount Angel Seminary – 2015 Graduates

Bachelor of Arts:   
Stephen Theodore Cieslak – Portland in Oregon
Zachary Andrew Ferell – Tucson   
Paul Steven Grandi – Tucson   
John Marsdon Hesla – Portland in Oregon   
Br .Jesús Maria Leija, O.S.B. – Mount Angel Abbey   
Antonio Miguel López – Yakima   
Juan Carlos Orozco – Seattle
Dario Luca Rinaldi – Honolulu   
Jesús Humberto Sanchez – Mount Angel Abbey   
Blake Andrew Sheely – Portland in Oregon
Phillip Jeffrey Shifflet – Orange   
Gregory Alan Snyder – Seattle   
Frank Nicholas Villanueva – Honolulu   
   
Pre-Theology Certificate of Completion:   
Tyler Young Johnson – Seattle   
John Andrew Mosier – Boise   
       
Baccalaureate In Sacred Theology:   
Scott Christian Baier – Portland in Oregon   
Teodosio Brea – Saint John Society   
Bernardo Lara – San Diego   
Rodrigo Paredes Cardona – Portland in Oregon   
Jorge Alberto Robles Cuevas – Fresno   
Br. Manuel Rosiles, M.Sp.S. – Missionaries of the Holy Spirit   
Edgar Sánchez Garcia – Santa Fe   
Juan Ignacio Soria – Saint John Society   
Br. Peter Mary Vecellio, O.C.D. – Order of Discalced Carmelites   
   
Master of Divinity:
Pio Gamig Afu – Samoa-Pago Pago
Scott Christian Baier – Portland in Oregon
Fredy Bonilla Moreno – Portland in Oregon
Teodosio Brea – Saint John Society
José Victor Gutiérrez – Sacramento
Br. Armando Hernández Martinez, M.Sp.S. – Missionaries of the Holy Spirit
Bernardo Lara – San Diego
Br. John Paul Le, O.S.B. – Mount Angel Abbey
Márton Magyar – Hajdudorog, Hungary
Br. Charles Nolan Nawodylo, O.C.D – Order of Discalced Carmelites
Rodrigo Paredes Cardona – Portland in Oregon
Edgar Eloy Rivera Torres – Portland in Oregon
Jorge Alberto Robles Cuevas – Fresno
Br. Manuel Rosiles, M.Sp.S. – Missionaries of the Holy Spirit
Edgar Sánchez Garcia – Santa Fe
Juan Ignacio Soria – Saint John Society
Angelo David Trujillo – Salt Lake City
Br. Peter Mary Vecellio, O.C.D. – Order of Discalced Carmelites

Master of Arts:
Teodosio Brea – Saint John Society
Sara L. Creel
Margaret Echeveste
Fr. Vincent Hau Dinh Nguyen, O.C.S.O. – Cistercian
Rodrigo Paredes Cardona – Portland in Oregon
Jorge Alberto Robles Cuevas – Fresno
Edgar Sánchez Garcia – Santa Fe
Juan Ignacio Soria – Saint John Society
Br. Peter Mary Vecellio, O.C.D. – Order of Discalced Carmelites
Alex Woelkers