Thursday, September 24, 2015

Everything was Grace: The Papal Visit

Reflection and photos by Zani Pacanza, Archdiocese of Portland

Editor's note: Seminarian Phillip Shifflet is also offering reflections and photos on his blog about the papal visit.

Everything was grace. From the first moment we stepped inside the Immaculate Conception Basilica of Washington D.C., to meeting priests, bishops, cardinals, seminarians and religious from all over the country, to finally seeing His Holiness Pope Francis and attending the canonization Mass of Junipero Serra, everything was a grace-filled moment from God.

Zani Pacanza outside the Basilica decorated
with the banners for the canonization Mass.

Mount Angel seminarians Ethan Alano, Randy Hoang,
Dustin Busse, and Zani Pacanza

Sept. 23, 2015: We started the day by praying and thanking our Lord for bringing us here and allowing us to experience the Pope's first visit to the United States. The night before, we stayed at the Theological College right across the Basilica, the venue of the canonization Mass, so we had a good panoramic view of everything that was happening, from the rehearsals to the preparations.

At 12:30 p.m. we were escorted by security officials from the college to the basilica. We were ecstatic when we got seats at the front area by the center aisle. We were told that Pope Francis will be passing by our side, and we couldn't wait. We had a couple of hours before the start of the Mass, so we went around and enjoyed the grandeur of the Immaculate Conception Basilica. This church was definitely amazing! At the crypt was almost a hundred images of our Blessed Mother from all over the world: Europe, Latin America, USA, Africa, and Asia! We were just in awe.

We also made friends with a lot of priests, seminarians, and religious from all over the country. Some of them drove from nearby states, and some, just like us, flew from far-away cities just to be one with His Holiness.

At 4:00 p.m., everyone was silent. Then, the two main doors opened, and the Vatican entourage entered. Everyone stood immediately and erupted in cheers. At the end of the entourage, finally, Pope Francis walked in, waving at the people. The whole venue let out a rousing applause, shouting "Viva il Papa!" repeatedly. So there we were, seeing him parade from the vestibule, walking closer and closer to us. Finally, he was right in front of us, smiling, waving, then smiling some more. I couldn't describe how I was feeling at that very moment. I was in a daze. Everything was surreal! The Pope was right in front of us, I could almost touch his face!

Pope Francis and members of the faithful standing
opposite of the Mount Angel seminarians.

He continued walking up to the altar of the basilica, then stopped in front and prayed for us. Then he gave us his blessing, then prayed some more, and then processed to start the canonization Mass for Junipero Serra, the great missionary priest of California. As the Mass started, everyone was praying reverently and singing with the choir joyfully.

In a brief moment of silence during the Mass, I closed my eyes and uttered a fervent prayer of thanks. First, a huge thank you to Mount Angel Seminary for bringing us here. We felt very humbled to represent our beloved institution in this historic and momentous occasion.  We also felt, of course, deep gratitude to our Lord for allowing us to celebrate with his people, his community of faithful, his Holy Mother Church.

Everything was grace. Truly, the fire of the Holy Spirit was with everyone during the event and throughout the day! When we come back to Oregon on Friday, we hope to be able to spread out the grace we have received to the entire hilltop community,and wherever else we may go.  Like the Papal visit's theme, indeed, our call as Christians is to "share the joy of the Gospel because love is our message!"

MAS Soccer Looks Forward to a New Season

by Garrett McGowan

It is the start of a new school year, and that means the start of a new soccer season.  Last year Andres Guerra of the Diocese of Orange led the Mount Angel Guardians as their head coach and captain. Now in his third year of college, he is back to lead the team once again.

There is no experience required; all Guerra asks is that the members be committed to God and the church, and then to the team.  "Sports play a vital role in spiritual life,” Guerra stated. He looks for hard working players who have an eagerness to learn and to do well in all that they do.  He sees this in a way that many other sports coaches may not: as part of a ministry.  Guerra wants to see his players make a shift from the field into their spiritual lives with soccer.

The Guardians have a limit of twenty-two players. This limit has never been reached before; however, this year the team is expecting to reach that limit. More seminarians are coming out to the field to try out and be part of the team.  Professors and formation directors are welcome to come out also and be part of the team. Dr. Andrew Cummings has been playing soccer for the Guardians longer than anyone else on the team. Michael Hoolihan is the assistant coach, and Phillip Shiffliet is the team’s manager; both are diocesan brothers to Coach Guerra and fellow player Felipe Villalobos.

Andres Guerra (red shirt) leads the Guardians through drills and exercises.

Brotherhood is what being on a team is all about. It’s something bigger than yourself that you can give yourself to. Andres said that is one of the main reasons people become involved in sports.  Over time a team can become more like a family.  Guerra said that in coaching the players, they also have something that they can give him in return. The team is able to help him see his flaws more clearly. When the team tells him that he is doing something wrong it gives him a chance to step back and think about what he did. Andres said that moments like this show him that being a leader is hard no matter how long you have been doing it. He takes it as a lesson in leadership skills.

The Guardians gather at the end of practice for a final cheer and prayer.

The Guardians have yet to play their first game, but practice has started.  Practice is from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. According to Guerra, on average a college soccer team practices for two hours five times a week. Because the Guardians do not have much time, they only want those players with the highest level of commitment. Nothing can be said as of yet for their plan on how they will bring a winning season to Mount Angel.  Assistant Coach Hoolihan said, “There are lots of new players, so lots of new hopes for a new season.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Helena Seminarians Document Trip to See Pope Francis

Several seminarians of Mount Angel Seminary are joining with their diocesan brothers of the Diocese of Helena on their trip to the World Meeting of Families and to see Pope Francis.

They are keeping a blog, The Helena Boys, to share their adventures and insights with friends and supporters back home.  The seminarians include Aidan Toombs, Joe Paddock, and Dcn. Cody Williams, current students of Mount Angel Seminary, as well as Dcn. Bryce Lungren, an alum of Mount Angel Seminary and MAS Journalism.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Seminary Community Celebrates Fall Community Day

by Dean Marshall

Mount Angel, Ore. - In a spirit of brotherhood and friendly competition, Mount Angel Seminary celebrated its annual Community Day on September 7, 2015. The yearly event, which usually occurs on or near Labor Day, sees the student body participate in various games in a contest between teams in both physical and mental activities.

When the activities got underway, Monsignor Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary, led the community with an opening prayer. The five competing teams, comprised of combined seminary classes, then demonstrated their rousing cheers, ranging from a Maori-inspired haka chant demonstrated by the Theology II/College III team to a beach-themed song and dance performed by the Theology III/College II team.

Throughout the afternoon, the teams participated in both indoor and outdoor events. Starting with a fast-paced game of dodge ball in the Damian Center gym, the seminarians then moved to the soccer field, continuing the games with a lively tug-of-war contest. The outdoor activities were rounded out with a multi-round game of Ultimate Frisbee, which saw everyone enjoying the Oregon sunshine while taking turns in the energizing and fraternity-building competition. Following Vespers, the seminarians enjoyed dinner together while taking part in a Family Feud-style question and answer game, with queries such as, “What are the 5 most likely saints’ names for a parish?” and “What are five phrases you would hear your philosophy professor say?” In the end, the Theology I/College IV team outperformed the other groups and won the day.

Many of the seminarians see Community Day as a time to bond with their brothers while taking a break from classes. Deacon Derek Twilliger (Diocese of San Diego) said that Community Day gives everyone time to “step away from our studies and obligations and come together as brothers to build community through friendly competition.” Dustin Busse (Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon), one of the organizers, said that events such as Community Day “foster friendships that last” for the seminarians, who are “in this journey together” as they prepare for the priesthood.

In addition to Mr. Busse mentioned above, this year’s Community Day was also organized by seminarian Val Park (Archdiocese of Seattle). They were assisted by seminarians Stephen Kenyon (Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon), Benjamin Bray (Archdiocese of Seattle), Isidore Slade (Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago), and David Panduro (Diocese of Sacramento).

Mount Angel Seminary is the largest seminary in the western United States. In its 127th year of operation, its roots trail back to 1889 when it was established by the recently-immigrated Swiss monks of Mount Angel Abbey at the behest of Archbishop William Gross, CSsR, of the Archdiocese of Oregon City, what would become the Archdiocese of Portland. Mount Angel Seminary serves both graduate and undergraduate students, and consists of seminarians from the United States, Canada, the Pacific Islands, and as far away as Hungary, as well as seminarians from various religious communities and many lay students.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

MAS Opens its 127th Academic Year with the Mass of the Holy Spirit and Inaugural Address

Story by Dean Marshall - Photos by Jose Morales

St. Benedict, Ore. – This past week, Mount Angel Seminary began its 127th academic year, continuing its mission of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation of men for the Roman Catholic priesthood. The year opened with the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit and Inaugural Address on Monday, August 24, 2015, with classes beginning the following day.

Mount Angel Seminary welcomed back faculty, students, and friends with the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebrated to institute the new academic year and to seek an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the work that will be completed over the coming months. The Most Reverend Liam Cary, Bishop of the Diocese of Baker, served as the main celebrant and also delivered the homily. Monsignor Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of the seminary, delivered opening remarks, and various priests from the abbey and seminary communities concelebrated. Phillip Shifflet, a seminarian for the Diocese of Orange in California, and Ethan Alano, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, served as cantors.

Bishop Cary during Mass with priests from the abbey and seminary

In his homily, Bishop Cary encouraged the students to remember that the time they spend in seminary is one of preparation. Each person needs to “prepare for a life in the Spirit” and to cultivate and maintain a “Eucharistic heart.” He exhorted the seminarians to enter into “the silence of the Holy Spirit,” seeking to prepare their “hands, heart, and mind to give to the Spirit of the Lord.” Bishop Cary reminded those gathered to remember the “hope and promise of the Father,” as each person pursues his studies and journeys toward the priesthood.

Following the Mass of the Holy Spirit, the Right Reverend Peter Eberle, O.S.B., Vice-Rector for the Graduate School, Director of Human Formation, and Professor of Moral Theology, delivered the annual Inaugural Address, entitled, “Pastores Dederunt Nobis: Three Novelists, Three Priests, and an Icon.” Recalling the memory of Fr. Paschal Cheline, O.S.B., who would exhort men to read novels, Abbot Peter expressed the importance of novels in the task of human formation, citing that a seminarian or priest who reads novels better “understands the human journey,” a key aspect of pastoral work. Using Edwin O’Connor’s The Edge of Sadness, Jon Hassler’s North of Hope, and J.F. Powers’ Wheat That Springeth Green, Abbot Peter painted a picture of three priests and the difficulties and pitfalls that they encounter in ministry.

Abbot Peter giving the Inaugural Address

Detailing the three shepherds and comparing them to the portrait of an ideal priest illustrated through the teachings of Pope Saint John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, Abbot Peter demonstrated that the main characters in these works were “hardly heroes … living quite ordinary lives,” but who, nonetheless, could teach us about priestly formation. Through these novels, a seminarian could learn about the importance of “his own need of ongoing formation.” Detailing the redemption of the novels’ priests, Abbot Peter demonstrated “that redemption has to touch [all seminarians’ and priests’] own ordinary lives as well.” He stated, “Ongoing formation can facilitate in the priest’s own life the redemption that the three priests the novelists have given us experienced in theirs.” Abbot Peter closed by reminding everyone of the need for this formation and that in the end, “all is grace.”

Following the Mass of the Holy Spirit and Inaugural Address, the day continued with a presentation to the gathered seminarians by Monsignor Betschart and a barbecue with the monastic community, administration, faculty, and seminarians of Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary.

Mount Angel Seminary offers undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, with possible double majors in Literature or Religious Studies, with the goal of preparing men for graduate formation for the priesthood. At the graduate level, the seminary offers a Master of Divinity degree and Master of Arts degrees in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Theology, and Philosophy, as well as a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology degree offered in concert with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, Italy. Mount Angel Seminary is the oldest and largest seminary in the West and serves seminarians, religious and lay students from around the United States, Canada, the Pacific Islands, and as far away as Hungary.