Mount Angel, Ore. – As many bishops and priests processed in at the beginning of the annual Mass of Candidacy on October 22, 15 men waited in joyous anticipation within the Mount Angel Abbey church as they prepared to take the next step toward the holy priesthood. The Most Reverend Alexander Sample, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, was the main celebrant; the Mass was concelebrated by the bishops, religious superiors and vocation directors who were also visiting Mount Angel Seminary for the annual Episcopal Council meeting and Regents Dinner later that day, as well as other priests from the Hilltop.
The concelebrating bishops included the Most Rev. John Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe; Most Rev. Peter Brown, Bishop of Samoa - Pago Pago; Most Rev. Liam Cary, Bishop of Baker; Most Rev. Peter Christensen, Bishop of Boise; Most Rev. Gerald Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson; Most Rev. Robert McElroy, Bishop of San Diego; Most Rev. Larry Silva, Bishop of Honolulu; Most Rev. Jaime Soto, Bishop of Sacramento; and Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange. Other concelebrants included the Right Rev. Gregory Duerr, O.S.B., Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey; Rev. Msgr. Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary; Very Rev. Stephen Watson, O.C.D., Provincial Superior of the Order of Discalced Carmelites; Rev. Ivan Pertine, Director of the St. John Society; and Rev. Msgr. Robert Siller; Chancellor of the Diocese of Yakima, as well as vocation directors from various dioceses served by the seminary and priests from Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary. Most Rev. Peter Smith, Auxiliary Bishop of Portland, also participated in the Episcopal Council meeting that followed the mass.
|The candidates approach Archbishop Sample after the homily.|
Photo credit: Ace Tui
|The bishops, priests, and candidates immediately after Mass.|
Photo credit: Jose Morales
During the homily, Archbishop Sample referenced St. Paul when he told those gathered, particularly the men about to be admitted to Candidacy, that those who seek to be a disciple of the Lord have to transform their lives. As those preparing for Holy Orders, the men were “called in a unique way…to undergo this transformation, embracing service in a new life in Jesus Christ.” Archbishop Sample exhorted the new candidates to follow the example of Pope St. John Paul II, whose memorial was also celebrated that day, when he spoke of the saint’s life and shared that he [Sample] was “inspired by [John Paul II’s] example of courage and zeal.”
The Archbishop encouraged the men in their pursuit of the priesthood, asking them to “preach divine mercy” while seeking “sanctification…[so that they] may sanctify others.” During the mass, those admitted to Candidacy publicly declared their intention to complete their preparation to be ready for ordained ministry in the Church and give faithful service to the Lord and his people. If called by their bishops, typically the new candidates would be ordained as transitional deacons some time in the next year.
The newly instituted candidates were from 11 dioceses: Zani Pacanza, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Chad Green and Christopher Hoiland, Archdiocese of Seattle; Víctor Mena Martínez, Diocese of Baker; John Kucera, Diocese of Boise; Andriel Ruperto and Gonzalo Siller Ramírez, Diocese of Fresno; Joseph Paddock, Diocese of Helena; Phuong Nguyen, Diocese of Orange; Joseph Walsh, Diocese of Reno; Andrés Emmanuelli Pérez and Germán Ramos Plaza, Diocese of Sacramento; Nathan McWeeney and William Zondler II, Diocese of San Diego; and Henrry Mendez Fajardo, Diocese of Yakima.
|The 2015 Episcopal Council - Photo Credit: Ace Tui|
Following the mass, a reception was held for the new candidates before the bishops, religious superiors and vocation directors began the Episcopal Council meeting. That evening, the community celebrated the annual Regents’ Dinner, during which the seminarians, faculty, monks, priests, vocation directors, religious superiors and bishops were able to gather for an evening of joyful fellowship and brotherhood.
Mount Angel Seminary is the largest seminary in the western United States, currently celebrating its 127th year of forming men for the Catholic priesthood. Established by the monks of Mount Angel Abbey in 1889, the seminary serves both graduate and undergraduate 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.