Friday, December 16, 2016

Reflecting on Movie Reviews with the UGP

Editor's Note: After completing his final centerpiece for the Unfamiliar Genre Project, Br. Jesus Romo also composed this final reflection in which he shares his overall experience with this major component of the journalism class at Mount Angel Seminary.

A Final Reflection on the Unfamiliar Genre Project

I often had the experience of feeling out of context when members of my religious community were discussing movies because I did not know much about the components of a movie.  There are two aspects that I wanted to learn from this project.  First, I wanted to learn how to identify the key elements of a movie.  Secondly, I wanted to learn how to be able to think critically about movies and give my own opinion.  I will say that throughout this journey, I learned more than simply these two elements.
The first step I took in the project was to look for samples of movie reviews.  I remember going to the library and asking for the Statesman Journal, a local newspaper.  Since they did not have it, my first attempt at researching the topic was not very positive.  The next time that I had the journalism class, I went back to the library with Dr. Kleiman, my journalism professor, hoping to find the newspaper, and it was not there.  We looked at other journals, and we did not find any movie reviews in them. 

Another option for my research was the internet, so I signed up for the New York Times website and I found many movie reviews there.  However, since I wanted to see a greater variety of reviews, I looked for more at the Catholic News Service web page and at, and there I found what I wanted.  Although, the experience did not seem positive at the beginning, I learned later on that everything I did was part of the journey, and every step was important.

I chose to look at movie reviews of films that I had already watched in order to have a better understanding of the review and how it related to the movie.  Once I chose the samples that were of interest, I began to read them.  I had not read any movie reviews before, so it was a new experience for me.  Some of them had vocabulary that was unfamiliar to me, so it took me longer to read and understand them, but I knew, from my experience at the beginning of the project, that it did not matter how much time I was going to spend because everything was part my journey. 

From reading the samples, I learned that there are different rhetorical devices that I could use to write my own movie review, such as questions that help to engage the audience and comparing the movie with another movie of the same genre.  I also learned that I need to be patient and see the value of every step that I take on any future project because everything is part of the learning process.

After my research and reading different samples of movie reviews, the next step was to choose a movie that I wanted to review.  I had a couple in mind. One was the classic story Gone with the Wind, written by Margaret Mitchel, and the other was Peaceful Warrior, a film based on a true story, written by Dan Millman and Kevin Bernhardt.  After thinking for a while about which one to choose, I decided to do my review on Peaceful Warrior because it is a story that I identify with.  I identify with the story because the transformation that Dan Millman, the main character, went through is similar to the process that I am going through in my formation as a Missionary of the Holy Spirit and as a future priest.

The next step in my project was to put into words what I had learned from my research, from reading movie reviews samples, and from watching the movie.  I did not know where to start, but as soon I began to write, I remembered what I learned in journalism class. The questions who, what, why, how, when, and where should be answered in a narration.  These questions served as a guide for my writing, but I found some other difficulties. 

One of the difficulties that I had was thinking critically about the movie.  I believe that because of my personality I find it difficult to judge other people’s work and give my own opinion about them, especially when I have to refer to a negative aspect of their work.  In the first revision of my paper, Dr. Kleiman encouraged me to include more of my own opinion in some parts of my review.  Although it was difficult, I did it, and it helped me to express what I thought about the movie.

Another skill that I was able to practice in the process of writing my review was being open to receive feedback and corrections.  Fr. Alex Rubio, MSpS, a member of my religious community, helped me by making grammatical corrections and he also helped me to choose words that better express the ideas that I wanted to communicate.

Now that I have finished my project, I feel pleased with the work that I did and with everything I have learned throughout this process.  Now I am able to more clearly identify the key elements of a movie; therefore, I can be more critical when I watch a movie and be part of movie conversations.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Reviewing Films with the UGP

Editor's Note: This semester journalism student Brother Jesus Romo choose to focus on movie reviews for his Unfamiliar Genre Project.  The review below is the final centerpiece of his project.

* * *

Reality Vs Fiction: A Movie Review of Peaceful Warrior

Peaceful Warrior
Cast: Scott Mechlowicz as Dan Millman, Nick Nolte as Socrates, Amy Smart as Joy, Tim DeKay as Coach Garrick, Ashton Holmes as Tommy, Paul Wesley as Trevor, B.J. Britt as Kyle

Directed by Victor Salva

Written by Kevin Bernhardt

Based on the book Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Genres: Drama, Romance, Sport

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 120 minutes

June 22, 2006

If this movie is based on a true story, why does it have many scenes that could never happen in reality?  The movie Peaceful Warrior is based on the book Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, which is based on a true story. Within the fiction scenes in the film the author wants to show the reality that Dan Millman, played by Scott Mechlowicz, was experiencing throughout his internal transformation in order to inspire his audience.

In the first scene of the movie we find Dan Millman having a nightmare.  In the dream he is doing gymnastics when he falls and his leg breaks off into many pieces.  Socrates, played by Nick Nolte, appears in his dream sweeping up the little pieces of Dan’s leg.  This scene is important because it is a foreshadowing that the author uses to highlight another scene that will come later in the movie.
After the nightmare Dan cannot fall back asleep so he goes to a gas station, and there he meets Socrates who is the gas station attendant.  When Dan exits the gas station’s store, he turns back and sees Socrates on the roof.  Given that there is no way for him to have gotten up there so quickly, Dan is amazed, and he asks Socrates how he got up there.  Why does the author use this supernatural event at this moment of the movie?  Perhaps he wants to represent a striking experience for Dan which makes him come back to Socrates, but, it would have been more inspiring if the author had stuck more to reality.
After the encounter at the gas station with Socrates, Dan begins a process of inner transformation.  He is a prideful person.  Dan believes that he has everything he needs in life: he comes from a wealthy family, he has good grades in college, he is a good gymnast, he has friends, and he can have as many girls as he wants to sleep with him.  Here, Mechlowicz could have done a better job portraying an arrogant character, so his transformation process and his role as a dynamic character would have been more noticeable to the audience.  

 Since he is not able to sleep at night, he goes to visit Socrates again at the gas station.  Here the author shows that Dan is looking for deeper meaning in his life.  Dan thinks that he knows everything, so he tells Socrates to ask him anything he wants; therefore, Socrates asks him if he is happy.  Dan does not feel comfortable and does not know what to answer because this question moved a deep feeling of emptiness inside of him.

The relationship between Socrates and Dan helps us to see that we need the guidance of others in our searching for happiness.  Nolte does a remarkable job performing as Socrates.  He is like a wise father that knows what is better for his son.  Socrates has the wisdom and the experience to know what is better for Dan, but Dan have to discover it for himself, and Socrates is there just to guide him in his journey. 

This film is worth watching especially by youth who feel empty and do not find meaning in what they do.  In this way Peaceful Warrior is similar to the movie Good Will Hunting (1997) written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.  They are both based on a true story, and the main characters think that they can do anything by themselves until they find someone who questions them and accompanies them in the important decisions of their lives.  This movie is also worth watching by youth because it shows that we do not always have the control over our own plans for life.  About halfway through the movie, Dan is driving a motorcycle, and he hits a car at an intersection.  His leg breaks into seventeen pieces, and pieces of glass from the car fall onto the floor, which is reminiscent of the opening scene.  The doctor tells him that he will be able to walk again, but he will not be able to compete in gymnastics again.
There are some scenes in this movie that are confusing because it is hard to tell what is actually happening or what is simply the imagination of a character.  For instance, there is a scene where Dan is following Socrates, and he enters into the gym where his coach and his companions are.  Socrates is already seated on a rafter that supports the roof of the gym; Dan climbs up to where Socrates is, and he begins to hear everyone else’s thoughts.  Socrates wants Dan to be aware of how thoughts can take control over him if he does not focus on the present.  At that moment, Dan falls from the rafter, and all of a sudden, they both appear at the gas station.  I was surprised and confused by this unexpected shift of scenes, so this feelings made me focus my attention on the teaching that Socrates was giving Dan.
The soundtrack is proper for the events that are happening and helps the audience to get more engaged with the movie.  It also helps the audience to figure out that a significant event is about to happen.  For example, the soundtrack that is used when Dan is going to crash on his motorcycle allows the audience to imagine that a tragedy is going to occur.

Peaceful Warrior is worth watching because it shows the value of true friendship and true love.  When Dan is going through this crisis, Joy, played by Amy Smart, Dan’s friend and a college student who studies at the same college that Dan does, gives him unconditional support; along with Socrates, she accompanies him in these difficult moments.

One of the most intense scenes in the movie --and a key moment to Dan’s transformation-- is when he intended to commit suicide. Dan goes to the top of a tower intending to jump from there.  There he encounters another person just like him who is a part of himself that he has to let go.  I supposed that this person represents his own pride.  This is also one of the confusing scenes because we do not know if Dan actually went to the tower or if it was happening internally.  When he let go of this part of himself he suddenly appeared on his bed.  Because this film is a based on a true story, the author could have made a more clear distinction between the things that physically occurred and those that happened internally.

The author leaves the audience with the question of whether Socrates is real or if he only represents Dan’s intuition.  Near the end there is a scene where Socrates and Dan are at a bar and Socrates tells Dan that he was the one who chose him.  Dan asks him if he is saying that he made him up and Socrates just smiles.  By the end of the movie, Dan wants his coach and his companions to meet Socrates, so he goes to look for him at the gas station, and Socrates is no longer there; someone else is working in his place.  I do not know what the author’s purpose for doing this was, but it leaves the audience with uncertainty and curiosity.

Friday, December 2, 2016

MAS Faced Off Against Lewis and Clark

Last month the MAS Guardians soccer team was matched up again Lewis and Clark, and Conor Bear captured some of the highlights:

Alex Nelson fights for the ball against a Lewis and Clark player as David Panduro stands ready to make a move.

Isaac Allwin looks up the field to make a pass as the Guardians take the offensive.

Dr. Andrew Cummings chases down a Lewis and Clark player for the ball.

Nelson Cintra pushes towards the opposing goal with fellow Guardian players coming up behind him.

Tai Pham fights to keep the ball inbounds as Dustin Busse comes to help out.

Dustin Busse prepares for a pass.

Isaac Allwin fights to keep the ball away from the Guardians goal.

Joe Schaaf runs with the ball up the field, fighting off an opposing team member.

Jose Lopez Lopez passes the ball to a fellow Guardian to make an attempt on a goal against Lewis and Clark.

David Panduro lines up for a goal attempt.

Jimmy's Barbershop: A Service that Builds Up the Seminary Community

by Brother Jesus Romo

The barbershop at Mount Angel Seminary has become a bonding experience for seminarians.

Even though Jimmy Jimenez, a college II seminarian from the Diocese of Oakland, was already doing haircuts for seminarians last year, his service for the community is more official this year.  Jimmy has an assigned room in the basement of Anselm building, which is now the barbershop of the seminary.

He also has a professional chair and three big mirrors which Fr. Terry Tompkins, a formator and teacher at Mount Angel Seminary from the Diocese of Oakland, donated.  Jimmy also bought clippers which makes him more efficient to serve the community.

Jimmy working on a haircut for Dustin Busse.

 A selection of Jimmy's tools

By having a specific room it is easier for people to approach Jimmy, and the place where it is located is appropriate for building community.  Because the tennis table, the pool table, and the laundry room are next to the barbershop, people can be playing or doing laundry and hanging out while they are waiting for their turn.

Why did Jimmy begin cutting hair?  In his family there are only boys, so his dad stopped taking them to the barbershop because it was too pricey.  Jimmy’s father told them that he was going to buy equipment and one of them had to learn to cut hair.  Jimmy was the brave one that began his career as a barber with his brothers as his “guinea pigs."

The service that Jimmy is doing for the seminary community has been an enriching experience for him because, as he said, “it helps me to build the bridge with seminarians.”

He has the opportunity to talk to seminarians that he would not normally have the chance to converse with in regular settings.  For example, it is not usual for him to have a conversation with some seminarians that are in theology.  Jimmy said that the time he is at the barbershop allows him to have deeper conversations than usual with the seminarians.

“It is like a bonding experience,” Jimmy said.  He gets to know the seminarians better and they get to know him more.  They share their vocational stories, and they even pray together.
Because seminarians like Jimmy’s work, he is usually busy.  Hernan Wences, a College II seminarian from the Diocese of Orange said “I think he is really good at cutting hair.”  Hernan’s experience at Jimmy’s barbershop “has been really good; that’s why I keep going to him.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

College Students Help with Food Drive

by Anthony Rizo

On October 8, the College One seminarians went to help Silverton Area Community Aid (SACA) sort food for those who are in need in their annual food drive.  The process was simple, with people bringing in bags filled with different kinds of food, including cereal, canned soup, rice and pasta. There were also some personal items like soap and toilet paper.

We sorted the products into categories and placed them at a table labeled for those products  One person was at each table placing the products neatly into a box, and we had one person going around collecting these boxes and bringing them to the packaging table.  There the boxes were taped up and labeled.  Finally, a person with a trolley stacked a couple boxes and took them downstairs to be organized. We did this until noon, and during our time there, we talked with the locals of Silverton and became familiar with the community.

As we were working, all of us noticed that the people were part of different religions; but we all had the same goal to serve those in need. The community was nice overall and asked us about seminary and why we chose this path. After the food drive, we met at a park close by to talk about our experience during our ministry. We all got the same out of it, knowing that helping someone in need is beautiful. Even though we could not see who we were helping out, the thought of someone receiving food just made us happy.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Preach the Gospel, If Necessary Use Pokemon?

 by Dominic Sternhagen

What could Pokémon possibly have to do with the Gospel?  On Tuesday, October 18th the Mount Angel Seminary Debate Club met to explore this very question.  The resolution was: Pokémon GO is conducive to evangelization, with the team The Novitiates, guided by Professor Mark Woolman, defending the resolution, and the team The Second Cummings, guided by Dr. Andrew Cummings, opposing.

Pokémon GO, as many of you are perhaps aware, is a very popular game played on a smart phone. But unlike many such games, it is necessary for players to move around in the real world to find and capture the virtual creatures called Pokémon.

There are also supply stations that are attached to real-world places, and players must stop at these places to secure items they will need. This aspect of the game is what makes the discussion so relevant, as even on our hilltop, all the Stations of the Cross have been designated by the makers of the game as stations (or as they are called in the game, PokeStops), where items may be found.

So many kids (and some who are no longer kids) come to a place like Mount Angel Abbey, it would seem, not in search of God, but of Pokémon. Therefore the question must be asked, is this good? Bad? Is this an opportunity or is it a problem?

The Two Debate Teams

Both teams made excellent points on both sides of this question. The Novitiates argued that the Church has always met people where they are, has always gone into people’s real world, and brought them the Gospel. If this is where people are, we must go there and find ways to use this medium to bring them the message of the Gospel. No matter what has drawn them to a place like our hilltop, God can use this to bring them to a deeper encounter with Himself.

Further, if we condemn or turn them away for this reason, what message do they receive about God and his Church? They will feel that the Church does not understand or care about what they care about, and will be less likely than ever to have anything to do with it.

The Second Cummings countered that reality itself is sacramental, and God uses it to speak to us, but when we encounter the world through the lens of a smartphone, as seems to be more and more the case, true encounter is more and more lacking. In the place of sacramental encounters and authentic relationships, we are increasingly living in an artificial realm of our own construction, interacting not with people but the virtual avatars of what they wish they could be.

Our mission cannot therefore be to encourage this dehumanizing trend, but rather help people free themselves from it, and through liturgy, the sacraments, and a renewed appreciation of the beauty of reality and human relationships, enter into an authentic encounter with God and others.

The conclusion that I took from this discussion, and which I hope others reached as well, was that there is a real and urgent need to understand and reach out to the world in which people live, but that the Gospel message must not be confined to this world.

The message of the Gospel is always something radically different that, yes, meets us where we are, but transcends and elevates our limited reality to unimaginable heights. I believe the motto of Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, “seek the things that are above,” offers us a much-needed corrective. We must reach out to everyone, the Pokémon players included, but we must lead them, and must ourselves turn the eyes of our hearts ever upward to things which far surpass this world, or any virtual re-imaginings of it.

Even if evangelization begins with a search for Pokémon, it can never stop until it arrives at its ultimate and eternal destination, which surpasses all worlds, virtual or otherwise.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Guardians Face Off Against COCC

Photos by Conor Baer

The MAS Guardians soccer team traveled to Bend this weekend to play again Central Oregon Community College.  An game earlier in the season again COCC resulted in a win for the Guardians, but this weekend's game was a defeat.

Isaac Allwin (center) and David Pandero (right) working against COCC.

Alex Nelson with goalie Peter Murphy
Brody Stewart attempting to capture a kick from COCC.

Hernan Wences working in front of the MAS goal.

Missionaries of the Holy Spirit Host an Hour of Prayer for Vocations

by Brother Jesus Romo, MSpS

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Mt. 9, 37-38).  Following Jesus’ command, The Missionaries of the Holy Spirit (MSpS) Felix Rougier House of Studies community in Mount Angel, Ore. prepared a holy hour to pray for vocations on the 23rd of September.  We had a very positive response from the people who were invited, and the event had a positive impact on them.

People praying for vocations in the plaza of the House of Studies

Since the MSpS are involved in the life of Mount Angel Seminary, one priest as a formator and teacher, three priests as spiritual directors, and four as students, we extended the invitation to the holy hour to the seminary community.  About twenty seminarians actively participated in this event even though the weather was not the best.

From 8:00 to 9:00 p.m.,roughly two hundred people from the Portland area and seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary were gathered to pray for vocations to religious life and to the priesthood.  The prayer was done in a Taize style; therefore, candles, icons and Taize songs were part of our prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  Since the prayer was held outdoors, we lit many candles on the floor and around the icons, which helped to create an ambience of stillness and peace.

Prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament and the icons of Venerables Fr. Felix De Jesus Rougier and Conception Cabrera De Armida, the founders of the MSpS

Andre Sicard, a College II seminarian from the Diocese of Salt Lake, played the piano for the holy hour.  He said that the setup was outstanding and important for the event since “the setting itself really helped a lot of people to enter into the prayer.”
Andre mentioned that since part of our charism as MSpS is to support and pray for priests and seminarians “that [the event] was a good outreach of your charism for the whole community.”
Another goal for the holy hour, besides to pray for vocations, was to help the lay people be aware that promoting vocations is their task as well.  Rev. Alex Rubio, MSpS, a member of our religious community and spiritual director at Mount Angel Seminary, was in charge of organizing the event.  He said that “for our congregation, the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, and for the entire church, vocations are very important.”
Fr. Rubio also said: “It was very inspiring for me to see people truly entering into ambience of prayer [and] people were asking us, at the end of the event, when is the next one?”  We are planning to have the holy hour for vocations once a year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Preparing Himself to Serve: A Hilltop Profile of Br. Joseph Mary Tran, OCD

by Br. Jesus Romo, MSpS

Br. Joseph Mary Tran belongs to the Discalced Carmelite Friars, and he is currently studying in Pre-Theology II at Mount Angel Seminary.  Three main things move him to give the best of himself in the academic formation: work for the salvation of souls, being able to help others, and trying to do the will of God.

Seminary Formation

Br. Joseph Mary really likes to study at Mount Angel Seminary because of the ambience of peace and prayer.  For him this aspect is really important, as he mentioned that “this place helps you not only to study but also to pray and through prayer get the strength to do your studies.”

Brother Joseph Mary Tran

Br. Joseph Mary said that communication will be very important for his future priestly ministry; therefore, during his academic formation he has been taking some courses to help him communicate in a better way.  For example, he took grammar classes last year to improve his writing skills, and he is currently taking Fundamentals of Speech to help him deliver clear messages to the people he will minister to in the future.

His interest in becoming a better public speaker is noticeable to Ms. Kathy Akiyama, his Fundamentals of Speech professor. Ms. Akiyama mentioned that he is not required to take this course; however, “it is impressive how motivated he is to improve his public speaking,” she said.

A good speaker is the one who knows who his audience is and what they need to hear. Ms. Akiyama said that Br. Joseph Mary is already a good public speaker because he is not individualistic but he thinks about who his audience is.    

She considers Br. Joseph Mary a hard worker and responsible student since “as a result of his motivation he does everything on time and he is always in the classroom early.”

It is not difficult for Br. Joseph Mary to interact with people, and he is a community-oriented person. This aspect of his personality will be beneficial in his formation and for his ministry as a future priest.

He also knows how to deal with different personalities because he has experience working in customer service.  Br. Joseph Mary worked as a systems engineer for five years in a company called Dimension Data.  There he had the opportunity to answer phone calls and also present computer programs to customers.

Due to his experience as a systems engineer he has the ability to operate different computer programs, and he is very good at using technology.  Br. Joseph Mary recognizes this ability as a gift from God which he uses to help other seminarians, showing them how to use different computer programs and fixing technical problems.

He is an open-minded person who desires to work with different cultures and in different languages.  He took two semesters of Spanish classes last year, and he desires to continue learning the language in order to be able to celebrate Mass, hear confessions and give spiritual direction in Spanish.

Some Challenges

Br. Joseph Mary has been a student in Mount Angel Seminary since the fall of 2015.  Because he had a bachelor degree he began his academic studies in Pre-Theology, and he is still taking three philosophy courses.

He recognizes that philosophy is a challenge for him since he prefers not to get into arguments. Because of this he has to put in extra effort in order to develop philosophical skills.

Br. Joseph Mary finds his writing difficult because it takes him a lot of time.  “I find it difficult to put my ideas out on paper,” he mentioned.

To help his formation, the seminary assigned Br. Joseph Mary a ministry at St. Mary’s Parish in Mount Angel where he is going to be working with a high school youth group once a week.  The youth group works with a program called Alpha which allows the youth to share their opinions about the Catholic faith in small groups.

He will be facilitating the opportunity for the youth to participate, and he might have to lead one of the small groups.  This is Br. Joseph Mary’s first time serving in a youth group; therefore, he feels challenged but at the same time excited and grateful for this opportunity to learn from young people.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Brief Reflection on the Year of Mercy

by Dominic Sternhagen

Editor's Note: One of Mount Angel Seminary's Theology One students, Dominic Sternhagen studying for the Diocese of Salt Lake, offers this reflection on the Year of Mercy.  It will also be published in Utah's Catholic paper, Intermountain Catholic.

What is your favorite image of mercy? The prodigal son? An image of the Good Shepherd? Christ feeding the multitudes, or welcoming children?

All of these are beautiful, and I love them all, but my personal favorite is the cross. The cross, because here we see mercy that holds nothing back, that gives everything, even life. Christ did not do some nice things, he did everything he could for those whom he loved.

Saint Teresa of Kolkata, the saint of this Year of Mercy, said in her acceptance speech on receiving the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize that we have to give until it hurts.

True love, true mercy, is not easy. Love means becoming vulnerable to others, putting oneself at risk. But without love, there is no mercy, only tolerance. In my experience, it is relatively easy to give money, but much harder to give of ourselves, to look the people that are left for dead by the sides of our streets in the eye and love them, as the good Samaritan did.

But this is the mercy that we are called to give this year: to reach out, reach out to those whom we left by the roadside of our lives, estranged family or friends. To mend relationships, give of ourselves to those most in need. Love.

The cross hangs, often forgotten, in the shadows of our churches and our lives. Too often I see only an ornament and forget the magnitude and the love of that sacrifice. I know how far I am from following the example of love without limits that is contained in the image of those simple crossed beams and that broken body, but I am inspired by it. I am inspired to follow it, inspired to give everything I can, or at least to try, like Him, to become mercy.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mount Angel Seminary Begins Its 128th Year of Forming Men for the Priesthood of Jesus Christ

By Phillip J. Shifflet; Photos by Br. Lorenzo Conocido, OSB

St. Benedict, Ore. – In the opening verses of his Holy Rule, St. Benedict urges monks to pray to Christ the Lord most earnestly to bring every good work they begin to completion. Faithful to his exhortation, the monks, seminarians, faculty, staff, and friends of Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary gathered on Monday, August 29, to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit, thereby inaugurating the seminary’s 128th academic year.

Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, processes in, followed by seminarians from the Diocese of San Diego, Deacons Nathan McWeeney and Bill Zondler III.

Abbot Jeremy preaches his homily.

The recently-elected Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, celebrated the Mass in the Abbey Church, during which the Holy Spirit was invoked upon the endeavors of the coming year. Monsignor Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of the seminary; Abbot Peter Eberle, OSB, and Fr. Terry Tompkins, Vice Rectors; and other priests from the abbey and various religious communities concelebrated. Ethan Alano and Luke Stager, seminarians for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, and Phillip Shifflet, a seminarian for the Diocese of Orange in California, served as cantors.

Following over three months of summer vacation, during which students return to their home dioceses for pastoral assignments, Abbot Jeremy began his homily with these words: “How beautiful it is to see the church so full of students, new and returning, with Msgr. Betschart at the helm, along with professors, formation directors, spiritual directors, support staff of every kind, other hilltop employees, friends, volunteers, and at the center of it all, this monastic community. As Flannery O’Connor once rightly remarked of the Catholic Church, ‘Here comes everybody.’”

Commenting on the significance of invoking the Holy Spirit, Abbot Jeremy said that it is “a gift that is always given when asked for in faith. What does the Spirit look like? How will we know if it has been given? Ah! there will be all sorts of ways . . . many different gifts and manifestations. That is Mount Angel! Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary hard at work on any given day. A place full of gifts that differ but, says St. Paul, one and the same Spirit produces all of these. This is the Holy Spirit, for whom we are praying at the opening of this school year.”

Following the Mass, Dr. Seymour B. House, Associate Dean for the Graduate School of Theology and professor of church history and literature, delivered the Inaugural Address. Entitled “The Trouble with Facts,” Dr. House presented a comically brilliant reflection on the nature and pitfalls of historical narrative. “We all think of facts,” Dr. House said, “as things that are true, some sort of absolute real, like the speed of light or the number of players on a baseball team. Or facts are things that have happened in the past, like the birthday of Henry VIII or the discovery of radium. But they can also be things that didn’t happen, like the dog that didn’t bark in chapter sixteen of The Odyssey, or the missing 18.5 minutes of the Nixon tapes, or the marriage of Elizabeth I. So facts are things that happened or didn’t happen or happened but we only know about it because they’re missing. Already we’re on slippery slope.”

Dr. Seymour House delivers his Inaugural Address.

“Facts are not simple. We want them to add up to something, but we don’t agree what that should be.” Speaking from his vantage point in the field of history, Dr. House remarked, “Historians select and arrange facts to tell stories, to say something truthful, but once you have to start choosing about what to include and what to forgo, your story loses some of its scope, some of its range. It becomes less like life, and more like a story.”

In the afternoon, Msgr. Betschart gave his first Rector’s Conference of the year; and in the evening, gathering after Vespers, the entire hilltop community enjoyed a community barbeque on the lawn in front of the Abbey Church.

Mount Angel Seminary began forming men for the priesthood in 1889 and is now 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 128 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests, and many qualified religious and lay men and women as well, for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mount Angel Seminary Celebrates 127th Commencement Exercises

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 127th year of forming men for the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

On Friday, May 13th at 4pm, students, faculty, staff, family, and friends of the seminary gathered with the monastic community to celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass in the Abbey Church. The Reverend Stephen Clovis, Vice-President for Administration and Director of Pastoral Formation, served as the principal celebrant and delivered the homily. Myrna Keough and the Seminary Liturgical Choir provided music for the Mass, which included Kevin Allen's polyphonic composition of "Domine Non Sum Dignus."

Fr. Clovis opened his homily with an oft-repeated saying of Pope St. John Paul II: "In the plans of Divine Providence, there are no coincidences." He quoted from the late Roman Pontiff because the Gospel reading used for the Baccalaureate Mass was not specially chosen for the event - rather, it happened to be the reading from the Lectionary for the day. In the reading from St. John's Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Fr. Clovis further commented, "It's a Gospel that's incredibly rich, offering us a deep source from which to draw great spiritual insight."

In his homily, Fr. Clovis reflected on the importance of three words from the Gospel reading, "words that elevate the exchange between Jesus and Peter from what might first appear to be an interrogation of sorts, to a level of personal encounter with profound implications." These words were "you," "me," and "my." Seemingly insignificant, but rich with meaning. Fr. Clovis ended his reflection by exhorting both the graduates and congregants: "May all you do, may all you are, may all you proclaim in word and deed be a resounding 'yes' to the one who calls you in love to care for those he calls his own. And in all things, may God be glorified in you."

The Commencement Exercises were held the next day, Saturday, May 14th at 10am.

The Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle, delivered the commencement address. He began his address with a question: "Who's wise?” “Wisdom," he went on to say, "is not necessarily the product of a lot of education... Sometimes wisdom is expressed in eloquent words, and other times it's expressed in silence." Given these considerations on wisdom, one might rightly ask: where, then, does true wisdom come from? Archbishop Sartain gives the answer: "True wisdom comes from relationship with Jesus, one that's fed by prayer and humble ongoing conversion." He ended his address on a hortatory note: "Your conversion will demonstrate your wisdom, who is Jesus. Your conversion will make you hunger and thirst for a deeper understanding of what you have learned at Mount Angel... May Jesus be praised and glorified in all we do. And may our serving and striving after him make us wise."

G.P. Palestrina’s composition of “Sicut Cervus” was performed as a musical interlude by Mount Angel Polyphony, an a capella group comprised of seminarians Ethan Alano, Tim Meurer, Raymond Philip Napuli, Phillip Shifflet, and Luke Stager. The Reverend Mister Anthony Ahamefule, a graduate of the seminary Theology program for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, delivered the annual senior farewell. Msgr. Betschart gave the final remarks, and the Right Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, the newly-elected 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 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 17 undergraduate degrees and 29 graduate degrees to seminarians, religious and lay students from around the United States and the Pacific Islands. Additionally, three 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 127 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 – Graduating Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts:  
Oscar Luis Anaya Cuevas - Fresno
Huong Dinh - Oakland
Ryan Paul Dixon - Fresno
Gerson Alfonso Espinosa Velasco - Portland in Oregon
Emilio Gonzalez - Fresno
Jesús Gonzalez - Reno
Neil Giancarlo Frivaldo Guan - Las Vegas
Randy Hoáng - Portland in Oregon
Br. Timothy Kalange OSB - Mount Angel Abbey
Brian Kim - Orange
Walter Martinez - Fresno
Br. Rudolfo Martinez Guevara MSpS - Missionaries of the Holy Spirit
Peter Joseph Murphy - Boise
Luis Alejandro Núñez Lara - Monterey
Nicholas Lee Paige-Schneider - Baker
Eseese Filipo Tui - Honolulu
James Wallace - Juneau
Pre-Theology Certificate of Completion:  
Joshua Daniel Falce - Boise
Junghoon Park - Seattle
Br. Benjamin Dinh Tran OSB - Mount Angel Abbey

Master of Arts (Philosophy):
Ethan Kevin Alano - Portland in Oregon
Br. John Cannon III OCD - Discalced Carmelites
Cheeyoon Timothy Chun - Orange
Joshua Thomas Keatley - Portland in Oregon
Master of Divinity:
Anthony Chijioke Ahamefule - Portland in Oregon
John Janer Becerra - Portland in Oregon
Alexander A. Estrella - Sacramento
Arjie Dacua Garcia - Portland in Oregon
Edgardo Josué Garcia Valazquez - Sacramento
Br. John Vianney Lê OSB - Mount Angel Abbey
Juan Jesus Maldonado - Fresno
Joseph Huân Nguyen - Orange
Cody Lane Ross - Seattle
Cesar Solorio Maldonado - Fresno
Derek Wayne Twilliger - San Diego
Mark W. Uhlenkott - Boise
Tetzel Ballogan Umingli - Portland in Oregon
Leon J. Vigil - Santa Fe
Cody J. Williams - Helena

Master of Arts (Theology):
Anthony Chijioke Ahamefule - Portland in Oregon
Andres M. Emanuelli Perez - Sacramento
William Bradley Hall
John Kucera - Boise

Friday, May 13, 2016

Joe Paddock: "Prison Ministry Creates an Oasis in Jail"

by Rodrigo Llorente, SSJ

Since September of 2015 students of Mount Angel Seminary started working in the Oregon State Penitentiary. Every Tuesday and Thursday seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary drive to the prison to carry on activities of evangelization and formation inside the prison. Joe Paddock, a seminarian for the Diocese of Helena, was interviewed on his experience and impressions on his time of ministry in the prison.

When Mount Angel students arrive at the prison, they go through multiple check stations, where they are scrutinized due to security reasons. Paddock shared about the place: “It's cold and sterile. It's weird, when you go the bar gate opens and then closes behind you and then you have this guy asking questions: what are you bringing in there?  They have to make questions but you are not used to this. The assumption there almost is that you are doing something wrong until you prove that you are not. I suppose they want to make that stance because they want to make it a safe place.”

After going through several bar gates they arrive to the room where they hold their meetings. Paddock was surprised by the inmates’ reaction to them: “Once I got in the room my impression was immediate acceptance. The guys are just incredible! They are very on fire and they are very hungry. They’ve been praying for us at least for a month before we even got there!”

Paddock highlights the heroic faith of these men: “These guys a lot of times are persecuted because they are faithful. Some of them are amazing. What do they do when they go back to their cell? They read the Catechism. There is one guy that is studying Greek and translating. They have a lot of prayers books.  They are studying the Bible and they hold them as precious gifts that they got from our group. And they are really devout. A lot of the other prisoners look at them and think how these guys think that they are holier than us! It’s tough for them to be faithful. I have a lot of admiration for these men.”

The meetings consist in a communion service followed by a catechetical session. Paddock really values the opportunities for talking one-on-one with prisoners:  “Sometimes a guy has a tough day so we go out in the hall to talk. They need to take something out of their chest because there is a lot of bad stuff going on there. This is clearly an oasis for them. Away from all that! Is a beautiful time where they can relax.”

When asked about what has impacted Joe the most, a word quickly popped up: “Conversion. These guys had hit rock bottom and now they have opened their hearts to Christ.”

This impacted his way of viewing and approaching the prisoners: “These people look like good people that made a mistake and now they are atoning for them. To really get to know these guys on a personal level made me take a really humble approach and seeing them as children of God.”

Paddock testifies with confidence about God’s action in the prison: “It is amazing what Christ is doing in these people’s lives. We receive 10 times more that those guys get from us.”

Reviewer Offers Final Reflection on the Unfamiliar Genre Project

by Chi-Nhan Vo

Editor's Note: MAS Journalism has also published Chi-Nhan's restaurant review.

I chose to work on a food review as an unfamiliar genre primarily because it sounded fun to do, even as a class assignment: combining writing, food, and meticulous analysis into one package is a dream come true for me. Even my sister used to poke fun at me when we’d try new foods, calling me “Gordon Ramsay” as I tried to use important-sounding words to describe a meal, but despite this predisposition to the assignment I’ve never formally done a written review of anything. The UGP sounded like a perfect opportunity for me to try something new.

On starting my research, my enthusiasm only grew. More and more these days, user-driven aggregators like Yelp or Google Reviews are the big players in the game, where people always turn to in deciding on a restaurant. It makes sense, really: professional reviews don’t have the advantage of providing an averaged opinion of a place, and are susceptible to bias or even bribery in extreme cases. Most damning is the fact that they’re unavoidably longer: when someone’s deciding on this place or that, what they need is the down and dirty, as quickly as possible.

This trend in restaurant reviews makes for a great opportunity for me to do a traditional one. Looking at all the different reviews I could find, I found that there was a lot more variety in tone, style, organization and focus than the image of the traditional point-by-point breakdown that I had pictured. These days, an in-depth review has to have something unique about it to draw people in.

My own review ended up being structured fairly basically, not too far from that uninspired point-by-point formula; considering that this is my first time with reviewing, I suppose that’s to be expected, although it doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. At the very least, I hoped to mitigate the tedium with vivid detail in all five senses, as well as with personal detail about the restaurant, emphases which I borrowed from my collected reviews.

Sitting down for an extended, professional interview was probably the highlight of the research process. I didn’t find anything particularly different about researching the writing process of a food review from any other academic problem, but conducting an interview, looking someone face-to-face, is a whole different sort of problem that can’t simply be researched. Thankfully I’d had brief experience asking single questions to people on the hilltop in my work for the journalism blog, but that didn’t stop my nerves during the interview. It wasn’t unpleasant in the end, though, and I think I could do it much more easily if it ever comes up again. The quotes I got ended up being a great help in writing my review as well. I’m sure there will be a next time, so when it comes I want to have more interaction: rather than simply moving from question to question as written, I could have done a better job of drawing out more information in a natural, conversation-like manner from the interviewee’s responses.

There was also an issue of integrity in the writing process. After all, one bad review can wreck a business in extreme cases, and I certainly didn’t want to do that to people that I’d met face-to-face. But on the other hand, I couldn’t cover up any flaws in good journalistic conscience. My solution was to be honest, but phrased gently. Thankfully this wasn’t a huge issue seeing as how I genuinely enjoy the restaurant, but in one particular case regarding the restrooms my word choice was pointed out to be unfairly inaccurate. By simply using honest, concrete descriptions, I was able to balance my interests as well as improve the quality of the writing itself, as I exemplified when I spoke on the bathrooms: rather than simply calling them “filthy,” I described them as being “dim, cramped and scarred with discoloration” to paint a much more accurate picture.

I quite enjoyed writing this restaurant review as part of the Unfamiliar Genre Project. I didn’t experience any major bumps along the way, and by working continually with Sr. Hilda I could continually refine my project into something worthwhile. I was able to practice research skills and descriptive writing, and I also was able to get new experience in conducting an interview and professional courtesy. My bank account doesn’t share my satisfaction, of course, but my very happy taste buds provide some needed balance.

I would recommend this project highly to any seminarian, for the simple fact that it allows ample room to tackle something interesting while still pushing the bounds of comfort. Not only did it provide an opportunity to practice writing skills, it forced me into learning interviewing skills, both of which are highly useful to a student. Moreover, the hands-on nature of the project breaks up the tedium of lecture classes.  It was a great experience for sure.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Journalism Student Explores Restaurant Reviews

by Chi-Nhan Vo

Editor's Note: This semester, journalism student Chi-Nhan Vo chose to do the Unfamiliar Genre Project with a focus on restaurant reviews.  MAS Journalism is pleased to publish his final centerpiece, a review of a favorite local restaurant.

Thai Dish: A Seminary Favorite

Chef and owner Manos Jantarasri serves up traditional Thai favorites in a small but homey space.

It’s a quiet Thursday evening in Mount Angel, as most evenings are: cold and rainy, just begging for a warm meal to bring it together. Thankfully, there’s a perennial favorite next door in Silverton’s Thai Dish, a cozy, unassuming hole in the wall that’s played host to years of hungry seminarians. Some seminarians and I decided to take a closer look at the restaurant that’s so often recommended to hilltop newcomers.

Thai Dish is the work of Mr. Manos Jantarasri and his family, who moved to Oregon and opened his restaurant in 2001. Mr. Jantarasri had worked and studied at various other restaurants in California, where he’d first come in the US, to learn how to conduct a business.

He gives all the credit for his love and skill for cooking, however, to his mother, a journey that he’d begun long before he’d come stateside. “Since I was 8, everything she did, I watched and I did it too,” he says, reflecting back on his childhood in Thailand with a smile. “I was always asking questions. It was hard work, very tiring, but I liked it.”

This homegrown, down-to-earth background seems to be the driving force behind the restaurant’s creative energy, including the décor. Many newer Thai restaurants in Portland are lavishly decorated from floor to ceiling with ornate paintings and bronze and gold statues. Thai Dish, on the other hand, is rather humble in comparison: its modest space is peeling with paint in the corners, and the hallway and restrooms around the back aren’t much more impressive, dim, cramped and scarred with discoloration.

However, its walls and tables are collaged with pictures and clippings of Thai people and places, mixed in with crayon drawings collected from the restaurant’s younger patrons through the years. When these sights come together with the wonderful sounds of relaxed conversation and sizzling plates, it’s clear why such a place has become a town fixture. “[Since I first opened] many people have moved to this town. It’s very safe, good for kids,” says Mr. Jantarasri. “Many of my customers are families.”

The food itself exemplifies the same sense of pleasant intimacy. “A lot of other restaurants, they . . . change to a more American taste,” notes Mr. Jantarasri as he describes the sweeter, saltier palate of American-oriented cooking. “I try and make very traditional Thai style.” The menu isn’t short by any means, filled with all the old Thai standbys of curry, rice, stir-fry, and noodles, and a fair variety of drinks, appetizers and desserts, but it also isn’t needlessly long: there’s more than enough to be able to pick and choose without being overwhelmed. Most dishes also have the option of choosing a degree of spice, anywhere from barely-noticeable to fire-in-the-mouth. There’s also usually a choice of meat, all of which are delicious, although the seafood options are rather pricey.

Service at Thai Dish is very friendly, doing a good job of checking in through the meal without being overbearing. Only one server is usually operating at a time, though, so service can be somewhat slow depending on how full the restaurant is. Orders do come out surprisingly quick, though, just enough to get settled and comfortable before the plates arrive.

A number of visits allowed us to sample through a good portion of the menu. As in other southeast Asian cuisines, a soup is often the first portion of a meal, most famously the spicy and sour Tom Yum. Thai Dish’s version comes out on an impressive flaming burner that keeps it warm and turns eyes as it makes it way to the table. The broth, while not short on sour citrus flavor, is a little less complex than other restaurants’, but goes down easily without sticking heavily in the throat as the usual Tom Yum does.

Curry is usually the first dish that comes to mind with Thai food, and is a great measure of the restaurant’s quality as a whole. The red curry at Thai Dish is nothing short of amazing, boasting a host of vegetables like eggplant, green pepper, and bamboo that manage to retain individual taste and texture amongst the rich, flavorful curry. The smell, too, hints enticingly at the curry’s complex flavors without hanging pungently in the air. If anything, the only problem with it is that it’s a rather small portion relative to the price: even including the rice, a college-aged male could down two helpings without much trouble.

Another centerpiece of the Thai restaurant is sweet, silky-smooth Thai Iced Tea, which Thai Dish does quite well: it’s definitely on the sweeter end of the spectrum, but it’s not overpowering, and the finish is relatively light. The presentation of layers of red and orange under the cover of perfectly-sized ice is quite appealing as well. The smaller size is proportionally expensive, which is a great excuse for upgrading to the almost-too-large size.

Stir-fried dishes are some of the restaurant’s most popular, and for good reason, as with the fried rice which exemplifies traditionally complex, multifaceted Thai flavors like savory, sour, and sweet: every bite has something new, bursting with chaotic flavors that somehow form a cohesive whole. The uneven textures are somewhat jarring, though: large slices of tomato and tiny bits of onion, peas and carrots don’t mesh well together. Both the satisfying pad Thai and crispy rad nah noodles are favorites of ours, which have a more unified taste and texture that is no less delicious. There’s no more satisfying sight to greet hungry eyes than a plate of rad nah, a deep-fried crown of golden perfection and laden with earthen greens and browns. All of these are fair portion sizes for a hungry seminarian, and nothing at Thai Dish disappoints for taste.

“Maybe I am going to retire soon, take a break,” reflects Mr. Jantarasri, rubbing his shoulder as he thinks back on the years of hard work he’s put into establishing Thai Dish. “But my customers keep [coming] back,” he says wryly. With such a homelike taste of Thailand in the middle of Silverton, Oregon, who’s to blame them?

Thai Dish
209 N Water St # A, Silverton, OR 97381
(503) 873-8963

Hours: 11-10 Sat & Sun, 11-9 all other days
Environment: small, but cozy and down-to-earth dining room
Service: quick and competent, although prone to bottlenecks
Taste: great range of traditional Thai flavors
Options: plenty for vegetarians, especially with tofu, although ubiquity of eggs makes it tougher for vegans
Price: mid-range, not especially cheap or too expensive

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

MAS Faculty Presents Her Musical Sabbatical

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

The afternoon of May 10, Kathy Akiyama, an associate professor at Mount Angel Seminary, offered a Shakespeare lecture recital to the seminary community as part of her 2015-2016 sabbatical.  She performed with Debra Huddleston, a collaborative pianist.

Ms. Akiyama offered four sets of songs from the plays of Shakespeare, and between each set she offered a short talk in which she explained the place of each song in its given play.  36 of Shakespeare's 38 plays include songs, many of which would have been familiar to Shakespeare's contemporaries.

Professor Kathy Akiyama with her vocal coach and body mapping trainer, Cynthia McGladrey at the conclusion of her recital.

Along with her musical work, Ms. Akiyama's sabbatical has included work on book on themes of love.  She will return to teaching in the fall.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Appreciation Dinner Honors Supporters of Mount Angel Seminary

story by Dean Marshall; photos by Ace Tui

Saint Benedict, Ore. – On Tuesday, April 19, 2016, Mount Angel Seminary celebrated its annual Appreciation Dinner, held to give thanks to various members of the seminary community, particularly those involved in the Pastoral and Spiritual Formation of the seminarians.

After praying Vespers in the Abbey Church and a brief social, community members and guests gathered in the dining room of Aquinas Hall to begin the evening’s festivities, led by Deacon Leon Vigil from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe acting as Master of Ceremonies.

After Prior Vincent Trujillo, O.S.B. of Mount Angel Abbey led an opening prayer and grace before dinner, everyone gathered was treated to musical interludes, including the vocal quartet Mount Angel Folk singing “How Deep the Father’s Love,” consisting of seminarians Chi-Nhan Vo of the Archdiocese of Portland, Phillip Shifflet and Brian Kim of the Diocese of Orange, and Andriel Ruperto of the Diocese of Fresno. The Mount Angel String Quartet also performed, and it consisted of seminarians Cheeyoon Chun from the Diocese of Orange, Raymond Philip Napuli of the Diocese of San Diego, Luke Stager of the Archdiocese of Portland, and Father Rory Pitstick from the Mount Angel Seminary faculty. They played the first movement from Motzart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”

The members of Mount Angel Folk during their performance

The chairs for the dinner were John Mosier of the Diocese of Boise and Randy Hoang of the Archdiocese of Portland.

After dinner, several groups of people were recognized for their contribution to the seminary community, including spiritual directors, deacon supervisors and pastoral ministry site supervisors who work with seminarians off-site at placements such as food banks, R.C.I.A. programs, prisons, and homes for the elderly, to name a few.

Of special note during the evening was the recognition of Mrs. Nancy Holt, the Associate Director of Pastoral Formation, who received this year’s Saint Bonaventure award, presented by Msgr. Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary. The Saint Bonaventure Award is given each year for an outstanding contribution from a faculty member. Mrs. Holt would later say, “It is an honor and joy to be involved in this work. Receiving the St. Bonaventure Award affirms the past years of service and encourages me for the future. The paraphrased statement of Dag Hammarskjold, 'For all that has been -- Thanks; for all that will be -- Yes!,' characterizes my response on receiving this award.”

Mrs. Nancy Holt and Msgr. Joseph Betschart

Mount Angel Seminary is the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States, currently celebrating its 127th year of forming men for the Catholic priesthood. Founded by the monks of Mount Angel Abbey, 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.

The seminary is supported by a wide variety of individuals, clergy, religious, and lay people, who generously donate their time, talent, and treasure in order to further the seminary’s mission of, as the Most Rev. William H. Gross, C.Ss.R. of Oregon City said in 1889, “send[ing] forth angels in flesh and blood to promote, as not even angels in heaven can do, the glory of God on earth."

Monday, May 9, 2016

Writing Center Sponsors Successful Write-In

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

The evening of Sunday, May 8, the staff of the Mount Angel Seminary Writing Center hosted another end-of-the semester Write-In at the Press for the seminary community. 

All students were welcome to bring their final essays and other projects to the Write-In.  Writing assistants Philip Shifflet, Matthew Knight, and Isaac Allwin, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, the faculty coordinator for the Writing Center, were available for consultation and assistance.

Both college and theology students took part in the Write-In.  The assignments they brought included those for Research Writing, various literature classes, philosophy classes, and church history classes.

Write-In events are also planned for the the 2016-2017 school year.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

MAS Celebrates Saint Peter Chanel

by Dean Marshall

Saint Benedict, Ore. – On April 27, 2016, the Mount Angel Seminary community celebrated a votive Mass in honor of Saint Peter Chanel, missionary to Futuna and patron of Oceania. Father Andrew Schwenke, O.S.B., of Mount Angel Abbey was the main celebrant, accompanied by concelebrating priests from the Mount Angel Seminary faculty.

Saint Peter Chanel, known as the “proto martyr of the South Seas,” spent his time as a missionary traveling to the Canary Islands, Wallis, and other islands, before finally settling on Futuna. On his eventual martyrdom as a result of the local king’s jealousy, Fr. Schwenke said, “St. Peter Chanel's blood is the seed of the Church and the witness of God's Word that converted the whole island of Futuna.”

The Mass commemorating St. Peter Chanel also included several traditional symbols of Pacific Island culture, including the use of the traditional Samoan “ifoga,” an act of reconciliation that took place during the penitential rite of the Mass. The Mount Angel Seminary Samoan and Pacific Island community, led by Ace Tui of the Diocese of Honolulu, organized the celebration.

Mount Angel Seminary, in operation since 1889, hosts a diverse community of seminarians studying for dioceses in the Western United States, Canada, the Pacific Islands, and Hungary, in addition to seminarians from various religious communities and several lay students as well.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Newman Readers Club Offers Spiritual Growth

by Rodrigo Llorente

The Newman Readers Club is a meeting with the goal of knowing more of the works of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Each Wednesday afternoon, a group of seminarians get together at the Mount Angel Abbey retreat house to read and discuss one of Newman’s sermons.

Hot cocoa, some snacks, a warm and cozy room plus a homily written by John Henry Newman are some of the ingredients of the club.  Each meeting starts with a short prayer after everyone has taken his spot. A shared reading is followed by some questions and discussions in a friendly environment. The attendance at the meetings has varied between seven to twelve participants.

The Newman Readers Club gathered in the retreat house.

Andy Ruperto, a student from Theology 3 and the Diocese of Fresno, said that he came to the meetings because of two reasons: “The content of the homilies was very powerful and the insights of the other seminarians helped make the message more real in my life.”

This is the fourth year the Newman Reader Club has been held by members of the St John Society. The coordinator this year was Nicolas Facile, a student of Theology 3. Facile shared, “We wanted to offer something to those seminarians that were seeking for more. Reading Newman trains intelligence, provides theological criteria, and helps understanding and meditating upon reality. It illumines daily life with faith.”

The homily read last week was “Christ manifested in remembrance,” and it deals with the ways God bestows his blessings on us. We do not perceive them until afterwards, when we remember the events. Newman writes, “Such is God's rule in Scripture, to dispense His blessings, silently and secretly; so that we do not discern them at the time, except by faith, afterwards only.”

John Henry Newman was an Anglican priest that converted to Catholicism in 1845, after leading a movement of renewal in the Church of England. His works have been influential for specific areas of theology such as the development of dogma and the role of the laity in the church. Some of his ideas played a great influence for the Second Vatican Council.

Newman’s writings are characterized by a great faith, a rigorous historical research and great literary quality. Among his prolific works it’s possible to find sermons, novels, poems, prayers and theological investigations. He has been characterized as one of the best English prose writers of the 19th century.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Healthy Start for MAS Weight Loss Group

by Garrett McGowan

At Mount Angel Seminary, seminarian Kurt Zelkie from the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon has decided to fight obesity here on the hilltop. Kurt, a former army medic, has started a weight loss group at the seminary called “He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease,” for which he won the seminary’s Saint Michael the Archangel Award this year. The Saint Michael the Archangel Award is given to a member of the seminary community who establishes something new for the benefit of the seminary.

The main focus of this group is to get seminarians to change their lifestyle, to change what they eat, and to also get into an exercise routine. Members write out a plan on how they will lose weight and hand it in to Kurt to help them with their routines. Weekly meetings are held every Friday afternoon. Seminarians step on the scale and record their weight in a logbook as soon as they get in. Kurt does blood pressure tests and blood glucose tests. There is a tape measure available to check waist sizes.

At the meetings, discussions are held on weight loss tips. Kurt shares information on food and diets, and other seminarians are welcome to share information. Kurt said, “If God made it, eat lots of it; if man made it, eat less.” Some of the members have already lost over twenty pounds with the help of the new group.

The seminarians hold each other accountable by sitting together at meals and looking at one another’s plates. If something doesn’t look good the member will be told to rethink his decision. Chad Hill from the Archdiocese of Seattle said, “One of the main focuses of the group is making a lifestyle change, not just going on a diet. This is so that you won’t just lose the weight and then gain it back when you go off the diet."

There are no requirements to join the group; anyone is welcome. This is not just a group for those who need to lose weight; it is also for those who may be thin and yet have diabetes or high cholesterol. If there is a health problem caused by certain foods, this group is dedicated to helping seminarians get on the right track.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Seminarians Honored at Annunciation Dinner

Story by Phillip J. Shifflet; photos by Ace Tui

On Tuesday, March 15th, students, faculty, staff, and guests of Mount Angel Seminary gathered in the Aquinas Dining Hall to celebrate its annual Annunciation Dinner, to share fellowship and to honor particular members of the community for their contributions and achievement. The awards and their winners are listed below.

The Saint Benedict Award for outstanding progress in both graduate and undergraduate Human Formation, was presented to Deacon Leon Vigil (Theology 4) of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, a graduate student in the theologate, and undergraduates Ryan Dixon and Ace Tui (College 4) of the Dioceses of Fresno and Honolulu, respectively. The award is given to those seminarians who best exemplify the highest formational ideals of the seminary, who model the Benedictine charism, who live the values of the Kingdom and actively proclaim the Good News, who love the Church, and who manifest servant-leadership in the seminary community.

Newly-elected Abbot Jeremy Driscoll addresses the seminary community
for the first time since his election.

Kurt Ziehlke (Theology 2) from the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, was presented the Saint Michael the Archangel Award for his special contributions to the seminary and its programs. This award is given to a student who has contributed significantly to the life of the seminary by establishing something new and beneficial or, through exceptional fidelity, commitment, creativity, and good will, has furthered something already established.

The St. Anselm Award, was presented to Randy Hoang (College 4) of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, in recognition of the undergraduate seminarian whose love of learning, excellent academic record, appreciation of philosophy and the liberal arts, rigorous self-discipline, active classroom participation, and outstanding leadership ability have gained him the respect of the faculty and the admiration of his peers.

Division chairs Deacon Leon Vigil and Randy Hoang
after receiving their awards

 The Saint Thomas Aquinas Award for outstanding academic achievement from a graduate student was presented jointly to Deacons Mark Uhlenkott and Cody Williams (Theology 4) of the Dioceses of Boise and Helena, respectively. This award is given in recognition of those students whose love of learning, excellent academic records, outstanding ability to articulate Catholic theology, rigorous scholarly research, active classroom participation, generosity with time and talent and strong leadership ability have won the respect of the faculty and the admiration of students.

Deacon Anthony Ahamefule (Theology 4) of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon received the Saint Paul Award for outstanding progress in developing preaching skills. The award is based on the ability to proclaim the Word of God, call to conversion those who hear the Word and a demonstrated comfortable presence at the ambo.

And new this year is the Bishop Connolly Prize, which is given in honor of the Most Reverend Thomas J. Connolly, past Bishop of Baker, and in recognition of that seminarian whose submitted project best represents the theme of the seminary's annual Theology Symposium.  This year the prize was won by Santiago Henderson of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, for his essay entitled "The Greatest Stories Contain the Paschal Mystery."

Mount Angel Seminary began forming men for the priesthood in 1889 and is now 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 127 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests, and many qualified religious and lay men and women as well, for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Annual Symposium Focuses on Technology

by Dean Marshall

On March 7-8, 2016, Mount Angel Seminary held its annual formation symposium, which seeks to expound on a topic of particular relevance for future priests and those involved in priestly formation. This year’s presenters, Sister Mary Timothy Prokes, FSE, and Fr. William Holtzinger of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, presented on the topic “Social Media and Virtual Reality.” Presented in three sessions over the two days, the symposium consisted of lectures, small-group sessions, and feedback sessions amongst the entire seminary community.

Monday morning’s session, hosted by Sister Mary Timothy, covered the current state of social media and technology in society, as well as its impact on ministry. Asking the question, “How are we changing as persons and how does that [impact] our relationship with the Divine Person…with truth?”, Sr. Timothy noted that social media and related technologies have affected how people relate on the personal level.

Noting authors such as Sherry Turkle, Sister Mary Timothy demonstrated how new forms of communication can result in a split persona, divided between digital and real-life identities. She noted that to combat this and to ensure that social media is used in a positive manner, society needs to use it as a way to enable “better face to face contact” and more meaningful communication, rather than communication that is hampered by a divided identity.

Immediately following this session, small groups were able to discuss their own experiences, covering topics such as recognizing the reality of being a public person, how to use social media as a communications and evangelization tool, and how it can be used for recognizing the profound human need for not just communication, but rather genuine communion.

On Monday afternoon, Fr. William Holtzinger, Pastor of St. Anne’s Parish in Grants Pass, Ore., presented on the topic, “Effective Uses of Media in the Parish Setting.” Fr. Holtzinger noted that “technology will help us continue that journey of communion” referenced during the morning session. He proceeded to highlight several tools that have proved useful in his own work as a parish priest, including technologies geared towards social media outreach, website design, administrative planning and scheduling, and personal productivity.

Recalling the words of Pope Francis, Fr. Holtzinger reminded those gathered that “technology can be both a help and a hindrance.” He demonstrated that in order to be successful, technological tools need to allow ministers to “serve better and reverence persons, increase communication, [and enable] better time management.” According to Fr. Holtzinger, technology is, at its core, a tool to “help ministers journey with and encounter people.”

Concluding the formation symposium on Tuesday morning, Sr. Timothy moved beyond the present state of technology and looked to where it may take society in the future. Recognizing the constantly changing state of technology, she invited the seminary community to ask, “What is happening to us, as a people and as a church, in the way we use these instruments?”

Sr. Timothy examined topics including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and genetics, drawing on Pope St. John Paul II’s teachings on Theology of the Body to show how to keep the focus on the reality of the human person and the necessity for genuine love. Noting that as future priests, those gathered would have to answer many difficult questions in the future, a greater value needed to be placed on “face to face and eye to eye” communication, thereby allowing an enduring respect for both the physical and spiritual aspects of the human person.

The annual symposium provides an opportunity for those gathered to examine topics that would not normally be addressed at length in the classroom, allowing for discussion of a wide variety of matters pertinent to priestly ministry. Established by the monks of Mount Angel Abbey, 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.