Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sixty Men Touched by Christ in San Juan Diego Spiritual Retreat

by Rodrigo Llorente

Editor's Note: The reporter for this post was also a participant in the event.

From January 21-23 sixty Hispanic men from the Portland area participated in the San Juan Diego spiritual retreat at the Father Bernard Youth Center. The retreat was led by Juan Pablo Segura and Rodrigo Llorente, members of the St. John Society and students of Mount Angel Seminary.

Just a quick look at the men’s faces when they arrived at the retreat was very eloquent.  Their eyes looked timid, their faces stony, and very little words came out of their mouths.  When we arrived at the end of the retreat there was a new glow in their eyes and words of joy were shared by many participants.

The retreat’s goal is that the men are able to experience an encounter with Jesus. It is directed to men who are baptized Catholic but not active in their faith. It offers an interplay of talks, testimonies, moments of prayer, group sharing and sacraments, all seeking to convey this message: “In Christ there is a new situation.”

Juan Pablo Segura leads the retreatants through how to pray the rosary.

Rodrigo Llorente and Juan Pablo Segura lead a procession to the cemetery of Queen of Angels Monastery.

One of the most touching moments was the testimony of Jessie Sanchez, a parishioner of Holy Cross Catholic Parish.  She came to the retreat to share how her life changed when she and her husband participated in the retreat. Sanchez shared that there was a missing piece between them, and they couldn’t get along without it. Christ was the missing piece, and when they found him, everything changed in their relationship.

The retreat was staffed by a team of thirty men that had been preparing spiritually for two months. Their goal was to be instruments of Jesus, seeking to facilitate the encounter of the attendees with the Lord.

When the retreat was over, Oney Galindo, a member of St. Anne’s in Gresham and a team member, shared his amazement about God’s power: “In only three days, God has the power to change a man’s heart; he loosened the bonds to sin and wordily things of these men and gave them New Life. This is something very impressive; no one else can do that.”

The San Juan Diego program offers a path of spiritual growth to husband and wife. The spiritual retreat is the starting line of the program. Each retreat has had forty participants plus the thirty members of the team that staff the retreat. This means that when the eight spiritual retreats of this year are over more than two hundred and eighty families will have participated in this spiritual experience.

Many of the retreatants shared that when they arrived, they felt they were carrying a heavy backpack. But after encountering Jesus, experiencing his love and forgiveness for them, all the weight of the backpack had gone.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Seminary Partners with FBYC

by Chi-Nhan Vo

On Friday, Jan. 22, Mount Angel Seminary students were given the opportunity to perform community service at various area locations as part of the annual Life, Justice, and Peace Day.  A group of twelve seminarians traveled to the Father Bernard Youth Center in order to clean the facilities as well as to help to construct bunk beds for the retreatants.

The Father Bernard Youth Center celebrated its tenth anniversary on Jan. 17. It was founded in 2006 by Mr. Anthony Morris, who, like many in the community, sought spiritual direction from Father Bernard Sanders, OSB, of Mount Angel Abbey. Mr. Morris saw a gap in the involvement of the Church in the lives of many youth between the sacraments of confirmation and marriage and was guided to go do something about it by Fr. Bernard.

Upon arrival at the Youth Center, the group of seminarians was welcomed by Mr. Don Robinson, the ministry’s Executive Director, who then sent the group’s majority to Mr. Mark Dol, Facilities Manager. Together, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Dol oversee the building of the Center’s newest project, sleeping quarters with additional space for young visitors to, as Mr. Robinson said with a smile, “clean the slate and clear the minds.”

The seminarians split into smaller teams and quickly got to work, assembling the beds from cut wooden frames. Teams treated the wood with cleaning solutions and attached the pieces together with screws and nails, creating six sets of beds. “It felt good to do this kind of thing again,” said seminarian Chad Hill of the Archdiocese of Seattle. “We got to make stuff with our hands and help out the community at the same time.” Other tasks included cleaning the main facility as well as organizational work with Ms. Emma Seller, Retreat Office Manager.

Seminarians Ethan Alano, left, and Cheeyon Chun,
right, assemble a bed frame.

Those who assembled bunk beds with Mr. Mark Nol, center
Independent Sector, a nonprofit advocacy group, values an hour of volunteer labor in Oregon at $21.99. In two hours of work, the seminarians were able to save the Center over $500 of labor, especially vital when the new space is scheduled to host its first guests in less than a month. Moreover, the students enjoyed for themselves an afternoon of building fraternity through their work. “I really enjoyed the brotherhood we shared today and being able to give back to the community,” said seminarian Preston Castro of the Diocese of Honolulu.

Mr. Robinson finished the day by thanking the seminarians, expressing a wish that the seminary and the Father Bernard Youth Center continue to work together in the future to aid young visitors however they can. Nearly every seminarian present gave their name and contact information to Ms. Seller, volunteering to share their vocation stories or even to help lead retreats.

“In the past ten years we’ve had 20,000 youth and chaperones here, and we hope to double that in the next ten, but we’ve always taken it one soul at a time,” Mr. Robinson said as he bid the seminarians goodbye. “As Fr. Bernard used to say, ‘If the young people don’t bring Christ into the world, he ain’t gonna get there.’”

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Seminarians Celebrate Life, Peace, and Justice

by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Friday, Jan. 22 the seminarians of Mount Angel Seminary celebrated a day dedicated to the promotion of life, justice, and peace.

A bus filled with forty seminarians left early Friday morning on a pilgrimage to San Francisco to take part in the west coast’s annual Walk for Life.

Those seminarians who remained on the hilltop over the weekend attended a conference on Friday morning given by Sr. Dorothy Jean Beyer, OSB. Sr. Dorothy Jean is a former Prioress at Queen of Angels Monastery, a spiritual director, and the Coordinator of the Pastoral Care Ministry at St. Mary Parish in Mount Angel, Ore.

Her conference was entitled, “The Season of Mercy and the Benedictine Charism,” and she told the seminarians assembled during her opening remarks, “No matter where you are, you are ministering.” Reflecting on the papal bull Misericordiae Vultus, Sr. Dorothy Jean said, “If you’re a person filled with the mercy of God, your face is going to show that love and compassion.”

On Friday afternoon, seminarians volunteered their time to participate in a variety of community service opportunities in the town of Mount Angel.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

MAS Joins the West Coast Walk for Life

by Garrett McGowan

On Saturday, January 23rd, forty-two seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary made a pilgrimage to San Francisco, CA, to the Walk for Life. Accompanying the seminarians were Fr. Theo Lange, Fr. Teresio Caldwell, O.S.B., and Fr. Thomas Koller, O.C.D. All three priests are formation directors at Mount Angel Seminary.

Attending the Walk was an effort from the seminary’s Peace and Social Justice Chairs, Luis Fernando Trujillo and Joe Paddock, to counteract abortion and take a stand for the sanctity of life.  The walk was a mile and half from city hall down Market Street and ended at the Embarcadero by the waterfront.

The day started with mass at Saint Mary’s Cathedral of the Assumption with Archbishop Salvatore Cordilione. The Archbishop gave his homily and inspiration to those about to go on the walk. He assured them of his prayers and support and gave a few words from Pope Francis on the sanctity of life.

The Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordilione, Archbishop of San Francisco

After the mass was over the seminarians and priests loaded the bus and headed to city hall. The seminarians were joined by people from all over the Western United States, including Anglican bishops, Greek and Russian Orthodox priests, a bishop from the Society of Saint Pius X and various Protestants. Before the walk began Archbishop Cordilione gave a speech. He was followed by speeches from Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director for Priests for Life, and Dr. Alveda King, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MAS seminarians and formators in front of St. Mary's Cathedral

The number of people in the walk was estimated to be between 50,000 and 55,000 according to the Walk for Life website. People protesting the march stood on the sidewalks, following those who marched for life and yelling at them. Police confined the protesters to the sidewalks. Pro-life supporters were there on the sidewalks with pro-life signs to counteract them.

Along the walk people marched with signs and banners supporting the pro-life movement, and many prayed the rosary. One man carried a crucifix. Seminarian Ivan Arevalo joins the walk every year and walks barefoot. He does this to offer up the pain for the unborn.

Friends of seminarians came and joined them at the front of the line. Students of Saint Patrick’s Seminary of Menlo Park, CA, were right behind Mount Angel Seminary. Seminarian Matthew Knight of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon said, "On the walk there was an atmosphere of prayer and unity in the face of evil.”

Seminarians noticed how the protesters kept yelling and swearing at them and could feel the intensity. Despite the actions of the protesters they joyfully kept walking, some even singing praises to God along the way. The walk was filled with a sense of unity with other seminaries and religious orders of various kinds marching shoulder to shoulder. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Outreach Program Launch at PSU Campus

by Rodrigo Llorente

On January 14, 2016, members of the Newman Center at Portland State University started the Fragua course, a ministry of the St. John Society. 35 students attended the meeting, which was hosted by a team of 15 members made up of PSU students, parishioners of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Portland, and members of the St. John Society and the Society of Mary. The St. John Society staffs the campus ministry at PSU and St. Patrick’s, and it sends its seminarians to Mount Angel Seminary.

The Fragua course is an outreach program that consists of weekly meetings where people can explore the basics of the Catholic faith. The course’s motto is “Come and See” and is directed to people that are interested in the Catholic faith but don’t have a place to learn more about it. It is also a kickoff for those who have stopped practicing their faith and want to come back.

Each meeting offers worship songs, a talk on a theme, questions to share in small groups and an open and friendly environment for those who are spiritually seeking. The first talk was given by Dan Fitzpatrick, the master of ceremonies of the night. He addressed the question: “Is there more to life than this?” Fitzpatrick is a former member of the OSU Newman Center that lives in Portland and collaborates with several activities of the St. John Society and St. Patrick's parish.

Dan Fitzpatrick

Diego Valeri

A surprise for several of the attendees was the presence of Diego Valeri, captain of the Portland Timbers and also a parishioner of St. Patrick’s. Valeri shared his testimony of faith: “My whole life I played soccer. Soccer was my life. After I encountered Jesus, he changed my life. He changed my soccer.”

The Simon Benson house, a facility for alumni of PSU, provided the setting for this first session of the course and will host the next meetings. Since the Fragua course is an outreach activity the team wanted to have a neutral place to host the people.

The team's goal was to invite around thirty persons and that these be ones who were far away from the Church. During the team meeting afterwards, the overall feeling for the organizing team was of great joy. Everything went perfect and the expectations for this first night were covered abundantly.  Team members shared their hope that the course will be a tool for bringing many to Christ.

Justin Waldron, one of the members of the course’s team, said: “It was a night full of people searching for the truth.”

Fr. Ivan Pertine and Juan Pablo Segura, members of the St. John Society, and Sister Theresa Harrell, a member of the Society of Mary, are involved in the organization of the Fragua course. The three are part of the Newman Center staff.

The Society of Mary is a Private Association of the Faithful that arose at the same time as the St. John Society. Both Societies work in a complementary way in the New Evangelization.