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.’”

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