Friendly, joyful and pious - all of these match Fr. Teo Brea’s character. After spending four years in formation at Mount Angel Seminary, he was ordained in July 2016 for the Saint John Society. Over email, MAS Journalism interviewed him to see how he has taken all he learned to his ministry.
Fr. Teo, what is your ministry at this moment?
At this moment I am collaborating in the formation of the members of the SSJ. In Pilar's House we receive those in their second year of the so called “probation” time and those studying philosophy. In this task, I do team work with other priests of the SSJ.
I also collaborate as a chaplain of St. Matthew's College and am a pastoral counselor of a team formed by lay adults who minister in 2 jails in the area.
What has been your experience as a priest in these months since the ordination?
Looking back after these six months of priesthood in the St. John Society, a word quickly pops up: PRIVILEGE.
What do you mean by privilege?
By privilege I understand the keen awareness of having received a gift, a call, a mission that exceeds by far what I could have ever possibly anticipated or expected. It is the privilege of letting Jesus extend his public life in me. Eleven years ago, he called me for the first time. Since then privileges began: the privilege of a deep friendship with him, the privilege of preaching his word, the privilege of being a witness of his power in the life of many, the privilege of being called to such an ambitious project in the St. John Society, the privilege of friendship and common life. All these privileges have remained and have been strengthened throughout these years.
|Fr. Teo preparing the Blessed Sacrament for adoration|
In what ways has Mount Angel formation been useful for your ministry?
The experience of four years of reading, studying and praying about Jesus and the Revelation and years of “spiritual retreat” - Mount Angel taught me how to celebrate in both a solemn and “contemporary” way. I was exposed to a liturgy that can speak to the neo-pagan.
How have the formation of Mount Angel Seminary and the formation you have received from the Saint John Society worked together?
A key principle of the formation of the SSJ is “assimilate, purify and elevate.” That means we try to have the capacity to assimilate all the good that exists in the world. “Purify” means incorporating the new from a core identity . . . trying to discern what can helps us to our mission. “Elevate” means we take the new and try to improve it . . .
Two specific examples of this:
The organization of the social events: the Aquinas Dinner, the Annunciation Dinner etc. I have learned and tried to assimilate the style of organization that combines excellence, a friendly atmosphere, beauty, and the capacity to commend others and to recognize the success in their fields.
The Liturgy: assimilate the solemnity of the Abbey that fits perfectly with the New Evangelization.
|Fr. Teo during his first Mass|
After this time as a priest, what advice would you give to a fellow seminarian?
Kneel down to receive from Jesus all what he wants to teach. The deepest lessons are received right next to the tabernacle!