Mount Angel, Ore. – On what promised to be a joy-filled evening on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 27 seminarians gathered together in the Mount Angel Abbey Church to be instituted into the ministries of Acolyte and Lector during Mount Angel Seminary’s annual Ministries Mass. These men, from twelve dioceses and religious communities from around the United States and beyond, took their next steps toward the Catholic priesthood.
|Photo credit: Brother Lorenzo Conocido|
Presided over by the Most Rev. Michael Barber, S.J., Bishop of Oakland, those being instituted in the ministries were called to make a full and heart-felt response to their vocational calling. In explaining the meaning of the evening’s ceremony, Bishop Barber recalled historical Church practice in regards to minor orders, and highlighted that the ministries of Lector and Acolyte are “not merely hoops that we go through on the way to ordination, [but they] are intimately connected to your ordination to the priesthood.” Bishop Barber continued, saying that in regards to priesthood, “there is a grace that precedes the administration of the sacrament, a grace that is poured out in its fullness on the day the sacrament is given, and then the grace that is continued to be poured out every day thereafter.”
Bishop Barber exhorted the seminarians to a response worthy of the call, stating that an appropriate response to “this great gift of God, this loving you, this choosing you” was found in the Book of Daniel from the Mass’s readings: each man must respond to his new ministry “with contrite heart and a humble spirit,” so that, as seen in the texts from the Roman Missal which refer to the priest’s offering to God, each individual’s sacrifice made “in Your sight this day be pleasing to You Lord God.” The bishop reminded the men that no matter the circumstances, if they followed the Lord “unreservedly, they will not lose…will not be put to shame” as long as the Lord is made the center of all of their actions, living a life of faith and prayer, and following where the Lord calls in all things. Concluding the homily, Bishop Barber reminded them “this is where the Lord needs you, where the Church needs you, where the people of God needs you.”
On behalf of the (arch)dioceses and religious orders served by Mount Angel Seminary, Bishop Barber conferred the ministries of Lector and Acolyte on the following men: from the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, Gerson Espinosa Velasco, Stephen Kenyon, and Kurt Ziehlke were instituted as Acolytes; from the Archdiocese of Seattle, Jacob Hayden was instituted as a Lector while Benjamin Bray, Carl Sisolak, and Anh Tran were instituted as Acolytes; from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Joseph Baltz, David Gallegos, Santiago Henderson, and Timothy Meurer were instituted as Lectors; from the Diocese of Sacramento, Ryan Mahar was instituted as a Lector while Dean Marshall, Germán Ramos-Plaza, and Steven Wood were instituted as Acolytes; from the Diocese of Boise, John Moiser was instituted as a Lector; from the Diocese of San Diego, Raymond Napuli and Michael O’Connor were instituted as Lectors; from the Diocese of Orange, Michael Rizzo and Phillip Shifflet were instituted as Lectors; from the Diocese of Oakland, Javier Ramirez was instituted as an Acolyte; from the Diocese of Yakima, Henrry Mendez-Fajardo was instituted as an Acolyte; from Mount Angel Abbey, Br. Timothy Kalange O.S.B. and Br. Jesús Maria Leija, O.S.B. were instituted as Lectors; from the St. John’s Society, Santiago Feu and Rodrigo Llorente were instituted as Acolytes, and from Prince of Peace Abbey, Br. Bede Clark, O.S.B. was instituted as a Lector and Acolyte.
A reception was held for the new Lectors, Acolytes, visitors, faculty, and staff in Aquinas Hall following the Mass.
Established in 1889, Mount Angel Seminary is the 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. Currently, the seminary offers undergraduate degrees in philosophy with possible double majors in religious studies or literature, a Master’s degree in philosophy for seminarians in the Pre-Theology program, and Master’s degrees in theology for those preparing for ordination as well as for lay students.