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.