by Phillip J. Shifflet
“The fields are ripe! O bless the Lord, our God!” echoed through the Abbey Church as Mount Angel Seminary (MAS) celebrated its annual Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises at the end of its 127th year of forming men for the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
On Friday, May 13th at 4pm, students, faculty, staff, family, and friends of the seminary gathered with the monastic community to celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass in the Abbey Church. The Reverend Stephen Clovis, Vice-President for Administration and Director of Pastoral Formation, served as the principal celebrant and delivered the homily. Myrna Keough and the Seminary Liturgical Choir provided music for the Mass, which included Kevin Allen's polyphonic composition of "Domine Non Sum Dignus."
Fr. Clovis opened his homily with an oft-repeated saying of Pope St. John Paul II: "In the plans of Divine Providence, there are no coincidences." He quoted from the late Roman Pontiff because the Gospel reading used for the Baccalaureate Mass was not specially chosen for the event - rather, it happened to be the reading from the Lectionary for the day. In the reading from St. John's Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Fr. Clovis further commented, "It's a Gospel that's incredibly rich, offering us a deep source from which to draw great spiritual insight."
In his homily, Fr. Clovis reflected on the importance of three words from the Gospel reading, "words that elevate the exchange between Jesus and Peter from what might first appear to be an interrogation of sorts, to a level of personal encounter with profound implications." These words were "you," "me," and "my." Seemingly insignificant, but rich with meaning. Fr. Clovis ended his reflection by exhorting both the graduates and congregants: "May all you do, may all you are, may all you proclaim in word and deed be a resounding 'yes' to the one who calls you in love to care for those he calls his own. And in all things, may God be glorified in you."
The Commencement Exercises were held the next day, Saturday, May 14th at 10am.
The Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle, delivered the commencement address. He began his address with a question: "Who's wise?” “Wisdom," he went on to say, "is not necessarily the product of a lot of education... Sometimes wisdom is expressed in eloquent words, and other times it's expressed in silence." Given these considerations on wisdom, one might rightly ask: where, then, does true wisdom come from? Archbishop Sartain gives the answer: "True wisdom comes from relationship with Jesus, one that's fed by prayer and humble ongoing conversion." He ended his address on a hortatory note: "Your conversion will demonstrate your wisdom, who is Jesus. Your conversion will make you hunger and thirst for a deeper understanding of what you have learned at Mount Angel... May Jesus be praised and glorified in all we do. And may our serving and striving after him make us wise."
G.P. Palestrina’s composition of “Sicut Cervus” was performed as a musical interlude by Mount Angel Polyphony, an a capella group comprised of seminarians Ethan Alano, Tim Meurer, Raymond Philip Napuli, Phillip Shifflet, and Luke Stager. The Reverend Mister Anthony Ahamefule, a graduate of the seminary Theology program for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, delivered the annual senior farewell. Msgr. Betschart gave the final remarks, and the Right Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, the newly-elected Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey, imparted the final blessing upon the graduates and congregants.
Mount Angel Seminary offers undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, with possible double majors in Literature or Religious Studies. At the graduate level, the seminary offers the Master of Divinity degree and Master of Arts degrees in Philosophy and Sacred Theology, as well as the Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology degree offered in affiliation with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, Italy. This year, the seminary granted 17 undergraduate degrees and 29 graduate degrees to seminarians, religious and lay students from around the United States and the Pacific Islands. Additionally, three seminarians received certificates of completion for the pre-theology program.
Mount Angel Seminary, established by pioneer monks, began forming men for the priesthood in 1889. MAS is the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States, and the only seminary in the West that offers both a college and a graduate school of theology. Since its inception 127 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.
Mount Angel Seminary – Graduating Class of 2016
Bachelor of Arts:
Oscar Luis Anaya Cuevas - Fresno
Huong Dinh - Oakland
Ryan Paul Dixon - Fresno
Gerson Alfonso Espinosa Velasco - Portland in Oregon
Emilio Gonzalez - Fresno
Jesús Gonzalez - Reno
Neil Giancarlo Frivaldo Guan - Las Vegas
Randy Hoáng - Portland in Oregon
Br. Timothy Kalange OSB - Mount Angel Abbey
Brian Kim - Orange
Walter Martinez - Fresno
Br. Rudolfo Martinez Guevara MSpS - Missionaries of the Holy Spirit
Peter Joseph Murphy - Boise
Luis Alejandro Núñez Lara - Monterey
Nicholas Lee Paige-Schneider - Baker
Eseese Filipo Tui - Honolulu
James Wallace - Juneau
Pre-Theology Certificate of Completion:
Joshua Daniel Falce - Boise
Junghoon Park - Seattle
Br. Benjamin Dinh Tran OSB - Mount Angel Abbey
Master of Arts (Philosophy):
Ethan Kevin Alano - Portland in Oregon
Br. John Cannon III OCD - Discalced Carmelites
Cheeyoon Timothy Chun - Orange
Joshua Thomas Keatley - Portland in Oregon
Master of Divinity:
Anthony Chijioke Ahamefule - Portland in Oregon
John Janer Becerra - Portland in Oregon
Alexander A. Estrella - Sacramento
Arjie Dacua Garcia - Portland in Oregon
Edgardo Josué Garcia Valazquez - Sacramento
Br. John Vianney Lê OSB - Mount Angel Abbey
Juan Jesus Maldonado - Fresno
Joseph Huân Nguyen - Orange
Cody Lane Ross - Seattle
Cesar Solorio Maldonado - Fresno
Derek Wayne Twilliger - San Diego
Mark W. Uhlenkott - Boise
Tetzel Ballogan Umingli - Portland in Oregon
Leon J. Vigil - Santa Fe
Cody J. Williams - Helena
Master of Arts (Theology):
Anthony Chijioke Ahamefule - Portland in Oregon
Andres M. Emanuelli Perez - Sacramento
William Bradley Hall
John Kucera - Boise