Friday, May 26, 2017

Off-Hill Supervisors Honored at Appreciation Dinner

by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Tuesday, April 25th, Mount Angel Seminary hosted its annual Appreciation Dinner. This dinner is meant to honor and express our thanksgiving toward the pastoral ministry supervisors, the pastoral intern supervisors, and the seminarians’ spiritual directors.

Each year, seminarians are assigned a field education placement, and once a week they go off-hill for various ministries. Food banks, RCIA programs, parish youth groups, prisons, and homes for the elderly are among the many opportunities that seminarians have to serve the wider community.
MAS Polyphony, an a capella group consisting of second-year theologians from five different dioceses, performed a rendition of Ubi Caritas, featuring Myrna Keough, the seminary’s Coordinator of Music and Liturgy. Viane Ilimaleota, a seminarian from the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago, also sang two songs accompanied by a guitar.

This year’s dinner was coordinated by seminarians John Mosier (Diocese of Boise) and Ethan Alano (Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon). Mosier prepared a short video presentation highlighting some of the school year’s major events and photographs of seminarians doing ministry.

Established in 1889, Mount Angel Seminary is the largest seminary in the western United States, forming men for the Catholic priesthood. Founded by the monks of Mount Angel Abbey, the seminary serves both graduate and undergraduate seminarians from the western United States, Canada, the Pacific Islands, and as far away as Hungary, as well as seminarians from various religious communities and many lay students.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Seminarians and Faculty Honored at Annunciation Dinner

Story by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Tuesday, March 21st, students, faculty, staff, and guests of Mount Angel Seminary gathered in the Aquinas Dining Hall to celebrate the annual Annunciation Dinner. At the dinner, guests shared fellowship and honored particular members of the community for their contributions and achievements. The awards and their winners are listed below.

The Saint Benedict Award for outstanding progress in both graduate and undergraduate human formation was presented to graduate student Deacon Nathan McWeeney (Theology 4) of the Diocese of San Diego, and undergraduate student Dustin Busse (College 4) of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon. The award is given to those seminarians who best exemplify the highest formational ideals of the seminary, who model the Benedictine charism, who live the values of the Kingdom and actively proclaim the Good News, who love the Church, and who manifest servant-leadership in the seminary community.

Deacon Chad Green (Theology 4) from the Archdiocese of Seattle was presented the Saint Michael the Archangel Award for his special contributions to the seminary and its programs. This award is given to a student who has contributed significantly to the life of the seminary by establishing something new and beneficial or, through exceptional fidelity, commitment, creativity, and good will, has furthered something already established.



The St. Anselm Award was presented to John DePalma (Pre-Theology 1) of the Archdiocese of Seattle, in recognition of that philosophy student whose love of learning, excellent academic record, appreciation of philosophy and the liberal arts, rigorous self-discipline, active classroom participation, and outstanding leadership ability have gained him the respect of the faculty and the admiration of his peers.



The Saint Thomas Aquinas Award for outstanding academic achievement from a theology student was presented to Deacon Joseph Walsh (Theology 4) of the Diocese of Reno. This award is given in recognition of that student whose love of learning, excellent academic record, outstanding ability to articulate Catholic theology, rigorous scholarly research, active classroom participation, generosity with time and talent, and strong leadership ability have won the respect of the faculty and the admiration of students.

Deacon Andrés Emmanuelli Peréz (Theology 4) of the Diocese of Sacramento received the Saint Paul Award for outstanding progress in developing preaching skills. The award is based on the ability to proclaim the Word of God, call to conversion those who hear the Word, and the ability to possess a comfortable presence at the ambo.

The Saint Bonaventure Award for outstanding contribution from a faculty member was presented to Dr. Shawn Keough, associate professor of theology and Church history at the seminary. The award is based on the ability to teach effectively and generosity with time and talent which have inspired students and won the praise of colleagues. This is the second time that Dr. Keough has won this award since joining the faculty; he also received this award in 2013.

Deacon Zani Pacanza (Theology 4) of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon received the Bishop Connolly Prize for his essay entitled “The Two Facets of Christ through the Eyes of John.” Given in honor of the Most Reverend Thomas Connolly (d. 2015), former bishop of the Diocese of Baker, this prize is awarded to a seminarian whose submitted project best represents the theme of the theological symposium. Most recently, the topic of the theological symposium was “Issues in Christology,” and was given by noted theologian Rev. Thomas Weinandy, OFMCap.

Mount Angel Seminary began forming men for the priesthood in 1889 and is now 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 128 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests, and many qualified religious and lay men and women as well, for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Monday, May 1, 2017

CRS Offers Short Talk on Water

by Hilda Kleiman

On Tuesday, April 18, the seminary community received a lunch-hour talk by Mr. Paul Hicks, the Senior Technical Advisor for Water Resources at Catholic Relief Services.  He has worked for Catholic Relief Services for 18 years and was able to come to Mount Angel Seminary on his way to a specialty coffee conference in Seattle.

Mr. Hicks titled his talk "Integral Ecology: The Confessions of a Catholic Development Worker."  In his talk he spoke on how he has been inspired by Pope Francis and his encyclical Laudato Si and shared three lessons he has learned as a development worker.

Lesson #1 - He and agencies such as CRS cannot solve other peoples problems for them.  Hicks described CRS as a relationship agency that may assist communities with developing the relationships within their own communities that will enable them to address their own problems.

Lesson #2 - He has learned to embrace conflict, to understand that the way toward a better situation is often by working through conflict rather than avoiding it.

Lesson #3 - Development work is inherently political and includes advocacy, particular concerning the common good and natural resources.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Irish Community Celebrates with MAS

by Garrett McGowan

On March 12th, the Irish community of Mount Angel Seminary held their Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. This is the second party the Irish community has held, and this year the Irish community has now become one of the official cultural communities of the seminary. Everyone is welcome to join the Irish community, regardless of heritage.

Many people joined in for a night of Irish music, dancing, and poetry, along with corned beef with cabbage and Irish beer. Irish soda bread with Irish butter was part of the meal, with some desserts. One seminarian made a traditional drink similar to Bailey’s with egg in it.

The celebration was held at the bookstore located on Mount Angel Abbey’s hilltop called The Press. The seminary’s Vice Rector for the College, Fr. Terry Tompkins, and Fr. William Dillard, the Director of Spiritual Formation, told Irish stories and jokes. Deacon Bill Zondler sang songs with the Irish band, which was organized by Deacon Nathan McWeeney and Michael O’Connor. The Irish tricolor was proudly displayed in the center of the room were the acts were being held.

One of the focuses of the Irish community is to give people a look at Celtic spirituality and to bring all the different communities on the hilltop together. With many Catholics in America being of Irish decent and many seminarians of Irish decent at Mount Angel Seminary, they wanted to share their heritage with everyone. The Irish have elected new officers for next year and are looking forward to a third party for next year’s Saint Patrick’s Day.

Dr. Cummings Takes a Sabbatical

by Garrett McGowan

This year Dr. Andrew Cummings, the associate dean of the college and a professor of philosophy at Mount Angel Seminary, has been on his sabbatical to work on his new book.

He is taking a six-month sabbatical from teaching to complete his new work. A sabbatical is a paid period of leave for a college professor, taken approximately every seven years, for them to focus on a field of work, study, or travel related to their field of expertise.

The content of the book will follow a debate between two famous philosophers, Georg Hegel and Friedrich Schleiermacher. The conversation that took place between the two men was how to know what the essence of Christianity is. Dr. Cummings said, “Their problems are our problems today.” Dr. Cummings has been doing research on this subject for some time. He said that you must study other peoples’ works to find your own voice and to know what experts are saying. Extra motivation for this was for Dr. Cummings to keep himself on top of philosophy.

Each philosopher takes a different stand. Hegel is on the side of concepts, coming at faith from a logical standpoint. Schleiermacher believes that faith comes from feelings, that there must be something deep down in the soul. Dr. Cummings sees this argument as a question that still troubles many people today.  He doesn’t have a title yet. However, he is considering using a quote from Hegel, “Is a dog a Christian?” that is coming from the concept that dogs act off emotions.

The type of philosophy that this would fall under is two kinds: philosophy of religion and metaphysics. Dr. Cummings says that there is a touch of theology in there as well. Another reason that Dr. Cummings chose this subject to work on is because both of these men are Lutherans, and in time Dr. Cummings thinks it would be interesting to research the Catholic Church’s response to their viewpoints.

Dr. Cummings also is hoping that seminarians will read his book in order to get them interested in these questions. Dr. Cummings asked, “How can you know something without pursuing it yourself?” He said he hopes that this book will be published. In order for that to happen he will need a minimum of 200 pages before moving on to the next step.

The writing process for Dr. Cummings is not one that is set in stone, meaning that he does not have a specific goal for what he will do when he gets up in the morning. He does, however, believe that you have to set your mind on getting something done, even if it’s a page or a sentence. Dr. Cummings said, “You have to move forward.” He refuses to leave his desk until something has been done. He says “Push yourself, force yourself.”

Friday, January 13, 2017

Seminary Community Honors Vietnamese Martyrs

by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Friday, November 18, in St. Joseph Chapel at Mount Angel Seminary (MAS), the Rev. Joseph Nguyen, OSB, a monk of Mount Angel Abbey, celebrated a Mass in honor of the Vietnamese Martyrs, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions. The seminary community was joined by many others from the Vietnamese community in the Salem and Portland areas.

After the altar was incensed at the beginning of Mass, Fr. Joseph and the newly-ordained deacon, Br. John Vianney Le, OSB, offered incense before an icon of the 117 Vietnamese martyrs, who were canonized in 1988 by Pope St. John Paul II. The act of offering of incense is a sign of respect and reverence in the Vietnamese culture.

Commenting on the Gospel passage proclaimed at Mass (Matthew 10:17-22), Fr. Joseph noted that with these words, “Jesus announced the persecutions that his disciples would have to undergo. He spoke to his apostles and to his disciples of all times. He spoke very frankly, telling them what they may expect if they choose to follow him. Jesus did not present to his followers any false promise, but in the fullness of truth that always accompanies his words, he prepares his disciples for the words: Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and have them put to death.”

“What Jesus announced in the Gospel reading today,” Fr. Joseph continued, “happened in the apostolic times and has been repeated in different ages of history in various locations. That is also what happened in the time of the religious persecution of the Vietnamese Christians. Since 1533, . . .  throughout three centuries, with some periods of tranquility, the Church in Vietnam has undergone persecution . . . Over 130,000 Vietnamese Catholics were martyred.”

“You and I may not be called to shed our blood because of our faith in Jesus Christ,” he concluded, “but we are all called to be witnesses of the Gospel message. Each day we are challenged to be faithful to the vocations which God has given us. Each day we are called to live with Christian integrity, to speak the truth with love, and to be sacraments of God’s presence and love to one another and to the whole world.”

Mount Angel Seminary began forming men for the priesthood in 1889 and is now 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 128 years ago, MAS has educated and formed thousands of priests, and many qualified religious and lay men and women as well, for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Day of Recollection Focuses on Four Last Things

by Phillip J. Shifflet

On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, Mount Angel Seminary (MAS) hosted its bi-annual day of recollection for all diocesan seminarians. Seminarians attended the morning Mass in the Abbey Church, so that the hilltop community could celebrate All Souls Day in common.

Two conferences were given by Fr. Thomas Reeves, OCD, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Fr. Thomas, an alumnus of Mount Angel Seminary, serves as a spiritual director for the seminary and the rector of the House of Studies for the California-Arizona province of the Order of Discalced Carmelites in Mount Angel, Oregon.

Fr. Thomas began his conferences with a quotation from Cardinal John Henry Newman’s sermon, “The Second Spring,” noting that the Church invites us during the month of November to pray for the souls of the dead, but also to never despair of God’s mercy. Responding to this invitation, his conferences focused on the traditional four last things: death, judgement, hell, and heaven.

In the morning, he reflected on death and judgement. “The reason that we have hope when facing death,” he said, “is because Jesus Christ has given new meaning to death . . . And now the souls that walk through the door of death with Jesus will have the light of life.”

“In the presence of Christ,” Fr. Thomas said of judgment after death, “the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal, even to its furthest consequences, the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life. And everyone will see the grace of God’s design and his plan for humanity.”

In the afternoon, he reflected on hell and heaven. “In the Book of Genesis the Lord asked Adam after he had sinned, ‘Where are you?’ And that’s a question we’ve tried to answer today . . . Where am I personally in my relationship with Jesus Christ? We began this morning by reflecting on death and judgement that we shall all pass through; and this afternoon we’re concluding with the two possible ends, either life with or without God; and we go now to the rest of the evening considering where we are.”

The day was spent in silence to encourage personal prayer and devotion. Fr. Thomas was available throughout the day for individual spiritual direction.