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.”

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Debating Humor at Mount Angel Seminary

A short photo essay by Br. Rene Alvarez

Mr. Dominic Sternhagen from the Diocese of Salt Lake City gives the opening statement for the debate entitled "Humor is Necessary for the Spiritual Life."  The debate took place at the hilltop's coffee shop and bookstore on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at 7 in the evening.

Team "Total Domination" does research online and discusses their next defense.  The team is Chi-Nahn Vo of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon (not pictured), Joseph Baltz from the Diocese of Santa Fe (center), Jorge Mendoza of the Diocese of Fresno (right), and Phillip Shifflet of the Diocese of Orange. 

The second team discusses their defense for the second question presented to the judges.  The team is Tim Segert, Brody Stewart, and Victor Goranov.

Jorge Mendoza gives the closing defense, reiterating his team's beginning and key arguments.

The team of judges, John Kucera, Brother Timothy Kalange, and Fr. Peter Arteaga, prepare their deliberation to determine the winner of the debate.  The verdict: Humor is necessary for the spiritual life.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Formation Symposium Focuses on Communion and Church's Social Doctrine

Story by Phillip Shifflet and photos by Jesus Huerta

On Monday and Tuesday, March 13-14, 2017, Mount Angel Seminary hosted its annual formation symposium for faculty and seminarians. This year’s symposium focused on communion and global solidarity, an important principle in the Church’s social doctrine and a way of living the seminary's curricular focus on communion ecclesiology.

The seminary community was joined by Mikaele Sansone and Fr. Tom McQuaid, both of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). CRS is the U.S. bishops’ official international humanitarian agency. Two years ago, Mount Angel Seminary formed a partnership with CRS, and this symposium is one of the fruits of that ongoing partnership.

Father Tom McQuaid speaks to the seminary community.

St. Paul illustrates the principle of solidarity well in his epistle to the church at Corinth when he writes, “If one member of Christ’s body suffers, all suffer. If one member is honored, all rejoice” (12:26).

Three workshops were held during the symposium, each of which engaged the issue of global solidarity in relation to all four pillars of seminary formation – spiritual, human, intellectual, and pastoral.

In addition to the presentations, faculty and seminarians had small group discussions during the two-day symposium, and they were encouraged to expand their own definition of solidarity, thinking of ways that they could put this issue into practice in their own lives and in the seminary. Seminarians also discussed practical ways that they live communion and global solidarity in the parishes they one day hope to serve as priests.

Formation and academic faculty discussing global solidarity.

Seminarian Benjamin Condon of the Diocese of Sacramento listens during a small group session.

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.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Seminary Community Celebrates Tet

A short photo essay by Br. Rene Alvarez

Tet, or the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, celebrates the arrival of spring based on the Vietnamese calendar.  This year is the year of the Rooster according to the Vietnamese zodiac calendar.  The celebration at Mount Angel Seminary this year began with Mass in the Mount Angel Abbey church.

A lion balancing act: The Lion Dance is known as mua lan in Vietnam.  Here the lion is doing a balancing act on a 5-gallon jug.  Acrobatics and martial arts are typical, mimicking the movements of a lion.

The lion is a symbol of power, wisdom, and good fortune that chases away evil spirits and brings happiness and good luck.

The lion visits at the tables with the families while they enjoy their meals.

The MAS quartet performed "Hornpipe" from Water Music by George Friedrich Handel as part of the celebration.  Quartet members from left to right: Mr. Raymond Phillip Napuli, Diocese of San Diego; Reverend Rory Pitstick, formation faculty; Mr. Luke Stager, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Mr. Cheeyoon Chun, Diocese of Orange.