Father Recker Invites Seminarians to Find God in Nature

 

by Br. Peter Tynan, OSB

Local backpackers like to say that any hike in the Columbia Gorge will involve a fair amount of climbing. Fr. Ralph Recker, OSB, and the four seminarians who were accompanying him were finding out just how true this is. We were slowly climbing our way up 600 feet from the base of Waukeena Falls to the Lemmon’s viewpoint high above.

“Does this trail ever stop climbing?” Ricardo Ruesga asked.

Soon our Mount Angel Seminary group reached Lemmon’s viewpoint, a promontory that overlooks the Gorge below. The view was so spectacular it made the whole climb worthwhile. Fr. Raph Recker, OSB at Weisendanger Falls

“You can see the whole river from Vista House to Beacon Rock!” Jesus Mariscal exclaimed.

 

This outing was the third hike organized by the seminary formation director Fr. Recker this fall. Earlier in the semester he organized seminary hikes to Saddle Mountain, located in the Northwest corner of Oregon, and to Table Rock near Molalla, Oregon.

Fr. Recker began leading seminary hikes last year to give the seminarians a needed break from studies, some exercise, and an opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty Oregon has to offer. He notes, “The response was tentative during the first year. Now the seminarians are asking to go out. I now have a core group of guys who love to hit the trail.”

When asked why he organizes these hikes, Fr. Recker replied, “For the mountain experience. People have always gone to the mountains to feel closer to God and his creation.” On most of the hikes he organizes, Fr. Recker will bring his Mass kit and celebrate Mass with the seminarians on the trail. “I want the seminarians to be able to see God in more than just the chapel and classroom,” noted Fr. Recker.

We continued our hike and entered the narrow and mossy Waukeena Canyon. The seminarians stopped regularly along the way to take pictures of the cascading creek twisting its way down from Larch Mountain. The canyon was so enchanting that Fr. Recker commented, “I now have a new favorite hiking trail.”

The canyon section ended at Fairy Falls, a lovely, 20-foot high, fan-shaped waterfall. After a short break we continuing our hike, crossing over to the adjacent Multnomah creek trail.

On entering the area above Multnomah Falls, seminarian Andrew Noriega found the place to be “absolutely lovely. There is so much natural beauty here! You can really sense the presence of God in creation.” We then passed two 55-foot high waterfalls (Ecola and Weisendanger) and found a place to pray noon prayer and have lunch alongside the creek.

The six-mile hike came to its climatic end with the 650-foot descent down from the top of Multnomah Falls. Once at the Lodge at the base of the waterfall, we treated ourselves to hot mochas at the coffee stand and chatted about our shared adventure.

“That was our best hike so far!” Ruesga said as he climbed back in the seminary van to head home. “We will definitely have to return to the Gorge again this spring.”

On the way home as the seminarians nodded off one by one after their day of hiking, Fr. Recker said, “Looks like another successful hike.”

Jesus Mariscal, Andrew Noriega, Ricardo Ruesga, Fr. Ralph Recker, Br. Peter Tynan