The history of Mount Angel Seminary is intimately tied to that of its parent institution, Mount Angel Abbey. The Abbey was founded in 1882, when a small group of Benedictine monks from Engelberg arrived in Oregon to found an abbey similar to the one they had left behind in Switzerland. They settled on a large hill at the edge of the Willamette Valley built their monastery, and continued their ancient traditions of work and prayer. One of those works was a school. (For more on the history of Mount Angel Abbey, visit the History and Tradition page.)
The monks opened their school in 1887, under the name of Mount Angel College. In 1889, Archbishop William Gross of Oregon City asked the monks to establish a seminary in conjunction with their college. Since that time, the Seminary has operated continuously. Over the years, as the Church’s needs, expectations, and ideas about ministry have changed, so has the Seminary. Although the primary focus is still the education of priestly ministers for dioceses and religious communities, the school is open to non-seminarians who are looking for an excellent education in preparation for some aspect of ministry within the Church.
In the 1970s, burdened with growing operating costs and complexity, Mount Angel College and its associated high school closed. Meanwhile, the Seminary continues to operate. Today it is home to 114 seminarians from approximately 30 dioceses, plus 40 candidates for priestly formation from religious orders. Counting 25 lay students working toward advanced degrees in theology, enrollment in the Seminary totals just under 200.