News

Ministries Mass: A step toward ordination

At a Mass celebrated March 8, two dozen seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary took a step forward in their journey to ordained priesthood.

The Most Rev. Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima, was the principal celebrant and instituted nine men in the ministry of lector and 16 in the ministry of acolyte. The seminarians are currently studying theology at Mount Angel and represent seven dioceses and one religious community.

As instituted lectors, the seminarians are called to serve the Church as “bearers of God’s word,” proclaiming the word in the Liturgy and preparing people for the sacraments. Accordingly, they are to be especially attentive themselves to the Scriptures and meditate on it constantly so as to better witness to others our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Instituted in the ministry of lector on Friday were: Anthony Hoangphan and Efrain Razo, Jr., from the Archdiocese of Portland; Sylvester Musonda Chanda and Andrew Charles Hollands, from the Archdiocese of Seattle; Michael Thomas Evert, from the Diocese of San Diego; Ian Michael Gaston and Hun Chae (Mark) Jung, from the Diocese of Orange; Oscar Saúl Medina Zermeño and James Joseph Tasy, from the Diocese of Fresno.

As instituted acolytes, the seminarians are entrusted with the responsibility of assisting priests and deacons in carrying out their ministry, especially as ministers of Holy Communion at the Liturgy and to the sick. Accordingly, they “should strive to live more fully by the Lord’s Sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness.”

Instituted in the ministry of acolyte were: Peter Atwood Laughlin and Luke Aaron Stager, from the Archdiocese of Portland; Sergio Armando Chávez Cabral and Tristan Peter Alec Dillon, from the Diocese of Salt Lake City; Arturo Cisneros, Oscar Saúl Medina Zermeño, Juan Carlos Reynoso Lozano, and Dalton Scott Rogers, from the Diocese of Fresno; Agustin Rajan Henderson, Darrell James Segura, Jr., and Adrian Julian Sisneros, from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Chad Kirwan Hill, Alexander Thomas Nelson, and Brody Robert Stewart, from the Archdiocese of Seattle; Michael John Hoolihan from the Diocese of Orange; and Br. Joseph Mary Tran, O.C.D.

Since 1889, Mount Angel Seminary has educated and formed thousands of priests to serve more than 11 million Catholics in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities around the world. As the oldest seminary in the western United States, Mount Angel is the only seminary in the West that offers a College of Liberal Arts, a Graduate School of Theology, and a Doctor of Ministry Program.

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

One in the Heart of Christ: Celebrating Vocation to Priesthood

Ten years ago, a small group of about 40 friends gathered in Eugene for a dinner and fundraiser to help support Mount Angel Seminary. Though their numbers were small, they lit a bright fire of enthusiasm and dedication and the dinner has continued to grow. On March 4, the gathering included close to 400 people in the Hotel Eugene, celebrating and pledging support for the seminarians at Mount Angel.

The tone was set for an evening of unity in the Heart of Christ as the seminarians processed into the full ballroom. As Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., later described it, the room was “full of people in good moods. And God is the reason – God revealed in the heart of Christ, that huge burning furnace of love for the whole of humanity.”

Throughout the evening, the seminarians sang in full choir and in small groups, with classic pieces such as, “For the Beauty of the Earth,” and Durufle’s “Ubi Caritas.” The program also included a panel discussion with seminarians reflecting on their journey to priesthood. Deacon Dean Marshall, studying for the Diocese of Sacramento, spoke of the impact of his pastoral experiences while in seminary. “Truly, I quickly realized that I receive so much more from the people to whom I am sent to minister than I could ever hope to bring to them.”

Monsignor Joseph Betschart, president-rector of the seminary, spoke of his admiration and respect for the men who have chosen to follow the call to priesthood in an age when their vocation may be openly questioned and discounted by society at large. These men, like the rest of the priests in the room, said Msgr. Betschart, “aren’t perfect. But we strive for the perfection that Christ calls us to. And we couldn’t live this life and continue this journey without your help.”

Presenting the keynote address as chancellor of the seminary, Abbot Jeremy told those gathered: “I tell the seminarians that I admire them for their courage to remain in the seminary at this time with their desire to serve God’s people still strong in them. They tell me that they stay precisely because they love the Church and want to offer their lives to strengthen the Church in troubled times. These are courageous and generous men. They are in love with Christ and with people. They deserve our prayers and our support.”

Since 1889, Mount Angel Seminary has sent thousands of priests to serve more than 11 million Catholics in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities around the world. As the oldest seminary in the western United States, Mount Angel is the only seminary in the West that offers a College of Liberal Arts, a Graduate School of Theology, and a Doctor of Ministry Program.

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

What to read for Lent

Awesome Glory, by Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSBResurrection means going deep.

Just in time for Lenten reading and in preparation for the Easter Triduum, Liturgical Press has published Abbot Jeremy Driscoll’s new book, Awesome Glory: Resurrection in Scripture, Liturgy, and Theology.

With the clarity of an experienced teacher, Abbot 
Jeremy offers readers a deep dive into the mystery of 
the resurrection of Jesus. Starting from the conviction that the liturgy is meant to offer an immediate and effective contact with the resurrection, this profound and beautifully accessible book draws out the liturgical riches of the period from the Paschal Triduum through Pentecost. Abbot Jeremy focuses particularly on the Scripture texts of Mass, but also on important rituals like the washing of feet, and the Lucernarium (Service of Light).

Awesome Glory is a beautiful, reflective read for anyone who wants to better understand, teach, and live the startlingly good news of Christ’s Resurrection.

For more information about Awesome Glory, email the Abbey’s bookstore or call 503.845.3345.

Awesome Glory is also available on Kindle from major online booksellers.


What else do monks read in Lent?

Br. Charles Gonalez
“The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times”
by Dom Jean-Charles Nault

Br. Israel Sanchez
“The Imitation of Christ”
by Thomas a Kempis

“Earthen Vessels: The Practice of Prayer According to the Patristic Tradition”
by Gabriel Bunge

“The Heart of the World”
by Hans Urs von Balthasar

Prior Vincent Trujillo
“Story of a Soul”
by St. Therese

Fr. John Paul Le
“Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody”
by Allen R. Hunt

Fr. Aelred Yockey
The Passion Narratives, from the Gospels

“The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ”
by Anne Catherine Emerich

“Mystical City of God”
by Mary of Agreda (17c)

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

Seeking God in the Wilderness

Mount Angel seminarians have always been attracted to hiking and other outdoor pursuits. So it was natural for current seminarians, inspired by the life and spirituality of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, to form a fellowship group devoted to seeking God in the wilderness.

The group has organized a number of weekend outings, including one camping trip last fall. On the trip, priests who accompanied the seminarians celebrated the Eucharist at the campsite. “Two Masses were celebrated on beautiful Merrill Lake up by Mount St. Helens,” said seminarian Adrian Sisneros, second year theology student for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and group co-founder.

Sisneros grew up as an avid hiker and outdoorsman in the mountainous desert of New Mexico. He enjoys seeking out places of beauty in the Northwest and encountering God on mountaintops, rivers, lakes, and beaches. Each Frassati Group trip, he notes, has a strong spiritual component, and helps bond the seminarians.

“Our aim is holiness and fraternity. It’s about the opportunity for us to venture out together, as brothers sharing in this journey to the priesthood, allowing the fruits of formation to naturally grow in us.”

The group members also recognize that these experiences are great preparation for their future ministries in parishes and other settings. They work together to carefully plan the trips and utilize each person’s skills and abilities.

“A lot of it is about [building] character, learning how to be inter-dependent and work well with each other, balancing time and being responsible, and praying for each other,” Sisneros said. “Those are great things that we are learning together as a group. We’re mentoring each other.”

Sisneros said even the challenges they’ve encountered on trips are welcome opportunities for growth.

“The wilderness is beautiful but it can also be rugged. Sometimes you have to dig deep. You might have to help someone else who is feeling a little uneasy. It breaks down barriers between us … it provides a great opportunity for letting your guard down and entering into authentic fraternity.”

The group is grateful for the inspiration of Frassati and Pope St. John Paul II, who beatified Frassati and was an outdoorsman himself as a young priest. As
Frassati once wrote, “The higher we go, the better we shall hear the voice of Christ.”

– Steve Ritchie

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

Forever in the Peace of Christ

Forever in the Peace of Christ 1FATHER BENEDICT SUING, O.S.B., a monk of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon, U.S.A., passed peacefully to the Lord on the 7th day of December 2018, in the 93rd year of his life, the 70th year of his monastic profession, and the 65th year since his ordination to the priesthood.

The funeral Mass for Fr. Benedict will be at 10 am Friday, December 14, in the Mount Angel Abbey church, with burial to follow in the Abbey cemetery.

Fr. Benedict was born in Salem, Oregon, in 1926, and in his early 20s he entered Mount Angel Abbey, making his profession of vows in September of 1949. After his theological studies at Mount Angel Seminary, he was ordained to the priesthood at the Abbey in 1954 by Archbishop Edward D. Howard of Portland. The following decade involved Fr. Benedict in the work of teaching English in the Abbey’s prep school, and in the mid-1960s he also taught for two years at a high school in Anchorage.

Significantly, Fr. Benedict spent many of his years as priest and monk outside the monastery, carrying out the various pastoral assignments in which he generously served the Church. The first of these assignments came in 1968 when he was appointed assistant pastor at St. Mary’s in Mt. Angel, after which he served as principal of a Catholic high school in the coastal town of Tillamook, Oregon, for several years before returning to the town of Mt. Angel as pastor of St. Mary’s from 1975 to 1985. There followed a several-year pastorship in Moab, Utah, and then a final decade in parish ministry as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Portland, from 1990 to 1998. But Fr. Benedict’s pastoral spirit remained alive, and he served for some further years as chaplain of a small religious community in the east before retiring into the prayerful quiet of his final years. May he rest forever in the peace of Christ.

Thank you for your prayers for him.

Categories: Monastery

Mount Angel monks celebrate vocations

What’s in a name?

When a novice – along with the monastic community – discerns readiness for his first profession, he takes a significant step by accepting a new name in the presence of all his brothers. In this way, he puts on “the new man” as he makes the three Benedictine vows to a way of life marked by: obedience, stability, and conversion of life in the community. At Mount Angel, as a novice prepares for his first profession, he selects three possible names for the Abbot to consider. After praying and talking it over, the Abbot selects his new name.

“Choosing a new name at first profession of vows is a radical thing to do,” said Abbot Jeremy. “All our names are important to us and bring blessings upon us. A former teacher of mine one time said, ‘What is a name? It’s a little song that we sing whenever we see that person.'”

 


Br. Charles Borromeo

Choosing a new name was not an easy task. I felt deeply inspired to take the name of a saint whom I both admired and with whom I have similar interests and desires. After much thinking and praying, the name Charles Borromeo came to me. I see in the life of St. Charles a beautiful example of a young man with a heart that deeply loved the Catholic Church. He was of the belief that true renewal begins from within. I could see and hear him asking the question, “Where do I need conversion in my own life in order to see the change that I desire?” It is in this spirit of my holy patron that I wish to live my life here in the monastery.

 


Br. Jesse

The new name signifies a new life that we take up as we vow stability, obedience, and conversion of life. Conversion of life sticks out, as it is a life totally dedicated to God. The name Jesse was particularly significant to me because it is what my family has always called me. My birth name is Victor Jesus. In some places in Mexico, a nickname for Jesus is Jesse. The monastery is supposed to be a family. Now all of my family calls me by the same name. The Old Testament patriarch Jesse is himself the patriarch of the family line of David. He is the forefather from which come our Lady, St. Joseph, and our Lord himself.

 

 


Br. Thomas the Apostle

I proposed the name “Thomas” to Abbot Jeremy in spiritual kinship with the infamous apostle. Like Thomas, I typically come to faith later than others, gathering evidence, mulling it over, making careful inferences. Others may roll their eyes, but I think that Thomas’ objection was reasonable and relatable for our fractured world, in which the very existence of objective truth is sometimes waved away. I am glad to belong to a thinking Church. But as with Thomas, God has gone out of his way to bring me to faith. Whenever the Lord grants me a gratuitous sign of his providence, I feel he is my special friend. I know that God will always give me what I need in order to believe. I pray St. Thomas will help move my stubborn will to respond and sing his praise wisely: “My Lord

 


Br. Ignatius of Antioch

When I was thinking about my name for profession, I remembered having liked the name “Ignatius of Antioch,” from the Litany of Saints. I began to read about him and learned that he was one of the earliest martyrs and also an early teacher in the church. One day a group of priests from the Diocese of Baker was at the Abbey for a retreat. One of them stopped and asked my name. I told him, “Br. Miguel.” He asked if that was my profession name. When I told him I was still a novice and needed yet to decide on a new name, he said, “I think you should be called Ignatius.”

I was really surprised! He explained that one of his favorite teachers here in the seminary was a monk named Fr. Ignatius Vroeger (d. 1991). That encounter really impressed me. It turns out that Fr. Ignatius’ baptismal name was the same as mine: Rudolph! I asked some of the older monks about Fr. Ignatius and they remembered him well as a kind and joyful monk. So I have two patrons: Ignatius of Antioch, and our own Fr. Ignatius, of Mount Angel Abbey.


 

Categories: Monastery

Legacy gifts come in many forms

Legacy gifts come in many formsIn our monastic community of Mount Angel, we are blessed with so many friends and benefactors. Through their constant spiritual and financial support, we are able to live as we do, stopping to pray in the Abbey church five times a day, taking time to welcome and visit all who come to enjoy the peace of our hilltop home, and devoting ourselves to preparing the next generation of priests at Mount Angel Seminary. Twice a year we publish a simple newsletter, Legacy,in which we remember those who have left (or plan to leave) a legacy gift to the Abbey and Seminary. In the fall newsletter, we highlight two of these people—one is still quite active and doing wonderful work with the elderly. The other was the mother of one of our monks, Fr. William Hammelman. We invite you to read their stories, and offer with us a prayer of gratitude for all who have helped us along the way.

Categories: Monastery

May He Rest in Eternal Peace

Forever in the Peace of ChristBROTHER FRANCIS WEIGAND, O.S.B., a monk of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon, U.S.A., passed peacefully to the Lord on the 24th day of October, 2018, some days after suffering a stroke that marked the end of his earthly life. He was 86 years of age, and 38 years professed as a monk. Brother Francis was born in 1932 in the city of Aberdeen, Washington, where he was baptized with the name of Harold. His family later moved to the town of Tekoa in southeast Washington, and here he completed his primary and secondary education before the family’s further move to Spokane, Washington. Harold was one of four boys in the Weigand family, and one of the boys, William, was to become the Bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah, and later the Bishop of Sacramento, California. From 1950 to 1955 Harold attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, and in the following two decades his work included over ten years as a construction inspector for the city of Spokane. Here he also married and raised a family of three children. In the late 1970’s the further discernment of his service of the Lord led him to Mount Angel Abbey where, in September of 1980, at the age of 48, he made his profession as a monk into the hands of Abbot Bonaventure Zerr, O.S.B., who gave him the name of Francis. Brother Francis always remained a strong witness of his Catholic faith, and not least among his personal gifts were his dry wit and wry smile! He served the monastic community in many ways over the years—in the development office, in the library, on the grounds, and in the delivery of the mail. In more recent years Brother Francis served as a driver, providing transport for elderly and infirm monks’ medical appointments, for the delivery and pickup of people to and from the Portland airport, and for whatever other needs that might arise. Even in his final years he remained a driver of sorts, his vehicle being the little walker that he kept parked outside his door! May he rest forever in the peace of Christ.

Funeral Homily preached by Abbot Jeremy

Eulogy delivered by the Most Rev. William K. Weigand, Bishop Emeritus of Sacramento

Categories: Monastery

God’s grace revealed

God's grace revealedGod’s grace comes through community

An important element of the spiritual formation program for the men in pre-theology and theology at Mount Angel Seminary is regular participation in Jesus Caritas prayer groups. Inspired by Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), Jesus Caritas is a worldwide fraternity made up of small groups of diocesan priests who share prayer and developments in their lives. A steady witness to the importance of these groups is Fr. Richard Keolker, director of the Jesus Caritas groups and a spiritual director at Mount Angel.

Fr. Keolker has been a part of the spiritual formation program at the seminary for 27 years. But his personal Jesus Caritas group of fellow priests has met regularly for 45 years for mutual prayer and support. He is, as one seminarian recently described him, “The manifestation of Caritas. He lives it out in his life.”

“There were Jesus Caritas groups already active at Mount Angel when I got here in 1991,” noted Fr. Keolker. “I worked with them, and in 2004 they became a part of the program for theology and pre-theology students.” The groups meet once a month to share dinner, Scripture reflection, a review of life, and evening prayer.

Luke Stager, currently in his second year of theology, studying for the Archdiocese of Portland, admitted that he initially thought the regular prayer meetings were “one more thing to add to the list of the million things we have to do.” This changed, however, during his first and second summer parish assignments when he learned that the pastors in both parishes participated regularly in Jesus Caritas groups. They do so, as Stager explained, “to fortify and encourage each other, and to pray together.” Seeing their commitment to Jesus Caritas changed his whole attitude, he admitted. “All of a sudden,” he said, “this wasn’t just one more thing we have to do in seminary. This [sense of spiritual fraternity] is something important that we build here.”

Third-year theology student studying for the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Dominic Sternhagen attests that participation in Jesus Caritas is “essential to my vocational journey.” He had arrived at Mount Angel in the middle of a year and with some experience living in a religious community. He was humbled by the way the students in one group reached out and invited him to join them. “Even with someone they didn’t really know yet,” he said, it was a time of “authentic sharing.”

That sharing of joys, struggles and graces providing mutual support is a critical component of Jesus Caritas, said Peter Laughlin, also in his third year of theology, studying for the Archdiocese of Portland. He points to the importance of camaraderie and fellowship formed in the group. “While many people can have windows into our world as seminarians, no one quite fully understands another seminarian or another priest the same way as other seminarians and other priests can,” he said. “There’s a similar direction, and areas of growth we share as we aim for the priesthood in the service of God and discernment of his will together.” One realization Laughlin says he has had through the prayer group is that, “While God interacts with us individually, he is not isolated to my personal experiences. Rather,” he added, “God’s grace is revealed communally, to be shared amongst one another.”

Picking up on the theme of brotherhood, Deacon John Mosier, in his fourth year of theology, studying for the Diocese of Boise, said he sees a comparison between the strength he receives from his Jesus Caritas group to the “armament of God,” referenced in the Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 6. The sacred text, said Deacon Mosier, “suggests that we put on the shield of faith.”

Referencing first century Roman soldiers, Deacon Mosier explained, “It wasn’t the individual soldier himself; it was the man to the left and the man to the right, with shields interlocked, that provided the true defense.”

“As others have mentioned,” he continued, “it is this interlocking dependence that is important not only for our life of faith as seminarians, but for the lives of those we want to one day serve. It’s that interlocking faith, not of the shield, but of our faith lived out here at Mount Angel that makes the Caritas groups work.”

– William Gerard

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

Let us draw near to Christ

Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B.A message from Abbot Jeremy

The Church has been much in the news in recent weeks, in ways that simply break our hearts. It is important to acknowledge that we are in the midst of a terrible crisis. Innocent victims have suffered the abuse of clergy, and some have suffered again when bishops failed to act. Such evil must be named, investigated, and brought to light. As our Lord promised, the truth will set us free.

My friends, a huge struggle begins whenever someone seriously undertakes to follow Christ, “to walk by the Spirit,” as the Apostle Paul writes (Galatians 5:16-25). This is what all of us are doing together, those of us here at Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary, and all those who have shown in so many ways that they love and support our mission.

We in the Church in this country are under a cloud. This is a season for penitent reflection as we seek to understand the nature of the problem as profoundly as possible. St. Paul helps us see that we all are at risk, all are engaged in the same struggle. The guilt and sin of any one of us affects the whole body.

By the same token, the holiness and virtue of any one of us also belongs to the whole body. If we want to contribute to the healing of the Church, in this time of crisis, we must reject the temptation to turn away from our Lord, and take up instead by the mercy of God the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These marvelous gifts can seem beyond our reach if we think they must be rooted in our own efforts. Instead, they are freely given by God through the Holy Spirit because we “belong to Christ Jesus.”

It takes courage to persist in our faith at this time. It takes courage for monks and seminarians to risk a life of devotion to our Lord’s Church. It takes courage for our friends to stand with us, to pray with us. But more than courage is needed. All these gifts of the Spirit are needed, and we are begging God for these gifts in all our prayers and at the Eucharistic table.

This is how I spoke to our seminarians in my homily at the Mass of the Holy Spirit on August 27, which inaugurated our school year at Mount Angel. I invite you to listen to my message to them.

At times, when we do something courageous, we can become afraid. Jesus offers a solution to that. He comes to those who are afraid. In the Gospel of John, we learn that the disciples were gathered in fear on the very day of Christ’s resurrection. Their doors were locked. This is us right now, in this Church. We are the disciples, afraid, seeking courage.

And “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” To us right now, He shows His wounds and then He says again, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19-23).

Christ’s peace is not a peace of passivity. It is a peace that calls us to serve Him, His Church, and our brothers and sisters. This is a time when Satan – named in Scripture “Father of Lies” – can wreak havoc on our souls and feast on our doubts. Again in the Gospel of John, Christ promises if we continue in His word, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.

Let us remember Christ’s promise to us in the coming weeks, months, and years, as we seek the truth. In 2004 the Bishops of the United States commissioned an independent study by the John Jay Institute for Criminal Justice so that we might understand the nature and scope of child abuse in the Church. Now there are calls within the Church for further investigations, as we seek to understand our situation together, in honesty and humility.

Here at Mount Angel, we deeply value your trust and work sincerely to deserve it. I invite you to review online a statement that outlines the steps we at Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary have taken since 2002 to ensure a safe environment for children and young people. All monks and seminarians in formation participate in rigorous human, spiritual, academic and pastoral formation as they mature and embrace a life and lifestyle of celibacy and chastity, leadership and responsibility, service and accountability. Their readiness is thoroughly evaluated before they are ordained or make their profession of vows.

What more is to be done? Every member of Christ’s body has a vital role to play as we seek to heal and strengthen His Church.

We monks of Mount Angel will continue the way of life that Benedictines have followed for 1,500 years. We continue to pray six times a day for the life of the world. We continue to greet guests as Christ. We continue to nurture the healthy formation of our future priests. We offer this peaceful hilltop as a place of spiritual growth and refuge for all seekers. We pray that the simple order and beauty of the Abbey will serve as a beacon of light, hope and healing for you and our extended community.

We will continue to ask our friends to support us, in all the ways they have supported us in the past. With even greater urgency, we ask our broad community to pray for vocations and to support the formation of monks and priests who will serve our Lord’s Church. The people of God need and deserve to be guided by mature and holy shepherds.

I urge you in this time to draw nearer to Christ and His Church. Come to the Abbey. Pray with us. Celebrate Mass with us. Let our seminarians know that the vocation they are undertaking is holy and necessary. Let us encourage one another! Please, send us your prayer requests. We pray for you daily.

Christ’s peace be with you,

Let us draw near to Christ
Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B.
Chancellor of Mount Angel Seminary

Categories: Monastery