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Br. La Vang Nguyen, O.S.B., professes Solemn Vows

On Tuesday, September 13, the monks of Mount Angel Abbey gathered in the Abbey church for a Pontifical Mass of Solemn Profession. A number of visiting priests, seminarians, family, friends and other guests joined the monks to witness Br. La Vang Nguyen, OSB, profess solemn vows during the centuries-old ceremony.

The monastic schola led the congregation in chanting the entrance antiphon from Psalm 122: “I was glad when they said to me; let us go up to the house of the Lord.” The text set a joyful tone for the solemn celebration. Br. La Vang served as lector, reading the Scriptures which highlighted the profundity of his lifelong consecration to God as a monk. During the homily, Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., turned to Br. La Vang directly and reminded him that “solemn monastic vows is a bountiful reaping, and there is much promise in this for the one who does it.”

As he did three years prior for his profession of simple vows, Br. La Vang read his profession document out loud to those gathered and signed it on the altar, making permanent his vows of obedience, conversion of life, and stability at Mount Angel Abbey. After receiving the cuculla, the pleated choir robe worn only by solemnly professed monks, Br. La Vang exchanged the kiss of peace with all of the permanent monks of Mount Angel as the monastic schola chanted from Psalm 84: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, God of hosts.” During the entire Eucharistic prayer, he prostrated himself on the sanctuary floor, covered with a black pall in an act of “mystical burial,” dying to the old man and rising in Christ.

Mount Angel Abbey is a Benedictine community founded in 1882 from the Abbey of Engelberg in Switzerland. Situated on a hilltop overlooking Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the monks of Mount Angel weave together a place of prayer, hospitality, education, and reflection deeply rooted in the Rule of St. Benedict.

Categories: Monastery, Uncategorized

Novices at Mount Angel Abbey make Simple Profession

On the evening of September 8, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the monks of Mount Angel Abbey gathered in Mount Angel Abbey’s church to celebrate the Mass of Simple Profession for two novices, Brody Stewart and Fr. Jack Shrum. The novices professed vows of obedience, stability, and conversion of life for a period of three years.

At the beginning of the Mass, the novices processed in with the altar servers, concelebrating priests, and Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, principal celebrant. Novices at Mount Angel Abbey make Simple ProfessionThe congregation filled the church and joined the monks in song and prayer, interceding for the men about to profess monastic vows.

During the homily, Abbot Jeremy addressed Br. Brody and Fr. Jack, saying that “what you do shows us with clarity and as a witness
of what we are all meant to be in Christ Jesus.”

After the homily, the two novices knelt before the Abbot and made their first monastic vows, signing their profession documents on
the altar, and displaying them to all gathered as witnesses of their promise. The newly professed monks also announced their new monastic names, signifying putting on the “new man” in Christ. Brody Stewart is now Br. Ambrose, OSB, while Fr. Jack Shrum is now Fr. Michael, OSB. After the conclusion of Mass, everyone gathered for a reception and to congratulate the new junior monks.

Categories: Monastery, Seminary, Uncategorized

Luigi DeSantis – Cultivating a Spiritual Home

In the mid-twentieth century, Luigi DeSantis came to live at and care for the gardens and orchards of Mount Angel Abbey, where he became known as a man of faith and piety. Little did he know that his work of caring for the land and environment at Mount Angel would be continued decades later by his great-grandson Dean and the now family-owned company, DeSantis Landscapes.

Born in 1881, a year before Mount Angel Abbey’s founding, Luigi grew up in Montefortino,
Italy, a rural town nestled in the hills and mountains of the Province of Fermo. Along with his brothers Tony and Anibale, Luigi immigrated to the United States in 1905, passing through Ellis Island. Hearing about work on the railroads near Portland, Luigi and Tony traveled by train to the West Coast and married the two daughters of an Italian woman who ran a boarding house in Portland. Luigi and his wife, Margherita, started a family in Portland but later moved to rural Silverton, where they developed a commercially successful strawberry
farm. After the death of Margherita in 1947, Luigi briefly lived with some of his adult children before receiving the permission of Abbot Thomas Meier, OSB, to take up residence at Mount Angel Abbey.

Fr. Vincent Trujillo, OSB, recalls that Luigi’s room was next to the biology and chemistry labs in what is now the Abbey museum. He remembers Luigi as a “very saintly man” who joined the monks for prayer and spent hours at the Abbey’s grotto in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to Abbot Peter Eberle, OSB, Luigi was great friends with Br. Fidelis Schoenenberger, OSB, who designed the grotto and completed it in 1922. Abbot Peter fondly remembers the piety of Luigi, who liked to sprinkle holy water wherever he went, so much so that, recalls Abbot Peter, “the first pew [in the church] was really water stained.”

The descendants of Luigi DeSantis say they feel humbled to take up the mantle of their great-grandfather in caring for the landscape of the Hilltop. Dean DeSantis adds that, “our team is looking forward to taking an active role in keeping the Abbey’s extensive green space an optimal setting for prayer and meditation, as well as furthering the role well-tended gardens play in monastic life.”

– Ethan Alano
Mount Angel Letter, Summer 2022

Categories: Monastery, Uncategorized

Commencement 2022

Mount Angel Seminary’s 33 graduates concluded the academic year with both the Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises celebrated on April 30 at 8 am and 10 am, respectively, in the Abbey church. In addition to graduates, many friends and family with smiling faces filled the church as a hopeful sign of better days ahead.

Bishop Peter Smith of the Archdiocese of Portland served as the principal celebrant for the Baccalaureate Mass, telling the graduates during the homily that they “have arrived at the starting line. Now the real race begins.” As the graduates processed into the Abbey church for Commencement, an organ fanfare echoed throughout the building, highlighting the exuberance of the day. Msgr. Joseph Betchart, president-rector, welcomed those gathered and led the invocation. In his address to the graduates, Msgr. Betschart encouraged the graduates to “open even wider the doors of your hearts to Jesus Christ.”

Deacon Adrian Sisneros, of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, gave the Senior Farewell address. Referring to the original pioneer monks of Mount Angel Abbey, he spoke about the virtue of “holy grit,” which he described as “a noble and holy quality of character that will elevate us toward the heights of heaven.”

Mount Angel Seminary’s College of Liberal Arts conferred the Bachelor of Arts degree upon seminarians Thomas Cooper Johnson, Diocese of Great Falls-Billings; Rico Daniel Landavazo, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Patrick Gitau Mbuiyu, Archdiocese of Seattle; Br. Ignatius of Antioch Olivarez, O.S.B., Mount Angel Abbey; Eric Joseph Wunderlich II, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; and Jesus Jose Zapien Quezada, Diocese of Fresno.

Seminarians receiving the Pre-Theology Certificate of Completion included Joseph Soria Anaya, Diocese of Fresno; Erik Andrew Morris, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Julio de Jesus Oliva, Diocese of Fresno; Richard John Ordos II, Archdiocese of Seattle; and Brian B. Schumacher, Diocese of Salt Lake City.

The following seminarians received their Master of Arts (Philosophy): Br. Oscar Avila Rodriguez, M.Sp.S., Missionaries of the Holy Spirit; Sylvester Vijay Rozario, Archdiocese of Seattle; Br. Matthew Sislow, O.S.B., Mount Angel Abbey; Zachary John Sturm, Diocese of Sacramento; and Br. Helmer Vargas Llamas, M.Sp.S., Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.

The Seminary’s Graduate School of Theology conferred the Master of Divinity degree upon Deacon Tristan Peter Alec Dillon, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Deacon Agustín Rajan Henderson, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Deacon Chad Kirwan Hill, Archdiocese of Seattle; Deacon Juan Carlos Reynoso Lozano, Diocese of Fresno; Deacon Dalton Scott Rogers, Diocese of Fresno; Deacon Darrell James Segura, Jr., Archdiocese of Santa Fe; and Deacon Adrian Julian Sisneros, Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

Andrew Cummings; Deacon Tristan Peter Alec Dillon, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Ian Michael Gaston, Diocese of Orange; Josué David Jiménez; Deacon Dalton Scott Rogers, Diocese of Fresno; Timothy Josef Segert, Diocese of Boise; and James Joseph Tasy, Diocese of Fresno, each received their Master of Arts (Theology).

The following graduates received their Doctor of Ministry degree: Deacon James Michael Browne, Archdiocese of Philadelphia; Rev. David Leo Xavier Jaspers, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Rev. Timothy J. Kelly, Diocese of Tyler; Deacon Joseph O’Donnell, Diocese of Sacramento; and James Arthur Tabor.

Deacon Tristan Peter Alec Dillon, Diocese of Salt Lake City; and Deacon Dalton Scott Rogers, Diocese of Fresno, each received their Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology.

Before giving his blessing to conclude the Commencement Exercise, Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., chancellor of Mount Angel Seminary, offered some final lessons to the graduates from the life of St. Benedict, reminding them that “there’s a cloister in every heart and a stairway leads to heaven.”

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

Fr. Stuart Long: Lifelong fighter for Christ

Though he was only 50 at the time of his death, Fr. Stuart Long led a big, adventurous life. As a high school student athlete in Montana, he excelled at wrestling and football. He continued with football at Carroll College in Helena, where he discovered his passion for boxing, winning the state Golden Gloves heavyweight title in 1985.

An injury ended Stu’s heavyweight professional boxing dreams, and after a succession of short career starts, a motorcycle accident caused him to spend months in hospital care. In that time of recovery, he realized his vocational call to the priesthood and entered the seminary for the Diocese of Helena. He studied at Mount Angel Seminary from 2004 to 2007 and was ordained in 2007.

Father Pius X Harding, O.S.B., Fr. Stu’s spiritual director at Mount Angel, remembers that Stu had a “casual, upbeat way about him: very interested in the people around him. He was most generous; as a matter of fact, you had to refrain from admiring things in his presence, or he would buy them for you.”

While Stu was a seminarian, he was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that mimics Lou Gehrig’s disease symptoms, and for which there is no cure.
“He took [the illness] on like the fighter he was trained to be,” recalls Fr. Pius. “And he went on to live the vocation of love. I know several who embraced the Catholic faith due to his kind example and zealous catechetical ministry.”

Stu’s formation director in his final year at Mount Angel, Abbot Peter Eberle, O.S.B., remembers the progression of his illness. “Finally, it became clear that his condition was serious and incurable. That’s when Stu really shone. He took it all in stride, cheerfully accepting what the Lord had in store for him and still willing to minister to the very best of his ability. He was such an example to all of us.”

Despite his illness, Father Stu was an active priest, confessor, and friend to many. In the years since his death, Fr. Stu has been on the mind and heart of actor and devout Catholic Mark Wahlberg. So much so that Wahlberg is near completion of a major motion picture about the conversion and priestly ministry of Fr. Stu. The movie, titled “Stu,” to be released by Sony to theaters on April 15, 2022, stars Wahlberg as Fr. Stuart Long and Mel Gibson as his father.

– Christy Newland, for Mount Angel Letter

Categories: Monastery, Seminary, Uncategorized

Br. Mark Parker, O.S.B., obituary

For many years, Br. Mark Parker, O.S.B., was the first monk to greet visitors to the Hilltop bookstore and was the bookstore manager from 1996 to 1999. But the assignment that may have put him in touch with the most friends and correspondents of Mount Angel was his work with the Oremus prayer program.

Br Mark Parker, OSB

1948 – 2022

The Oremus program receives requests from thousands of people each year for prayers and Masses to be said for their intentions. Br. Mark made sure that each request was recorded correctly, responded to, and posted for the monks to remember in their daily prayers. It was a work that seems a far cry from the life of John Parker growing up in Fairbanks, Alaska, and going on to study graphic design at the University of Washington. These were his “unchurched” years, and he after college he found himself working as a reservation sales agent for a large airline for about ten years.

In 1984, he joined Mount Angel Abbey and received the name of Mark at his first profession in 1987. Br. Mark was known among his brother monks for his generosity and care for detail. Among his other assignments, for some 25 years he cared for the priests and religious guests who stayed inside the monastery during their visits. He embraced the Benedictine sense of welcoming all who came as Christ.

In his later years, Br. Mark often experienced severe pain in his legs and feet. Despite that, he continued serving his brothers generously in the community and through his devoted work with the Oremus program.

May he rest forever in the peace of Christ.

Categories: Monastery, Uncategorized

Ordination of a Priest – Father Israel Sanchez, O.S.B.

The community of Mount Angel gathered in the Abbey church on the morning of May 29 for the ordination to priesthood of Israel Sanchez, O.S.B.

Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, was principal celebrant for this solemn rite; Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., was principal concelebrant. The Mass was attended by dozens of family members, Seminary classmates, and friends of Fr. Israel. The liturgy is available for replay on Mount Angel’s YouTube live stream channel.

Reflecting on the day, newly ordained Fr. Israel wrote, “When I made solemn vows in 2019, I experienced it as the moment where I stood before Jesus, who said to me, ‘You are mine.’ I responded, ‘I am yours.’ And I ‘felt’ that I was his. Something similar happened at the Mass of ordination. I stood again before the Lord, except this time he said, ‘I am you.’ How is that supposed to ‘feel’? The one word to which I keep returning is ‘complete.’ I felt complete, hearing him say that, as if there’d been something missing in me until that moment. He made me complete. I feel complete. I also feel as though I’m just beginning, and I think of what Benedict says about the priests in his monastery: ‘He must make more and more progress toward God.’ A completeness, a fullness that somehow never ceases to grow. This is the gift he’s given me at ordination.”

Fr. Israel was raised in Yuma, Arizona, and came to Mount Angel as a seminarian for the Diocese of Tucson in 2011. He joined the community of Mount Angel in 2015 and made his first profession in 2016.

Categories: Monastery

Commencement 2021 at Mount Angel Seminary

2021 graduates at Mount Angel Seminary toss their hats.The 28 students of Mount Angel Seminary’s graduating class of 2021 ended the year with a Baccalaureate Mass in the Abbey church on April 23, followed by Commencement the following morning. “This was a year like no other” was a sentiment often heard throughout the two services.

President-Rector Msgr. Joseph Betschart, during the Commencement Exercises, commended the students and the entire seminary community for their “character, dedication, and commitment” in the face of innumerable challenges. “It’s certainly been a year full of challenges like no other. But it’s also been a year full of opportunities and graces like no other, as our Lord continues to guide us, sustain us, accompany us, and provide for us along the way.” He continued noting that throughout it all, he has never seen the community more joyful, more united together, more dedicated, focused, and committed, and make more growth than he has seen this year, which he said was a tremendous source of inspiration to him and to countless others.

As part of his Commencement Address, the Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, Archbishop of Seattle, noted that the graduates are preparing to go “into a troubled world.” He advised them to “learn to live the many moments of tension” they would encounter. “Learn also,” he said, “that oftentimes tension is the playground of the Holy Spirit, out of which is born the creative solution that is necessary to build God’s kingdom.”
The Senior Farewell address was given by Deacon Cheeyoon Chun of the Diocese of Orange. “Regardless of how long we have resided here as students,” he said, “we came as guests, but this place will always remain our home. We shall make our descent down the

hill once more to bear witness to what we have seen. We leave with confidence and the preparation to lay down our lives for our friends.”
Seminarians receiving their Bachelor of Arts from Mount Angel Seminary’s College of Liberal Arts were Michael Gerard Caster, Diocese of Las Vegas; Ivan Lara, Diocese of Las Vegas; Taylor Kaimanaokekai Mitchell, Diocese of Honolulu; Charles Patrick Nagore, Diocese of Tucson; Andy Toan Nguyen, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Javier Olmedo, Diocese of San Diego; Simon Mai Tran, Diocese of Las Vegas; and Jaime Zuazo, Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Those receiving their Pre-Theology Certificate of Completion were Scott Vincent Borba, Diocese of Fresno; Alberto Carrillo Pacheco, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Shawn Raymond Daniel, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Jose Luis Gomez, Diocese of Salt Lake City; John Paul Langsfeld, Archdiocese Santa Fe; Jonah Kenneth Powell, Diocese of Baker; and Tristan Schubert, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.

Deacon Cheeyoon Timothy Chun, Diocese of Orange; Deacon Joshua Falce, Diocese of Boise; Deacon Tony Galati, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Franklin Ubochioma Iwuagwu, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Deacon Val Park, Archdiocese of Seattle; Br. Israel Sanchez, O.S.B., Mount Angel Abbey; Deacon Jordan Taylor Sánchez, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; and Br. Joseph Mary Tran, O.C.D., Order of Discalced Carmelites, each received their Master of Divinity from the Seminary’s Graduate School of Theology.

Receiving their Master of Arts (Theology) were Michael Andrew Ceragioli; Shannon Leigh Rick; and Brody Robert Stewart, Mount Angel Abbey.

Br. Israel Sanchez, O.S.B., also received his Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology.

Gina Ranee Anderson and Rev. Jose T. Ramirez each received their Doctor of Ministry degree.

In closing the Commencement Exercises, the Right Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., Abbot and Chancellor, again acknowledged the challenging year this has been, noting that it was also “a wonderful time for growth. You showed yourselves able to rise to the occasion, again and again,” he told the graduates. “I congratulate you on that.” Quoting from the Apostle Paul, Abbot Jeremy offered his closing words: “Since you have been raised up in company with Christ, seek things above.”

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

Commencement 2020 at Mount Angel Seminary

Seminary Benefit Dinner - Portland 1The students of Mount Angel Seminary’s graduating class of 2020 had planned to end their year as usual with a Baccalaureate Mass in the Abbey church on May 8, followed by Commencement the following morning. But, as with so many other institutions of higher education this spring, the 39 graduates, the student body, and their family and friends were only able to participate in the Seminary’s 131st Commencement via live stream.

Prior to the Commencement, Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., presided at the monastic community Mass offered for the graduates and all students on May 8 but spoke in a church emptied except for the monastic community. He began the homily with: “What strange circumstances we are celebrating this Mass in. The graduates and their family and friends and the student body are not present. … But today, we know that many people are following us through live streaming. And perhaps in some strange way that reveals a reality that is always true about the Eucharistic celebration. Namely, the Communion of Saints, the whole church, is always present at every celebration of the Eucharist.”

Following the Mass and in the absence of students and graduates, Abbot Jeremy, Chancellor, Msgr. Joseph Betschart, President-Rector, Dr. Shawn Keough, Dean, and Dr. Andrew Cummings, Associate Dean, read the names of the students awarded a total 48 degrees and certificates: 10 Bachelor of Arts; seven Pre-Theology certificates; three Master of Arts (Philosophy); nine Master of Divinity; nine Master of Arts (Theology); five Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, and five Doctor of Ministry.

In closing the Commencement, Abbot Jeremy reminded the graduates that they take Mount Angel with them. And wherever life takes them, Mount Angel is always a home to which they can return. “You know the rhythm of this place,” he said. “And you know that as you go forth to your various places, the Mount Angel monastic community remains here for you with its pulse and rhythm of prayer.”

Replay the Mass and Commencement service online, or at the Mount Angel Abbey Live Stream channel on YouTube.

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

Fr. Augustine DeNoble, OSB, obituary

Born: October 25, 1925
Professed: September 8, 1950
Ordained: May 19, 1955
Died: November 9, 2019

Fr. Augustine DeNoble, O.S.B., a monk of Mount Angel Abbey, passed peacefully to the Lord on November 9, 2019. At the time of his death, Fr. Augustine, 94, was the eldest member of the monastic community.

Fr. Augustine was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Tillamook, Oregon. After college studies at Mount Angel Seminary, he entered the Abbey and made profession as a monk in 1950. His ordination to the priesthood followed in 1955. He earned a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Washington and served for many years as assistant librarian at the Abbey. Fr. Augustine also set up the libraries of the Abbey’s monastic foundations in Idaho and Mexico.

As a gifted archivist and researcher, Fr. Augustine became particularly knowledgeable in the early history of Mount Angel Abbey, and he saw to the compilation and binding of much related historical material. The monastic community is also indebted to Fr. Augustine for his years of work to develop the Abbey’s English version of the Liturgy of the Hours, which remains in daily use by the monks of Mount Angel.

As a priest, Fr. Augustine loved the ministry of sacramental reconciliation, and many knew him as a wise and compassionate confessor. Many Abbey visitors (and residents) delighted in the beautiful flowers he lovingly cultivated beside the Stations of the Cross that wind along Abbey Drive.

May he rest forever in the peace of Christ whom he served so long and so lovingly.

Categories: Monastery, Uncategorized

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