News

Nine seminarians admitted to candidacy for Holy Orders

At a Mass on the morning of October 23 at Mount Angel Abbey, nine seminarians of Mount Angel Seminary were admitted to candidacy for Holy Orders by the Most Rev. Alexander Sample, Archbishop of Portland, who served as principal celebrant. The Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders marks the point when the seminarian publicly declares his commitment to enter final preparation for service to the people of God as an ordained minister in the Church. Through the bishop, the Church accepts and publicly affirms the candidate’s commitment to continue on the path toward ordination.

Admitted to candidacy were Cheeyoon Timothy Chun of the Diocese of Orange, Caleb Joshua Cunningham of the Diocese of Baker, Anthony Obinna Ezeaputa and Jordan Taylor Sanchez of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Joshua Daniel Falce of the Diocese of Boise, Anthony Robert Galati of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oscar Saul Medina Zermeno and Bonaventure Chukwunomso Okoro of the Diocese of Fresno, and Junghoon (Val) Park of the Archdiocese of Seattle. All of the men are in their third or fourth year of theology and will begin now to prepare for ordination to the transitional diaconate.

In addition to the seminarians and the monastic community of Mount Angel, the Mass was attended by 36 bishops, religious superiors, and vocation directors who were present for the Mass and the Episcopal Council meeting that followed. Family members and guests of the candidates attended, as well as the entire seminary and monastic community of Mount Angel.
In his homily at the Mass, Archbishop Sample described the Rite of Candidacy as “a rite of passage that places you now in a different phase of preparation. You enter now into a phase of more intense preparation for ordination.”

Archbishop Sample reminded the entire community of seminarians that their best and primary preparation for priesthood is the loving relationship they must form with Jesus Christ. They must, he said, make their priority in life “your relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. There is nothing more important in your preparation [for priesthood] than that.”

Mount Angel Seminary, established in 1889 by the pioneer monks of Mount Angel Abbey, is the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States. It is the only seminary in the West that offers a four-year college and graduate school of theology, and one of only a few in the nation that offer degrees at all levels, baccalaureate through doctorate. Students experience exceptional academic instruction in a deeply spiritual, prayerful, and formative environment.

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

Staying active is part of the formation plan

Seminarians spend hours each day at prayer and study. But some also crash the boards, send headers into the corner or beast it up in the weight room.

“Being physically active is a great way to grow in holiness,” says Kyle Rink, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Seattle who leads a mountaineering club for seminarians and is a stalwart in the daily 4 p.m. indoor soccer game in the seminary gym.

According to Rink, hikes in the Cascades make seminarians aware of God’s grandeur and sports help them function as a team and reach for greatness.

Physical fitness actually is a part of seminary formation. The goal is for future priests to learn to live a balanced life. Seminary leaders and bishops know that healthy men can be more effective pastors.

“Being active improves my overall health and improves my performance in school,” says Rink, 25. “It keeps me happy. If I did not do this, I would have less drive in general.”

He played baseball and soccer and ran track in school. Soccer is popular at the hilltop seminary, where students come from soccer-loving nations like Mexico, Argentina and Nigeria. The daily game draws 12 to 18 players with all kinds of skill levels. Men with less experience are treated with care and respect, and the competition among skilled players is fierce and fun.

Rink also lifts weights, runs and rides his bike. “The country roads around here are amazing,” he says. “You can just go and go.”

He is president of the seminary’s Frassati Society, named after Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, an early 20th-century Italian who mixed devotion, charity, social justice work and outdoor adventure.

The men climb peaks in the ample surrounding wilderness, ski, trek on snowshoes and pray outdoors.

“It is not just sports for sports’ sake, but you know you are going to grow,” Rink explains.

When he came to seminary, Ivan Lara was pushing 300 pounds.

“Coming to seminary opened my eyes to how far off the deep end I had gone,” said Lara, now 22, trimmer and studying for the Diocese of Las Vegas.

He starts each day with prayer and 30 minutes of exercise that gets his heart pounding. He runs the field in the seminary daily soccer game, plays basketball twice per week and shows up for volleyball once per week. The gym is his favorite seminary building, except for the church.

As a boy, Lara played all kinds of sports, but stopped as a teen when his parents could not afford fees or transportation. When he landed a job, he spent money on snacks instead of sports.

Being active helps all parts of his life, he says. “In class I am more focused. I am more focused on liturgy and prayer.”

Seminary sports have helped Lara get more disciplined. Once a “go with the wind” person, he now sets goals for weightlifting and running and works toward them. He has learned to eat better, thanks to the seminary food service. He makes sure to get enough sleep.

He is surprised seminary took on all parts of his life, but he is glad.

“The thing that is really difficult here is balancing your life,” he says. He knows the same will be true when he is serving in a parish someday, God willing. The experience he gained at seminary, he said, could make a big difference.

When it comes to basketball, the seminary has an organized squad that has played teams from other small schools like Multnomah College of the Bible, Reed College and Concordia University.

“We play against their junior varsity. If we played varsity, we’d get killed,” says a good-natured Val Park, who hopes to be ordained a deacon next year for the Archdiocese of Seattle. He helped get the organized hoop team going.

“It’s a good way to let some steam out,” Park says of competition. “We try to keep a good balance, keeping it light so all people will come and build fraternity.”

For Park, sports long have been a way to build friendships and develop a team perspective.

“You learn how to find your role in connection with people around you,” Park says. “It allows you to be something bigger that just yourself. God willing, we will be team players as priests.”

Park and his fellow players think they would benefit from having a coach. If there is a willing volunteer out there, the seminary wants to hear.

Story by Ed Langlois for the Catholic Sentinel. Reprinted with permission.

Categories: Seminary

Tony Del Castillo sees beyond external trappings

Tony Del Castillo cannot see. Yet he says a friend’s question years ago helped him perceive people with clarity, to look beyond an individual’s quirks, foibles and facades.

“God used her to open up my eyes in a sense,” said Del Castillo, the first blind seminarian at Mount Angel Seminary in its 130-year history.The 40-year-old sat in a classroom in October recalling the early impetus for his vocation journey. His guide dog, a black Labrador named Dagwood, rested at his feet. A lecture on modern philosophy had just finished and Mount Angel professor Andrew Cummings collected his notes.

“When I make a controversial point and it gets too tense, Dagwood lets us know with a growl,” said Cummings with a smile.

Del Castillo, a second-year theology student for the Diocese of Orange, California, was born with Leber congenital amaurosis, an eye disorder that affects the retina. His brother has the same condition.

The boys’ parents, both committed Catholics, were advocates on behalf of their sons and others with disabilities, fighting at the state and national levels to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

“They helped me learn to speak up for myself and to be an advocate,” said the seminarian.

Del Castillo is a skilled pianist and drummer, and after high school he studied jazz at the University of Southern California.

One memorable day his friend Lisa, a devout Christian, asked him in a nervous tone of voice, “How can I love you better?”

“The way she said it, I knew she wanted to know how she should treat me as a blind person,” recalled Del Castillo. “Most people don’t know if they’re going to say something offensive. I told her to treat me like she would anyone else. But her question spoke volumes because she included the word ‘love.’ What she was really saying was, ‘What’s the best way to get beyond the surface? Because you are someone that I like as a friend but can love as a brother.’

“That was one of those points that inspired me to grow in my faith,” Del Castillo said. “It started to change my whole outlook on life and how I look at other people. God’s sight tells us that we have to look past what’s superficial.”

His revelations prompted his involvement with USC’s Catholic center and a music ministry. Since there weren’t hymnals in braille, Del Castillo listened to the music to memorize it by ear.

“The music was a good teacher,” he said. “I learned more about things we believe as Catholics because music can convey teachings about social justice, the Eucharist, God’s love.”

Del Castillo started considering the priesthood in 2003, but his passion remained music. He earned a master’s in popular music and taught blind youths percussion.

It was a chance to transmit the lessons he’d gained from his parents. When students would come up to him and say, “I can’t do this or that in school,” he’d say, “Yes, you can. I’ve done it. But you need to learn to be an advocate for yourself.”

The seminarian added that blindness has helped him identify with a range of people “who are thought of as ‘the other,’” and he hopes through his vocation to lift up those who’ve been dismissed — “be they homeless, immigrants, or dealing with racism or sexism.”

In 2014, Del Castillo began seriously to explore the priesthood and went through a discernment process. He applied to a seminary and received unanimous recommendations that he was a good candidate.

“Unfortunately, the rector of that seminary basically told my vocations director: ‘Tell him that he shouldn’t even apply.’ They didn’t know how they were going deal with me.”

Del Castillo sent a letter to the rector saying he understood the concerns but that he’d like to discuss ways it might work out. It was fruitless.

“That was tough,” said Del Castillo. “But it was a good lesson in patience and perseverance.”

Eventually he applied to Mount Angel, which was open to the possibility of a blind seminarian, and he began studies last year.

“I was amazed by how peaceful it is here, and the people are awesome,” said Del Castillo, who holds no animosity toward the first seminary. “It wasn’t right how they handled it, but in the long run this is better how it worked out.”

Del Castillo has adapted well at Mount Angel. He’s often able to get course material in braille or audio or scan a book and convert it into audio. He regularly uses a touch-screen tablet that includes braille.

As self-sufficient as he is, Del Castillo reaches out for assistance when needed. It took a while to get comfortable navigating campus, “but the guys are great and helped me out,” he said of his fellow seminarians.

“And Dagwood here, he helps me be more independent,” he said, adding with a grin that “the guys think of him as the seminary mascot, and he’s also a holy dog.”

He once took Dagwood outside for a bathroom break and encountered a group of seminarians about to start a walking rosary. They invited Del Castillo to join, but he had lots of homework to finish and kept trying to tug the dog back inside. Dagwood had his own ideas. “And, well, guess who ended up praying the rosary that day?” Del Castillo said, laughing.

Father Steve Clovis is vice president of administration and director of human formation at Mount Angel. “There are things that Tony and Dagwood depend on us for — simple things — and they give us profound things in return,” said the priest, who’d stopped to say hello and scratch the guide dog, then off-duty and therefore available for pats and scratches.

“They inspire us and humble us,” said Father Clovis. “They remind us of what we can give and be for others and what others can give and be for us. It’s been a blessing having them here.”

Story and photo: Katie Scott; first published in the Catholic Sentinel. Reprinted with permission.

Categories: Seminary

Blessed Conchita helps us understand the need for holy priests

Mount Angel Abbey, Mass celebrating Bl. Conchita.The Church celebrated the spiritual power of a faithful Catholic lay woman Sept. 14 at Mount Angel Abbey.

More than 400 people filled the Abbey church for a Mass of thanksgiving for Blessed Conchita Cabrera, a Mexican mystic who died in 1937 at age 75.

Concepcion Cabrera de Armida was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, in 1862, the seventh of nine children. Later known as Conchita, she experienced mystical gifts even as a child, including having the baby Jesus as a playmate. She was a mother of nine, widowed at age 39.

While raising her children as a model of Catholic parenthood, she also became a prolific spiritual author whose diary alone includes more than 60,000 pages in spite of no formal schooling.

A regular in Eucharistic adoration, Blessed Conchita received messages from the Lord regarding the need for sanctity in priesthood. Church authorities have accepted her writings, which are quoted in the Congregation for the Clergy’s booklet on priestly holiness and spiritual maternity — the idea that priests have mother-like duties in spiritual life.

In 1907, she received a message from Jesus: “I must be offered by you at every moment.”

Conchita, an inspiration behind the priests and brothers of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, has many admirers in Oregon.

“She is in my heart,” said Kathy Valdez, a member of St. Mary Parish in the town of Mt. Angel. “She is an example of a strong, loving, faithful woman who served God and others around her.”

Valdez, a mother and grandmother, said that she is “deeply touched” by Conchita’s self-giving in family and community. “The Lord instructed her to work through the laity,” Valdez said.

“I came to learn more about Conchita and know more details about her life,” said Jocelin Morales, a 25-year-old member of St. Anthony Parish in Tigard who speaks of Conchita in the present tense. “She has a very deep connection with God and through him she has been able to help others.”

Jocelin’s sister, 27-year-old Viri, admires the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and came to support them as they extend Conchita’s ministry. “She was very dedicated and helped others, even though her family was a lot of hard work,” Viri said.

“She is my spiritual mother,” said Brother José Ortega, a Missionary of the Holy Spirit who is enrolled at Mount Angel Seminary. “She lived according to God’s will.” Brother José said his calling to consecrated life came from God but went through Blessed Conchita. The order has served parishes in western Oregon for several decades and specializes in spiritual direction.

Through Blessed Conchita’s inspiration and help, several other ministries emerged, including a lay movement called the Apostleship of the Cross, a contemplative institute of nuns, a group of consecrated laity, and a movement of clergy called the Brotherhood of Christ the Priest.

After Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to her, she was beatified in Mexico City in May. In 2007, Rome’s Congregation for the Clergy had written, “In the future, she will be of great importance for the universal Church. The spiritual motherhood for the sanctification of priests consumed her completely.”

During the Mass at Mount Angel Abbey, relics of Blessed Conchita were placed near the front of the church under an icon of her.

After the Abbey bells pealed over the Hilltop and to the valleys below, a procession included a large banner with a likeness of a smiling Blessed Conchita.

Archbishop Gustavo GarciaArchbishop Gustavo Garcia of San Antonio, Texas, blessed the relics and icon with incense as the faithful bowed and crossed themselves.

“Suffering can be absorbed by love,” Archbishop Garcia told worshippers in English and Spanish, summing up one of Blessed Conchita’s messages. “What is needed today is self-surrendering love.”

A widow who knew the pain of loss, Blessed Conchita reflected on suffering for everyday people. For her, suffering for Jesus is a great joy for a Christian, Archbishop Garcia said, choking up with emotion. He beseeched her in prayer: “May you help us to hear the Lord as you did.”

Archbishop Garcia, who once served in Oregon, is a Missionary of the Holy Spirit.

Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample attended, as did retired Portland Archbishop John Vlazny. Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle was on hand as well.

Most of the congregation were lay members of parishes in the region, especially St. Matthew in Hillsboro, served by the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.

Father Peter Arteaga, a Missionary of the Holy Spirit who serves at the seminary, organized the event.

The Mass was held during Mount Angel Oktoberfest, so some visitors to the abbey happened in by chance.

“I had never heard of her before,” Sarah McDonald of Lake Oswego said of Blessed Conchita. “She is just fabulous.”

–      By Ed Langlois; reprinted with permission from Catholic Sentinel

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

Commencement 2019 at Mount Angel Seminary

The students of Mount Angel Seminary’s graduating class of 2019 celebrated their Baccalaureate Mass on the afternoon of May 10 and Commencement Exercises the following morning. Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange, gave the Commencement Address, speaking to more than 300 family and friends assembled in the Abbey church.

In his address, Bishop Vann expressed his appreciation for the natural beauty of the landscape that surrounds Mount Angel Seminary. The beauty of this part of the country, close to the Cascade mountain range, he noted, helps to “form and define the landscape of the souls” who live and study at Mount Angel. In the same way, he said, “Your calling, your ministry, your vocation, strengthened by the degrees you will receive today … will truly form and define the culture and the lives around you.”

Commencement 2019 at Mount Angel Seminary 1Bishop Vann reminded the graduates that we don’t always see clearly or understand the purpose of the present moment in the broader picture of life. But, from his own experience, he has found that in the providence of God, what life presents today is the best preparation for tomorrow. Most importantly, the people we find ourselves with today form the community that will carry us through to whatever the next step is.

In presenting the Senior Farewell, Reverend Mister Dean Marshall, from the Diocese of Sacramento, echoed the importance of community as we are each called into unknown territory. “There are a lot of unknowns ahead of us,” he said, “and we leave now a place of comfort, a place where we know what to expect. But, the times ahead are wrought with excitement and grace.”

There were 44 in the 2019 graduating class of Mount Angel Seminary, with a total of 55 degrees and certificates awarded, including 13 Bachelor of Arts; two Pre-Theology certificates; two Master of Arts (Philosophy); 12 Master of Divinity; 13 Master of Arts (Theology); seven Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, and six Doctor of Ministry.

This Commencement marked the first cohort to graduate in the seminary’s new Doctor of Ministry program. Following the core curriculum of the seminary, the Doctor of Ministry concentrates on Scripture, Liturgical/Systematic Theology, and Pastoral Theology. The program provides an opportunity to deepen and enrich the work of those engaged in pastoral ministry through the pursuit of a professional doctorate.

Mount Angel Seminary offers fully accredited degree programs at all levels, including a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy; Master of Arts (Philosophy); Master of Arts (Theology); Master of Divinity; Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, offered in affiliation with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome; and Doctor of Ministry. The Master of Arts (Theology) and Doctor of Ministry programs are open to non-seminarians and lay students.

Mount Angel Seminary, established in 1889 by the pioneer monks of Mount Angel Abbey, is the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States. It is the only seminary in the West that offers a four-year college and graduate school of theology, and one of only a few in the nation that offer degrees at all levels, baccalaureate through doctorate. Since its foundation, Mount Angel Seminary has educated and formed thousands of priests and many religious and lay women and men for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Categories: Monastery, Seminary

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

Seven accepted as candidates for Holy Orders

Seven accepted as candidates for Holy OrdersSeven theology students of Mount Angel Seminary presented themselves and were accepted as candidates for Holy Orders in the church of Mount Angel Abbey on Thursday, October 25.

The Liturgy with the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders took the form of a concelebrated High Mass, with the Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland as the principal celebrant. Archbishop Sample was joined by a host of bishops and religious superiors as concelebrants, including the Right Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey and Chancellor of the Seminary, and Reverend Monsignor Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary.

The seminarians admitted to candidacy were Joseph Bernard Baltz, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Josué David Jiménez, Diocese of San Diego; Ryan Patrick Mahar, Diocese of Sacramento; Michael John Rizzo, Diocese of Orange; Phillip Jeffrey Shifflet, Diocese of Orange; Dominic Joseph Sternhagen, Diocese of Salt Lake City; and Thomas Viet Tran, Archdiocese of Seattle. The Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders signals a commitment by each man to enter the final phase of preparation for service to the Catholic Church as an ordained minister in the Church.

In his poignant homily directed to the seven accepted candidates, Archbishop Sample told the men they were an answer to the prayers of the Church.

“Jesus in the Gospel today gives us a command to pray that the Lord will send many laborers into his harvest, a harvest that is abundant and rich and waiting to be gathered in. This is one of the few occasions in the Gospel where Jesus gives us something very particular to be prayed for.

“You are part – and a major part – of the Lord’s answer to the peoples’ prayers. You have heard the call of the harvest-master and you have responded.”

Archbishop Sample continued. “Yes, this is a difficult time, but don’t be discouraged . . . You will be part of the solution for rebuilding, purifying, and renewing God’s Holy Church. That is your call.”

The seven men will, in the near future, be ordained to the transitional diaconate, which is typically held in their respective home dioceses. Their ordination to the priesthood will come after the completion of their fourth year of theology at Mount Angel Seminary.

Mount Angel Seminary is the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States. It was established in 1889 at Mount Angel Abbey to form men for the priesthood. The Seminary serves both graduate and undergraduate seminarians from dioceses around the western United States, the Pacific Islands, and beyond, as well as students belonging to various religious communities and the lay faithful.

– Steve Ritchie

Categories: Seminary

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