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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

Ministries Mass: A Response to God’s Call

Ministries Mass: A Response to God’s CallAt a Mass celebrated in the church at Mount Angel Abbey on February 23, 2022, six seminarians were instituted as lectors and six as acolytes. Together, the men represented eight dioceses and one religious community.

Archbishop John C. Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was the principal celebrant, joined by Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., and Archbishop Vittorio Francesco Viola, O.F.M., Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as the principal concelebrants. Over twenty priests from Mount Angel and other dioceses and religious communities concelebrated the Mass. They were joined in worship by the monastic and seminary community, friends, and employees of Mount Angel, with others following the livestream online as well.

The gospel reading for the liturgy was Luke 24:13-35, the account of the resurrected Jesus walking with his disciples on the road to Emmaus. In his homily, Archbishop Wester remarked how fitting it was for this gospel to be chosen, since “it underscores word and sacrament,” which the lector and acolyte are called to serve, respectively. While opening the Scriptures to them and breaking the bread, Jesus gazed on his disciples with love. “Deep within his eyes, [Jesus] imprints grace,” shared Archbishop Wester, inviting the seminarians to receive Christ’s personal love for them in their vocational call.

Instituted into the ministry of lector were: Alberto Carrillo Pacheco, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Shawn Raymond Daniel, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; José Luis Gómez Díaz, Diocese of Salt Lake City; John Paul Langsfeld, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Jose Francisco Orozco Cardenas, Diocese of Fresno; and Jaime Zuazo, Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Instituted into the ministry of acolyte were: Edward Burke, Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau; Brother Francis Lai, C.S.J.B., Congregation of St. John the Baptist; Edgar Yair Lozano Cuevas, Diocese of Sacramento; Maximiliano Muñoz, Archdiocese of Seattle; Martin de Jesus Ortega Ascencio, Diocese of Fresno; and Kyler John Voegele, Diocese of Reno.

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 full college, pre-theology, and graduate theology programs, and one of only a few in the nation that offers degrees at all levels, baccalaureate through doctorate. Students experience exceptional academic instruction in a deeply spiritual, prayerful, and formative environment.

– Ethan Alano

Categories: Seminary, Uncategorized

Nine men received as candidates to Holy Orders

Nine seminarians studying at Mount Angel Seminary were received as candidates to Holy Orders on October 20, 2021. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, was principal celebrant at the Eucharistic Liturgy. He was joined by Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., chancellor, and several prelates from dioceses with men studying at Mount Angel.

In his homily, Archbishop Sample emphasized that priestly ordination happens within the context of a faith community. The seminarians presenting themselves as candidates to Holy Orders are received by their bishop, representing the consent of the broader faith community. And once, God willing, these same men are ordained to Holy Orders, as priests, they will act within their parish communities, under the direction of the local bishop, to provide the Eucharist and sacraments.

Those received during the Rite of Admission to Candidacy represent six (arch)dioceses and included Timothy Segert, Diocese of Boise; Anthony Hoangphan, Archdiocese of Portland; Sylvester Chanda, Archdiocese of Seattle; Nelson Cintra, Diocese of Boise; Ian Gaston, Diocese of Orange; James Tasy, Diocese of Fresno; Marc Gandolfo, Diocese of San Diego; Efrain Razo, Jr., Archdiocese of Portland; Mark Hun Chae Jung, Diocese of Orange.

Candidacy is the final step before ordination to the transitional diaconate and typically occurs during the third year of studies in theology. Please join us in praying for these and all the seminarians studying at Mount Angel Seminary.


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.

Inspiring, educating, and forming the next generation of priests.

Categories: Seminary

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

The Ministries Mass: Elevating Seminarians Closer to the Priesthood

Mount Angel Abbey Seminary

Mount Angel Seminary

On March 10, 2021, at Mount Angel Abbey, 20 seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary moved a spiritual step closer in their journey to ordained priesthood.

The Most Reverend Liam Cary, Bishop of the Diocese of Baker, was the principal celebrant, instituting 14 men in the ministry of lector, and six in the ministry of acolyte. The seminarians represent 13 dioceses and two religious congregations.

Bishop Cary, reflecting on the story of Ezra (Nehemiah 8:1f.), reminded the seminarians that the Ministries Mass, like the scriptural account, focuses on the rediscovery of the Word of God. For the lector, he said, “The Word of God is entrusted to you personally – personally – in a significant way. The Word of God pierces to the heart. We have it in our hands every day, and we can lose sight of the miracle of this Word.”

“The Lord is already preparing my soul to receive the ineffable grace of priestly ordination. I take this ministry as an incredible act of God’s Love and Mercy,” said seminarian Benjamin Cowan, newly instituted as lector.

For the acolyte, Bishop Cary said, “After the Word is proclaimed, what is needed is silence to let the Word sink in, so that what we say is then manifest in what we do. Then comes the acolyte into play. The hands of the acolyte prepare the altar for sacrifice. The Lord is asking you – will you lend me your hands? You acolytes will receive not a book, but the paten with the bread for the Eucharist – the bread of sacrifice.”

Seminarian James Ladd said of his institution as acolyte, “[It] draws me closer to Christ, his Church, his people, and allows for a deeper spiritual connection to the mysteries of our faith.”

Instituted into the ministry of lector were: Edward Burke, Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau; Benjamin Clayton Cowan, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Luke Foley Daniel, Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau; John Robert Dyson, Diocese of Boise; Br. Michael Ferman, O.S.B., St. Martin’s Abbey; Br. Francis Lai, C.S.J.B., Congregation of St. John the Baptist; William Michael Lane, Diocese of Yakima; Matthew Leung, Diocese of Orange; Edgar Yair Lozano Cuevas, Diocese of Sacramento; Thomas Kevin Malone, Diocese of Boise; Maximiliano Muñoz, Archdiocese of Seattle; Martín de Jesus Ortega Ascencio, Diocese of Fresno; Kyler John Voegele, Diocese of Reno; and Bryan Walman, Diocese of Baker. All are in their first year of theology and will be called upon to be ministers of the Word of God and proclaim it during the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the coming months.

Instituted into the ministry of acolyte were: Marc Andrew Gandolfo, Diocese of San Diego; Marc Robert-James Jenkins, Archdiocese of Seattle; James Patrick Webb Ladd, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Anthony Scott Shumway, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Joseph Vu, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; and Michael Williams, Diocese of Las Vegas. All are in their second year of theology and will be called upon to be ministers of the Eucharist and serve the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the coming months.

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 full college, pre-theology, and graduate theology programs, and one of only a few in the nation that offers degrees at all levels, baccalaureate through doctorate. Students experience exceptional academic instruction in a deeply spiritual, prayerful, and formative environment.

Categories: Seminary, Uncategorized

Mass of Candidacy Is a Sign of Hope

It was with great joy that Mount Angel Seminary celebrated the Mass of Candidacy for 11 seminarians in the Abbey church on the morning of October 22, 2020.

The rite and admission to candidacy is a prerequisite for ordination. After each man is called by name, the ritual proceeds with a series of questions, such as, “In response to the Lord’s call are you resolved to complete your preparation so that in due time you will be ready to be ordained for the ministry of the Church?” Candidacy looks ahead to ordination, but its focus is on the man’s resolve to devote himself to the necessary preparation. It is “an opportunity,” notes Mr. Brody Stewart, studying for the Archdiocese of Seattle, “for both me and the institutional Church to pause and more seriously discern my vocation.” Candidacy is not the end of the journey, but “an acknowledgment that I still have work to do before I can adequately serve the people of God.”

Archbishop Alexander K. Sample was the principal celebrant of the Mass, at which were also present Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., chancellor, several prelates from dioceses with men studying at Mount Angel Seminary, and faculty and staff of the seminary community.

Archbishop Sample’s homily was a direct address to the 11 candidates. “I believe we are living in another apostolic age,” said the Archbishop. “Jesus needs apostles who are willing to pay even the ultimate price.” Greater still than any trial, the Archbishop reminded the candidates, is the message of the Gospel: “We must never lose hope, because we are the disciples of Jesus. The victory is already won.”

The Archbishop’s words did not fail to inspire. “He spoke directly to us, like a father to his sons,” said Mr. Adrian Sisneros, studying for the Diocese of Santa Fe. “He encouraged us as a father to persevere in suffering for Christ and for the People of God, because God is ushering in a new Pentecost.

Representing dioceses from across the western United States, the men accepted as candidates for ordination to priesthood were Sergio Chávez, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Arturo Cisneros, Diocese of Fresno; Tristan Dillon, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Agustín Henderson, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Chad Hill, Archdiocese of Seattle; Franklin Iwuagwu, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Juan Carlos Reynoso, Diocese of Fresno; Dalton Rogers, Diocese of Fresno; Darrell James Segura, Jr., Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Adrian Sisneros, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; and Brody Stewart, Archdiocese of Seattle.

Candidacy is the final step before ordination to the transitional diaconate. Join us in praying for these and all our seminarians.

– Br. Israel Sanchez, O.S.B.

Categories: Seminary, Uncategorized

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

Acolyte and Lector: Ministries of Service to the Church


At a Mass celebrated February 11 at Mount Angel Abbey, fourteen seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary took a step forward in their journey to ordained priesthood.

The Most Rev. Joseph V. Brennan, Bishop of Fresno, was the principal celebrant and instituted five men in the ministry of lector and nine in the ministry of acolyte. The seminarians represent eight dioceses.

In his homily, Bishop Brennan reminded the seminarians that titles are given much attention in our society, whether corporate, political or ecclesial. “But,” he said, “we can’t take any of those titles to heaven.” Instead, he invited them to reflect on the First Letter of John, chapter 3: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.”

“That,” he continued, “is the title we must cling to, the title we can take to heaven: ‘Child of God.’ And remember,” he said, “this passage was not written for children, but for adults.” Bishop Brennan continued, “Acolytes, serve well with the strength God gives you. Lectors, proclaim God’s word well with the speech that God has given you. And,” he concluded, “never forget that the best ministry is often done without words.”

Instituted into the ministry of lector were: Marc Andrew Gandolfo, Diocese of San Diego, Marc Robert James Jenkins, Archdiocese of Seattle, James Patrick Webb Ladd, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, Anthony Scott Shumway, Diocese of Salt Lake City, and Michael Tyrell Williams, Diocese of Las Vegas. All are in their first year of theology and will be called upon to be ministers of the Word of God and proclaim it during the liturgy in the coming months.

Instituted into the ministry of acolyte were: Sylvester Musonda Chanda, Archdiocese of Seattle, Michael Thomas Evert, Diocese of San Diego, Ian Michael Gaston, Diocese of Orange, Anthony Hoangphan, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, Hun Chae (Mark) Jung, Diocese of Orange, Efrain Razo, Jr., Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, Timothy Josef Segert, Diocese of Boise, James Joseph Tasy, Diocese of Fresno, and John Paul Tomassi, Archdiocese of Seattle. All are in their second year of theology and will be called upon to be ministers of the Eucharist and serve the altar during the Eucharistic Liturgy in the coming months.

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 full college, pre-theology, and graduate theology programs, and one of only a few in the nation that offers degrees at all levels, baccalaureate through doctorate. Students experience exceptional academic instruction in a deeply spiritual, prayerful, and formative environment.

Categories: Seminary

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

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