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Mount Angel Seminarians hear God in silence

Seminary Appeal 28Every year at the beginning of January, the seminarians at Mount Angel Seminary participate in a week-long silent retreat before the spring semester begins. Although the seminarians at Mount Angel regularly practice meditative prayer and some times of silence every day, the retreat is a privileged opportunity to rest with the Lord and deepen their relationship with him.

For the 2023 retreat, Mount Angel Seminary welcomed Fr. Greg Cleveland, OMV, as the retreat director to introduce the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Fr. Cleveland, a Chicago native, joined the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in 1987 and received ordination to the priesthood in 1995. He currently serves as the executive director for the Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality in Denver.

Each day of the retreat, the seminarians gathered in St. Joseph Chapel for the Liturgy of the Hours, Mass, spiritual conferences given by Fr. Cleveland, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The theme of the retreat was “Wellsprings of Grace: The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.” Fr. Cleveland encouraged the seminarians to engage their prayerful imagination and enter into Gospel scenes for their personal hours of meditation. By choosing to abstain from the use of cell phones, social media, Internet, and other electronic media during the retreat, the seminarians could focus their attention more readily on the Lord speaking to them in their hearts. Fr. Cleveland also taught them the Rules for the Discernment of Spirits of St. Ignatius, helping them to accept God’s consolations and to reject temptations in the name of Christ.

For Deacon Nelson Cintra of the Diocese of Boise, who is in his final semester at Mount Angel, the retreat was an opportunity to deepen his practice of Ignatian spirituality, which he has been attracted to and appreciated for some years. One challenge for Deacon Nelson during the retreat was an inability to sleep at night due to recovery from a knee surgery. He noticed discouraging thoughts surfacing frequently in that trial of restlessness. However, thanks to reviewing these spiritual tools from St. Ignatius, Deacon Nelson found “renewed attentiveness and strength to recognize and reject those temptations at their onset, choosing instead to live in the love and mercy of God.”

Patrick Mbuiyu of the Archdiocese of Seattle did not know much about Ignatian spirituality prior to the retreat, but he found the conferences helpful for learning to employ this practical spirituality in his life. He found that he can more fully “appreciate God as unchanging and ever with me aside from how I am feeling physically, mentally, or spiritually.” Being an international student with most of his family from Kenya, Patrick initially found the silence challenging, noticing his desire to check in on his family and respond to their messages. “Silence has invited me to grow in trust, seeking not to rely on my strength and wisdom in ensuring things are okay, and choosing to rely on God’s faithfulness and merciful love,” says Patrick.

Please keep our seminarians in your prayers as they continue to draw near to the Lord throughout the semester.

Categories: Seminary, Uncategorized

Br. Charles Gonzalez, OSB, ordained a deacon

On Saturday, December 10, 2022, the monks of Mount Angel Abbey welcomed Archbishop Alexander K. Sample to the Abbey church to ordain Br. Charles Borromeo Gonzalez, OSB, to the diaconate during the celebration of Mass. Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, and Abbot Austin Cadiz, OSB, current abbot of Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey in Manila, Philippines, served as the principal concelebrants. Family and friends of Br. Charles and other guests filled the Abbey church while others followed the liturgy on livestream.

After the proclamation of the gospel, Abbot Jeremy presented Br. Charles to Archbishop Sample as a candidate for ordination. The congregation applauded to voice their support for his ordination as a deacon. During the homily, Archbishop Sample preached on the sacred duty of the deacon to proclaim the Word of God and to evangelize. Turning to Br. Charles, the archbishop prayed that “the Lord touch your lips today to place his words there so that you may boldly proclaim Jesus Christ to the world.”

Following the homily, Br. Charles stood in front of Archbishop Sample and made the promises of a deacon, after which he prostrated himself on the floor while the monastic schola chanted the litany of the saints. His classmate, Deacon Sylvester Chanda of the Archdiocese of Seattle, then assisted Br. Charles as he put on the stole and dalmatic, the vestments proper to the deacon. After receiving the book of the gospels, Br. Charles exchanged the sign of peace with Archbishop Sample, Abbots Jeremy and Austin, and the other deacons assisting with the liturgy. From there, Br. Charles exercised his sacred duties as a deacon during the rest of the Mass.

The monastic community gives thanks to God for the gift of Br. Charles’s diaconate ordination and asks for prayers for him as he begins this new ministry of service.

–Ethan Alano

Categories: Monastery, Seminary, Uncategorized

Seminarians received as candidates to Holy Orders

On October 26, 2022, four Mount Angel seminarians were received as candidates for Holy Orders during Mass in the Abbey church. The monastic community welcomed Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, as the principal celebrant for the Mass. Other bishops concelebrated the Mass together with Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, seminary chancellor, Msgr. Joseph Betschart, president-rector, vocation directors, visiting priests, and priests from the seminary and monastery.

During the homily, Archbishop Sample encouraged the four candidates to continue their final preparation before ordination to the transitional diaconate and later priesthood. “We rejoice with you today, that the Lord has called you to labor in his harvest out of the compassion of Jesus for the crowds, and that God, like Jeremiah, has been forming you from all eternity for this vocation,” he said. After the homily, Archbishop Sample, on behalf of his brother bishops, received the seminarians’ declaration of intent to complete their preparation for Holy Orders and “to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his Body, the Church.”

Those received as candidates included Anthony Shumway, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Maximiliano Muñoz, Archdiocese of Seattle; James Ladd, Archdiocese of Portland; Michael Williams, Diocese of Las Vegas. The rite of candidacy “makes all these years of praying to follow the will of God in my life come to a point where I can say, yes, I truly want to give my life to the Church if she will have me,” shares Shumway. For Muñoz, the liturgical rite “takes up the ministries we have been exercising in past years, synthesizes them, and puts them in relationship to our dioceses, to the Churches we hope one day to serve with our whole lives.”

Please pray for these new candidates and all the seminarians studying at Mount Angel Seminary. “May God who has begun the good work in [them] bring it to fulfillment.”

– Ethan Alano

Categories: Seminary, Uncategorized

170 years of love, faith, fidelity

During Sunday Mass on September 25, three monks of Mount Angel celebrated their Jubilee of Monastic Profession. Abbot Peter Eberle, OSB, and Br. James Bartos, OSB, who served as principal celebrant and deacon for the Mass, respectively, both commemorated 60 years of monastic profession. Br. Simon Hepner, OSB, observed 50 years of profession.

After the homily, the jubilarians stood before Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, who prayed a blessing over them for their continued perseverance in monastic life. Each jubilarian then read his profession document anew and laid it on the altar. Standing before Abbot Jeremy again with arms outstretched, they sang the Suscipe as they did for their solemn professions many decades ago.

After Mass, the monastic community and other attendees congratulated the jubilarians in a reception outside the Abbey church.

Categories: Monastery, Uncategorized

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

Mass of the Holy Spirit opens year at Mount Angel Seminary

Seminarians and students, faculty, staff, and other guests gathered with the monastic community in the Abbey church on August 22 to celebrate the opening of the new academic year at Mount Angel Seminary with the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, chancellor of Mount Angel Seminary, served as the principal celebrant for the Mass, which included seminary priest faculty, monks and other visiting priests as concelebrants. Reflecting on Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit given to the Church through his passion, death and resurrection, Abbot Jeremy preached that “when [Jesus] puts his Body and Blood into our bodies and blood, he puts Spirit into us so that we may go and announce the Gospel by our lives.”

Later that same morning, the seminary and monastic communities gathered in the Abbey church to listen to Dr. Joseph T. Papa, associate professor of philosophy at Mount Angel Seminary, deliver the inaugural address titled, “Christian Humanism: An Oxymoron?” Drawing on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, Dr. Papa emphasized that “everything human, the whole range and scope of human activity, falls under the concern [and] the intense interest of the Son of God.” He affirmed that “the priest is called to appreciate, and in some way, to enter into this engagement. A robust, humanistic development will allow him to do so.”

After the Mass and the inaugural address, attendees gathered outside to talk, laugh, and share their excitement to begin the new academic year. The seminarians cheered as Abbot Jeremy joined them for a group photo in front of the Abbey church.

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

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

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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

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