Three monks make Solemn Profession
On the evening of September 12, 2018, three junior monks of Mount Angel Abbey gathered in the Abbey church with their monastic community, family members and friends to make their professions of solemn vows.
Br. Timothy Kalange, Br. Bede Ramos and Br. Ephrem Martinez have very different backgrounds and each has experienced a unique spiritual journey that brought him to the Abbey. But the trio are united in their love of Christ, and the monastic community to which they are now committed for life.
Br. Ephrem Martinez, 34, came to Mount Angel from Cuernavaca, Mexico in 2015. He had been in formation at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, the former daughter house of the Abbey, before accepting the invitation of Abbot Gregory (ret.) to come to Mount Angel.
"It was hard, even painful, to leave Mexico," Br. Ephrem said. "But when you love something, sacrifices are okay because you are convinced this is what you want."
One reason it was hard is that he spoke no English at first. Now, less than three years later, Br. Ephrem is speaking and studying in English and preparing to teach Introduction to Spirituality at Mount Angel Seminary. After his solemn vows, he will be kitchen master and will also continue ministering to Spanish-speaking visitors and guests.
"Our community at Mount Angel Abbey has many cultures," Br.Ephrem said. "We are living through a new moment in our history. There are monks from Samoa, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico. It is really good."
Br. Timothy Kalange, 39, is from Twin Falls, Idaho. Growing up he had regular contact with the Benedictine monks at the Monastery of the Ascension where he attended Mass weekly with his father. In college he "drifted away" from the Church, but never fully lost touch with the Catholicism he says is "part of my DNA."
While working in Orlando, Florida, in video production, Br. Timothy grew disillusioned with the corporate culture and his personal life. "My life was good, but it wasn't good enough," he said. "I was happy, but I wasn't satisfied." He made a number of changes in his life, and eventually, visited the Abbey for a short stay. He immediately felt at home and at peace.
"I'm an extrovert," Br. Timothy said. "But I need silence for peace in my life. The monastery is a good mix of solitude and community. Monastic life is a great life if you are called to it. Here, I definitely feel satisfied."
Br. Bede Ramos, 53, has been at the Abbey for nearly five years. A native of the Philippines, he is the product of a strong Catholic family and has had "a yearning to be close to God since childhood."
While he always knew he had a religious vocation, Br. Bede also enjoyed his work in human resources and management, which made it possible for him to help his family financially. His work led him to Saudi Arabia where he was a Human Resources director, but the yearning grew even stronger. An eight-day online retreat had a major impact on him, and he began to communicate regularly with Fr. Odo Recker, O.S.B., vocation director for Mount Angel Abbey. After an extended period of trying, Br. Bede was finally able to visit Mount Angel.
"I was received so warmly (at the Abbey). It is really like a family . The thing that really struck me was the life of the monks – the regular prayer, the way you stop your work for prayer. That was kind of neat for me."
As they approached their profession of solemn vows, all three junior monks said they felt the significance of the impending event.
– Steve Ritchie