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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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