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