Life in the seminary is a unique experience. Though in some ways similar to living on a college campus, it revolves around more than an academic program: integrated with academics are a complete spiritual life, pastoral internships, human formation meetings and seminars, and a rich community life. Anyone entering Mount Angel expecting a mere academic program quickly discovers that basketball, prayer, self-reflection, socials and friendships are equally important. Some find seminary life demanding; some find it rewarding; some find it fun!
Mount Angel Seminary is located alongside Mount Angel Abbey, perched on a hilltop in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. The true soul of the hilltop is the Abbey, which operates the Seminary and endows the entire grounds with a Benedictine charism. While the largest building on the hill is the monastery, with its adjoining church and soaring bell tower, most of the facilities are dedicated to the Seminary. Its major buildings include Aquinas Hall (theology residences), Anselm Hall (college and pre-theology residences, classrooms, offices), Damian Center (athletics, weight room, music), Annunciation (classrooms, offices) and Subiaco (overflow housing). Surrounded by green fields, wooded hills and volcanic mountains, Mount Angel enjoys a picturesque, contemplative setting. The capitol city of Salem is within easy driving distance, however, and downtown Portland is an hour away. The Abbey and Seminary buildings are identified in the Hilltop Walking Tour.
Throughout the seminary year, which extends from late August through early May, the weekday schedule generally runs as follows:
7:30 Morning prayer, meditation
4:00 Free time
5:30 Evening Prayer
As the schedule indicates, the day is well structured. Morning prayer, Mass and Evening Prayer are community events and are obligatory for all seminarians. Seminarians generally carry a full academic load, so there is not much free time from 9 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. These hours are typically used for study, exercise, and personal needs, as well as pastoral ministry, spiritual direction, and formation meetings and seminars. There are often organized sports at 4 p.m. Evening activities are varied, ranging from conferences on Monday to movies on Friday, with most evenings free.
Saturdays are generally free days. Sundays also consist of much free time, although the seminarians join the monastic community for Mass at 9:00 a.m. and for vespers at 5:15 p.m.
One of the unique aspects of seminary life is its communal dimension. Both the college and the theologate enjoy a strong sense of community, fostered by socials, cultural events, the activities of ethnic groups, athletic competitions, and other activities. Cultural diversity also enriches the community experience, as the Latin American, Vietnamese, Samoan, Korean, Irish, and the Filipino sub-communities plan their own activities and sponsor events for the Seminary at large. Activities for the seminarians of each diocese are also supported, promoting bonds that prepare them for entry into their respective presbyteries. And of course, lifelong friendships are formed in the Seminary—a gift for which alumni frequently express gratitude.
Special events throughout the year invigorate the Seminary socially and spiritually. Such events include:
- The Inaugural Mass of the Holy Spirit and barbeque
- Days of Recollection
- The Community Retreat
- The Annual Formation Symposium
- The Annual Theology Symposium
- The Seminary Benefit Dinners in both Portland and Eugene
- Liturgical feasts proper to cultural groups (e.g., the Vietnamese Martyrs)
- Diaconate Ordination Mass
- Ministries and Candidacy Masses
- The Talent Show
- The Superbowl party and flag-football game
Other events are arranged year-by-year by the social and cultural committees of the seminary.