Seminary News and Events

MA ceremony-147

Mount Angel Seminary holds Commencement for Class of 2017

June 3, 2017

SAINT BENEDICT, OR – The students of Mount Angel Seminary's graduating class of 2017 celebrated their Baccalaureate Mass on Friday afternoon, May 12, and Commencement Exercises the following morning. In the 128th year of Mount Angel Seminary, this year’s graduating class included nine men for the Bachelor of Arts degree; seven for Pre-Theology certificates; six for the Master of Arts (Philosophy); 22 for the Master of Divinity; 10 for the Master of Arts (Theology); and eight for a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology.

Right Reverend Gregory Duerr, O.S.B., former Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey and Chancellor of the seminary, left, receives the distinguished Lumen Gentium award from Msgr. Joseph Betschart, president-rector of the seminary, during Mount Angel Seminary’s Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe, Bishop of Las Vegas, presided at the Mass and gave the Commencement Address. Bishop Pepe began his talk with the words of Scripture: "Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. To whom else shall we go?"

The words of life, the words of Christ, contain power, he continued, vitality and vision. Reflecting on his life of more than 47 years in priesthood and 16 as bishop of Las Vegas, Bishop Pepe acknowledged that life took him "where he did not expect to be." But marveling at the events and wonders of his priestly life, he said, his life is a testament to what "God can do when you believe."

The class of 2017 represented 17 dioceses and six religious communities. Presenting the Senior Farewell, Reverend Mister Nathan McWeeney, from the Diocese of San Diego, noted that beginning his life at Mount Angel Seminary demanded courage and he confessed reluctance along the way. But from the moment he found himself seated in the choir among the monastic community of Mount Angel Abbey and heard them chanting the Divine Office, "Things got real."

He reflected on the words of Christ to Peter along the seashore: "Put out your net into the deep waters." Starting at Mount Angel was like putting his net into the deep waters, he recalled. There was a certain fear initially, he remembered, but he discovered that saying yes to Christ brought about an abundant catch of joy, wonder, learning, and growth. He learned over his years at the seminary that being fully alive is what reveals the glory of God.

Graduation, McWeeney told his classmates, brings them back to the shore. And the Lord is again calling them to put their nets out into the deep as they venture into the next phase of following the call to priesthood.

Mount Angel Seminary’s graduating class of 2017, with the seminary faculty, pose for a group photo following Commencement Exercises in the Abbey church on Saturday, May 13. Seated in front are, left to right, Deacon Owen Cummings, academic vice president; Msgr. Joseph Betschart, president-rector; Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe, Bishop of Las Vegas; Right Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey and Chancellor of Mount Angel Seminary.

Right Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey and Chancellor of the seminary, reminded the graduates of the great gift they have received in the call to priestly ordination. "Immense is God's mercy, lavish his graces."

"Don't lose sight of what you have done here," said Abbot Jeremy, "nor for whom you were doing it." He told the assembled seminarians that in the fall, the monastic community welcomes each new class with joy, and in the spring they send the graduates off with pride. And while the graduates go out, the monks remain on the hilltop and continue to pray for and hold them all in their hearts.

Receiving the Lumen Gentium award was Right Reverend Gregory Duerr, O.S.B., former Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey and Chancellor of the seminary. The Lumen Gentium is the seminary's highest award, honoring significant contributions to the pastoral mission of the Church and the good of the seminary. Abbot Gregory was directly involved with the seminary for 25 years and holds a Master of Arts in classical languages from the University of Washington and a Master of Arts in formative spirituality from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. His motto as Abbot is from the Prophet Micah: "He shall be peace."

Right Reverend Gregory Duerr, O.S.B., former Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey and Chancellor of the seminary, center, was honored during the Commencement Exercises at Mount Angel Seminary with the Lumen Gentium award. To his left is Msgr. Joseph Betschart, president-rector of the seminary, and to his right, the Right Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey and Chancellor of Mount Angel Seminary.

Mount Angel Seminary offers fully accredited degree programs at all levels, including a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy; Master of Arts (Philosophy); Master of Arts (Theology); Master of Divinity; Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, offered in affiliation with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant' Anselmo in Rome; and a Doctor of Ministry.

Mount Angel Seminary, established by pioneer monks, began forming men for the priesthood in 1889. It's the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States and the only seminary in the West that offers both a college and a graduate school of theology. Since its inception 128 years ago, Mount Angel Seminary has educated and formed thousands of priests for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.