Monday, February 28, 2011

Ecumenism and Mount Angel Seminary

We have another fine story by one of our practicum students:

Christian Unity Evening at Mount Angel Seminary
by Brother Peter Tynan, OSB

On the evening of January 24th, the seminarians of Mount Angel Seminary were treated to an experience they do not often have.  They had the opportunity to hear a Protestant theologian speak about Christian unity and action in the contemporary world.  The occasion was Christian Unity night, and the speaker was Dr. Paul Metzger of Multnomah Biblical Seminary and University in Portland.

Dr. Paul Metzger at the the beginning of his talk at Mount Angel Seminary.

Dr. Metzger spoke about his work with The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins, which is based at Multnomah University.  According to Dr. Metzger, we are living in a post-Christendom world where culture and the Gospel are often at odds with each other.  In such a world Catholics and Evangelicals need to move out of their mutual suspicions and work together at bringing the Gospel to people in new ways.  These ways will need to keep in mind that many today hunger for the Gospel but are scandalized by organized religion.  Evangelization must take place at the interpersonal level, according to Dr. Metzger.

Why would a Catholic seminary ask a Protestant theologian to speak?  In his 1995 encyclical, Ut Unum Sint, the late John Paul II reminded the Church that, "Ecumenical dialogue is of essential importance."  Mount Angel Seminary takes this call to work toward Christian unity seriously.  The fourth-year theology students take a class dedicated to ecumenism, and there is a standing committee for all the seminarians dedicated to promoting Christian unity.  The mission of this committee is to help seminarians realize the importance of ecumenism has in the life of the Church and to give them opportunities to practice it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Promise of Notre Dame

Our practicum students are continuing to produce their stories for the spring semester.  The next story is of a journey taken by one of our journalism students and five of his fellow seminarians.

A Pilgrimage to Notre Dame
by Mathew Olson

Almost four years ago, I was attending a Fundamentals of Speech class.  In the class, there were well over twenty seminarians.  All of the seminarians were new to the school, and their ages ranged from 17 to 28.  One Thursday in October, the President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary, Father Richard Paperini, entered the classroom.  Fr. Paperini began a playful conversation with the students about his personal support and devotion to Notre Dame and its football program.

At that point, he made a promise to all of the students in the class.  He declared, "if you guys are on track to graduate in four years, I will take you all to a Notre Dame football game."  The promise was not easily forgotten.  Out of the well over twenty seminarians, only six successfully make it to their fourth year of college at Mount Angel Seminary.  These students are Michael Andrade, Alvaro Romero, Guadalupe Vargas, James Balajadia, Joseph Malinis, and I, Mathew D. Olson.

As the six of us continued through our studies, we would remind Father Paperini of his promise.  James Balajadia admitted, "I did not believe that he would actually take us to the game."  Last spring, Fr. Paperini told us that he was keeping his promise.  The six of us would attend a Notre Dame football game on October 15, 2010.

Eagerly waiting in anticipation for the start of the game!
 After a long flight to Chicago and a drive to Indiana, we finally rested our eyes upon the famous Notre Dame Stadium.  It hit us.  We finally made it.  Rain could not deter us from watching the game.  Although a good amount of the fans left due to a high score and precipitation, we were immune to any external forces.  Guadalupe Vargas said, "I liked the rain coming down because you had to decide whether or not you were going to leave the game early or continue to watch until it finished.  I wanted to stay."  Undeterred by the Indiana rain, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish successfully defeated Western Michigan University, 44-20.

Striking a pose with Touchdown Jesus: left to right, Guadalupe Vargas, Michael Andrade, Mat Olson, Joseph Malinis, James Balajadia, and Alvaro Romero.
 Following the game, I knew the pilgrimage was near completion when we saw the back of the library on campus at Notre Dame.  The six of us looked at one another and smiled as hundreds of other people were posing for pictures.  There is a large mural of Jesus in a pose that resembles a referee declaring a touchdown.  As the six of us stood in front of the library, we were able to capture a photograph with Touchdown Jesus.

Enjoying dinner in South Bend, Indiana, following a victory for Notre Dame.
 The journey to Notre Dame wasn't just about a football game.  It was about the fact that we had made it through four years of studies in a seminary.  We started out as young men who felt they had a call to the priesthood.  Now, we were men who had accomplished a challenge.  The challenge was more than the completion of four years of academic studies.  The challenge was based on the completion of four years of human growth and development.  The real reward of this trip was the realization of four years of friendship.  Six seminarians went to more than a football game.  They completed a pilgrimage.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Journalists in Danger

This evening NPR's All Things Considered carried a story from one of their reporters, Lourdes Garcia Navarro, who was attacked as she covered the ongoing unrest in Egypt.  Many other foreign journalists have been attacked as well.

Let us pray for the safety of all of those in Egypt, especially those whose lives are endangered as they bring the story to others around the world.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WikiLeaks and the New York Times

Last night on National Public Radio's Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed Bill Keller, the Executive Editor of the New York Times.  While I wasn't able to listen to the whole interview, I did check out the story posted on the NPR website today. 

The main topic of the interview was the publication by the New York Times of documents from WikiLeaks.  The New York Times is considering enabling people to send encrypted documents to the Times without leaving any personal information.  Keller discusses the implications of this practice for journalism ethics.

This interview brings up several important questions: Exactly what kinds of protection must be extended to our sources?  Who should be trusted to handle material that is submitted anonymously?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Celebrating Santo Nino

Our practicum students are beginning to submit their work for the semester, and our first story shares one of many celebrations taking place on the hilltop:

Filipino Community and Seminarians Celebrate Santo Nino
by Brother Peter Tynan, OSB

It looked as if it was going to be another rainy, winter day at Mount Angel Seminary.  Instead it was a day filled with faith, song, and color.  On January 15th over 500 people from the Filipino community in Oregon and beyond gathered at Mount Angel Seminary to celebrate one of their beloved feasts, Santo Nino.

The Santo Nino ready to be blessed.
 Preparations for the celebration began over a week earlier when Filipino seminarians held novena prayers in the Mount Angel Seminary chapel during the days leading up to the Feast of Santo Nino.  When the festive day came, Fr. Ysrael Bien celebrated the Santo Nino Mass in a packed Abbey Church.  The Filipino seminarians and community members who made up the choir all wore colorful Barong Taulog shirts, the national formal wear of the Philippines.

When Fr. Bien was still a seminarian five years ago, he helped organize the first Santo Nino celebration at Mount Angel Seminary, recalled the seminarian Manolito Jaldon.  Since the other national feast day of the Philippines, San Lorenzo Ruiz, celebrated on September 27th, is so early in the school calendar, Fr. Bien thought it would be good for the Filipino seminarians and community to make a special effort to celebrate Santo Nino.  Since the feast occurs in the middle of the school year the seminarians would have plenty of time to plan.

Minda Kashinen and other women are ready for the Sinulog procession.
After Mass, the people formed a procession and danced carrying candles, banners, and statues of the Santo Nino from the Abbey Church to the Damien Center.  At the Damien Center, Fr. Paperini blessed the Santo Nino statuettes brought by the people.  It is customary for Filipino Catholics to keep a Santo Nino in their homes.  Then all enjoyed a potluck dinner comprised of native Filipino food.

Queen Juana carries the Santo Nino in the Sinulog
The Sinulog moves toward the Damien Center.
While the people were feasting they were entertained with songs and dances performed on stage.  One of the dances was the popular Tinikling Dance.  It involved two people widening and narrowing two poles while two others danced between the two poles trying not to get caught.  After a young couple flawlessly performed the dance, there was a call for volunteers.  The volunteer dances varied in their efforts to avoid being trapped by the poles, but they all enjoyed themselves.