Story by Peter Lawongkerd; photos by Carlos Orozco; photo editing by Peter Lawongkerd and Raul Barriga
Mount Angel Seminary provides an annual trip to the beach for college students once a year. This year the college beach weekend was Friday, September 7, to Sunday, September 9 at Camp Meriwether. The weekend was arranged by Father. Ralph Recker, Thien Dinh, Frank Villanueva, Miguel Corral, John Hesla, Zachary Ferell, and Jonathan Cheever. The purpose of the event is to build a good relationship among the seminarians and with God.
|Father Ralph Recker and Thien Dinh|
Throughout the weekend, sixty-plus seminarians were able to gather themselves by getting involved in different kinds of activities such as card games, board games, a talent show, a trip to Tillamook, hiking, a bonfire, and many more activities. The seminary also provided a lot of food, such as snacks and drinks.
On Friday evening we had Thai green curry and Pad Thai noodle for dinner sponsored by Peter Lawongkerd, and on Saturday we had Tostadas de Lomo for dinner sponsored by Fredy Preciado and other members of the Hispanic community.
|Frank Villanueva getting ready for the talent show.|
On Friday night we had a talent show organized by Patrick Klekas. Some of the seminarians were singing; others recited poems and danced. Oscar Anaya, a students from the Diocese of Fresno, said, "For me the talent show was a really fun part of my college beach weekend experience. I was able to feel the brotherhood bond with all the shows that were presented. Everybody enjoyed it because laughter was heard from all the seminarians."
On Saturday morning Father Ralph Recker and other seminarians when to the hike on the beach. In the afternoon they returned and made a trip to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, a very famous industrial factory that produces cheese and ice cream.
|Randy Hoang samples the cheese at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.|
|Luis Nunez, Andy Mendoza, Oscar Anaya, Jorge Cruz, and Carlos Orozco|
|Fourth year college students Martin Moreno, Joshua Keeney, Art Sanchez, and Ryan Francisco|
On Saturday evening we had adoration on the beach. Father Theodore Lange, one of the formation directors for the seminary, led the procession down to the beach, which was followed by silence with the Blessed Sacrament. When the moment of silence came, it was the most peaceful moment one could have, and that impressed all the seminarians and priests. The sound of the waves allowed the seminarians and priests to acknowledge the beauty of nature and realize how immense God is. One of the the new seminarians, Jose Morale, a student from the Diocese of Oakland, said, "I had never had such an emotional and natural experience with God. This was truly a gift; I felt the spirit of God coming when the waves would hit the shore."
|The procession to the beach for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament|
|Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on the beach|
|Father Terry Tompkins keeps watch over the bonfire.|
|The edge of the bonfire|
On Sunday morning, Fr. Terry Tompkins, one of the formation directors, presided at Sunday Mass outside in the forest. This brought a sense of God's creation due to the fall breeze during the time of consecration. Jose Morales said, "It was really a blessing to have felt the presence of God."
After Sunday Mass, we had lunch together, and that was followed by cleaning up the kitchen and the hall we used for all of the activities during the weekend. Then we headed back to the seminary. Michael Nguyen, a student for the Diocese of Orange, said, "What I enjoyed the most on this weekend was the bonfire because to me it was representing that each one of [us] building a good relationship among ourselves, and everything we did together on the weekend, we offer those things to God."
Editor's Note: The writer and photographer for this story were also participants in the college beach weekend.