Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Interview with Author David Fergusson

The Gifford Lectures with Author David Fergusson
Story by Raul Barriga; photo by Greg Snyder

On April 11th the students and the instructor of the Gifford Lectures class, Dr. Andrew Cummings, had a Skype interview with author David Fergusson of the book Faith and its Critics: A Conversation, which the class has finished reading.  David Fergusson is Professor of Divinity and Principal of New College at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  According to Dr. Cummings, the purpose of the Skype interview with Fergusson was to get his perspective on the class book and to shed additional light on what Ferguson was saying.

Dr. Cummings explained to the class what the Gifford Lectures are.  He said they "are dedicated to continuing the project of natural theology, that is, thinking about God and religions without appealing to any form of divine revelation, such as is found in Scripture or Tradition.  Each year a number of intellectuals are invited to give talks, and these are eventually published."

Dr. Cummings (center) and his students in the Gifford Lectures.

I asked Dr. Cummings why he chose Fergusson for the interview.  He said, "[Fergusson] is writing about a hot topic in philosophy, as well as in today's culture - the new atheism . . . Also, as Catholics, we are hearing a lot about the new evangelization - I think you need to know your audience if you hope to evangelize - and for better or worse the new atheism represents a strong current of opinion in the world today, at least among intellectuals.  Secondly, Fergusson has a balanced approach - he is willing to listen to the other side and to concede a point where appropriate.  He doesn't treat the discussion as a debate competition or even a shouting match."

Fergusson mentioned some names from the new atheism: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.  One chapter of Fergusson's book is titled, "Is Religion Bad for Our Health? Saints, Martyrs, and Terrorists."  An inside scoop into this chapter reveals that new atheists blame religion, primarily Islam, for "predatory martyrdom" or "the suicide of the martyr as a military action in which enemy lives are also taken" (132).  However, Fergusson does not easily consent to the accusations but analyses the situation.  He finds that in some cases, religion and its interpretation may be used for military purpose, but religion is just one facet of terrorist movements that may mainly be out for political ends or other conflicts.

Fergusson turns the tables and looks at atheists and the harm they have inflicted on society in the examples of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.  New atheists would say these cases would be regarded "merely as incidental - an inconsequential feature of political violence that requires to be explained in other ways" (126) and not because of their atheism.  Fergusson then goes on to talk about the violent effects of communism toward its dissidents as a refutation of new atheistic claims.

For the Skype interview, Dr. Cummings said that "we needed a room with good technology and enough space.  Professor Fergusson was speaking to us from Scotland, with 8 hours time difference.  Skype was simply the easiest and most efficient way to do things."  The class used a room in Annunciation called the Preaching Room.

Andy Lally, an employee from the Information Technology department, shared some insights on the Preaching Room.  He said, "The Preaching Room was reconfigured last year to provide an in-place projector and sound system to enhance the learning and teaching experience.  The system that was installed was designed so it could be upgraded to add more features in the future such as video/audio recording.  The room also has a wireless connection point for internet access, a DVD player, and the ability to connect to the instructor's laptop."  According to Lally, the two large classrooms in Anselm have audio and video systems similar to the Preaching Room.

When asked what he found interesting about the interview with Fergusson, Lally replied, "To be able to have that one-on-one contact with somebody so far away was amazing.  To me it took the classrooms of the hilltop worldwide; I could visualize many more uses for using Skype in this manner."

Monday, April 29, 2013

More on Pope Francis

One of our practicum students this semester, Gonzalo Siller, has gathered more thoughts on the days prior to and the election of Pope Francis.  The accompanying photos are from the Mass celebrated for Pope Francis by the seminary community.  Readers may also find live footage from the day of the election here on the blog.  We have also published a report from Father Jeremy Driscoll about his experience of the election in Rome.

The Days of Waiting and the Election
Reflection by Gonzalo Siller; photos by Ivan Garcia

The community of Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary was with enthusiasm expecting the election of our new Pope.  Since the day the conclave was announced until the white smoke came from the Sistine Chapel, our eyes and hearts were directed to Rome as a sign of Catholic unity.

Many of our seminarians said this was their first time participating by prayers and actually hoping for our new Pontiff.  One of our seminarians who studies for the Diocese of Yakima, Andy Mendoza, described the event as an amazing experience.  Mendoza said that he reflected about the importance of the Pope, the bishop of Rome, as a sign of unity and bridge among Christians and even other religions.

While we were waiting with our hearts open to receive the blessings of the new pope, we were told by our President-Rector Monsignor Betschart that as soon as we heard the Abbey bells ringing, we were to gather together in the Damian Center and watch the live video from Rome and see as a community the new Pope from what perhaps is the most famous balcony.

A prayer card and music from the Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Francis

On March 13th one of my classmates got up after looking at his iPhone and with an excited look on his face told us that the while smoke finally had come out announcing the much expected Pope.  As soon as this happened, the Abbey bells were ringing, transmitting to us great joy and hope.  So we left the classroom and hurriedly went to meet the rest of the community.

I still remember the faces of many of us who were anxiously attentive to the big screen provided by the seminary and our technology department.  We were commenting, sharing our thoughts and hopes about his event.  Therefore, I did not hesitate to talk to another seminarian, Andres Emmanuelli.  He said that his mind and heart were filled with hope for the Pope, that he was living these days of intercessions, and he was going to keep praying.  He also mentioned that our Church needs a pastor who is close to his sheep, one who shows the merciful face of God to humanity.

The moment arrived, the cardinal announced it, the cross came out to the balcony, and after a few seconds, Pope Francis came out to meet God's flock that was waiting for his blessing.

For many of us, as soon as we saw the new Pope, our eyes were filled with tears.  While we were hearing his message to us, a deep silence was present, almost as if we were recording the event and were asked for total silence.  His words were full of hope and humility; he asked us to pray for our former Pope Benedict XVI, and at the same time Pope Francis, our new Pope, bowed down before Jesus' flock and asked our prayers before he granted to us his blessing.  What a deep sign, what an example of a pastor who recognizes that there is no pastor without the sheep.

Members of the schola for the Mass of Thanksgiving

Priests from the Abbey and seminary faculty during the Mass

Students prayed from the balcony and in the nave during the Mass.

Miguel Corral, a seminarian for the Diocese of Las Vegas, said he was as excited as anyone else about the new Pope.  He said, "I liked Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who taught us many things," but "God is guiding the Church and obviously knows what he is doing."  While our conversation about the papal election was taking place, he also mentioned that this new Pope is going to be wonderful.

Our new Pope is already a part of our community, which in Mount Angel Seminary is a constant sharing of our faith in a multicultural environment.  It is very easy to meet persons from all over the world; therefore, it is very easy and quick to get a worldwide perspective by asking some students what they think about our new Pope.  I asked Brother Leonel Varela, OCD, who said that he feels in communion with the college of cardinals, even though he does not know any of them, and he believes that the Holy Spirit has worked through them to give us a shepherd, Pope Francis.  Brother Leonel added that as soon as he heard the news about the new Pope, he ran towards the Damian Center to witness with the rest of the community this marvelous event for the whole Catholic Church.

At the end of that historical moment, I heard many other comments by seminarians and seminary personnel as well.  I would like to summarize their comments with these lines: Pope Francis is a blessing from God for every one of us, and without forgetting our beloved Benedict XVI, we can say that we are so blessed to have both of them, one actively shepherding God's flock and the other one praying and devoting his life to the new Pope and the entire Church. Hence, by their example we must offer ourselves in the Eucharistic meal for everyone, but especially for our newly-elected Pope.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The 2013 Theology Symposium

As Mount Angel Seminary approaches the end of the school year, our journalism students are submitting their final stories and photos that highlight many of the events of the last semester.  We start with a story on this year's Theology Symposium.

Dr. John C. Cavadini: The 2013 Theology Symposium
Story by Raul Barriga; Photo by Ivan Garcia

On March 11th and 12th, Dr. John Cavadini, professor of theology and director of the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, as well as a member of the International Theological Commission, was the guest speaker of the 2013 Theology Symposium  held in the Damian Center.  Dr. Cavadini focused on the new evangelization, which was relevant to the XIII General Assembly for the Synod of Bishops in 2012 that focused on the same topic.  The audience at the symposium was composed of seminarians, faculty and staff, as well as guests.  The Theology Symposium is an annual event for which a guest speaker is invited to give a talk on a variety of subjects.

This year, the scheduled talks were entitled "What is the New Evangelization," "Special Issues in the New Evangelization I: Teaching the Church's Teaching on Contraception," and "Special Issues in the New Evangelization II: Teaching Love for the Church."  After each talk there was a question and answer forum.  This story will focus on two major points from Dr. Cavadini's first talk.

Dr. John Cavadini (center) with Dr. Owen Cummings, the Academic Dean of Mount Angel Seminary, and Monsignor Joseph Betschart, the President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary.

Dr Cavadini began the symposium with the talk entitled "What is the New Evangelization."  He did not want to give a definition of what the New Evangelization is.  Instead, he wanted to give us a "tool kit" for the New Evangelization.  This tool kit was comprised of four passages of Scripture, four images that go with these passages, and four expositors for the passages.  He did this because he wanted to go back to Scripture and Tradition on the topic.

His first Scriptural passage was 1st Corinthians 2:4-5.  Dr. Cavadini said that a way to remember this passage was the phrase "spirit and power."  The expositor he used here was Origen and his work Contra Celsum.  Right at the beginning of Origen's work, he uses the image of the silence of Christ before his accusers from Matthew's Gospel.  Origen had decided to point to Jesus' whole way of life as a way of refuting the charges made by Celsus against Christianity at the time.

Origen is saying that the silence of Jesus is pointing to His whole life, the mystery of His person, which isn't reducible to any of His words.  If Jesus had responded to his critics by arguing against them, then all of that would be reducing the mystery of His person only to His words.  Dr. Cavadini said that the whole idea is that the mystery of His person transcends argumentation, even his own words.

It is not that Jesus' words are not important.  According to Dr. Cavadini, Jesus is the Gospel, and it is of spirit and power.  He said that if we think of evangelization as attempting to prove the faith somehow by argumentation, we are saying it is a product of human reasoning or argumentation, which it is not.  He said that we need to be able to answer all of the criticisms, but in a way that we remember that faith isn't going to come from those answers.

Furthermore, if we believe that faith comes from our arguments, then we play into the side of secularism by only arguing in terms of reason.  We won't be uplifting the faith as mystery, which isn't against reason but transcends and purifies it.  If we are going to deploy arguments and clarifications, we are not reducing the faith to reason but clarifying and presenting it for the encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Cavadini's second tool for evangelization was from 1st John 4:8 - "God is love."  The image he associated with this passage was from John 18:31 and following.  He tried to pick passages that are associated with the Passion since we were in Lent at the time of the symposium.

The expositor Dr. Cavadini used was Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his encyclical Deus Caritas est, section twelve, in which he brings these two Scripture passages together.  Benedict says that one way of encountering the person of Jesus is by contemplating the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross because it is in this image that we see the love that God is.

Dr. Cavadini proposed that this suggests a particular kind of apologetics.  He called it an "apologetics of love."  He means that at the base of all Christian teaching is the fundamental proclamation of God's love.  Everyone knows love when they see it.  The apologetics of love is meant to always in contemplation of the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross as a way of showing that all of Christian doctrine is meant as a way of proclaiming and presenting that love.

The apologetics of love is a way of clarifying, arguing, or speaking about the doctrines of the Christian faith in such a way that they become an encounter with God who is love.  Then there is no other apologetic needed because they defend themselves.  In this way, we allow the Gospel's spirit and power to do the work instead of trying to do the work ourselves and thinking that everything relies on us.

One of the students at the symposium, Emilio Gonzalez from the Diocese of Fresno, shared his comments about the symposium.  He said, "I think the biggest thing was how Dr. Cavadini took on the topic of New Evangelization when he said it's not a definition because we've already had conferences on it.  Rather, he gave his toolbox interpretation of how he views the New Evangelization.  This helped me understand more deeply what the New Evangelization is all about."

Editor's Note: As of 10 a.m. on April 30, 2013, some typographical errors in this story have been corrected.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Winning Volleyball Season

Last night the Mount Angel Guardians volleyball team defeated DePortivo from Salem, achieving a winning season of 5-3.  The match against DePortivo stretched to five games, with the Guardians gathering strength in the fourth game to achieve their victory.

The starting lineup for the Guardians gathers for an opening cheer before the first game.

The Guardians won the first game with a score of 25-18 and lost the second game with a score of 25-27.

The night's match contained very few long rallies, yet the first rally of the first game was one of the longest rallies of the night with a serve by Frank Villaneuva and a score by Huong Dinh:


The second game contained a save from Stephen Ceislak followed by a score by Alex DePaulis:


 Despite losing the third game 18-25, the Guardians began to regroup after calling a time out.  The Guardians started their comeback in the fourth game that also contained on of the few long rallies of the night.  After hard work at the net from both sides, The Guardians scored as Deportivo sent a shot over the heads of the Guardians:


The Guardians won the night's match in the fifth game with a score of 15-12.

Some loyal fans of the MAS Guardians volleyball team: Sister Hilda Kleiman, Carlene, daughter of seminary staff member Cindy May, Abbot Peter Eberle and Father Jacob Stronach.

Prior to the game, an opening prayer was offered by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, which offered thanks for all who made the volleyball season a success for Mount Angel Seminary.

After the game, coach and player Frank Villaneuva offered particular thanks to scorekeeper Jacob Floch, announcer Alex Woelkers, referee Stephen Saroki, and President-Rector Monsignor Joseph Betschart.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Capstone on King Lear

This past Wednesday at noon, Thien Dinh presented his capstone project to a gathering of seminary faculty, fellow fourth-year college students, and many other members of the seminary community.  He entitled his project "King Lear: Shakespeare's Response to Suffering and the Problem of Evil."

Thien Dinh

Thien gave a succinct and compelling summary of King Lear, explained some of the value which may be drawn from suffering, and how the characters in King Lear respond to evil.  In his presentation he especially emphasized patient endurance and thankfulness.  Several students in the audience commented that Thien's presentation made them want to read King Lear for themselves.

Dr. Creighton Lindsay served as the director for Thien's project, and Dr. Seymour House and Dr. Andrew Cummings served as his readers.  Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as the English standards reader.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Linda Weigel - Teacher, Colleague, and Friend

Story by Daniel Miller

adjunct (noun): a thing added to something else as a supplementary rather than an essential part

She team-taught only one course here.  Her title was Adjunct Professor of Canon Law.  Yet adjunct seems such an inadequate way to portray Ms. Linda Weigel's role at Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary.

Linda Weigel

Linda Showman (left) and Linda Weigel preparing to line up for the procession to the Abbey Church for the 2012 graduation ceremonies.  Photo by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB.

"For the amount of time we paid her for, she probably did twice as much work," Dr. Seymour House said.

Weigel was more than supplementary.  Her death from a heart attack on March 1 created a professional void and deep sadness.

"She cherished this association.  Linda felt a certain bond with Mount Angel and was committed to helping it flourish," Ms. Linda Showman said.  "She came to serve on committees, go to faculty meetings, attend dinners.  She felt a part of this place."

Weigel worked in a variety of roles in the Portland Archdiocese, becoming one of the first lay female pastoral associates and one of the first lay students at Mount Angel Seminary, obtaining her licentiate degree in canon law from St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, and investing much time at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Lafayette and at Mount Angel Seminary.

"Linda was born in Silverton, she was brought up in this diocese, she went to [Oregon State University].  She served in church positions her entire adult life," Deacon Owen Cummings said.  "Linda knew everybody, especially the clergy in view of her work in Canon Law.  She spent many years in strong, collaborative ministry."

Colleagues and students remember Weigel for her love of stories, which delighted her to hear or tell.

"She could tell a good story for sure and really put a spin on it that would have you rolling in the aisles. She really appreciated the absurdities of life," Ms. Showman said.

Storytelling also made for engaging classroom sessions.

"Her stories gave life and put a picture in your mind about the way things work," Deacon John Marshall said.  "They were based on her experience, on her eyewitness.  It was also based on her work in parishes as a pastoral associate.  She wanted us to appreciate canon law and to be able to follow it and not view it as an impediment.  She was lively and made the study of canon law somewhat exciting."

Students appreciated her take on a difficult subject - her speciality in canon law and work at the Archdiocesan Tribunal Office meant dealing with end-of-marriage issues and annulment questions from people likely at a low point.  Weigel had a reputation for using grace and humor to approach tricky situations and personalities.

Aside from her work, Weigel embraced a good conversation over a glass of white wine or gin and tonic.

"She was the animating soul of faculty social gatherings," Deacon Cummings said.

Linda Weigel in the pink hat with her colleagues Mark Woolman, Kathy Akiyama, and Etsuko Sisley during the Seminary Beach Bash and Tie-Dye Party at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

At one such gathering after the installation of previous Abbot Nathan Zodrow, OSB, in 2001, the faculty gathered to toast and share some wine, Dr. House said.  As Abbot Nathan showed off his new amethyst ring, Weigel approached.  She admired the ring, House said, and then with a wink asked, "Did you get the earrings to match?"

Faculty saw another side of Weigel in the unglamorous but essential committee work she assumed as part of the seminary's accreditation and self-study that ended in 2012.

"She had an interesting way, a balanced way of offering critique when needed and also support," said Ms. Kathy Akiyama, who co-chaired the self-study with Weigel.  "She had a kind of fairness about her.  It's not like she would cheerlead people indiscriminately.  If critique needed to be given, she would give it in a skillful, courteous way."

During breaks from the grind of study, Weigel recognized the need for amusement.  She was the ringleader for chair races down the hallway in Annunciation.  Ms. Akiyama and Mr. Mark Woolman marveled at Weigel's ability to scurry ahead.

"She just had a way of scooting her chair along," Ms. Akiyama said.

In addition to her motor skills, Weigel possessed adeptness with the English language.

"Language is a little poorer at her passing," Monsignor Patrick Brennan said at Weigel's funeral Mass.

Fr. Paul Thomas, OSB, recalled an entire set of terms Weigel invented: "She had a sense of humor and great wit.  She had somewhat of her own language, a whole set of Weigelisms."

For instance, if Weigel felt like eating Asian food, she would say she was feeling "moo-goo-guy-panish,"  Fr. Paul Peri said. Or if she was in a good mood, she might say she was "tip-toppish."  Weigel seemingly nicknamed everyone, but the nicknames were restricted to Weigel's charm.  No one else could get away with using them.  A list of Weigelisms can be found at the end of this article.

In the classroom, around the committee table, at the Tribunal, or on a friend's patio with a Tanqueray gin and tonic in hand, Weigel forged friendships that lasted.  Fr. Thomas identified this as her defining characteristic in the homily he gave as part of the Holy Mass of Suffrage for Weigel on March 12.

"Communion with Christ and the desire to lead others toward friendship with Christ was the core of Linda's life," he said in the homily.

Fr. Peri succinctly described Weigel's social network.

She knew everybody!" he said.

In her many years working at parishes and the Tribunal, perhaps no one crossed paths with Weigel professionally more than Msgr. Brennan, the pastor at St. Mary's Cathedral in Portland and previous president-rector of Mount Angel Seminary.  He summarized the affection for Weigel shared by the community of Mount Angel Seminary and the archdiocese.

"She was probably the funniest person I had ever met.  That's what originally established our friendship was that we had the same sense of humor," Msgr. Brennan said.  "She attracted all sorts of people and was accepting of all sorts of people.  She became something much bigger.  She became a friend and a professional woman in the church who loved the church and gave her life to it despite the freckles and imperfections.  Her death leaves a big gap in the archdiocese because of so many friends and all the work she did over all those years, her gift to be with people, love of life, and laughter."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ministries Mass

Photos by Carlos Orozco
Photo editing and captions by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

On Wednesday, April 10, 2013, the community of Mount Angel Seminary celebrated its annual Ministries Mass, and Bishop George Thomas of the Diocese of Helena installed sixteen theologians as lectors and twenty-one theologians as acolytes.

The seminary community gathered in the Abbey Church to celebrate the Ministries Mass.

Each of the new lectors, including Gonzalo Siller, approached Bishop Thomas.  He was assisted by Br. John Paul Le and Fr. Liem Nguyen. 

After the new lectors, the new acolytes, including Br. Peter Mary Vecellio, OCD, approached Bishop Thomas.

The Eucharistic Prayer

The new lectors and new acolytes were led from the Abbey Church at end of the Ministries Mass by the Easter banner.

Christopher Arriaga and Juan Maldonado

Brother Peter Mary Vecellio, Andriel Ruperto, and Teodosio Brea

Bishop Thomas with all of the new acolytes and readers.

Editor's Note: As of 10:30 a.m. on April 17, 2013, the name of Bishop Thomas has been corrected in the last photo in this story.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sport and the Catholic Faith

Yesterday Joshua Keeney presented his capstone project, which he entitled "Sport Properly Directed: A Critique of Popular Contemporary Sport from a Roman Catholic Perspective," to an audience of seminary faculty, his fourth-year college peers, and other seminarians.  In his work, he discussed the more negative elements of sport that are often found in contemporary culture and how elements of Aristotle's philosophy and the Catholic tradition can make sport a healthier and more spiritual experience.

Many sports jerseys adorned the stage during Joshua's presentation, and several seminarians wore their own jerseys to the presentation as well.

Mr. Mark Woolman served as the director of Joshua's project.  Sister Gertrude Feick, OSB, served as his reader, and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB, served as the English standards reader.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Upcoming Continuing Education Priests' Retreat

Mount Angel Seminary invites all priests to the hilltop May 1-2, 2013, for a conference of continuing education.  The conference will be presented by Paulist Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP, the president of Paulist Evangelization Ministries in Washington, DC.

Attendees will have the opportunity to share insights and challenges, renew friendships with fellow priests, and to explore how to become an evangelizing parish.

Lodging is available in the Abbey Retreat House.  For more information and to register, please call 503-845-3057 or 800-845-8272 or visit the seminary website for registration materials, a full schedule, and more information about Fr. DeSiano.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Spirituality of Volleyball

Reflections by the MAS Volleyball Team
Photos by Carlos Orozco

This year Mount Angel Seminary started a men's volleyball team, and while the coach and players have worked hard at the logistics of scheduling games, printing programs, and providing hospitality for off-hill guests, they have dedicated some time to reflecting on the spirituality of their sport as well.

Frank Villaneuva: Coach and Setter


"The Lord is my Shepherd." - Psalm 23:1

In this year of faith, we are called to dedicate ourselves to deepening our understanding of a particular aspect of our faith.  One aspect of faith that I have dedicated myself to this year is now I can better integrate my love for volleyball while building up the Body of Christ.  In an interview with fellow seminarian Daniel Miller for an article he wrote for the Catholic Sentinel, I shared with him how "volleyball helps to enhance the opportunities to grow in community.  Volleyball also offers seminarians the opportunity to escape the everyday challenges of seminary life and allows them to express these challenges in a healthy way."

This form of brotherhood recharges the seminarian, allowing the other pillars of their formation to flourish in a loving and healthy way, thus building up the Body of Christ.  In this post the players will share with you their favorite Bible verse and you will hear how volleyball has helped them deepen their relationships with others and with God.  I hope their stories inspire you to deepen your relationships as well.

Michael Nguyen: Setter


"Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." - Matthew 5:16

In volleyball, every individual excels at a particular aspect of the game.  In order for the team to be successful, rather than faulting the people for their weakness, we embrace their strengths.  Every player is placed at the position that will allow them to succeed and perform to the best of their abilities.  In this regard, I have reflected on the uniqueness of every individual because God has made them all perfect.  For this reason, instead of judging people and dwelling on their shortcomings, I try my best to embrace the goodness and blessings of each individual.  Volleyball has provided me an opportunity to help people conquer their weaknesses and compliment their strengths.

Stephen Cieslak: Middle Blocker


"Be Not Afraid."

In playing volleyball, I can be my true self.  Spending time with my fellow seminarians in healthy competition helps me to thrive, physically, socially, mentally.  Here, I can maintain a healthy lifestyle and promote community and grow in relationship with both my brother seminarians and others around me and Christ.  The hard work and perseverance it takes to play and stick with a sport at a seminary speaks volumes about one's character.  Since I am trying to build mine, I know that volleyball is a good start.

Carl Sisolak: Defense Specialist


"Do you love me?"  And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."  Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep." - John 21:17

Being part of the volleyball team helps me to find a venue for building camaraderie with my teammates/brothers.  It helps make it easier for me to have the opportunity for fellowship more at a time when I and my teammates are more at ease.  Removal of some of that tension allows growth of relationship and in turn, with the reflection of God found in each one of us.

Chase Shepherd: Defense Specialist


"So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love." - 1st Corinthians 13:13

The way in which volleyball has helped deepen my relationship with others and God is that it has helped to strengthen my bond with my fellow teammates, and it has helped deepen my relationship with God by giving me the strength needed to persevere through the challenges and to continue to grow in the areas in which I need improvement in.

Fredy Preciado: Outside Hitter


"He said to him, 'My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.  But now we must celebrate and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' " - Luke 15:31-32

Playing volleyball has helped me to deepen my relationship with my brother seminarians.  So, in having  this deepened relationship with them, I have also deepened my relationship with God.  Being human, created by God, we are asked to proclaim the Gospel as the apostles did.  Volleyball  helps me to carry on this mission.

Kasiano Sivia: Middle Hitter


"I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit because without me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

Volleyball has allowed me to become closer to my seminarian brothers.  It has brought me closer to the brothers I have known for the last four years and has allowed me to make a bond with my new brothers.  Volleyball has also allowed me to exercise my mind through the skill of volleyball which gives me the opportunity to escape the normal, day-to-day life here in the seminary.  In doing so, I have been able to reflect and more prayerfully connect with my already existing relationship with God.

Alexander DePaulis: Outside Hitter


"Peace be with you."

I enjoy playing volleyball because of the brotherhood that develops with the team.  We learn to play with each other, to depend on each other, to back each other up.  It helps develop trust.  I trust that my team has my back, even if I can't see them behind me, to bump a ball that gets past the blockers on the net.  No one player can shine without the rest of the team.  In some way, this trust with the brothers carries over to my relationship with God where I can trust that he has my back even if I don't see him in the present moment.

Huong Dinh: Right Side Hitter


"For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give is life as a ransom for many." - Mark 10:45

Volleyball helped me to have a deeper brotherhood with seminarians.  Volleyball helps me to get away from my school work so that I may enjoy the company of my fellow brothers.  The friendships we have are a reflection on the friendship I have with Jesus Christ.

Quoc Vo: Defense Specialist


"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path." 
- Psalm 119:105

The sport of volleyball can be very difficult and can bring about many challenges.  The support I have for and from my brothers helps me to overcome these challenges.  In many ways volleyball has made me realize that sometimes my faith journey can be somewhat difficult and it too brings about some challenges.  The Lord is always there to guide my feet into the right paths in life.  The connection between my faith journey and volleyball helps to deepen my understanding between me and my relationship with God.

Daniel Miller: Libero


"And Jesus wept." - John 11:35

Competition, collaboration, success, failure, virtue, vice: The athletic arena brings about great drama and growth in the human person.  Sport reflects life.  At a glance, volleyball is about hitting a ball back and forth over the net, about bump-set-spike, about serving with swerve and hitting with power, but commingled in the process of perfecting these skills, teamwork arises, perseverance is cultivated, and faithfulness is rewarded.  I feed off the process of improvement in volleyball, constantly striving but never satisfied.  Such is the daily grind of our life as seminarians also: Living in community, studying to be priests, devoting ourselves to prayer, growing in holiness, yet always aware that our Catholic faith isn't about the destination in this life but rather the journey.  And we approach that journey, in our church and in our gym, as one body.  May God bless our endeavors!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Annual Annunciation Dinner

Photos by Carlos Orozco
Photo editing and captioning by Sister Hilda Kleiman

On Tuesday, March 19, the seminary community celebrated its Annunciation Dinner for 2013.  Over the course of the evening, students, faculty, and staff enjoyed fellowship and entertainment, shared a fine meal provided by the staff of Bon Appetit, and offered awards to members of the community.

The community members enjoyed a social before finding their seats in the dining room.

President-Rector Monsignor Joseph Betschart led the community in prayer before dinner was served.

The community prayed in thanksgiving for all of the students, faculty, staff, and supporters who make the work and ministry of Mount Angel Seminary possible.

Members of the Bon Appetit staff, Andrea Powers and Chef Paul Lieggi, pause for a smile in the midst of a busy evening.


The community was entertained by two musical groups, an acapella group and a group drawn from members of the Hispanic community.

The following members of the community were honored for their contributions to the seminary:

St. Anselm Award for undergraduate academic achievement - Thien Dinh

St. Thomas Aquinas Award for graduate academic achievement - Deacon John Marshall

St. Michael the Archangel Award for special contributions - Minh Do

St. Paul Award for preaching - Deacon Daniel Gutierrez

St. Bonaventure Award for faculty achievement - Dr. Shawn Keough

St. Benedict Award for graduate formational achievement - Deacons Joe Fleming and Burt Mello

St. Benedict Award for undergraduate formational achievement - Ryan Francisco

Thien Dinh is greeted by Monsignor Betschart as he receives his award.

Monsignor Betschart offers Deacon John Marshall his award.

Dr. Shawn Keough accepts his medal from Abbot Gregory Duerr.

Ryan Francisco comes forward for his award.