On May 9th in a spirit of joy and thanksgiving, Mount Angel Seminary welcomed faculty, family members, and friends of the community to the annual Baccalaureate Mass. Monsignor Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of Mount Angel Seminary, served as the main celebrant and Abbot Peter Eberle, OSB, the Vice-Rector of the Theologate and Director of Human Formation, delivered the homily. The Mount Angel Seminary choir, directed by Mrs. Myrna Keough, led the congregation in worship, including a moving rendition of Palestrina’s “Sicut Cervus.”
Abbot Peter, reflecting on the meaning of the word “commencement,” reminded the graduates that just as St. Paul experienced a new beginning on the road to Damascus, their commencement indicated that “something completely new was about to begin, [and] in some sense it also indicated something had come to an end. Life would never again be the same.”
Honored guest William Cardinal Levada, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, offered closing remarks and congratulations in anticipation of the commencement ceremony.
The Commencement Exercises began the next day, Saturday May 10, at 10 a.m. Cardinal Levada, who served as Chair of the Seminary’s Board of Regents while he was the Archbishop of Portland in Oregon from 1986 to 1995, delivered the commencement address. The Cardinal reminded the graduates to “never presume the knowledge of the faith in those for whom you are responsible; rather you should always seek ways to propose it with fresh insight.”
Cardinal Levada told the graduates that their primary responsibility was in forming those whom they will serve in the faith so that all of God’s people would be ready to “share [the faith] with others confidently.” In closing, Cardinal Levada gave thanks for the “pioneering missionary spirit of the Benedictine founders of Mount Angel” who have helped to form thousands of priests in the seminary’s 125-year history.
The Reverend Mister Lauro Minimo, a graduate of the seminary Theology program for the Diocese of San Diego, delivered the annual senior farewell, exhorting his peers to “be that bridge to Christ...[to] set the world on fire with God’s love” as he reflected on Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis. Echoing Abbot Peter’s homily from the day prior, Deacon Minimo told the gathered graduates, family, and friends of the community, “It is true that we are never the same as when we first came here, but in another respect we leave here as we came…hopeful, excited, still eager, still smiling…and united together in Jesus Christ.”
In his closing remarks, Msgr. Betschart gave thanks for all of those involved with the “education and formation of priests and religious and lay men and women with the mind and heart of Jesus Christ for servant leadership to God’s holy people” over Mount Angel’s long and fruitful history. Finally, he gave thanks for the 184 present seminarians and students “who have heard the Lord calling them by name, and have generously and faithfully given their ‘yes’ to Him” and he offered special congratulations to the graduating class.
This year the seminary granted 13 undergraduate degrees and 27 graduate degrees to seminarians, religious and lay students from around the United States and the Pacific Islands. In addition, in an earlier ceremony nine seminarians received certificates of completion for the pre-theology program.