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Abbot Jeremy travels to Rome

Abbot Jeremy traveled to Rome in early February to participate in a plenary assembly of the Dicastery for Divine Worship. Those in attendance included cardinals, archbishops, and bishops from around the world. One of 3 main speakers at the plenaria, Abbot Jeremy spoke about the curriculum at Mount Angel Seminary, which is centered on Communion Ecclesiology and emphasizes the liturgical formation of seminarians.

During their meeting, Pope Francis addressed the Dicastery for Divine Worship and greeted each participant individually.

Benedictines present at the plenaria assembly of Dicastery of Divine Worship in 2024.

The picture (left) shows the strong Benedictine influence at the plenaria. Left to right: Abbot Olivier-Marie Sarr, OSB, abbot of Keur Moussa (Senegal) and a former student of Abbot Jeremy’s at Sant’Anselmo; Archbishop Aurelio Garcia Macias, under-secretary of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and professor at Sant’Anselmo; Abbot Jeremy; Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship; Archbishop Vittorio Viola, OFM, secretary of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and professor at Sant’Anselmo; Fr. Bernhard Eckerstorfer, OSB, rector of Sant’Anselmo; and Fr. Pierangelo Muroni, professor at Sant’Anselmo.

Fr Israel Sanchez, OSB; Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB; Fr. Ephrem Martinez, OSB at Sant'Anselmo, Rome, 2024.

While in Rome, Abbot Jeremy stayed at Sant’Anselmo, where he taught a semester each year for nearly two decades and spent time with Fr. Israel Sanchez, OSB, and Fr. Ephrem Martinez, OSB, two monks of Mount Angel who currently live at Sant’Anselmo while pursuing advanced degrees in theology. Fr. Israel is studying patristics at the Pontifical Institute Augustinianum, while Fr. Ephrem is studying spiritual theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Abbot Jeremy also received honors from his alma mater, the Benedictine College of Sant’Anselmo, where Fr. Bernard A. Eckerstorfer, OSB (rector), granted him the honor and title of “Professor Emeritus” of the Faculty of Theology at Sant’Anselmo. On behalf of the Athenaeum’s academic community, Fr. Bernard also bestowed on Abbot Jeremy the “Diploma of Merit,” an honor given to those who have left a profound mark on the culture, research, and life of Sant’Anselmo and the life of the Church and the Benedictine Confederation.

Abbot Jeremy responded, “I carry Sant’Anselmo in my heart. Returning here, I still find that peace that we breathe and that every student can breathe. It was a grace to study and then teach in a place like Sant’Anselmo.”

Categories: Monastery, Seminary, Uncategorized

Loving the priesthood: Fr. Michael Niemczak

When Archbishop John Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe asked Fr. Michael Niemczak if he would serve on Mount Angel Seminary’s priestly formation faculty, he responded with a firm “yes.”

Faculty 15“I just love the priesthood,” shares Fr. Niemczak. “To be in a place that tries to teach future priests what the priesthood is all about, that was exciting for me.” Fr. Niemczak arrived at Mount Angel Seminary in July 2023 and currently serves as the coordinator of the propaedeutic stage of seminary formation. That means he works with the men new to seminary life, whether they are right out of high school or have already completed college and had a career.

Fr. Niemczak describes the essence of the propaedeutic stage as “discovering with [the seminarians]: what kind of man are you going to be, and is that man a priest?” From the perspective of the universal call to holiness, Fr. Niemczak likes to share with the seminarians that “the goal is not that they have an ‘Fr.’ in front of their name; it’s that they have an ‘St.’ in front of their name.” 

That perspective took on a deeply personal meaning for Fr. Niemczak when he traveled recently to Poland to concelebrate the beatification Mass for the Ulma family. Born in the U.S. to Polish immigrants, Niemczak is a relative of the Ulma family, who were cousins of his great-grandfather. During World War II, the entire family – mother, father, 6 children and a 7th in the womb – was martyred in 1944 by Nazi soldiers for providing safe harbor to two Jewish families. The Ulma family, Fr. Niemczak has reflected, were not the only ones to harbor Jewish families during the war, but he is grateful that they have been the ones chosen to be the face of the heroism of many.

Fr. Niemczak brought over 1,000 prayer intentions with him from people worldwide, which he had gathered ahead of the beatification. During his time in Poland, he paused to read, remember, and pray for each intention.

– Ethan Alano

Learn more about the Ulma family and Fr. Niemczak’s pilgrimage.

Categories: Seminary, Uncategorized

Mount Angel Seminary Celebrates Commencement 2023

On the morning of May 6, Mount Angel Seminary graduates, monks, faculty, family and friends gathered in the Abbey church for the celebration of the 2023 Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises. A full church for each celebration signified an outpouring of support for the graduates and gratitude to God for the successful completion of another academic year.

Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker, who also served as the principal celebrant for the Baccalaureate Mass, gave the commencement address. In his remarks, which focused on God’s creation of the universe and human beings, he reflected that “to be human is to know that life is a gift, and the deeper that perception enters into our being, the more human we are.”

During the Senior Farewell address, Deacon Marc Gandolfo of the Diocese of San Diego reflected on the centrality of the Eucharist in his experience of seminary formation. He shared that “in the same way that in the Mass, the gifts are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, so we have been forever changed by our time spent here at Mount Angel.”

The following seminarians received their Bachelor of Arts degrees from Mount Angel Seminary’s College of Liberal Arts: Marcos Ricardo Alvarado Trasmonte, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Alejandro Marquez Mendoza, Diocese of Sacramento; Jorge E. Noricumbo, Diocese of Fresno; Ethen Vincent O’Campo, Diocese of Orange; Edgar Allen Domingo Pobre, Diocese of Honolulu; Joshua Adam Tennyson, Diocese of Boise; Frederick J. Tucker, Archdiocese of Seattle; and Br. Ricardo Velez, M.Sp.S., Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.

Sean-Matthew Roberto Flores, Diocese of Las Vegas, and Adalberto Montes Contreras, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, each received their Pre-Theology Certificate of Completion.

The following seminarians received their Master of Arts (Philosophy): Victor Fernando Amador, Diocese of Sacramento; Joseph Ryan Canepa, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Robert Joe Martinez, Diocese of Las Vegas; and Jacob Juan Valdez, Diocese of Fresno.

The Seminary’s Graduate School of Theology conferred the Master of Divinity degree upon Deacon Sylvester Musonda Chanda, Archdiocese of Seattle; Deacon Nelson Hall Besouro Cintra, Diocese of Boise; Deacon Arturo Cisneros, Diocese of Fresno; Deacon Caleb Joshua Cunningham, Diocese of Baker; Deacon Marc Andrew Gandolfo, Diocese of San Diego; Deacon Ian Michael Gaston, Diocese of Orange; Br. Charles Borromeo Gonzalez, O.S.B., Mount Angel Abbey; Deacon Anthony Hoangphan, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Deacon Efraín Razo, Jr., Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Deacon Timothy Josef Segert, Diocese of Boise; and Deacon James Joseph Tasy, Diocese of Fresno.

Recipients of the Master of Arts (Theology) included Deacon Nelson Hall Besouro Cintra, Diocese of Boise; Br. Scott P. Dilworth, O.C.S.O., Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey; Daniel Edward Licon; and Maximiliano Muñoz, Archdiocese of Seattle.

The following seminarians received their Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology: Deacon Nelson Hall Besouro Cintra, Diocese of Boise; Deacon Caleb Joshua Cunningham, Diocese of Baker; Deacon Ian Michael Gaston, Diocese of Orange; Deacon Timothy Josef Segert, Diocese of Boise; and Deacon James Joseph Tasy, Diocese of Fresno.

Bishop Kolio Tumanuvao Etuale, bishop of the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago, received his Doctor of Ministry degree.

– Ethan Alano

Categories: Seminary

Commencement at Mount Angel Seminary


Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement 2023

Please join us Saturday, May 6

Mount Angel Seminary

Baccalaureate Mass  |  8 am
Commencement Exercises  |  10 am

Both events will be livestreamed here.


Commencement at Mount Angel Seminary 2019

The students of Mount Angel Seminary’s graduating class of 2019 celebrated their Baccalaureate Mass on the afternoon of May 10 and Commencement Exercises the following morning. Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange, gave the Commencement Address, speaking to more than 300 family and friends assembled in the Abbey church.

In his address, Bishop Vann expressed his appreciation for the natural beauty of the landscape that surrounds Mount Angel Seminary. The beauty of this part of the country, close to the Cascade mountain range, he noted, helps to “form and define the landscape of the souls” who live and study at Mount Angel. In the same way, he said, “Your calling, your ministry, your vocation, strengthened by the degrees you will receive today … will truly form and define the culture and the lives around you.”

Commencement 2019 at Mount Angel Seminary 1Bishop Vann reminded the graduates that we don’t always see clearly or understand the purpose of the present moment in the broader picture of life. But, from his own experience, he has found that in the providence of God, what life presents today is the best preparation for tomorrow. Most importantly, the people we find ourselves with today form the community that will carry us through to whatever the next step is.

In presenting the Senior Farewell, Reverend Mister Dean Marshall, from the Diocese of Sacramento, echoed the importance of community as we are each called into unknown territory. “There are a lot of unknowns ahead of us,” he said, “and we leave now a place of comfort, a place where we know what to expect. But, the times ahead are wrought with excitement and grace.”

There were 44 in the 2019 graduating class of Mount Angel Seminary, with a total of 55 degrees and certificates awarded, including 13 Bachelor of Arts; two Pre-Theology certificates; two Master of Arts (Philosophy); 12 Master of Divinity; 13 Master of Arts (Theology); seven Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, and six Doctor of Ministry.

This Commencement marked the first cohort to graduate in the seminary’s new Doctor of Ministry program. Following the core curriculum of the seminary, the Doctor of Ministry concentrates on Scripture, Liturgical/Systematic Theology, and Pastoral Theology. The program provides an opportunity to deepen and enrich the work of those engaged in pastoral ministry through the pursuit of a professional doctorate.

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 Doctor of Ministry. The Master of Arts (Theology) and Doctor of Ministry programs are open to non-seminarians and lay students.

Mount Angel Seminary, established in 1889 by the pioneer monks of Mount Angel Abbey, is the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States. It is the only seminary in the West that offers a four-year college and graduate school of theology, and one of only a few in the nation that offer degrees at all levels, baccalaureate through doctorate. Since its foundation, Mount Angel Seminary has educated and formed thousands of priests and many religious and lay women and men for service to the people of God in nearly 100 dioceses and religious communities across the country and around the world.

Categories: Seminary

Chamber choir performs sacred music

On March 19, 2023, a full audience packed the Abbey church to listen to the inaugural concert of the Mount Angel Chamber Choir, directed by Myrna Keough, Associate Professor of Music at Mount Angel Seminary. Composed of monks, seminarians, and friends of Mount Angel, the chamber choir performed a repertoire of sacred music. The concert also included a piece by the Mount Angel Seminary Choir and some instrumental performances by monks and seminarians.

Mount Angel Chamber Choir

The chamber choir began, in part, as an answer to a deep hunger for live choral music after an absence of it for nearly two years due to the pandemic. During that time, a number of monks and seminarians asked Keough if she would consider starting a polyphony choir once group singing became possible again. With the help and support of the Mount Angel Institute, the chamber choir began rehearsals in the fall of 2022. While it was a breath of fresh air to be singing together, there was a steeper learning curve in rehearsals than initially expected. “I underestimated how much that the pandemic, almost two years of not singing, would affect all of us,” shares Keough.

The large turnout for the concert illustrated to Keough that “this really met a need or filled a niche, which is wonderful; there really isn’t another choir like this in this area.” The concert lasted nearly an hour, and the audience was invited to hold their applause until the conclusion of the final piece. The nature of the compositions and the silence between pieces, not to mention the venue of the Abbey church itself, created an atmosphere of reverence and awe. “My prayer coming into [the concert] was that people’s hearts really would experience some of the beauty of heaven and find comfort wherever they happened to be in that moment,” remarks Keough.

Keough specifically chose compositions that could be employed in the liturgy and enhance the beauty of it. “The kind of music that is easily learned and easily played and often played is not satisfactory when it comes up against the kinds of things that we’re all dealing with in our lives of faith,” she reflects. Having liturgical music that requires practice, patience, and excellence helps serve the need people have for a more profound experience of God.

– Ethan Alano

Categories: Monastery, Seminary, Uncategorized

Called to share a message of reconciliation

Being instituted into the ministry of Lector “is a moment of intentionality, of choosing to move forward,” says Sylvester Rozario, a seminarian currently in his first year of theology at Mount Angel Seminary, studying for the Archdiocese of Seattle. “To proclaim [the Word of God], not just to read but to proclaim, to touch someone’s life, to let God speak through you, that’s a gift.”

Mr. Rozario was one of 10 seminarians instituted as Lector during a Mass at Mount Angel Abbey on March 6, 2023. At the same Mass, six seminarians were instituted as Acolytes. Both Lector and Acolyte are among the public steps seminarians take along the way in their years of theological study in preparation and formation for priestly ordination.

Ministries Mass at Mount Angel Seminary 2023.The principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass was Bishop George Leo Thomas, Ph.D., of the Diocese of Las Vegas. Speaking to the seminarians during the homily, he said, “I ask each of you, … [to] hear and heed the words of Pope Francis as he describes the Lord Jesus as the very face of mercy. … Dispense the healing balm of mercy with careless abandon as you minister among God’s holy people, following the example of the Lord Jesus himself. … I enjoin you to assist your bishop and pastors to build a church that is the home of mercy, the domicile of forgiveness for today in a world marred by violence and vitriol.”

Br. Damien-Joseph Rappuhn, O.S.B., a Benedictine monk studying for priestly ordination for St. Martin’s Abbey in Lacey, Washington, said, “The institution as a Lector is a small step, but a profoundly meaningful step on the road of sharing God’s message of reconciliation and healing. The prophet [Isaiah] says that God’s Word, like the rain, gives life to the earth and will not return to him until it has achieved the mission for which he sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11). As a Lector, this is the level at which I am invited to participate in that mission of bringing good news to this hurting, suffering world.”

Those instituted as Lectors include: Mbuiyu Patrick Gitau, Richard John Ordos II, and Sylvester Vijay Rozario, all for the Archdiocese of Seattle; David Pham Hoang, Diocese of Orange; Rico Daniel Landavazo, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Erik Andrew Morris and Andy Julian Sanchez, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Nathanial Wayne Loe, Diocese of Spokane; Elliot Yaryk Sifuentes, Diocese of Fresno; Br. Damien-Joseph Rappuhn, O.S.B., St. Martin’s Abbey.

Those instituted as Acolytes include: Shawn Raymond Daniel, Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon; Jose Francisco Orozco Cardenas, Diocese of Fresno; Jose Luis Gomez Diaz, Kenneth Rey Parsad, and Jaime Zuazo, all for the Diocese of Salt Lake City; John Paul Langsfeld, Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

– Theresa Myers

Categories: Seminary

Mount Angel Seminarians hear God in silence

Seminary Appeal 28Every year at the beginning of January, the seminarians at Mount Angel Seminary participate in a week-long silent retreat before the spring semester begins. Although the seminarians at Mount Angel regularly practice meditative prayer and some times of silence every day, the retreat is a privileged opportunity to rest with the Lord and deepen their relationship with him.

For the 2023 retreat, Mount Angel Seminary welcomed Fr. Greg Cleveland, OMV, as the retreat director to introduce the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Fr. Cleveland, a Chicago native, joined the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in 1987 and received ordination to the priesthood in 1995. He currently serves as the executive director for the Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality in Denver.

Each day of the retreat, the seminarians gathered in St. Joseph Chapel for the Liturgy of the Hours, Mass, spiritual conferences given by Fr. Cleveland, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The theme of the retreat was “Wellsprings of Grace: The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.” Fr. Cleveland encouraged the seminarians to engage their prayerful imagination and enter into Gospel scenes for their personal hours of meditation. By choosing to abstain from the use of cell phones, social media, Internet, and other electronic media during the retreat, the seminarians could focus their attention more readily on the Lord speaking to them in their hearts. Fr. Cleveland also taught them the Rules for the Discernment of Spirits of St. Ignatius, helping them to accept God’s consolations and to reject temptations in the name of Christ.

For Deacon Nelson Cintra of the Diocese of Boise, who is in his final semester at Mount Angel, the retreat was an opportunity to deepen his practice of Ignatian spirituality, which he has been attracted to and appreciated for some years. One challenge for Deacon Nelson during the retreat was an inability to sleep at night due to recovery from a knee surgery. He noticed discouraging thoughts surfacing frequently in that trial of restlessness. However, thanks to reviewing these spiritual tools from St. Ignatius, Deacon Nelson found “renewed attentiveness and strength to recognize and reject those temptations at their onset, choosing instead to live in the love and mercy of God.”

Patrick Mbuiyu of the Archdiocese of Seattle did not know much about Ignatian spirituality prior to the retreat, but he found the conferences helpful for learning to employ this practical spirituality in his life. He found that he can more fully “appreciate God as unchanging and ever with me aside from how I am feeling physically, mentally, or spiritually.” Being an international student with most of his family from Kenya, Patrick initially found the silence challenging, noticing his desire to check in on his family and respond to their messages. “Silence has invited me to grow in trust, seeking not to rely on my strength and wisdom in ensuring things are okay, and choosing to rely on God’s faithfulness and merciful love,” says Patrick.

Please keep our seminarians in your prayers as they continue to draw near to the Lord throughout the semester.

Categories: Seminary, Uncategorized

Br. Charles Gonzalez, OSB, ordained a deacon

On Saturday, December 10, 2022, the monks of Mount Angel Abbey welcomed Archbishop Alexander K. Sample to the Abbey church to ordain Br. Charles Borromeo Gonzalez, OSB, to the diaconate during the celebration of Mass. Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, and Abbot Austin Cadiz, OSB, current abbot of Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey in Manila, Philippines, served as the principal concelebrants. Family and friends of Br. Charles and other guests filled the Abbey church while others followed the liturgy on livestream.

After the proclamation of the gospel, Abbot Jeremy presented Br. Charles to Archbishop Sample as a candidate for ordination. The congregation applauded to voice their support for his ordination as a deacon. During the homily, Archbishop Sample preached on the sacred duty of the deacon to proclaim the Word of God and to evangelize. Turning to Br. Charles, the archbishop prayed that “the Lord touch your lips today to place his words there so that you may boldly proclaim Jesus Christ to the world.”

Following the homily, Br. Charles stood in front of Archbishop Sample and made the promises of a deacon, after which he prostrated himself on the floor while the monastic schola chanted the litany of the saints. His classmate, Deacon Sylvester Chanda of the Archdiocese of Seattle, then assisted Br. Charles as he put on the stole and dalmatic, the vestments proper to the deacon. After receiving the book of the gospels, Br. Charles exchanged the sign of peace with Archbishop Sample, Abbots Jeremy and Austin, and the other deacons assisting with the liturgy. From there, Br. Charles exercised his sacred duties as a deacon during the rest of the Mass.

The monastic community gives thanks to God for the gift of Br. Charles’s diaconate ordination and asks for prayers for him as he begins this new ministry of service.

–Ethan Alano

Categories: Monastery, Seminary, Uncategorized

Seminarians received as candidates to Holy Orders

On October 26, 2022, four Mount Angel seminarians were received as candidates for Holy Orders during Mass in the Abbey church. The monastic community welcomed Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, as the principal celebrant for the Mass. Other bishops concelebrated the Mass together with Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, seminary chancellor, Msgr. Joseph Betschart, president-rector, vocation directors, visiting priests, and priests from the seminary and monastery.

During the homily, Archbishop Sample encouraged the four candidates to continue their final preparation before ordination to the transitional diaconate and later priesthood. “We rejoice with you today, that the Lord has called you to labor in his harvest out of the compassion of Jesus for the crowds, and that God, like Jeremiah, has been forming you from all eternity for this vocation,” he said. After the homily, Archbishop Sample, on behalf of his brother bishops, received the seminarians’ declaration of intent to complete their preparation for Holy Orders and “to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his Body, the Church.”

Those received as candidates included Anthony Shumway, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Maximiliano Muñoz, Archdiocese of Seattle; James Ladd, Archdiocese of Portland; Michael Williams, Diocese of Las Vegas. The rite of candidacy “makes all these years of praying to follow the will of God in my life come to a point where I can say, yes, I truly want to give my life to the Church if she will have me,” shares Shumway. For Muñoz, the liturgical rite “takes up the ministries we have been exercising in past years, synthesizes them, and puts them in relationship to our dioceses, to the Churches we hope one day to serve with our whole lives.”

Please pray for these new candidates and all the seminarians studying at Mount Angel Seminary. “May God who has begun the good work in [them] bring it to fulfillment.”

– Ethan Alano

Categories: Seminary, Uncategorized

Novices at Mount Angel Abbey make Simple Profession

On the evening of September 8, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the monks of Mount Angel Abbey gathered in Mount Angel Abbey’s church to celebrate the Mass of Simple Profession for two novices, Brody Stewart and Fr. Jack Shrum. The novices professed vows of obedience, stability, and conversion of life for a period of three years.

At the beginning of the Mass, the novices processed in with the altar servers, concelebrating priests, and Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, principal celebrant. Novices at Mount Angel Abbey make Simple ProfessionThe congregation filled the church and joined the monks in song and prayer, interceding for the men about to profess monastic vows.

During the homily, Abbot Jeremy addressed Br. Brody and Fr. Jack, saying that “what you do shows us with clarity and as a witness
of what we are all meant to be in Christ Jesus.”

After the homily, the two novices knelt before the Abbot and made their first monastic vows, signing their profession documents on
the altar, and displaying them to all gathered as witnesses of their promise. The newly professed monks also announced their new monastic names, signifying putting on the “new man” in Christ. Brody Stewart is now Br. Ambrose, OSB, while Fr. Jack Shrum is now Fr. Michael, OSB. After the conclusion of Mass, everyone gathered for a reception and to congratulate the new junior monks.

Categories: Monastery, Seminary, Uncategorized

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