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On Mary’s Mountain


  The Daily Life of The Seminary Community

The seminary hosted the ninth annual Family Weekend on October 24-26. The activity-filled weekend offered the visiting family members a unique view into the life of a seminarian. Beginning on Friday evening, the seminarians and visitors celebrated Vespers together in Immaculate Conception Chapel followed by a social in the seminary’s rec-room. Following the Saturday morning Mass, family members either attended presentations from faculty members describing the process of priestly formation, or a morning of recollection concentrating on the theme of supporting seminarian family members, presented by members of the Seminarian Deacon class. Saturday evening concluded with Solemn Vespers and a formal dinner in the Cardinal Keeler Seminary Dining Room. On Sunday morning, a particular highlight of the weekend, three seminarians – Lee Brokaw (S’ 17, Peoria), Edmund Herzog (S’ 17, Wichita), and Luke Agnew (S’ 20, Paterson) – detailed their particular vocational journey towards the seminary.

Evangelization Trip 2

Forty seminarians travelled to the University of Pittsburgh over Fall Break for the New Evangelization Mission Trip. The goal of this trip was to meet college students where they are at and invite them into a real and lasting relationship with Christ. The seminarians, headed by Eric Silva (S’ 16, Bridgeport), worked with the Pittsburgh Oratory of St. Philip Neri, who is charged with the campus ministry of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University, to facilitate and organize the trip.
 
College is easily the largest battleground of the New Evangelization. Students, for the first time away from their parents and on their own, make decisions in college that affect the rest of their life. Quickly, these students find that the typical college experience fails to satisfy, but too often, they do not know where to look to find answers to their hearts’ deepest longing. The seminarians hoped to break through their normal routine to invite them to encounter Christ, who alone can satisfy and give them real authentic hope.
 
The trip lasted from Monday, October 13 to Wednesday, October 15. The seminarians began their stay in Pittsburgh in St. Anthony’s Chapel, which houses the largest collection of relics of the saints outside the Vatican. Supported by the prayers of the saints, all forty seminarians were led on a tour of the University of Pittsburgh by Reed Frey, a junior Philosophy major at Pitt. After Mass at the Oratory and dinner at St. Paul Cathedral, the seminarians presented the heart of their mission to the FOCUS missionaries and student leaders who will be aiding in the task of evangelization.
 
On Tuesday, after Mass, breakfast, and holy hour, the seminarians engaged the task of bringing the gospel directly to the students of Pitt. Wearing their characteristic black with roman collars, the seminarians stood as a visible sign of contradiction to the college worldview and a witness to the hope that we have in Christ. The seminarians, themselves sustained by prayer, went out in pairs and engaged students in free and open discussions throughout the university campus. Many were drawn to think deeper about the meaning of their lives in the light of the gospel, and some returned to the sacrament of confession or found solace in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Tuesday ended with a Eucharistic Procession held at St. Paul Cathedral.
 
On Wednesday, the seminarians renewed their efforts in engaging students on campus. Students were invited to participate in the event that evening entitled “The Relevancy of Faith.” Fr. Joe Freedy, vocations director for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, kicked off the event by sharing his story; Ben Dunkelberger (S’ 18, Harrisburg) presented the core of the Gospel message; and Sean Tomko, a senior Mechanical Engineering student at Pitt, shared his testimony about how God led him through his experiences at Pitt into a deep relationship with Christ.
 
The seminarians were aided in their efforts by three Mundelein Seminarians, three seminarians of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, ten Mount St. Mary’s University students and FOCUS missionaries, and a number of Pitt and CMU students and FOCUS missionaries. In addition to flooding the University of Pittsburgh with clerical collars, two pairs of seminarians were sent to the neighboring campus of Carnegie-Mellon University to assist in their evangelization efforts.
 
The seminarians hope that their efforts have a lasting impact on the lives of the students that they encountered. They learned much from this experience themselves, often having to go outside of their comfort zone to spread Christ’s love to people that so desperately need Him.
Evangelization Trip 1
On the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 30, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary hosted a concert at Immaculate Conception Chapel performed by the world-renowned organist, Felix Hell. This concert was only the second time a public performance was played on the chapel’s organ which was purchased and installed in 2009 through the generous efforts of the Knights of Columbus....Click here to read more.
For the 10th consecutive year, the Mount’s soccer team took home the trophy in the annual inter-seminary soccer tournament. They competed with St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Theological College in Washington, DC, and St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia. This year’s contest was hosted by Theological College.
 
Forty-one soccer-playing seminarians travelled early Saturday morning down to Washington DC, where they joined seminarians from all four schools to attend Mass celebrated by St. Charles’ rector, Bishop Timothy Senior, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia. After Mass, Mount St. Mary’s played St. Mary’s in the first round. The Mount routed their Roland Park foes 6-0, led by Nicholas Blank (S’19, Arlington) who had two goals. Having dashed St. Mary’s hopes, the Mount moved on to their next opponent, Theological College, fresh from their morning victory over St. Charles Borromeo.
 
Late in the afternoon, the teams from Theological College and the Mount met in the title match. Although the competition was fierce, both sides exhibited a high degree of virtue and sportsmanship. In a truly tense game, dominated by impressive defense, the seminarians of Mount St. Mary's Seminary eked out a 2-1 victory.
 
Ben Dunkelberger (S’18, Harrisburg), who led the Mount in the championship bout with an impressive defensive performance, had this to say about his overall time: “It was a very communal experience, not only in the time spent with your own classmates and men from the Mount, but also in getting to know some of the other men studying for the priesthood in the other seminaries, and it was simply accomplished by sharing a fun and competitive day of soccer together!”
 
Following the day’s activities on the soccer field, all the seminarians convened to celebrate Vespers, highlighting their unity in the faith and the commonality of their vocation in Christ. The evening then concluded with a wonderful dinner graciously hosted by the seminarians and staff of Theological College.
 
Vianney Cup team
On Saturday, September 20, seminarians participated in the 10th Annual Catoctin Pregnancy Center Run for Life in Memory of Father Darin Didier. The event, which featured a 5K run and a 1-mile fun run, is held each year in honor of Fr. Darin Didier. Fr. Didier was an avid runner and Mount graduate who passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer shortly after his ordination to the priesthood in September 6, 2005. All of the funds raised from the event will be donated to the local Catoctin Pregnancy Center in Emmitsburg, which Fr. Didier worked to support during his time in seminary. The Pregnancy Center’s sole purpose is to help families in need, as well as crisis pregnancies through counseling and support. Their staff is comprised of kind, caring and loving people who volunteer their time, and they are supported exclusively through donations.
 
The event drew its largest crowd of participants this year with nearly 200 runners, 90 of which were seminarians. Blessed with beautiful weather, the course explored the woods and trails of the east campus. Many of the seminarians took this opportunity to support the work of the Catoctin Pregnancy Center, while at the same time posting personal records in the 5K and 1-mile categories. First place overall went to seminarian Andrew Labenz (S’ 17, Wichita) with an astonishingly fast 5K time of 17:54. 
Fr. Will Prospero, S.J.Fr. Prospero, formerly the Assistant Spiritual Director at the Mount, passed away on September 8, 2014. He came to the Mount just two years ago, but had to leave for treatment at the onset of his illness last fall.
 
During his short stay here, Fr. Prospero was a great inspiration to the seminarians as a confessor and spiritual director, but he had an even more profound influence after he left by the way in which he approached his death. His reflections on his suffering and its redemptive nature were deeply moving and truly inspirational.
 
One month before his passing, Fr. Prospero wrote: “Whenever we face the facts of our lives there should be a sobering effect. Hearing the truth of things should help us to be more aware of what the essentials are, what's most important, what is least important. Never before has my awareness of the importance of faith, family, and friends been so acute. I actively look for opportunities to pray with others or talk about matters of faith; nothing is more fulfilling for me than evangelizing. What an amazing gift our faith is!”
 
The seminary celebrated a Memorial Mass and the Office of the Dead on Thursday, September 11, while Fr. Dietrich represented the Mount at the funeral Mass for Fr. Prospero at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 
On Saturday, September 6th, the Mount’s new seminarians were introduced to the local area history by participating in the annual tour of the Gettysburg National Military Park and Battlefield. Rev. Mr. George Wunderlich, a deacon of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and a renowned Civil War historian, led the group on a three-hour tour around the historic town just north of Emmitsburg. Deacon Wunderlich frequently appears on various educational programs on the History Channel, National Geographic, BBC, A&E, PBS, and others. In addition, he has served as the executive director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine since the fall of 2002.
 
Unlike other tours offered at Gettysburg, Deacon Wunderlich’s tour offered a unique perspective by emphasizing specific details of the battle pertaining to the Catholic Church. In particular, the new men were impressed with the story of Fr. William Corby, a Catholic chaplain of an Irish brigade, who gave general absolution to his Catholic troops and inspired their protestant counterparts. Fr. Corby is honored with a memorial on the battlefield and is also memorialized in Notre Dame University, where he later served as president and contributed to the university’s nickname “the Fighting Irish.”
 
In conjunction with the tour of the historic town and battlefield, the new men prepared by viewing the epic four-and-a-half hour film, Gettysburg, directed by Ronald Maxwell.

Mount St. Mary’s Seminary hosted the yearly 40 Hours Eucharistic retreat as the community began the 2014-2015 academic year. This year The Most Reverend Frank Caggiano, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut served as the retreat master, providing valuable insights upon the virtue of hope and the value of a priest as a minister of hope.

The retreat, asking absolute silence from the seminarians, began on Friday afternoon with the communal celebration of Vespers and the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Bernard’s Chapel. Supported by the Bishop’s conferences, the seminarians were encouraged to spend hours in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord in adoration, in order to truly enter into a deep communication with Him who is the source of our hope.

The retreat concluded with the 11 AM Mass on Sunday morning in Immaculate Conception Chapel and a Eucharistic procession and benediction. 

new seminariansMount St. Mary’s Seminary, the nation’s second oldest seminary, convened its new academic year with an afternoon Mass on August 21. For the third consecutive year, the local ordinary, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore (S’ 77), celebrated the opening Mass at his alma mater. This year the Mount opens the year with 161 seminarians - 37 of whom are new to formation. Over the summer the seminary enhanced devotional areas, made improvements to the interior and exterior of the house, and hired two new theology faculty: Dr. John-Mark Miravalle and Fr. Pietro Rossotti, FSCB. More than 35 men in the house are enrolled in the pre-theology program, an intensive two-year course of philosophy studies prior to entering theology. The remaining students are spread throughout the four years of theology studies.

All the seminarians gathered for an afternoon of sports, games, and fellowship last Sunday. Right before the beginning of classes, the seminarians competed in a variety of sports and games, meant to build class unity, fraternity, and virtue.

Blessed with beautiful weather, the competition included beach volleyball, horseshoes, cornhole, Balderdash, Trivial Pursuit, basketball, golf and ping-pong, and the whole competition came to a head in a particularly intense match-up of tug-of-war.

The Class of 2017 came in first place, with notable victories in beach volleyball and tug-of-war. The afternoon was topped off with Evening Prayer, and dinner was the much anticipated annual pig-roast held in the seminary dining room.

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