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On Mary’s Mountain

  The Daily Life of The Seminary Community
   Date: Nov 2011

The Most Rev. William Skurla, Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, returned to the Mount on November 30, the feast of St. Andrew, to celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The annual liturgy was begun a number of years back by Fr. Lee Gross (Arlington), the seminary’s Dean of Men, whose bi-ritual faculties permit him to celebrate the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Catholic tradition. Aside from his work at the seminary, for the last seven years, Fr. Gross has celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the Byzantine Catholic mission of Montgomery County in MD. With assistance of clergy and parishioners of Epiphany Byzantine Catholic Church in Annandale, VA, the Divine Liturgy has become a much anticipated event held each year on November 30, and in recent years, the community has been blessed to have Bishop William grace us with his presence.

About thirty seminarians who remained at the Mount partook in the annual Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Knights of Columbus Fr. McKenna Council from Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, MD. Numerous guests and Mount faculty joined the Knights and seminarians for the sumptuous feast. In all, about sixty people participated in the holiday events. The entire seminary community is grateful to the Germantown Knights for their generous hosting of different events for the seminarians each year.

Many other seminarians spent the break in an interesting fashion including three men (Tony Visintainer S’16, Savannah, Neil Kirchoefer S’15, Peoria, and Jacob Toliver, S’15, Peoria) who traveled with Alexander Buder (S’15, Washington) to his family’s island home on Martha’s Vineyard, MA. Meanwhile, the 9 seminarians from the Diocese of Lincoln enjoyed their annual Thanksgiving trip to the ocean of Avalon, NJ where they joined their diocesan brothers from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Fr. Gary Caster (S' 92, Peoria) returned to the Mount this past week, November 17-18, to preach the annual Fall Day of Renewal. The event began on Thursday night with an evening conference before concluding the next day with two conferences and Mass. Each year, the Mount offers abbreviated retreats in both the Fall and Spring semesters to give the seminarians an opportunity to focus on spiritual formation. This brief time of solitude with the Lord is especially appreciated in the midst of the heightened exams and papers which are oftentimes numerous this time of year.

Twenty-one seminarians in the 3rd and 4th Theology classes received candidacy in a November 11 Mass celebrated by Baltimore's Auxiliary Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski. Candidacy is the final step on the way to deaconate ordination and the point when the deacons-to-be formally announce their intention to approach God's altar by declaring themselves as candidates for ordination. A number of family and friends attended the ceremony and joined the entire Mount community in congratulating these men who will be ordained in just a few short months.


A group of seminarians traveled with Fr. Brian Doerr, the seminary's Vice-Rector of Human Formation to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia for an exhilarating hike up Old Rag Mountain this past Saturday. The group completed the circuit hike of eight miles and conquered the 3,200 foot mountain in six hours. Halfway up the mountain the trail turned into a strenuous rock scramble with several false summits along the way. Hiking through the rock scramble, the group built a trust among each other to work through some of the more challenging places. Once reaching the top summit, they spent some quality time in prayer and enjoyed the beautiful fall day. The hike ended up being a great opportunity for the seminarians to bond and get to know each other better. A highlight of the day was seeing a black bear with her cub only about a hundred yards from the group. Overall, the hikers had a fantastic time spending the day together, and they report that they are looking forward to the next adventure!

On Thursday, November 3, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Diocese of Patterson spoke to the seminarians about the new translation of the English Mass which will take effect on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. Bishop Serratelli has been influential in many movements in the liturgy, including serving previously as Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Liturgy and presently as a member of the Committee on Divine Worship. Internationally, he serves on the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and is the secretary of the Vatican’s Vox Clara Committee. During the Mount’s weekly Rector’s Conference, he shared with the seminary community numerous insights into the deep theology soon to be a part of the English translation of the Mass. He was also quite willing to recount some humorous events which transpired during the labor-intensive ten year process leading up to the new translation. We are grateful for having had the opportunity to hear directly from someone so influential in the coming changes.

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