For three consecutive days between November 29 to December 1, Mount St. Mary’s held a series of diverse liturgies offering seminarians an opportunity to experience a more universal perspective of the Christian liturgy. First on Thursday, November 29, the usual communal Mass held at 7 AM was in Spanish. In fact, Spanish Mass is celebrated every Thursday the seminary is in session, and in recent years the Mount’s Spanish Schola has been growing and making many positive advances to more easily assist the community in entering into the Sacred Mysteries. On Friday, November 30, the feast of St. Andrew, the Mount celebrated its annual Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom of the Ruthenian Catholic Byzantine Rite. For many years now, the Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy has been celebrated at Mount St. Mary’s on the Feast of St. Andrew. It was first initiated 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. In addition to Fr. Gross’ duties at the seminary, he also celebrates the Divine Liturgy for the Byzantine Catholic mission of Montgomery County, MD each Sunday. Lastly, on Saturday morning, December 1, the Mount offered a sung Mass (Missa Cantata) in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The liturgy commonly referred to as the Traditional Latin Mass was also offered by Fr. Gross who, in addition to teaching the 1st Theology class in literature, enjoys sharing his passion for liturgy by routinely providing seminarians with the opportunity to actually attend the diverse liturgies studied in the classroom. Seminarians typically have the option of attending one of two Masses on Saturday mornings, one at 7:30 AM and another at 11 AM with the earlier Mass being celebrated in Latin once a month. The Saturday morning Latin Mass alternates every other month between the post-conciliar Novus Ordo and the pre-conciliar Extraordinary Form. About once a semester, the Latin Schola led by Deacons Dan Richards (S’ 13, Harrisburg) and Renaurd West (S’ 13, Charleston) also provides music during the Latin Mass, as in the Missa Cantata celebrated on the morning of December 1st.
On Mary’s Mountain
As many were beginning to prepare for the Thanksgiving break or even look ahead to Christmas shopping and the busyness of the final weeks of the semester, the Mount community held its annual Fall Day of Renewal November 16 and 17. The Day of Renewal, a one day retreat, comes at a time in the semester when many seminarians are feeling the pinch of the end of the semester, and it serves as an opportunity for the men to refocus their attention on divine matters and boost their spiritual life before heading into one of the most rigorous stretches of the academic year. This year the Day of Renewal was preached by the vocation director from Washington DC, Father Carter Griffin. Father Griffin, who also serves as the vice-rector of the Blessed John Paul II College Seminary in Washington, preached a conference on Thursday evening before offering two more conferences in Immaculate Conception Chapel on Friday morning and afternoon. There was unanimous acclaim for Fr. Griffin’s ability to relate to seminarians and offer a needed boost to encourage the men in formation to fully dedicate themselves to God and the service of His people. Following the final conference on Friday afternoon, the Day of Renewal concluded with the Mass for Candidacy described below.
Thirteen seminarians in the 3rd Theology class received candidacy in a November 16 Mass celebrated by Washington, DC’s Auxiliary Bishop, Barry C. Knestout. The admission to candidacy rite offers the candidates for ordination the opportunity to publicly express their intention to receive ordination as a deacon and later as a priest. Before the ceremony, the seminarians composed letters to their respective bishops, petitioning to be received as a candidate for sacred orders. In receiving candidacy, the seminarian acknowledges that he must care for his vocation in a renewed way, both in prayer and study. Further, he acknowledges he is making this petition of his own free will. The bishop receives the seminarian on behalf of the Church. 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.
Following the annual November 2, Feast of All Souls Mass at the Grotto of Lourdes’ Glass Chapel, around sixty members of the seminary community headed down to the seminary’s Rec Room where they enjoyed a fine Vietnamese meal organized by Philip Phan (S’ 16, Bridgeport). In hosting the event, Phan, originally hailing from Vietnam, worked with the Vietnamese Knights of Columbus Council from Our Lady of Vietnam parish in Silver Spring, MD. Many members of the council, along with their families, were generous in setting aside the evening to provide and cook the food and also make the trip from the Washington, DC suburbs for the event. The meal consisted of a authentic, traditional Vietnamese foods such as Pho (noodle beef soup), egg rolls, and summer rolls. In providing this cultural experience at the seminary, Phan was also able to fulfill one of his goals for the 2012-2013 academic year. Each year every seminarian is asked to develop a few goals in each of the four pillars of formation; academic, human, pastoral, and spiritual. This year, one of Phan’s pastoral goals was to organize the Vietnamese party in honor of the 117 Vietnamese Martyrs. Unfortunately this year the Feast of the 117 Vietnamese Martyrs, November 24, falls during the Thanksgiving Break, so the decision was made to host the part on November 2 instead. As a part of the celebration of the Vietnamese Martyrs, a film was also shown at the beginning of the dinner recounting the history of the Catholic Church in Vietnam and the details of the lives and deaths of the 117 martyrs honored by the Church as saints.
As part of the 2nd Theology Seminar, Priest as a Public Person, seminarians from the Mount’s Class of 2015 traveled to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on the evening of November 1st to attend the National Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, led by Conductor Christoph Eschenbach. The system of yearly seminars is a program developed by current rector, Monsignor Steven Rohlfs, which consists of a weekly one credit hour course, with minimal requirements, but which offers the seminarian an opportunity to become more well rounded and prepared to face the rigors facing 21st century parish priests. The 2nd Theology Seminar, titled Priest as a Public Person taught by vice-rectors Frs. Brian Doerr and Ken Brighenti, centers around aiding the seminarian in developing a well-rounded knowledge base and the skill set to work as a strong and capable leader and pastor within the modern world. Along with attending the orchestra in Washington, the seminar also provided the class with the opportunity to shoot clay pigeons on Friday October 26 or visit the National Gallery of Art in Washington later in the fall.