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On Mary’s Mountain

  The Daily Life of The Seminary Community

Mr. Simon Newman has been appointed the 25th president of Mount St. Mary’s University. The announcement came at the end of the Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, in Immaculate Conception Chapel, celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori (S’ 77).

The seminary has been praying fervently for our Lady’s guidance throughout the search process and, providentially, the announcement coincided with the patronal feast of the Mount, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Upon the announcement, Mr. Newman expressed his gratitude with a prayer in honor of our Lady imploring her continual assistance.

See the university’s announcement at for more information.

On Saturday, November 15, Mount seminarians, college students, and members of the community participated in a day-long symposium on the increasingly relevant topic of religious liberty in the public sphere. The symposium began with Mass in Immaculate Conception Chapel, celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori (S’ 77). Archbishop Lori also gave the keynote address, focusing on the Church’s response to the multi-faceted issues surrounding the HHS mandate. Monsignor Stuart Swetland returned to his mountain home from his new position as President of Donnelly College in Kansas City, KS, to present on authentic pastoral ministry in this time of advancing secularism. And Fr. Daniel Mindling, OFM Cap, the seminary’s academic dean, got his hands dirty and spoke on the real-life scenarios where cooperation with evil poses problems in pastoral situations, especially in Catholic charitable work. The symposium concluded with a question and answer session. From this experience, the seminarians gained perspective on the gravity and complexity of the threat against religious liberty in our country.

On Wednesday, November 12, the Mount celebrated its annual Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom of the Ruthenian Catholic Byzantine Rite. To expose the seminarians to the richness of the Eastern Catholic tradition, the yearly Divine Liturgy was begun many years ago by Fr. Lee Gross, the seminary’s Dean of Men. This year’s Divine Liturgy fell fittingly on the feast of St. Josaphat, a seventeenth century bishop and martyr who advanced the cause of unity between the Eastern and Western churches.

Members of the Byzantine Catholic mission of Montgomery County, MD, where Fr. Gross celebrates the Divine Liturgy each Sunday, participated in the liturgy and provided for many of the distinctively Eastern liturgical objects. Providing the music for the Divine Liturgy, Deacon Bill Meininger (S’ 15, Fort Wayne-South Bend) directed the Byzantine Schola, which was composed of nearly 20 seminarians and who rehearsed every week for the past two months in preparation. 


The seminary held the annual Oktoberfest party on the last Friday of October. A variety of traditional German foods such as schnitzel, sauerkraut, and pretzel rolls were consumed throughout the night by the seminarians and guests attending the celebration. Along with the tasty food, a number of refreshing autumn beers were also available for sampling. Tony Visintainer (S’ 17, Savannah), as the official seminary Burgermeister (mayor of Oktoberfest), directed the events of the evening, which included the first annual yodeling contest, won this year by Deacon P.J. Voegelli (S’ 15, Wichita). The seminarians always enjoy spending time with the families of the lay faculty who attend the festivities, and every year a number of the children come to Oktoberfest dressed in their Halloween costumes. And in another nod to the Halloween theme, the annual pumpkin carving contest was won by our very own Susie Nield.

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. 
Dec 2014
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