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On Mary’s Mountain


  The Daily Life of The Seminary Community

After a three week Christmas break, the seminarians returned well rested in time for the annual mid-year silent retreat held January 6-10 at the seminary. The retreat master was former seminary vice-rector, Fr. Brett Brannen, who completed his six year tenure as vice-rector following the 2010-2011 academic year.

Silent Retreat

A 1994 graduate of Mount St. Mary’s, Fr. Brannen has served in numerous parishes in his diocese of Savannah, GA and is now the pastor at Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Savannah. During his term as vice-rector, he authored the book To Save a Thousand Souls which has been invaluable in assisting countless men in their vocational discernment. Fr. Brannen is also a skilled retreat master, having vast experience in offering various types of retreats and parish missions to a wide range of groups.

Silent Retreat

In the Mount’s retreat, Fr. Brannen held two conferences each day on various topics relevant to seminary life and the seminarian’s future priestly ministry. Aside from the conferences, strict silence was maintained throughout the week with the exception of the daily sacrifice of the Mass and the celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer. The silent nature of the retreat allowed the seminarians to enter into the desert with the Lord. At the conclusion of the retreat, the community welcomed one new seminarian who will be beginning formation and philosophical studies in the pre-theology program from the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Another man from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is returning to the seminary in the class of 1st theology after spending a year away.

Twenty-seven seminarians in the 3rd Theology class received candidacy in a November 22 Mass celebrated by Philadelphia’s Auxiliary Bishop, Barry Daniel E. Thomas.

Candidacy Mass

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.

Candidacy Mass

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.

On the evening of Thursday November 14, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary hosted a concert at Immaculate Conception Chapel performed by the world renowned organist, Christopher Houlihan.

Organ Recital

The concert marked the first 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.

Organ Recital

The community was privileged to experience the concert by Christopher Houlihan, a graduate of the Julliard School, who is regarded as one of the world’s premier organists. Houlihan has received high regards from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times.

Organ Recital

In addition to his preparation at Julliard, he also studied at the French National Regional Conservatory in Versailles where he earned the “Prix de Perfectionnement” (equivalent to a university artist’s diploma in the US). He also served as assistant musician at the American Cathedral in Paris where he had the honor of performing for then President and Mrs. George W. Bush. Mount St. Mary’s was honored to have a musician of such repute play on our organ.

The Mount again began the month of November, traditionally dedicated to the poor souls in purgatory, with two days of solemn liturgical celebrations. Actually the events began on the eve of Thursday October 31st with Vespers I of All Saint’s Day celebrated in the seminary’s St. Bernard’s Chapel. The next day a festive Holy Day Mass was celebrated in the afternoon honoring all of the heavenly elect, especially asking their intercession for us here on earth. 

All Souls Mass

Then Saturday morning, November 2nd, Feast of All Soul’s, the Mount continued the ancient tradition renewed a few years ago of offering three Masses for the poor souls in purgatory. At 7:30 AM and 12 PM, the seminarians had the option of attending a Requiem Low Mass offered in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite by Fr. Lee Gross, the Mount’s Dean of Men and liturgical expert. Additionally, at 9 AM the entire community was obliged to attend a solemn Mass in the Novus Ordo offered at the Grotto Shrine’s Glass Chapel. The yearly All Soul’s Day Mass at the Glass Chapel is a revered ritual at the Mount cherished by many seminarians each year.

All Souls Mass

Following the Mass at the Grotto, the seminary’s custom of processing as a community to the university’s cemetery was renewed where prayers were offered for the dead, particularly those deceased members of the Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and University community.

All Souls Mass

Once again the seminary hosted the annual Family Weekend October 18-20. This year saw the largest contingent of family members descend upon Emmitsburg in the event’s eight year history.

Family Weekend

The activity-filled weekend offered the visiting family members a unique view into the life of a seminarian. Beginning on Friday night, the seminarians and visitors celebrated Vespers together in Immaculate Conception Chapel followed by a social in the seminary’s rec-room later in the evening.

Family Weekend

On Saturday, many of the families attended the community’s morning Mass before listening to a host of presentations delivered by the rector and other faculty members describing the process of priestly formation. Saturday evening concluded with a formal dinner in the William H. Keeler Seminary Dining Room attended by the visiting family members and their host seminarians.

Family Weekend

Several events were also offered for family members who have attended previous family weekends. Notable among these was the opportunity to listen to a handful of vocation stories delivered by the seminarians on Sunday morning as well as a Saturday morning presentation offered by members of the 2013-2014 deacon class highlighting priestly formation from a seminarian’s vantage point. The family weekend concluded on Sunday morning with a solemn Mass celebrated by the rector, Msgr. Rohlfs.

Family Weekend

The largest Seminary Alumni Reunion in recent years was held at the Mount October 1-2, 2013, with 92 Mountaineer priests and 7 university alumni participating in the two-day events and Masses. The alumni represented 34 classes and 30 dioceses. The Most Rev. Edward J. Burns, S'83, Bishop of Juneau, traveled to Emmitsburg to be the main celebrant for the Homecoming Mass and to join his classmates for their thirtieth reunion. Father Robert J. Hohenstein, S'68, (Albany) received the 38th Annual John Cardinal McCloskey Award from the National Alumni Association for his outstanding service to the Church and the Diocese of Albany.

Priest Reunion

Also, four members of the Class of 1963 - Fr. J. Thomas Connery (Albany), Fr. Francis Callahan (Baltimore), Msgr. Thomas Tewes (Baltimore) and Fr. Robert Frueh (Brooklyn) -- celebrated their Golden Jubilee Reunion. At the traditional Reunion Dinner, Rector, Msgr. Steven P. Rohlfs, S.T.D., P.A., S'76, thanked the alumni for their devotion to the Mount and their commitment to the Holy Priesthood. He added, "Please know this is your home and you are always welcome to visit with us at the Seminary."

Priest Reunion

V. Rev. Robert J. Hohenstein, Seminary Class of 1968, from the Diocese of Albany, (L) received the 38th Annual John Cardinal McCloskey Award from the Mount St. Mary's National Alumni Association on October 1, 2013. Making the presentation are President Thomas H. Powell, Msgr. Steven P. Rohlfs, Rector, and Rev. Charles L Persing, Alumni Vice President. The award, named in honor and memory of America's first Cardinal, is presented at the traditional Seminary Alumni Reunion to a Mountaineer priest for outstanding and dedicated service to the mission of the Church.

On Saturday September 28th, Mount St. Mary's hosted the 4th Annual Vianney Cup, the East Coast's seminary soccer tournament. The Vianney Cup, formed after the dissolution of the long lived Rector's Cup in 2009, includes soccer teams fielded by St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia; St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore; and Theological College in Washington, DC. This year marked the first time the tournament was hosted by the Mount since 2010, and at the end of the day, the Mount once again hoisted the trophy for the ninth consecutive year.
Vianney Cup
Going into the day's contests, the rival seminaries were eager to take the trophy from the historically dominant club fielded by the Mount, but our team was up for the task, edging out Theological College by a score of 3-2 in the day's opening bout. After taking a 3-0 lead with one goal from Michael Pica (S'16, Peoria) and two from Nicholas Blank (S'19, Arlington), Theological College showed their fight, netting two second half goals to come within one before the Mount closed the door on the visitors from Washington.

Vianney Cup
Vianney Cup
In the championship match, the Mount once again faced their archrival from Philadelphia, St. Charles; and once more, the hosts from Emmitsburg emerged victorious, notching a 3-0 shutout to claim the title. The championship game was played at the university's Waldron Family Stadium where Noah Morey (S'15, Arlington) began the scoring with the first two goals before Deacon Chase Hilgenbrinck (S'14, Peoria) put the ball in the back of the net to complete the 3-0 victory.
Vianney Cup
The tournament was a grand affair for the entire Mount community with each seminarian offering a bit of assistance to create a welcoming and hospitable environment for the visitors. As the host school, the Mount also put together an impressive cheering section led by Carl McIntosh (S'15, Bridgeport) from the class of 3rd Theology. The seminarians in the stands included a pep band and a bag piper as well as dozens of spectators blowing vuvuzelas, the African tribal horn which gained international prominence during the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament held in South Africa.
Vianney Cup

Vianney Cup
While the Mount has dominated the tournament over the past decade, the event is not simply about competition. A large contingent of seminarians from all four schools assembled in the morning to attend Mass celebrated at Immaculate Conception Chapel by St. Charles' rector, Bishop Timothy Senior, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia. Following the day's activities on the soccer field, the entire contingent gathered again for Vespers before concluding the day's activities with a pig roast held on the north lawn of the seminary building.
Vianney Cup
With the Mount's most recent victory, the seminary will head into next year's competition seeking an unprecedented tenth consecutive championship, but for the time being the trophy will once again find its home within the halls of Mount St. Mary's.

The Legion of Mary is a lay, international organization whose primary focus is to evangelize and win the world back to Christ through Mary. Our Seminary is blessed to have a branch, a praesidium, of the Legion in which the seminarians can foster their devotion to the Blessed Mother and spread the Good News to nursing home residents and to those encountered on door-to-door missions. We also learn how to best implement and support the Legion of Mary in the parishes we may one day serve at as priests.
Legion of Mary

Recently the seminary's Legion took a pilgrimage up to Philadelphia. The group of 21 visited the shrines of St. John Neumann and St. Katharine Drexel. It was inspiring for us to learn about the lives of these great American saints. Both were exemplars of zeal in their vocations. Two of the seminary professors and Legion of Mary spiritual directors, were on the pilgrimage and they were able to say Mass for us over the tomb of St. John Neumann. It was a great day for all of us to reflect on our vocations, learn about the saints, eat authentic Philly Cheese Steaks, and to spiritually prepare for our upcoming works in the Legion of Mary.

Day of Peace

As a result of Pope Francis' recent request that Catholics throughout the world make September 7th a "day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and across the entire world," the Mount community hosted a public gathering of prayer begging Our Lady, Queen of Peace, to intercede for the global community, particularly for those in danger in Syria.

Day of Prayer

The event, hosted by both the seminary and the university, was held on the eve of the Birthday of Mary and began with a 12:30 PM Mass in the seminary's St. Bernard's Chapel. Monsignor Stuart Swetland (S' 91), the university's Vice President for Catholic Identity, offered the homily which pertained to the moral issues regarding the troubling events occurring in Syria as well as the United States' reaction. Following the Mass, Eucharistic Adoration was held from 1:30 - 2:30, after which many of the participants in the day of prayer trekked up the hill to the Glass Chapel at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes where the Divine Mercy Chaplet was prayed at 3 PM.

Day of Peace

Again Msgr. Swetland offered a reflection after the Chaplet before the community joined in a solemn Eucharistic Procession to the shrine's Grotto Altar.

Day of Prayer

There, at 4 PM, the Rosary was prayed with the special intention that Mary might intercede in our efforts to establish peace in our own country and throughout the world.

Day of Peace

After the Rosary, Eucharistic Benediction was given to all present at the Grotto Altar, and at 5 PM the day of prayer was concluded with a Mass in the Glass Chapel. All of the seminarians, aside from the small group who were at their apostolic assignment for the weekend, prayerfully entered into the day's events requesting that Our Lady and Our Eucharistic Lord assist us in our efforts to cultivate peace on Earth.

Mount St. May’s Seminary once again hosted a 40 Hours Eucharistic retreat as the community began the 2013-2014 academic year.

Forty Hours

This year The Most Reverend Timothy Doherty, Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, served as the retreat master, providing valuable insights during the retreat’s conferences. The retreat began on Friday afternoon with the communal celebration of Vespers after which the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the seminary’s St. Bernard’s Chapel.

Forty Hours

Aside from the four conferences, a penance service, and daily Mass; the 40 Hours consisted mostly of silence and prayer. The spirit of prayer was buttressed through Eucharistic adoration which was continued throughout the entirety of the retreat, thus allowing the seminarians to truly enter into a deep communication with the Eucharistic Lord.

Forty Hours

The retreat concluded with an 11 AM Mass on Sunday morning in Immaculate Conception Chapter, after which the entire community participated in the annual Eucharistic procession to St. Bernard’s Chapel where benediction was held and the Litany of the Holy Eucharist was recited.

Forty Hours

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