The Mount community welcomed the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, on October 18. Archbishop Viganò first entered the diplomatic corps of the Holy See in 1973 and has faithfully served the Roman Pontiff for nearly forty years. Originally from northern Italy, he gained doctorates in both canon and civil law before entering the diplomatic service. His previous posts include work in Iraq and Great Britain as well as serving as the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria under Blessed Pope John Paul II. Most recently he worked in the Vatican City State as the Secretary General of the Governatorate, a position he held until his reassignment to the United States in 2011. His visit to Mount St. Mary’s on October 18, 2012 is notable because he received the appointment of successor to the late Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, one year ago on October 19, 2011, the Feast of the North American Martyrs. At the Mount, he celebrated a solemn Mass in the afternoon before addressing the seminarians in O’Donnell Lecture Hall later in the evening. A wide variety of topics were discussed in the lecture, but the main emphasis of the talk centered on describing the life and daily affairs of the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States. He fielded questions as vast as inquiries into his own vocation to the priesthood to the working of the Holy Spirit within his work as bishop and Nuncio. As he noted, however, the most humbling and essential task of any Apostolic Nuncio is to officially represent the Pope to the various countries around the globe. In doing this, one of his most important duties is to assure the faithful in the United States of the Holy Father’s deep affection and closeness in prayer for the members of our nation. Likewise, this was the key message he brought to our own community in his visit of October 18.
On Mary’s Mountain
The annual Priest’s Alumni Reunion took place this past Monday October 1st through Wednesday October 3rd. In excess of ninety priest alumni were welcomed back to their mountain home. Coming from far and near, the returning priests serve throughout the entire country as well as the immediate vicinity of the Mount. Highlights of the reunion were the annual Mass in Immaculate Conception Chapel on Tuesday afternoon celebrated by the Archbishop of Baltimore, William E. Lori (S’ 77, Washington) and concelebrated by Washington’s Auxiliary Bishop, Barry Knestout (S’ 89, Washington). Following the Mass, the returning alumni enjoyed a fine meal along with the men from the seminary’s Class of 2013. The next day, Fr. John Cyr (S’ 02, Peoria) preached for the Mount community at the Glass Chapel at the Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. Longtime faculty member, Fr. Michael Roach (Baltimore) received the 37th Annual John Cardinal McCloskey award given to the alum recognized for his distinguished and dedicated service to the mission of the Church and who by his efforts has brought honor to his Alma Mater. While Fr. Roach did not himself attend the Mount, he has served as a professor of Church History since 1978 and for many years has been the chair of the history department. Overall, the annual reunion was a joy for the alumni, faculty, and current seminarians, all of whom were able to spend a few days with so many Mount alumni who have collectively touched the lives of an inestimable number.
The Mount’s soccer team was victorious this Saturday for the eighth straight year in the annual inter-seminarian soccer tournament, hosted this year by St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA. In addition to the Mount, teams were fielded by Theological College in Washington, DC, St. Mary’s in Baltimore, and the host St. Charles. The Vianney Cup has now been held for three years, following the 2009 dissolution of the long lived Rector’s Cup, the previous East-Coast seminary soccer tournament. Though hosted by St. Charles, the matches this year were held at the nearby St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. After defeating Baltimore’s, St. Mary’s, with relative ease, the victors from Emmitsburg faced difficult competition in the championship game against the hosts. Following last year’s painful loss in the championship bout, St. Charles came out this year eager for victory on their home turf. With St. Charles firing on all cylinders at the outset, the Mount was forced to withstand a relentless attack. Having subdued them in the early going, however, the two teams settled in for a more evenly matched battle throughout the rest of the affair. The lone goal of the match was scored off of a header by the Mount’s former professional soccer star, Chase Hilgenbrinck (S’ 14, Peoria), after an excellent set-up by Michael Pica (S’ 16, Peoria). With this blow coming toward the end of the second half, the Mount then clamped down on defense and was able to pull out the nail-biting victory to ensure the Vianney Cup will find its home within the walls of Mount St. Mary’s for one more year. 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 by Philadelphia’s ordinary, Archbishop Charles Chaput. Following the day’s activities on the soccer field, an enjoyable social was held after the games, culminating in Vespers celebrated by the new rector of St. Charles, Bishop Timothy Senior of Philadelphia. The evening then concluded with a wonderful dinner hosted by the seminarians and staff at St. Charles. The Mount and its rector, Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, are already looking forward to next year’s challenging task of bringing home the trophy for a ninth consecutive year!
The fourth week of September took Frs. Doerr (Vice Rector of Human Formation) and Brighenti (Vice Rector of Pastoral Formation) to Northern California for the annual Vocation Director's Conference. In addition to conferences and sacred Liturgies, vocation directors have a chance to inquire about various seminaries in which they may send future seminarians. Many of the nations' largest seminaries sponsored special events. Mount Saint Mary Seminary of Emmitsburg, MD is the second oldest and largest. The Rector, Msgr. Rohlfs, sponsored a luncheon and gift for the event which was received very warmly. The gift was a book composed by one of the seminary' professors, Fr. Fred Miller, a collection of talks given in Ars, France focusing on the life of St. John Vianney and the priesthood. Though the conference schedule was quite busy, Frs. Doerr and Brighenti had a chance, on the free afternoon, to visit a couple of local missions and wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties. Pictured in the photo,at the Conference, in front of Mount Saint Mary's table, is his Excellency, the Most Reverend Edward Burns, bishop of Juno and graduate of the Mount. Flanking him are the Mount's two vice rectors.
On Saturday September 17, a total of 129 individual participated in the 8th Annual Catoctin Pregnancy Center Run for Life in Memory of Father Darin Didier. The event which featured a 5k run and a 1 mile run/walk is held each year in honor of Mount graduate Father Darin Didier (S’ 05), an avid runner who passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer on September 6, 2005, just three months after his ordination to the priesthood. All of the funds raised from the event will be donated to the local Catoctin Pregnancy Center in Emmitsburg, including the more than $1,000 that seminary rector Monsignor Steven P. Rohlfs graciously donated on behalf of the participating seminarians. There was a total of 91 runners in the 5k race and 38 runners and walkers in the 1 mile race. First year seminarian David Semivule (S’ 16, Peoria) placed first in the 5k with a time of 18:27. Eleven of the top thirteen finishers in the 5k were seminarians with Mark Ruhl (S’ 14, Lincoln) and Lee Brokaw (S’ 17, Peoria) finishing second and third respectively. In the one mile race, new seminarian, Jay Horning (S’ 18, Fort Wayne-South Bend) finished first with the impressive sub-six minute time of 5:43.
On the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Mount St. Mary’s ROTC unit held a solemn memorial throughout the day on the university’s Veterans Walkway. The memorial consisted of two cadets standing a solemn post from 8 AM to 7 PM with a change of guard every hour on the hour. The memorial served as a place to pay respects for the victims as well as those who continue to serve as emergency responders, police, firefighters and military personnel. Additionally, a Rosary was prayed after the Noon Mass on campus in conjunction with the day’s memorial. A large number of seminarians joined current undergrad students in remembering the horrific events of September 11, 2001 in New York, Washington, DC, and Shanksville, PA while also honoring those many men and women who have given their lives in combat over the last eleven years.
Each year, the new men at the seminary watch the movie Gettysburg (Trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arGg3Twqmi8) on a Friday night and then enjoy a remarkable tour of the nearby battlefield by a great friend of the seminary, Mr. George Wunderlich the next day. The movie was shown at 7 PM August 31st in O’Donnell Lecture Hall. Then the following morning, the group of new men boarded the bus at 12:45 PM for a tour which lasted approximately 4 hours. Mr. Wunderlich is a renowned Civil War historian who has appeared frequently on various television programs, and over the last few years he has been enrolled in the permanent deaconate formation program in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Given Mr. Wunderlich’s own Catholic background, the annual seminary tour, unlike the other tours offered at Gettysburg, emphasizes specific events of the battle pertaining to the Catholic Church. Additionally, a number of the returning men eagerly anticipate the annual Gettysburg tour, foremost of whom is Adam Cesarek (Peoria, 2015) who has attended the tour each of the four years he has attended the Mount.
This past weekend, the Mount once again began the academic school year by entering into a three day retreat involving the devotion of 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration. Fr. Thomas Acklin, O.S.B., a monk of St. Vincent’s Archabbey (Latrobe, PA), was the retreat master and provided a number of invaluable insights from his many years as a seminary instructor and rector. The retreat began on Friday afternoon with the communal celebration of Vespers after which the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for the remainder of the retreat. A handful of conferences were held each day, while the rest of the weekend was spent in silence with God, allowing the seminarians to truly enter into a deep communication with the Eucharistic Lord before beginning the hectic trials of daily life in the seminary. The retreat concluded with Mass at 11 AM Sunday morning in Immaculate Conception Chapel, at the end of which the entire community participated in a solemn Eucharistic procession to St. Bernard’s Chapel in the seminary building. Once arriving in St. Bernard’s, Fr. Acklin led the community in Eucharistic Benediction and a recitation of the Litany of the Holy Eucharist before reposing the Blessed Sacrament and concluding the retreat.
Mount St. Mary’s, the nation’s second oldest seminary, convened its 204th academic year with an afternoon Mass on Sunday the 19th of August. For the first time, the local ordinary, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore (S’ 77), celebrated the opening Mass at his alma mater. This past spring, Archbishop Lori became the first “Mountie” to assume leadership of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and his visit last Sunday marked his first public visit to the seminary as Archbishop. This year the Mount opens the year with 174 seminarians. Forty-eight of the men are new to formation, six men are returning after taking time out of the seminary, and 120 men have arrived back at their mountain home after being away for the summer. Forty-five of the 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.
In an effort to develop a greater spirit of fraternity at Mount St. Mary’s, Student Government Association (SGA) President, Deacon Thomas Haan (S’13, Lafayette-in-Indiana) instituted the first ever “Battle of the Classes” last Tuesday, on the final day before the first official day of classes. The Battle of the Classes consisted of various competitions in which each of the six classes at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary competed against each other to determine who is truly the superior class at the seminary. The events included age-old American favorites such as dodge-ball, horseshoes, cornhole, beach volleyball, trivial pursuit, and tug of war. At the conclusion of the day’s activities, the class of 1st Theology was crowned the champions of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. 4th Theology came in second place, while 2nd Theology finished third. The prize awarded to the champions: Of course, free drinks at the seminary pub, Mother Seton’s Place.