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On Mary’s Mountain

  The Daily Life of The Seminary Community

Seminarians Enjoy Annual Deacon Night Festivities

Each year seminarians at Mount St. Mary’s await one party with great anticipation: Deacon Night. Deacon Night is the final celebration of the year occurring the Friday before finals week and marks the date after which the graduating fourth year seminarians are free to leave the seminary after completing the process of priestly formation. The evening begins with a commencement ceremony within the context of the liturgical celebration of Vespers in Immaculate Conception Chapel. While the evening is mostly a celebration of the fourth year graduation, the second pre-theology class also graduated from the pre-theology program during the Vespers commencement ceremony. A number of pre-theologians also received a Master’s of Arts in Philosophical Studies degree while a handful of graduating pre-theologians who came to the Mount prior to earning an undergraduate degree received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree with a concentration in philosophy. As far as the conferral of degrees upon the fourth year deacon class, each member of the class received a Master’s of Divinity degree while a handful also received the ecclesiastical Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree. Additionally, a large percentage of the graduating fourth year men received Master’s degrees in theology with concentrations in Fundamental Morals, Systematic Theology, Sacred Scripture, or Church History. One of the highlights of the commencement ceremony is the annual homily by the seminary’s academic dean, Fr. J. Daniel Mindling, who each year speaks about the unique statistics and skills of the graduating seminarians. Of particular note is his run-through of the various local, national, and global events which occurred during the particular class’ time spent at the Mount.

Following the commencement ceremony, the entire community headed to Patriot Hall, the Mount’s cafeteria, where a formal dinner is hosted each year by the class of 3rd theology. During the dinner, numerous toasts were offered to the graduating deacons. Keeping with the custom, a light roasting of the deacons was also enjoyed by the community before the fourth theology class president, Deacon Clayton Thompson (S’ 13, Lafayette-in-Indiana) offered his final address to the community. Upon the dinner’s conclusion, everybody went back to the seminary where the party continued for a number of hours, affording the community a final opportunity to spend time with the graduating deacons. The day after Deacon Night, the fourth year men began departing for their respective dioceses, ready to be ordained as Priests of Jesus Christ in the coming weeks. As always, Deacon Night 2013 was a successful and well deserved sending-off of the deacons who have persevered in completing the rigorous path of priestly formation.

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Seminarians enjoy the Deacon Night dinner

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A view of the Karaoke on the seminary's patio

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The graduating class of second pre-theology

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A class photo of the 4th year deacons with their diplomas in hand

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A class photo of Mount St. Mary's Seminary class of 2013 on the steps of Immaculate Conception Chapel

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore returned to his mountain home to install the new class of lectors and acolytes at the seminary.

At a Mass on Friday afternoon, twenty-four seminarians in the class of 2016 were permanently installed as lectors in Immaculate Conception Chapel, while the following morning, thirty-five seminarians from the class of 2015 were installed as acolytes.


Newly Installed Lectors

The Church's official ministry of lector and acolyte are the equivalent to the minor orders which were previously bestowed upon seminarians as they progressed through their priestly formation. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, there were four minor orders received by a seminarian before receiving the final major orders of subdeacon, deacon, and priest. In the post-conciliar Church, lector and acolyte are typically received in consecutive years prior to a man's ordination to the diaconate. Consequently, the Mount traditionally installs members of the first and second theology classes into these ministries during the Easter season toward the end of the academic year.


Newly Installed Acolytes

For the seminarian, the installation into these ministries symbolizes two of the final steps taken on the path toward the altar of Jesus Christ. A number of seminarians welcomed family and friends to the Mount to attend the liturgies, and a reception with light hors d'oeuvre and drinks was held in the seminary's rec-room following the Friday afternoon Mass.


With the spring weather finally emerging upon the Baltimore-Washington area, the DC Padres have once again come together to begin their 2013 slate of games. The Padres, a baseball team composed of priests and seminarians with high school and college level experience, routinely compete against varsity teams from local Catholic high schools. On Sunday, April 7, the Padres squared off against the reigning Virginia state champions from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, VA. As has become a custom, the Padres most recent contest was played at a local minor league venue, the Potomac Nationals’ G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, VA. While the Padres fell to the talented Paul VI Panthers by a score of 10-5 in their latest affair, the team holds a 3-2-1 overall record since their inaugural season in 2011. Despite the loss to Paul VI, seminarian Kevin Dansereau (S’ 15, Arlington), a former standout on the James Madison University club squad, came in on relief to hurl a solid 5 2/3 two-run innings. While the team is composed of seminarians, priests, and brothers from various dioceses and religious communities, seven members of the 2013 roster are current seminarians at Mount St. Mary’s. Dansereau is joined by catcher Adam Cesarek (S’ 15, Peoria), outfielder Deacon Shaun Foggo (S’ 13, Washington), shortstop Matthew Hoelscher (S’ 14, Peoria), second baseman Noah Morey (S’ 15, Arlington), first baseman Jeremy Smith (S’ 18, Baltimore), and outfielder Tom Venzor (S’ 18, Omaha) as the 2013 Mount representatives. 

The establishment of the DC Padres is due to the efforts of Washington’s Fr. Larry Young who began organizing the team a few years back after recognizing the abundant baseball talent among the priests and seminarians in the area. While the players relished the opportunity to play against high level talent on professional fields, the purpose of the team is to raise awareness and interest in the great vocation to the Catholic priesthood in the context of a fun family event. As such, Fr. Young works diligently to ensure the games can occur at minor league parks while also advertising in the area parishes. During each game, an unorthodox “third inning stretch” is held in which the crowd is addressed by a religious figure on the topic of vocations. Seminarian Thomas Gallagher (S’ 15, Arlington) offered a brief reflection on vocations during this past outing against Paul VI. Additional pictures, video, and other information about the DC Padres can be found on their website


The 4th annual celebration of the Festa di San Guiseppe (Feast of St. Joseph)/St. Parick’s Day Party hosted by seminary Vice-Rector of Pastoral Formation, Fr. Ken Brighenti, was held on Saturday evening, March 16. As in previous years, many friends and family of Fr. Brighenti traveled to the seminary from New Jersey, Connecticut, and elsewhere to assist him in hosting the party. In keeping with the tradition of a St. Joseph Table, there was plenty of cheese pizza, St. Joseph pastries, Italian cookies, Reggiano Parmegiano cheese, Italian bread and olive oil, prosciutto di parma, as well as homemade wine. The annual party, which began at 5:30, is one of the highlights of the year among many of the seminarians who look forward to Fr. Brighenti’s generosity in sharing his Italian heritage with others. The evening would not have been possible without the generous support of a number of people, most notably Drs. Burkhard, who donated the St. Joseph Pastries, Dr. Frauenhoffer, who donated the cookies, Mr. Louis Falconeri, who donated the bread, cheese, and olive oil, Mr. Mario DeFilippis and Mr. Ciro Maddaluna, who brought their homemade wine, and Ms. Ann Louise Bongiovi and Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Tardiff, who provided the cold cuts and pizza.StJoesphParty

Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Patterson, NJ visited the seminary this past weekend to serve as the retreat-master for the annual Lenten Day of Renewal. Bishop Serratelli, a native of Newark, NJ, is an accomplished Scripture scholar, having studied at the Biblicum in Rome. He was installed as the fourth bishop of Patterson in 2004 after serving as Auxiliary Bishop of Newark for the previous four years. He opened the Day of Renewal with a conference after Vespers on Friday night. The next morning, another conference was held in the morning followed by Mass celebrated by Bishop Serratelli. Finally, the Day of Renewal was concluded with the final afternoon conference. During all of the conferences, Bishop Serratelli’s deep knowledge and love of the Scriptures was apparent as he adroitly brought out the wonder of the Bible, connecting it to the call to holiness necessary in the lives of priests and seminarians. The annual Day of Renewal offers the seminarians an opportunity to step back from the regular seminary schedule and set aside a little extra time for prayer and spiritual advancement prior to Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum.

Habemus Papam

Only a few minutes after the white smoke began rushing out of the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday March 13th, scores of seminarians at Mount St. Mary’s came rushing to the rec room to watch the events transpiring in the Vatican’s grand piazza. The looks of excitement, joy, and expectation on the faces of the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square was equaled by the spontaneous joy and anticipation that filled the rec room at America’s largest seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. By the time of the official “Habemus Papam” announcement, a great majority of the community gathered to await the initial address of the new pope. Along with the rest of the Church, immediately after the new pope’s identity was revealed, the seminarians began frantically searching for information about the new Sovereign Pontiff.  After learning of the imitable pastoral qualities of the new Pope Francis, the seminary has joined the Universal Church in rejoicing at the election of such a worthy man to the See of St. Peter as the 266th pope in the Church’s history.

Habemus Papam

Schola CD

Plans for the Mount St. Mary’s Seminary schola to release its second CD took a big leap forward on March 8th when Sheffied Recording Company of Phoenix, MD arrived on campus to hold a rigorous two day recording session. Back in 2008, the seminary released its first CD, a collection of hymns and chants sung during a live celebration of Vespers. This time around, the schola recorded around twenty sacred hymns traditionally sung during the liturgical celebrations in the Advent and Christmas seasons. The Christmas themed CD will hopefully be available for purchase this upcoming November, offering the public a chance to allow the seminary’s schola to be a part of their future Christmas preparations. 

While the schola’s twenty-four singers worked for more than thirteen hours with scores of individual takes during the two days of recording, the preparation for this CD has been ongoing for months. The seminary’s schola director, Ms. Julia Parker, first began working on the project last July, though her efforts have demanded a more heightened dedication since the beginning of the school year. Laboring for countless hours, the completion of the recording process is a great achievement for Ms. Parker who arrived at the Mount just over two years ago in January 2011. Prior to brining her musical abilities to Mary’s Mountain, Parker, a native of Virginia and South Carolina gained abundant experience working for various Catholic institutions in the Diocese of Columbus, OH. She held posts at Columbus’ seminary, the Pontifical College Josephinum, from 1998 to 2010 while also working at the cathedral and another large parish. Possessing skills as both an accomplished organist and an abundant knowledge of the Church’s tradition of sacred music, Parker now holds the positions of Director of Liturgical Music at the seminary, university organist, and the seminary’s instructor of Pastoral Music. Though the completion of the CD’s recording process is a huge step ahead, Ms. Parker will now turn her attention to the grueling process of editing the lengthy recordings before sending the final version back to the recording company.


Once again the seminary community hosted the Mount2000 retreat this past weekend for high school students. Mount2000 is an annual Eucharistic retreat started by the seminarians prior to the year 2000 jubilee. The first retreat was such a success that the seminarians decided to continue it beyond the year 2000. The retreat lasting from Friday afternoon through Sunday offers high school youth a chance to come and hear some of the best and most dynamic Catholic speakers in the country, spend time with seminarians, priests, and religious, enjoy one another's company, and - most importantly - spend time with the Lord in the Sacraments: in Mass, in Confession, and especially in the time offered for prayer in front of the Eucharist. This yeat, the retreat saw 1,500 participants brave the winter cold to travel to Emmitsburg and spend the weekend growing in their relationship with the Lord. The theme for this year’s retreat was Ignite which encouraged the participants to allow the Holy Spirit to be ignited in their lives. The well known speakers Mark Hart and Jackie Francois were the marquee speakers throughout the weekend and the popular Josh Blakesley Band provided the musical entertainment. The celebration of the retreat’s closing Mass on Sunday by the Archbishop of Baltimore has now become a standing tradition and this year marked the first visit to Mount2000 of the new archbishop, William E. Lori. Of particular note, seminarian Chris Perrella (S’14, Bridgeport) was the chairman of the 2013 retreat, bearing the burden of laboring for countless hours to coordinate and plan the retreat. The extensive effort of Perrella and his Core Team allowed all of the participants to have the greatest possible experience. To read much more about Mount2000 and see videos and pictures from the weekend, visit the online website at



Super Bowl Food

Along with millions of other Americans, the Mount seminary community gathered in the rec room Sunday, February 3rd, to partake in the annual Super Bowl party. The class of second theology was enlisted to provide the food, drinks, and entertainment as a class fundraiser. Eric Bolek (S’15, Peoria) was in charge of the entire effort, and Dr. Jay Alexius (S’15, Lake Charles) headed up the cooking crew for the evening. The Super Bowl this year matched up the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers in the New Orleans Superdome. With the game played in New Orleans, the second theology class opted to host a New Orleans themed party, and no good New Orleans party is complete without an abundance of gumbo. Along with the gumbo, Zapp’s Crawtator Potato Chips, another Louisiana favorite, was shipped to the seminary in bulk in time for the big game. As far as the play on the field went, the majority of those attending the Mount’s party were cheering for the hometown team, the Baltimore Ravens, and they did not walk away disappointed. While the 49ers managed to make a valiant comeback after Baltimore’s first half dominance, in the end the Ravens walked away with the 34-31 Superbowl XLVII victory, capping off a great evening of fraternity among seminarians and visitors alike.

Super Bowl

On Saturday the 26th of January, Curtin Martin, the founder and president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) spoke to the Mount seminarians in a series of talks. Each year, the Mount hosts an outside visitor to offer spring workshops on various areas of pastoral ministry. This year, Martin, who founded FOCUS ( in 1997 spoke to the community on how best to incorporate the New Evangelization into the life of parishes. FOCUS, a highly successful Catholic outreach program on American college campuses seeks to aid students in their growth in the Catholic faith while giving them the appropriate skill set to continue living a Catholic life after college. In addition to his work with FOCUS, Martin has served for the past year as a consultor to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. As the leader of FOCUS, he has quickly become one of the key figures promoting the new evangelization among the youth and young adults in the United States. During his visit to the Mount, he spoke to the seminarians in two sessions from 9-11 in the morning and 1-2:30 in the afternoon. A wide variety of issues were discussed, and he allowed for a lengthy Q&A session in the afternoon. The main theme of the entire workshop centered on the need to develop greater fervor in the American Church, particularly as the seminarians go out as priests to shepherd the vast flocks in the parishes they will one day serve. Martin’s gracious agreement to speak to the Mount was much appreciated, especially by the many seminarians who previously served as FOCUS missionaries on college campuses as well as those who were actively involved in FOCUS while in college.

Curtis Martin

May 2013
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