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On Mary’s Mountain

  The Daily Life of The Seminary Community

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.

The Mount St. Mary’s held the annual Oktoberfest party on the last Friday of October. A variety of traditional German foods such as bratwursts, 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. 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. In addition, an annual pumpkin carving contest is held during the evening. There was stiff competition for the pumpkin carving title this year which was won by Mike Misulia’s (S’18, Baltimore) design of a dragon which narrowly beat out Neil Kirchoefer (S’15, Peoria) whose unique carving of the face of seminarian Carl McIntosh (S’ 15, Bridgeport) onto a pumpkin was a favorite of many (see in picture). Misulia took home the first place prize of $100 while Kirchoefer received $50 for his efforts. Oktoberfest was the first of a handful of house parties throughout the year hosted by the seminary’s social committee headed by Matt Capadano (S’ 14, Omaha). The social committee, comprised of about ten seminarians, is entrusted with the planning and the overseeing of the parties, helping to ensure that all who attend have an enjoyable experience.


On the weekend of October 19-21, in excess of ninety family members of Mount seminarians traveled to Emmitsburg for the seventh annual seminary family weekend. The activity-filled weekend gave the visitors 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 rec-room. On Saturday, the families attended presentations describing the seminary formation delivered by the rector, Msgr. Steven P. Rohlfs, and other faculty members involved with the four pillars of formation; academic, human, pastoral, and spiritual. Saturday evening ended with a formal dinner in the William H. Keeler Seminary Dining Room attended by the visiting family members and their host seminarians. The family weekend concluded the next day with a solemn Mass on Sunday morning celebrated by Msgr. Rohlfs.

Papal Nuncio Visits the Mount

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.

Papal Nuncio Visits the Mount

Papal Nuncio Visits the Mount

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.

Vianney Cup

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!

Vianney Cup

Vianney Cup

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.

Sept 11 Remembrance

Each year, the new men at the seminary watch the movie Gettysburg (Trailer at 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.

Nov 2012
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