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On Mary’s Mountain

  The Daily Life of The Seminary Community

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

On Saturday August 24th, the Mount's new seminarians participated in the annual tour of the Gettysburg National Military Park and Battlefield. As in previous years, the newly ordained deacon from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Rev. Mr. George Wunderlich, a renowned Civil War historian led the group on a four hour tour around the historic town north of Emmitsburg.

Gettysburg Tour

Dcn. Wunderlich frequently appears on various educational programs on the History Channel, National Geographic, BBC, A&E, PBS, and others. In addition, he has served as the executive director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine since the fall of 2002. Given Deacon Wunderlich's own Catholic background, the annual seminary tour, unlike other tours offered at Gettysburg, emphasizes specific events of the battle specifically pertaining to the Catholic Church. In conjunction with the tour of the historic town and battlefield, the new men prepared for the Saturday tour by gathering the night before in O'Donnell Lecture Hall for the annual viewing of the epic 1993 four+ hour film, Gettysburg, directed by Ronald Maxwell.

Mount St. Mary's, the nation's second oldest seminary, convened its 205th academic year with an afternoon Mass on Sunday the 18th of August. For the second consecutive year, the local ordinary, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore (S' 77), celebrated the opening Mass at his alma mater.

Opening Mass 2013

Following the Mass, the seminary community concluded the year's opening festivities by enjoyed the annual pig roast which was held indoors this year due to inclement weather.

Pig Roast

This year the Mount opens the year with 165 seminarians. Fifty of the men are new to formation, one man is returning after taking time out of the seminary, and one hundred fifteen men have arrived back at their mountain home after being away for the summer. Fifty-two 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.

The new men began their tenure on Mary's Mountain when they arrived for several days of orientation on Tuesday August 13th while the returning seminarians arrived back at the seminary later in the week eager to begin another year of study and formation.

Welcome to our new Seminarians for the 2013-2014 Academic Year!

New Seminarians 2013

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.

deacon night

Seminarians enjoy the Deacon Night dinner

deacon night

A view of the Karaoke on the seminary's patio

deacon night

The graduating class of second pre-theology

deacon night

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

deacon night

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

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