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.
On Mary’s Mountain
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.
Thomas Cavanaugh (Arlington, 2013) claimed the title of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary Ping Pong champion with his defeat of Yohan Santorro (Arlington, 2012) in the ping pong championship on April 26. The seminary’s ping pong tournament, which consisted of 32 competitors, began over two months ago, the week after Mount 2000. In total, the double elimination tournament consisted of 74 matches played in the seminary rec-room. The matches were composed a best of three series with the semifinals and final round being a best of five series. An estimated fifty people came out to watch the championship round, providing a wonderful atmosphere for the thrilling match in which Thomas Cavanaugh defeated his Arlington diocesan brother, Yohan Santorro, by a final tally of three games to one.
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C. of the Diocese of Peoria traveled to the Mount to install the new class of lectors and acolytes at the seminary. At a Mass on Friday afternoon, 32 seminarians in the class of 2015, were permanently installed as lectors in Immaculate Conception Chapel, while the following morning, 21 seminarians, mostly from the class of 2014, were installed as acolytes, thus passing one of the final steps on the way to ordination. Lector and acolyte are the two remaining minor orders, now called ministries, bestowed upon seminarians as they progress through their priestly formation. For the seminarian, the installation into these ministries symbolizes a further step taken on the path toward the altar of Jesus Christ.
The seven seminarians from Savannah, GA welcomed their ordinary, Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, and Vocation Director, Fr. Mark Van Alstine, to Mount St. Mary's Seminary this past week. Bishop Hartmayer and Fr. Van Alstine arrived on Wednesday and spent parts of the next three days at the Mount. Bishop Hartmayer was recently ordained a bishop and installed as the ordinary in Savannah this past October, and this week’s trip marked the first time the new bishop has had the opportunity to visit Mount St. Mary’s. He was the main celebrant at Mass each day, including the Spanish liturgy on Thursday, and he imparted a bit of his wisdom to the seminarians as the preacher on Wednesday. Likewise, Fr. Van Alstine was the homilist on Friday morning, offering to the seminarians a fresh interpretation of the resurrected Jesus’ appearance to the apostles in the fishing boat. On Thursday evening, both the bishop and vocation director had the opportunity to witness a bit of the spirit of the house by attending the weekly “community dinner” with their men. Each year the Mount is blessed to host a number of visiting vocation directors and bishops who come to conduct retreats and visit their men.
Following Vespers on Friday the 13th the seminary hosted a celebration in honor of Fr. Lee Gross’s 25th anniversary of ordination. Fr. Gross has been on the seminary faculty for nearly 20 years serving as the Dean of Men and a professor of various subjects throughout his long tenure at the Mount. Originally from the area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Fr. Gross first studied at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg before serving as a Lutheran minister. He later moved to the Episcopalian church where he continued in the role of minister, and eventually, in 1987, he made his final transition to the Catholic prebyterate, being ordained a priest for the Diocese of Arlington. Over the years, Fr. Gross has been well known for his passion expertise in the areas of liturgy and Latin, two subjects which he has taught for many years. He is also known for his penchant for visiting local eateries with seminarians on Saturday nights. One of his favorite locales is the restaurant Simply Asia in Thurmont, MD, so naturally Chinese food was ordered in bulk from this establishment for the whole community to enjoy in honor of Fr. Gross’ silver jubilee.
Bishop John Barres of Allentown visited the seminary this past weekend to serve as the retreat-master for the annual Lenten Day of Renewal. Bishop Barres, originally from Delaware, was installed as the fourth bishop of Allentown, PA in 2009 after garnering a slue of impressive academic accolades. He opened the Day of Renewal with a conference after Vespers on Friday night. Another conference was held on Saturday morning followed by Mass celebrated by Bishop Barres. Finally, the Day of Renewal was concluded with an afternoon conference. During all of the conferences, Bishop Barres stressed the importance of holiness in the priestly life, especially in developing a daily plan of life. He particularly focused on the necessity to develop knowledge of the scriptures and to place the practice of Lectio Divina in a prime location in the spiritual life of seminarians and priests. The annual Day of Renewal offers the seminarians an opportunity to step back from the regular seminary schedule to set aside a little extra time for prayer and spiritual advancement prior to Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum.
The annual celebration of the Festa di San Guiseppe (Feast of St. Joseph) hosted by seminary Vice-Rector of Pastoral Formation, Fr. Ken Brighenti, was held on Saturday evening, March 17. Since St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, fell on a Monday this year, the festivities were held on the evening of the 17th in conjunction with a celebration in honor of St. Patrick. As in previous years, many friends and family of Fr. Brighenti traveled to the seminary from New Jersey and assisted 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. After praying to both St. Patrick and St. Joseph, seminary rector, Msgr. Rohlfs, blessed the food at 6 pm, officially beginning the party. As the evening drew on, the community enjoyed the music on the rec-room patio led by a band composed of Brian McAllister (S’14, Arlington), Matt Capadano (S’14, Omaha), and Corey Krengiel (S’14, Peoria). Everyone had a great time either participating in or watching others in their best attempts at karaoke. Lastly, the party 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.
John Allen Jr., one of the most well known Vatican correspondents in the English speaking world delivered a lecture at the Mount’s Knott Auditorium on the evening of March 15. Allen, who is the author of numerous books on the Catholic Church, is the senior correspondent for CNN while also appearing frequently on NPR and numerous other news outlets. Allen’s book, The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church, was the basis for his speech in which he described fully four of the ten trends, stressing the implications they will have for the future of the Catholic Church. His speech aimed to encourage priests, seminarians, and lay people to begin developing a greater global understanding of the universal Catholic Church of which American Catholics comprise only a very small part. He also shared numerous stories, both serious and humorous, recounting his experiences from working for years in the Eternal City and accompanying Benedict XVI and John Paul II on their many pastoral journeys around the world. At the conclusion of the lecture, Allen was generous in answering questions for about half an hour.