Nine seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary — seated in the front row — were admitted as candidates for holy orders at an Oct. 23 Mass in the abbey church. The men represent seven dioceses. Behind them stand their bishops and vocation directors. (Courtesy Mount Angel Seminary)
Nine seminarians from Mount Angel Seminary — seated in the front row — were admitted as candidates for holy orders at an Oct. 23 Mass in the abbey church. The men represent seven dioceses. Behind them stand their bishops and vocation directors. (Courtesy Mount Angel Seminary)
ST. BENEDICT — At a Mass Oct. 23 at Mount Angel Abbey, nine seminarians of Mount Angel Seminary were admitted to candidacy for holy orders by Archbishop Alexander Sample.

The rite marks the point when the seminarian publicly declares his commitment to enter final preparation for service to the people of God as an ordained minister in the church. Through a bishop, the church accepts and publicly affirms the candidate’s commitment to continue on the path toward ordination.

Admitted to candidacy were Cheeyoon Timothy Chun of the Diocese of Orange, California; Caleb Joshua Cunningham of the Diocese of Baker; Anthony Obinna Ezeaputa and Jordan Taylor Sanchez of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico; Joshua Daniel Falce of the Diocese of Boise, Idaho; Anthony Robert Galati of the Archdiocese of Portland; Oscar Saul Medina Zermeno and Bonaventure Chukwunomso Okoro of the Diocese of Fresno, California; and Junghoon (Val) Park of the Archdiocese of Seattle. All of the men are in their third or fourth years of theology and will begin now to prepare for ordination to the diaconate and later, if all goes according to plan, the priesthood.

In addition to the seminarians and the monastic community of Mount Angel, the Mass was attended by 36 bishops, religious superiors and vocation directors who also were present for an episcopal council meeting that followed. Family members and guests of the candidates attended the Mass.

In his homily, Archbishop Sample described the rite of candidacy as “a rite of passage that places you now in a different phase of preparation. You enter now into a phase of more intense preparation for ordination.”

Archbishop Sample reminded seminarians that their best and primary preparation for priesthood is the loving relationship they should form with Jesus Christ. They must, he said, make their priority in life “your relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. There is nothing more important in your preparation [for priesthood] than that.”

Mount Angel Seminary, established in 1889 by the pioneer monks of Mount Angel Abbey, is the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States. It is the only seminary in the West that offers a four-year college and graduate school of theology, and one of only a few in the nation that offer degrees at all levels, baccalaureate through doctorate.