Tristan Schubert
Tristan Schubert
ST. BENEDICT — There currently are 13 seminarians for the Archdiocese of Portland studying and seeking God’s will at Mount Angel Seminary. They range in age from their late teens to early 60s and hail from across Oregon and as far away as Vietnam.

Here the men share some of the high points in their formation journeys and what they are most looking forward to in the next few years.

Anthony Beyer (College III), 20, said discovering and praying the Divine Office — “the second most efficacious prayer available to us after the Mass” — has brought him joy and peace. Beyer, born in Silverton, said he’s excited to learn more Latin and Hebrew in the years ahead.

The pastoral ministry assignments were transformative for 49-year-old James Ladd (Theology I), who grew up in Colorado. “My fulfillment and edification come in serving Christ by serving the people of God,” he said. Ladd is eager to be further formed to hopefully one day minister to “the people of this great archdiocese as a holy priest.”

Andy Nguyen (College III), 20 years old and a Portland native, believes spending time with his fellow seminarians has been a critical part of his formation. “I think it is important to build a strong bond with your brothers because the journey to the priesthood is not easy,” he said. “We are all on this journey together and we share the same goal — to be holy. We cannot do that on our own.”

Interacting with youths interested in the priesthood during Quo Vadis Days was moving for Eric Wunderlich II (College II), 19. “Not only is part of the experience to create an environment for contemplation and openness for the participants, but it also creates great times for group prayer,” said Wunderlich, who was born in Seaside. “Plus, not much beats the breathtaking views and the fresh air at Camp Howard,” where the vocational discernment retreat was held.

Wunderlich said he’s looking forward to learning more about what the Catholic faith teaches and about “all the people who make up the church.”

Shawn Daniel (Pre-Theology I), a native of Boise, Idaho, believes tending to his elderly parents through their illnesses and deaths is among the most powerful chapters in his vocational discernment. “The experience of caring for them reinforced my belief that I’m on the right vocation path,” said the 52-year-old Daniel, adding that he’s focused on growing his faith “and love for God and compassion for others.”

For Brookings-born Benjamin Cowan (Pre-Theology II), 27, the profound moments thus far involved bringing other people to God. “I want everyone to be happy,” he said. Cowan is passionate about deepening his relationship with Jesus and developing “the tools necessary to help others do the same.”

For Portlander Tony Galati (Theology III), 62, “the entire journey has been so utterly fantastic.” He said his close friends in seminary have “become like brothers,” and he’d like to emulate the priests he’s served under during his parish assignments.

Though he’s loved attending classes, Galati said he’s eager for the final stages of formation that will “prepare me for my ordination to the priesthood — God and archbishop willing — thus permitting me to get to the real work of being a priest.”

Fellow Portlander Tristan Schubert (Pre-Theology I), 23, said the “welcoming nature” of the community at Mount Angel has enriched his spiritual path and he’s ready to deepen his prayer life and relationship with God.

“One of the most fulfilling parts of my vocation journey here in the seminary is to be able to eat the body and blood of Jesus Christ every day,” said Marcos Alvarado (College I), 30, who was born in Ecuador. He looks forward to strengthening his faith and learning how to better follow God’s will.

Efrain Razo (Theology II) was born and raised in Los Angeles and joined the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit at 17. He said he feels blessed to have received his formation as a religious brother and then as a diocesan seminarian.

“At the seminary I want to grow in the love of God and foment my spiritual and devotional life,” said Razo, almost 32. Razo added that he wants to mature within all pillars of priestly formation — human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral — so he “can be the holy priest that God wants me to be.”

Going to discernment retreats was a key step for Eugene-native Jesus Aguirre-Alvarez (College I). The 20-year-old said helping out at his parish also allowed him to better discern God’s path for him. As Aguirre-Alvarez continues his studies he believes he’ll be spiritually enriched by spending time with his “fellow brothers in Christ.”

Anthony Hoangphan (Theology II), 43, said he’s been nourished by prayer and “being able to encounter Christ in the Eucharist and in every person I meet daily.”

Hoangphan, born in a small town outside of Saigon, Vietnam, sees every day and interaction “as an opportunity to praise God for his love.”

Alan Serrano (College II), a 19-year-old from Southern California, said his time in seminary has been “a heck of a ride.”

“I really do enjoy every moment of it, and I pray — God-willing — that in the next years of my discernment, I am able to continue my call, and be here with my brothers.”