Abbot Peter Eberle
Abbot Peter Eberle

ST. BENEDICT — Three Benedictine monks of Mount Angel Abbey celebrated ordination jubilees with their monastic community, family and friends May 27 at the abbey church.

Abbot Peter Eberle celebrated his 50th, and Fathers Pius X Harding and Aelred Yockey celebrated 25th anniversaries of ordination during the Mass of Trinity Sunday. Abbot Peter was main celebrant and Father Pius was homilist.

During his homily, Father Pius noted the stunning mystery of Trinity Sunday and its connection with the priestly vocation. In the solemnity, he said, “We celebrate the unfolding of the mysterious inner life of God … a boundlesslove given and received in the intimacy of Father, Son and Holy Spirit … a love given to us in the life of grace,” Father Pius said.

A priest, he explained, is a manifestation and expression of this love on earth, “a servant of the unfolding of the mystery of God’s love.” The priest becomes the instrument of God’s revelation through blessing, anointing, forgiveness and total identification with God revealed through his Son, said Father Pius.

The three Jubilarians have filled various roles in the community. Abbot Peter is director of human formation at Mount Angel Seminary. He previously served the monks as abbot from 1988 to 1997 and then served the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation as abbot-president from 1999 to 2011. Abbot Peter earned a doctorate in moral theology in 1979 from the Alphonsian in Rome.

He was born and raised in the town of Mount Angel, just below the abbey hilltop, and a number of his relatives preceded him in the Benedictine religious community.

Father Pius currently serves as guest master of the St. Benedict Guesthouse and Retreat Center and is director of the extensive Oblate program associated with the abbey. He made his solemn profession in the community of Mount Angel in September 1991. Prior to serving as guest master, Father Pius was the manager of the Benedictine Press, which is now closed.

Father Aelred came to Mount Angel Abbey in the spring of 2002. He now serves in the seminary as a spiritual director and adjunct professor of religious studies. Father Aelred also is chaplain of Providence Benedictine Nursing Center in Mount Angel. Before coming to Mount Angel, he was ordained while a member of the Benedictine community of Corpus Christi Abbey in Corpus Christi, Texas. As that abbey was closing, Father Aelred says, he had the opportunity to visit Mount Angel and found the community a match for his vision of the monastic life and a place where he could make a good contribution.

Following the jubilee Mass, there was a short reception where family, friends, and monks gathered to congratulate and celebrate with the three jubilarians. All enjoyed the communal gathering, plus the German delicacies and large cakes prepared by the kitchen staff. The monastic community celebrated later in the evening with a buffet haustus (Latin for a ‘draft’ or ‘having swallowed’), a typical celebration for the Swiss-American monks.

Mount Angel Abbey was founded in 1882 by a small group of Benedictine monks from Engelberg, Switzerland. They settled near the town of Mount Angel and in 1889 opened Mount Angel Seminary, which is the oldest and largest Catholic seminary in the western United States.