Brent Durschmidt, seminarian for the Archdiocese of Portland, receives his bachelor of arts diploma during commencement at Mount Angel Seminary.
Brent Durschmidt, seminarian for the Archdiocese of Portland, receives his bachelor of arts diploma during commencement at Mount Angel Seminary.
ST. BENEDICT — Mount Angel Seminary’s graduating class of 2019 celebrated a baccalaureate Mass May 10 and commencement the following morning. Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, California, gave the commencement address, speaking to more than 300 family and friends assembled in the abbey church.

In his address, Bishop Vann expressed appreciation for the natural beauty that surrounds the seminary. The beauty of this part of the country, close to the Cascade Mountains, he noted, helps to “form and define the landscape of the souls” who live and study at Mount Angel. In the same way, he said, “your calling, your ministry, your vocation, strengthened by the degrees you will receive today … will truly form and define the culture and the lives around you.”

Bishop Vann reminded graduates that humans don’t always see clearly or understand the purpose of the present moment in the broader picture of life. But, from his own experience, he has found that in the providence of God, what life presents today is the best preparation for tomorrow. Most importantly, the people we find ourselves with today form the community that will carry us through to the next step, whatever it is.

Presenting the senior farewell, Deacon Dean Marshall of the Diocese of Sacramento echoed the importance of community as each man is called into unknown territory. “There are a lot of unknowns ahead of us,” he said, “and we leave now a place of comfort, a place where we know what to expect. But, the times ahead are wrought with excitement and grace.”

There were 44 in the 2019 graduating class, with a total of 55 degrees and certificates awarded, including 13 bachelor’s degrees, two pre-theology certificates, two master’s in philosophy, 12 master’s of divinity, 13 master’s in theology, seven baccalaureates in sacred theology, and six doctorates in ministry.

This commencement marked the first cohort to graduate in the seminary’s new Doctor of Ministry program. Following the core curriculum of the seminary, the doctor of ministry concentrates on Scripture, liturgy, systematic theology and pastoral theology. The program provides an opportunity to deepen and enrich the work of those engaged in pastoral ministry through the pursuit of a professional doctorate.

The seminary’s baccalaureate in sacred theology is offered in affiliation with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. The master’s in theology and doctorate in ministry programs are open to non-seminarians and lay students.

Mount Angel Seminary, established in 1889 by Benedictine monks, is the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States. Almost 100 dioceses and religious communities have sent their members.