Andy Toan Nguyen, from the Portland Archdiocese, earned a bachelor’s degree. (Courtesy Mount Angel Seminary)
Andy Toan Nguyen, from the Portland Archdiocese, earned a bachelor’s degree. (Courtesy Mount Angel Seminary)

ST. BENEDICT — The 28 students of Mount Angel Seminary’s graduating class of 2021 ended the year with a baccalaureate Mass in the Abbey Church April 23, followed by commencement the following morning.

During the commencement exercises, Msgr. Joseph Betschart, president-rector, commended students and the entire seminary community for their “character, dedication and commitment” in the face of innumerable challenges. “It’s certainly been a year full of challenges like no other,” he said. “But it’s also been a year full of opportunities and graces like no other, as our Lord continues to guide us, sustain us, accompany us and provide for us along the way.”

Msgr. Betschart said he has never seen the community more joyful, more united, more dedicated, focused, and committed, and make more growth than he has seen this year, which he said was a source of inspiration to him and to countless others.

As part of his commencement address, Seattle Archbishop Paul Etienne said the graduates are preparing to go “into a troubled world.”

He advised them to “learn to live the many moments of tension” they would encounter. “Learn also,” he said, “that oftentimes tension is the playground of the Holy Spirit, out of which is born the creative solution that is necessary to build God’s kingdom.”

The senior farewell was given by Deacon Cheeyoon Chun of the Diocese of Orange, California. “Regardless of how long we have resided here as students, we came as guests, but this place will always remain our home,” he said. “We shall make our descent down the hill once more to bear witness to what we have seen. We leave with confidence and the preparation to lay down our lives for our friends.”

Seminarians receiving their bachelor’s degrees from Mount Angel Seminary’s College of Liberal Arts were Michael Gerard Caster, Diocese of Las Vegas; Ivan Lara, Diocese of Las Vegas; Taylor Kaimanaokekai Mitchell, Diocese of Honolulu; Charles Patrick Nagore, Diocese of Tucson, Arizona; Andy Toan Nguyen, Archdiocese of Portland; Javier Olmedo, Diocese of San Diego; Simon Mai Tran, Diocese of Las Vegas; and Jaime Zuazo, Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Those receiving their pre-theology certificate of completion were Scott Vincent Borba, Diocese of Fresno, California; Alberto Carrillo Pacheco, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Shawn Daniel, Archdiocese of Portland; Jose Luis Gomez, Diocese of Salt Lake City; John Paul Langsfeld, Archdiocese Santa Fe, New Mexico; Jonah Kenneth Powell, Diocese of Baker; and Tristan Schubert, Archdiocese of Portland.

Deacon Cheeyoon Timothy Chun, Diocese of Orange; Deacon Joshua Falce, Diocese of Boise; Deacon Tony Galati, Archdiocese of Portland; Franklin Ubochioma Iwuagwu, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Deacon Val Park, Archdiocese of Seattle; Benedictine Brother Israel Sanchez, Mount Angel Abbey; Deacon Jordan Taylor Sánchez, Archdiocese of Santa Fe; and Discalced Carmelite Brother Joseph Mary Tran each received their master’s of divinity from the seminary’s graduate school.

Receiving their master’s in theology were Michael Andrew Ceragioli, Shannon Leigh Rick and Brody Robert Stewart of Mount Angel Abbey.

Brother Israel also received his baccalaureate in sacred theology.

Gina Ranee Anderson and Father José Ramirez each received their doctorate of ministry degree.

In closing the commencement exercises, Benedictine Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, chancellor, again acknowledged the challenging year this has been, noting that it was also “a wonderful time for growth.”

“You showed yourselves able to rise to the occasion, again and again,” he told the graduates. “I congratulate you on that.” Quoting from the Apostle Paul, Abbot Jeremy offered his closing words: “Since you have been raised up in company with Christ, seek things above.”