ST. BENEDICT — For the fifth year, I have the privilege of writing a column to accompany these stories highlighting the students at Mount Angel Seminary. This special section traditionally comes out a week or two before our annual fundraising dinner for the seminary. This year, due to the coronavirus, we cannot gather as usual with friends and benefactors at the Oregon Convention Center. Instead, we are celebrating a virtual seminary benefit event with an online program that brings viewers into the heart of the seminary.

The virtual benefit will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1, and the seminarians have been working hard to prepare a great program. It will offer all who tune in an inside view of life at Mount Angel Seminary. I think you will be as inspired as I am by the men who are with us this year, seeking to discern God’s will for them in a very challenging time. 

For almost 40 years, I have taught theology at Mount Angel Seminary and never tire of it. Mount Angel is a place where every aspect of life is enriched and shaped by the Eucharist. That was the vision for the seminary 30 years ago when we intentionally built our academic and formation program around the eucharistic liturgy. That proved to be inspired, and many seminaries have since followed our lead.

I feel an urgency today to renew and strengthen this eucharistic focus. I’ve seen it at work in the lives of our seminarians. I’ve seen them take this focus on the Liturgy and embody it wholeheartedly. After ordination, they bring it to the parishes in which they serve. I am proud to say that a priest who studies at Mount Angel Seminary will be a priest who centers all of parish life in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist-centered program at Mount Angel is a clearly expressed synthesis of our Catholic faith. Our celebration of Eucharist is God working in our lives and our world. In the Eucharist, God brings us into communion with his own divine life and into relationship with one another.

This year, as abbot and chancellor, I have launched a renewal of this vision. We want to build upon the strength of our faculty and formation staff. We want to broaden the program we have developed and offer fellowships to visiting scholars, artists, musicians and church leaders. Most importantly, we want to provide our priest-alumni and pastoral ministers an opportunity to develop resources to share this vision among all the people of God.

More than ever, our world needs Christ in the Eucharist, and we need your prayers to form priests who give their lives joyfully in the service of Christ and the church.

Abbot Jeremy is leader of Mount Angel Abbey and chancellor of Mount Angel Seminary.