Mount Angel Abbey Seminary Benefit Dinner breaks fundraising records

Mount Angel seminarians sing to 800 guests at this year’s Seminary Benefit Dinner.

Mount Angel seminarians sing to 800 guests at this year’s Seminary Benefit Dinner.

The tenth anniversary Mount Angel Seminary Benefit Dinner was held  Sunday, Nov. 3, at the Oregon Convention Center.

“The dinner broke all previous fundraising records,” said Stephen Zimmer, a trustee of the Abbey Foundation of Oregon who chaired the event. The total revenue exceeds $800,000, more than a 20 percent increase over last year.

“Our sponsors and their guests filled the room with a spirit of love and generosity,” Zimmer said. “They met the men who will be our next generation of priests and saw the huge impact their gifts can have on the future of the Church. It is rewarding to see that spark in their eyes when they recognize what a difference they can make.”

Attendees noticed a new spirit in the program from the start. Lynn Jones, Abbey foundation president, offered 800 guests a crash course on using remote control clickers for interactive voting on multi-choice questions about the seminary and AbbeyAt her invitation, the audience voted to bring the 154 seminarians onto the stage, where they sang a rousing rendition of the hymn, “Oh God Beyond All Praising.”

Mount Angel Seminary’s president-rector, Msgr. Joseph Betschart, welcomed Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, who told the crowd there is no more important cause than the formation of priests. The program was emceed by Deacon Lauro Minimo, of the Diocese of San Diego, who serves as chair of this year’s Student Pastoral Council at the seminary. It also featured a humorous and informative multimedia presentation facilitated by Abbey foundation Vice President Jeff Yandle. Moving testimonials were offered by Deacon Minh Do, of the Diocese of San Diego, and Msgr. Donald Buxman, a Mount Angel alumnus who serves as Vicar for the Clergy in the Archdiocese of Portland. Back by popular demand, the seminary’s a cappella group Voces Fedei offered the riveting “Total Praise.”

Zimmer engaged the audience in an interactive session of donations, spurred by a matching gift challenge of $155,000. The dinner itself was underwritten by a generous donor, in addition to four donors who offered the matching opportunity.

Mount Angel Abbot Gregory Duerr, OSB, blessed and thanked the guests, saying, “The reason that we appreciate your support so very deeply is that it takes time and many resources for the seminary to provide the education and formation necessary to be able to say effectively that Jesus is Risen.”

“It takes time,” Abbot Duerr said, “for seminarians to study the theology and spirituality involved in that proclamation. It takes time to form the pastoral skills that are needed. It takes time, and this is so very important, for them to deepen their own personal relationship with the Risen Jesus himself before going out to proclaim his resurrection.”

The evening ended with the audience joining the seminarians and monks in singing “Salve Regina,” the hymn that closes Compline each day on the Hilltop.

Next year’s dinner, scheduled for Nov. 2, 2014, will celebrate the 125th anniversary of Mount Angel Seminary. For information about sponsorships or volunteer participation, please contact the Development Office at or 503-845-3066.

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