A peal of bells from the tower of Mount Angel Abbey announced the joy and expectation of those gathered on June 14 for the ordination of three of the Abbey’s Benedictine monks to the priesthood.
Br. Andrew Schwencke, OSB, Br. Teresio Caldwell OSB, and Br. Basil Lawrence, OSB, were ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests by Archbishop Alexander King Sample. The Archbishop remarked that while he had ordained twenty-one men to the diocesan priesthood, today’s ordinations were his first ordinations for a religious order.
In his homily, Archbishop Sample reminded the ordinands of their diaconal ordination, and said, “Your priesthood must be celebrated in the spirit of diaconia, that service exemplified by deacons.”
He reminded the ordinands of the Church’s teaching on the priesthood. “Something is really happening to you today,” he said. You are being sacramentally configured to the High Priesthood of Christ. This can never be taken away from you.” He added that “as monastics you live this radical configuration by virtue of your vows.” He emphasized how the world, which is becoming increasingly materialistic and narcissistic, needs the witness of those who live in “complete, total abandonment to Christ” through their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. “While diocesan priests are called to live simply, in chastity and in obedience to their bishop, you have taken solemn vows to do this in the most radical manner. You imitate our Savior through your vows.
Archbishop Sample expressed his gratitude for the Abbey community. “You are a great gift to the local Church.” He spoke of the scholarship that marks the Benedictine life, the ora et labora (blend of prayer and work), and especially the “fervor, prayerfulness and joy that comes by being obedient to the Liturgy – a celebration of Christ’s obedience to the Father.” He spoke to the ordinands saying, “I implore you: keep the Liturgy at the center of your lives. This is the source and summit of the Church’s life.”
Following Communion, the congregation became silent as the Willamette Master Chorus sang Marcel Durufle’s Ubi Caritas. Fr. Teresio has been a member of this Salem-based ensemble.
For the reception held in Aquinas Hall, the Somoan community of which Fr. Andrew is part, roasted an entire pig in the traditional island manner – underground!
In addition to the Masses of Thanksgiving, which were to be celebrated by the new priests at the Abbey on the three following days, Fr. Basil will return to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 13, to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving among family and friends.
Fr. Andrew currently serves as the assistant guestmaster at the Abbey. Fr. Teresio is the community’s choirmaster and organist, and Fr. Basil serves as director of Alumni Relations, sings in the community’s Schola, and conducts tours and pilgrimages to Mount Angel Abbey.
Story by Jim Thompson