11/20/2013 11:13:00 AM Seminarian is voice for student body
Mount Angel Seminary photo
Jonathan Cheever is Mount Angel Seminary student body president.
Clarice Keating Of the Catholic Sentinel
Like most higher education institutions, Mount Angel Seminary has a peer-elected governing board that serves as a voice for the student body.
One important voice is that of Jonathan Cheever, 2013-14 student body president. He is a liaison between the 60 seminary students and Mount Angel's decision-makers, providing input on how to improve formation and education programs, as well as the quality of extracurricular opportunties.
Cheever works with a committee of peer-elected seminarians who volunteer in roles like "athletic chair," "spiritual chair," and "social chair."
"It's important for the guys to have hobbies or outlets to work out frustrations and find a balance in life," Cheever said. "They can help take them out of what can be a very intense, even overwhelming at times, environment."
Cheever tries to hit the links several times a month, a way to relax after busy days of academic stress, and spiritual and human formation. The owners of Evergreen Golf Course donate free rounds to clergy and seminarians.
"It's a great blessing," Cheever said.
Cheever grew up in Linwood, Wash., 30 minutes north of downtown Seattle. He attended Catholic grade school and weekly Mass with his family. His mother always encouraged him to go to confession and say his prayers.
It was during his studies at University of Washington that Cheever felt a strong calling to the priesthood. The relationships he developed through the school’s Newman Center were crucial in helping him discern the call.
“Being able to bounce questions off friends; being able to pray with friends; having other people asking the same questions I was asking – that was a great joy,” he said during a KBVM interview. “I really understood the importance of friendship and how that can help you with your faith.”
At UW, Cheever entered a formation house, started assisting at local parishes, and became progressively more involved at the Newman center. “I was sure this was where God was calling me to,” he said. Cheever’s parents, on the other hand, weren’t so sure. It took a bit of reassurance to convince them that priesthood was the best path for their son.
The Archdiocese of Seattle helped the young man during the seminary application process, and Cheever arrived at Mount Angel Seminary in 2011.
There, he plays soccer, attends movie nights, plays cards with friends during casino nights, and relishes seminarian beach retreats. Last spring he was nominated and elected to represent the student body as a whole, which can be a challenge due to the students' many cultural and social differences.
"We're all really different, which is a great notion for what the priesthood is all about - there is no cookie cutter priest out there," Cheever said.
Despite their differences, the men stay close and share in one another's struggles.
"We share a common passion, which is Christ, and a common goal, which is not only the priesthood, but to be better Christian men," Cheever said. "That unites us in a very special and unique way."