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10/16/2012 12:44:00 PM
Mount Angel monks celebrate jubilees

ST. BENEDICT — Four monks of Mount Angel Abbey celebrated monastic jubilees during a Mass of Thanksgiving loast month.

Abbot Joseph Wood celebrates 60 years of monastic profession. Born on March 22, 1923, in San Francisco, Abbot Joseph grew up in Chehalis, Wash. After graduating from Chehalis High in 1941, he served in the US Army during World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and entered the University of Portland where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1949. Later that year, at age 26, he entered Mount Angel Seminary. Soon after, he decided to enter the monastery and made his monastic vows in 1952 and was ordained in 1956. He went on for further studies at Columbia University and then Fordham University, where he earned a master’s in sociology in 1959. Upon his return, he taught courses ranging from sociology to economics and from anthropology to Catholic social doctrine in the seminary until 1975. He was the college prefect of discipline, now known as formation director and dean of the graduate school of theology.

After a two-year assignment as director of continuing education and director of the summer program in the seminary, Abbot Joseph was assigned as assistant pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tillamook in 1975. From 1979-'81, he served as director of ministries for the Archdiocese of Portland and then as director of clergy personnel. He was appointed as pastor of St. Paul Parish in Eugene until 1991. Returning to monastic life, he served at the Monastery of the Ascension in Jerome, Idaho. It was then that God surprised him with a new assignment — Abbot of Mount Angel Abbey - at the age of 74.
During his tenure as abbot (1997-2001), he made many changes to the hilltop, including a new approach to development and more effective management of abbey departments. He also traded the two abbey-run Portland parishes for two parishes closer to the monastery.

Abbot Peter Eberle is celebrating his 50th anniversary as a monk of Mount Angel. He is a true “local boy” who comes from a family steeped in Mount Angel Abbey history. Two of his uncles — Father Luke Eberle and Brother Benedict Eberle — were monks of Mount Angel. Abbot Bonaventure Zerr, the seventh abbot of Mount Angel, was his cousin. In addition, two of his aunts were sisters at Queen of Angels Monastery in downtown Mount Angel. Abbot Peter “didn’t think there was anything else other than Benedictines” when he was growing up.

Abbot Peter attended St. Mary’s Grammar School in Mount Angel before entering Mount Angel High School Seminary in 1955. Entering the monastery in 1960, he made his solemn profession in 1965 and was ordained in 1968.

Following his ordination, Abbot Peter spent two years at Sacred Heart Parish in Portland. In 1972 he received his license in Sacred Theology at St. Paul University in Ottawa and then was appointed head of junior monks. He also began teaching in the seminary – something he continues today. Some of the courses he’s taught over the years have been moral theology, spirituality and anthropology.

After receiving his doctorate in moral theology in Rome in 1976, Abbot Peter began a long run as novice master (1976-88). In addition, he was prior from 1980-88. In 1988, he was elected the eighth abbot of Mount Angel, a position he held until 1997.

In 1999, he was elected the president of the Swiss-American Congregation. In 2002 he was appointed to the seminary again and is currently director of human formation and vice-rector of the theologate.

In his free time, Abbot Peter is a huge sports fan — especially of the Portland Trail Blazers. He also loves golf, although he says, “If I’m healthy and agile, I might be able to shoot my age when I’m about 160.”  

Brother James Bartos celebrates 50 years as a monk. He felt a calling to Mount Angel Abbey early on, and even tried following another monk into the cloister as a little boy.

Professed in 1962, Brother James received a nursing degree in 1972 and was the seminary nurse and served in the monastic infirmary until 1996. During that time, he was also porter (taking calls at the switchboard), cobbler, locksmith, phone system technician and tailor. As tailor, Brother James was in charge of making the monks’ habits from 1981-'97.

As a result of his tailoring skills, Brother James was asked to go to the priory in Cuernavaca, Mexico (a daughter house of Mount Angel) in 1997 to make habits. He would stay there for six years. At Cuernavaca, he became sub prior and received a theology diploma at the Universidad La Salle.

Brother James came back to Mount Angel in 2003 to serve at the monastery supply store in 2005. He continued his duties as locksmith and cobbler. One special project of his was designing an adjustable altar to accommodate wheelchair-bound priests in the infirmary chapel.

In 2006, Brother James received the ministries of lector and acolyte. These ministries would help him achieve his long-time dream of becoming a deacon. This dream was realized this past spring when he was ordained to the permanent diaconate. Along with his many other important contributions to the monastery, his distinctive baritone voice now proclaims the Gospel on many Sundays and feast days in the abbey church.

Brother Mark Parker celebrates 25 years as a monk. Before coming to the monastery, he attended the University of Washington, majoring in graphic design and later working for Northwest Airlines.

While at the airline, Brother Mark went through a major conversion experience that brought him into the Catholic Church and eventually to Mount Angel Abbey. He was baptized in 1980 and became heavily involved in his local church. In 1983, he felt God speaking through the Gospel about the rich young man and began looking into religious life in earnest. He found what he was looking for when a nun told him, “You belong at Mount Angel!” Brother Mark  entered in 1984, just four years after joining the church. He made simple vows in 1987 and solemn vows in 1990.

As a monk, Brother Mark has shared his gifts in a variety of ways. From 1984-'99, he worked in the abbey bookstore, serving as director from 1996-'99. He also worked in the press where he put together the Mass book still being used in the abbey today. He is house guest master and manages the Oremus prayer program. Brother Mark always prepares for others, he says, as he would “for Christ.”

Though slowed by health problems in recent years, Brother Mark continues to go about his daily duties with good cheer and strength. Others call him a source of inspiration.

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