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St. Meinrad Hosts Gathering For Alumni And Friends

Benedictine Father Tobias Colgan welcomes alumni and friends of St. Meinrad Seminary and College of Theology to the Sept. 19 gathering at the Old Post Office in downtown Evansville. The Message photo by Tim Lilley

Benedictine Father Denis Robinson, President-Rector of St. Meinrad Seminary and College of Theology, smiled broadly as he greeted the alumni and friends who filled a large banquet room in downtown Evansville’s Old Post Office. He told them a story about encountering a visitor “on the hill” from Hong Kong.

“You, too, are part of St. Meinrad,” Father Robinson told the crowd. “And just like that man from Hong Kong, you are always welcome.”

Benedictine Father Tobias Colgan served as emcee for the evening, and he welcomed Archabbot Benedictine Father Kurt Stasiak to give opening comments and lead the opening prayer. After dinner, Father Robinson talked about everything happening at St. Meinrad. He said the seminary welcomed 110 men in priestly formation this year from 25 dioceses “around the world.” He then introduced three Diocese of Evansville seminarians in attendance – Garrett Braun, Luke Hassler and Andrew Thomas.

Father Robinson went on to discuss the graduate-degree program and the permanent diaconate program, noting that St. Meinrad was collaborating on development of a Spanish-speaking diaconate program. He also mentioned the “One Bread, One Cup” summer program for youth and young adults, noting that it had expanded this year for the first time to the Conception, Mo., campus of Conception Seminary and college. Conception President-Rector Benedictine Father Brendan Moss is a priest of St. Meinrad, and Father Robinson told the crowd that Father Moss called the OBOC program at Conception very successful.

Father Robinson also noted that St. Meinrad’s Institute of Priestly Presbyterate – a program for new parish pastors – welcomed a large group this year, but only one of them was a St. Meinrad alumnus. “It appears as though dioceses around the country are see St. Meinrad as a worthy option,” he said.

As he concluded his remarks, Father Robinson introduced Father Crispin Adongo, a St. Meinrad alumnus who serves as administrator of Precious Blood Parish in Jasper. Father Adongo talked about his time in seminary there.

“While I certainly received full priestly formation in school,” he told the crowd, “I also learned about being in touch with people in parishes, hospitals, schools and elsewhere,” he said. “I remember one Little Sister of the Poor who would always challenge me by asking, ‘where did you see God today?’

“I learned that the best place to meet people and truly get to know them was in the parking lot after Mass,” Father Adongo added with a smile. “That has proven to be very important. I give St. Meinrad the credit for all of my formation.”

Diocese of Evansville seminarian Thomas followed Father Adongo, and he talked about his introduction to St. Meinrad as a youngster from Vincennes. “What high school kid wants to go hang out with a bunch of celibates on a hill? Turns out, I did,” he said with a laugh.

“St. Meinrad has become a place for me to sort out who I am. It is a place that provides love, hope and mercy, and gives me wonderful fathers to teach me. St. Meinrad is one of the most beautiful places on earth,” he continued. “I fell in love with the Church there, and I learned that the Church loves me.”

Diocese of Evansville Administrator Father Bernie Etienne closed the evening with comments and a prayer.

“Even though I did not attend St. Meinrad, it had a very heavy hand in my formation,” he said. ‘my parents taught religious education at St. Paul Parish in Tell City, and they traveled to St. Meinrad to learn about Vatican II. It seemed like we always had Benedictine Sisters from Beech Grove (Ky.), priests from St. Meinrad and St. Meinrad grads visiting us when I was growing up.

“St. Meinrad had a tremendous impact on me and my family, and it has and continues to have a tremendous impact on our diocese.”