The St. Michael Messenger Dear Friends of St. Michael’s,

January 2007
The St. Michael Messenger
News for Friends and Benefactors of St. Michael’s Abbey and Preparatory School
Dear Friends of St. Michael’s,
As we proceed in our
expansion project, some
have asked us, “Why are
you using a French architect
instead of a locally based
architectural firm?”, a
reasonable question. We
would like to introduce
you in this article to the
extraordinary man chosen
to design the new abbey and
school, Jean-Louis Pagès.
It is with a heart grateful to God and to the
benefactors most involved that I am able to
report the signing of the purchase agreement
for the Ortega Highway property. This marks
a great move forward in our expansion project
plans, and a fitting culmination to a signal year.
It opened with our trip to France to visit various
abbeys, continued with our meeting architect
Jean-Louis Pagès and Bernard Lacourte in
February, their eventual visit to California in
May to see the Ortega Highway site, and now, on
record, the signed purchase agreement.
In retrospect, 2006 has been the year for laying
the vast foundation for our expansion project:
we needed to locate suitable and close-by land,
and we needed to attract the support of friends
and benefactors who would share our vision. So
much has been accomplished, for that we are
grateful; so much lies ahead, for that we pray and
ask for help and guidance. With a view toward
New Year 2007, and with God’s grace and our
cooperation, we hope for the necessary and fuller
development of all that was initiated last year.
The current St. Michael’s Messenger has its usual
letter from Rome, written this time by frater Juan
Diego, who along with 6 of our confreres continues
studies for the priesthood in the Eternal City.
On November 1, the solemnity of All Saints,
the 7 of them were privileged to serve the Papal
Mass in the Vatican Basilica at which frater Juan
Diego, as the deacon, chanted the Gospel. Their
participation in such a celebration continues a
tradition begun during my own student days
in Rome over thirty years ago. How swiftly the
years pass, and how blessed we are as we continue
to sing the praises of the Lord.
By the time you receive this, Christmas 2006 will
be but a memory. Please know that the confreres
remembered you specially at the Liturgy of the
Hours and the celebration of the Eucharist on
Christmas and throughout its octave, and that
continued prayers for God’s every blessing in
2007 are and will be yours.
X Eugene J. Hayes, O.Praem.
Jean-Louis became known to our abbey through his
work at the Abbey of St. Madeleine at le Barroux in
Provence, France. The climate and terrain at le Barroux
are strikingly similar to ours in Southern California, and
the style of buildings there seem especially harmonious
with the setting of the Ortega Highway property.
While planning for our visit to the Abbey of St. Madeleine,
we were delighted to learn that the actual architect was
still in the area, and was willing to show us his work and
interpret it for us, and it was thus that several of us
from the abbey met Jean-Louis Pagès and his associate,
Bernard Lacourte, when we visited le Barroux in
February 2006.
At that point, we learned a lot about Jean-Louis, not only as an architect, but as a person and as a believing Catholic.
In addition to having an extremely successful and wide-ranging career as an architect, with projects that run a spectrum
from abbeys to public buildings and resorts, but he is a man of deep faith. In a sort of pilgrimage and over some
years time, Jean-Louis has visited historic abbeys all through the Mediterranean, meditating upon, assimilating their
secrets and making them his own. He has visited places as exotic as Mt. Athos in Greece (on 3 occasions making
retreats there) and St. Catherine’s in the desert of Egypt,
near Alexandria.
During our conferences with him, he was asked late one
afternoon how he would envision our future project. When
he returned the next morning, with a preliminary but
rather detailed drawing for our expansion project, we
knew we had found our man. Jean-Louis works closely
with Bernard Lacourte, who is particularly capable of
translating ideas into material and concrete reality. We
thank the Lord for putting such men on our team.
left to right: Bernard Lacourte, Francoise Pagès and
Jean-Louis Pagès
Letters from Rome
It was a warm October afternoon in Rome as we settled
down for pranzo at Collegio San Norberto. I happened
to be sitting with Father Stephen that day, and just after
the pasta was served, he was told that he had a call from
the Vatican. He had mentioned to me
just two days before that he had just
put in a request for us to serve. Upon
his return, his face was red and beaming
and he said, “It looks like you’re going
to be deacon for the Pope.” Indeed, we
were called to serve our Holy Father
Pope Benedict XVI on All Saints Day.
My path there, however, was a bit more
arduous. I had first to report to the
Sistine choir headquarters for a prova with
Don Marco. Frater Claude accompanied
me to his office as we heard the playful
shouts of the Sistine choir boys coming
from down below in the courtyard.
The prova was a success, and I was sent
home with a tape of what I was to sing,
compliments of the Santa Sede and
Don Marco.
I spent the next week and a half
practicing, with fraters Claude and
Ambrose listening to me do many a
prova of my own here in the house…
and then the big day. Indeed, it was a
great honor to proclaim the Gospel, singing out the beatitudes which our Lord Himself spoke to the crowds
from the mount almost two thousand years ago, a
text I have meditated upon often. Blessed Abbot
Marmion calls the feast of All Saints a “celebration
of the work of Christ’s grace in all the saints for whom
the strife is o’er and the battle done”. Pope Benedict
said in his homily that it is Jesus Who perfectly lived
out the beatitudes, and from His perfect life comes the
grace for us to imitate Him. Looking at the pictures of
the Mass afterwards, one in particular struck me. Taken
from above during the elevation of the Host, I am looking
up adoring our Lord Jesus newly present in the Eucharist,
elevated by His Vicar on earth. What blessings the Lord
bestows upon us, and this but on earth!
In Christ,
frater Juan Diego Emerson, O.Praem.
Life at St. Michael’s
“What blessings the Lord bestows upon us, and this but on earth!”
On All Saints Day, seven seminarians from St. Michael’s were honored to
serve Mass for Pope Benedict XVI. fr. Juan Diego chanted the Gospel.
Photos by: L’Osservatore Romano
All Soul’s Day, November 2nd, is a feast in commemoration
of the faithful departed in purgatory. The Norbertine Fathers
visit Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest to pray for the souls of
deceased benefactors, confreres and family members.
Tom & Monica Parr and Paul & Nancy St. Pierre joined
the Norbertine community at dinner celebrating the
Feast of the Immaculate Conception. They purchased
the dinner at the Vantage Point Gala 2006.
Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, pastor of our parish in Costa Mesa, made his Solemn Profession on the
Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th.
The Pioneer Press
News from St. Michael’s Preparatory School
he 2006 football season was extremely memorable for the team members,
coaches and fans. The team was small in the first place, only twenty-one
players and few returnees. But we had a “secret weapon” in the form of
new head coach, Aaron Meschuck and his assistant coach, Randy Howard. They
crafted a brilliant offensive scheme and defensive strategy, mixed with a “give it a go”
attitude that inspired the team to a stunning victory against Maricopa…a team that had
“mercied” us two years in a row, 50-0. This year’s score: 48-20, St. Michael’s Prep. It was
going to be a great season!
The St. Michael’s 8-man football team went on to a season of 5-3, and a chance to be in the
playoffs. We were ranked second in the Express League.
Luis Menes ’07, was honored with the league defensive MVP, while Phillip Ghosn and
Stephen Dudro ’08, were elected all-league first-team offensive players. Other players
received recognition: Ed Chou ’08, and Nick Porretta ’07, were voted in as all-league
offensive second-team players, and Ben Atchley ’07, got an honorable mention. This
was the strongest season the team has had in its history. With this “under our helmets”, so
to speak, we begin to prepare for the upcoming season.
Congratulations to our Cross Country team for a successful season!
They went on to the CIF Southern Section Preliminaries where
they ran their best time of the year!
Prep School Special Events
OPEN HOUSE (3:30 – 5:00 p.m.)
Come learn more about St. Michael’s Preparatory School
Saturday, January 27
Sunday, March 4
Saturday, April 21
ENTRANCE EXAM* (9:15 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)
Saturday, January 27 / Saturday, May 19
* reservations required
For more information on the Prep School including admissions, please call (949) 858-0222 x237 or
email: [email protected] or visit our website at
St. Michael’s Prep Alumni News
Thomas deTar ’78 lives in Post Falls, ID where he operates
St. Joseph’s Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic. He and his wife, Cynthia
home school six of their nine children.
Scott Vu ’93 is married and has 2 children. After attending UC
Irvine, Scott went to work in the IT field. Last year, he received
his MBA from USC.
John Collins ’80 continues to work for the California Sate Auditor.
Parents to four children, John and his wife recently enjoyed
taking a family trip to Europe.
Son Vu ’94 left the United States to start a water filtration company
in Vietnam where one of his beneficiary is the Catholic Diocese.
Glenn Walker ’81 and his wife operate G.H. Walker & Company,
an international internet consulting and development services
firm. They have one daughter.
Kelly Dignan ’96 married Maria Ochoa in September at St.
John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa. Fr. Martin Benzoni,
O.Praem. ’74 officiated. Kelly and Maria live in San Diego where
Kelly works as an officer with U.S. Customs & Border Protection.
Andy Valenzuela ’81 (pictured)
is first officer for United
Airlines, flying B767s and
B757s on domestic routes.
He and his wife, Amy, along
with their four daughters and
one son are expecting a fifth
daughter in February.
Andrew Wrzesinksi ’86
recently returned to the United
States from Russia with his
wife Natalya and their daughter
Daria, who was baptized on
November 1st.
Andy Valenzuela visits with Fr. Szanto.
Minh Truong ’93 has lived
in St. Louis, MO since leaving
St. Michael’s in 1990. He and
his wife, Amanda are physicists
and have two children.
Joseph Kuhlen ’96 is attending training classes for the Boeing
747 in Miami. After training, he hopes to return to Colorado.
Ivan Hernandez ’99 spent the summer traveling to India and
then through the United States before his studies at Harvard Law
School started this Fall.
Andrew Bowdish ’01 won the Amateur Golf Championship at
the Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland, CA shooting 6 under
par in October. He and his mother, Marie attended the Vantage
Point Gala 2006.
Thomas Dudro ’06 began his studies at Notre Dame, IN where
he is majoring in Engineering.
Alan Ng ’06 shared that St. Michael’s prepared him well by
providing him with a firm foundation in English, Religion, Latin,
Mathematics and History, making his transition to Christendom
College easier than he expected it to be.
For more alumni news, go to
Do you want to stay in touch with teachers and friends from your days on the hilltop? Please send us news about and photos of yourself and your family.
You can do this by sending an email to [email protected] Be sure to tell us whether you wish to make your contact information available to others,
so we can respect your wishes.
Thomas Aquinas
Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews
Thank You
We are grateful to all the generous
benefactors who send us monthly
contributions. Your kindness
enables us to continue with our
work, educate our students and
seminarians, and continue with
the expansion project.
Translated and edited by Chrysostom Baer, O.Praem.
Last month, St. Augustine Press published the Commentary
on the Epistle to the Hebrews by Thomas Aquinas, which was
translated from Latin to English by Fr. Chrysostom Baer, the
Assistant Dean of Students. The Epistle to the Hebrews is the
culmination of St. Paul’s epistles, which are all treatises on
different aspects of grace. St. Thomas’ work examines it as a
treatment on Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body and high
priest of the New Testament. This is the first printed version
of this translation and can be purchased at St. Augustine Press
( or
Speech and Debate
ach year, some of St. Michael’s students join the Speech and
Debate team in order to learn public speaking and rhetorical
skills. The motives for joining are varied: a desire to speak well
in front of a room full of people as well as a desire to compete
with others and bring glory to the school. Just as athletics can exhaust
the body, so public speech and debate can challenge the intellect. And
there is nothing like the satisfaction of making a point well and winning
an event.
In past years, the Speech and Debate team of St. Michael’s Preparatory
School has met the all challengers and done well, and this year promises
to be a great one too. With a core of veteran members at the center of
the team and a few new faces, we look forward to a successful season.
One of our events took place at La Costa Canyon was over the weekend
of December 1st. A two day event, students stayed overnight in the
area and were graciously hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Phillipe Dardaine who
opened the doors of their home to receive us for the weekend. The
Dardaines are the parents of Olivier, a senior and Charles a sophomore.
The season will end in mid-February, with State Qualifier Events in
March, League Championship in April, and State Championship after
the State competition.
We hope that this year we will return to the State Championships, as we
did in 2005, and to this end, we will spend many hours working to refine
our techniques and hone our verbal skills.
Photo by R. Belcher
From the Hilltop
News from St. Michael’s Abbey
History of St. Michael’s Part V
he escape of the founding fathers of St. Michael’s from behind the iron
curtain had all the elements of a tale of danger and suspense: preliminary
reconnaissance, disguises, hiding places in friendly farmers’ barns, cutting
barbed wire, dodging armed guards, lights and landmines, swimming
across a river, and finding a secretly arranged waiting truck-bed to carry them
to safety outside of Soviet occupied territory. Just a week before our founders’
successful attempt of July 11, 1950, some other priest-friends of theirs from the
Cistercian order had made an unsuccessful attempt and ended up in prison. The
fathers understood all-too-well the risk they were running. One of the founding
fathers’ cousins had already been shipped off to Siberia. Another’s family farm had
been confiscated, never to be returned. Another’s father had been reluctantly taken
along by communist youth guards in a horse cart to the hospital with a heart attack
and died along the way as his driver taunted him as an “enemy of the people” and
a “fascist pig.” The diocesan bishop who had ordained some of the fathers had
been shot by Soviet soldiers for defending a group of young girls from being raped.
This bishop was a courageous nobleman of
the old school, who faced the Soviet soldier
down. He was shot dead, but they did not
touch the girls: shamed by the bishop’s
courage. The bishop was declared Blessed by
Pope John Paul II: Blessed William Apor.
On their escape, more beautiful sights
awaited them than searchlights, dogs, and
fences: first to Innsbruck in the Tyrolean
alps of Austria as the welcome guests of the
Norbertine abbey of Wilten, then down to
Rome to the Generalate House of the Order on
the Aventine hill, and then to discern where
to go: America? Australia? Canada? The
Abbot General Noots and Abbot Kileen of
De Pere, Wisconsin arranged that the fathers
be received in America at St. Norbert’s Abbey
in Green Bay and its dependent houses. Their
original intention was to master English well enough to open an English language school in
Hungary when—they thought in the near future–communism would fall and they could go
home. The brutal suppression by the Soviets of the Hungarian uprising of 1956 ended hopes
of a speedy return from exile, and so the fathers decided to make America their new home and
refound the community in a new land. The rest, as they say, is history. Next time: Orange
County at last.
Photo by R. Belcher
Photo by R. Belcher
Photo by R. Belcher
Photo by R. Belcher
Blessed Hugh of Prémontré
St. Norbert presenting Blessed Hugh
to the Risen Christ as his choice to be
Abbot of Prémontré.
Patron saints are chosen as special protectors or
guardians over areas of life that are important to us.
The saints listed are either Norbertine saints or patrons
of the confreres of St. Michael’s.
October 4
St. Francis
lessed Hugh was born in Belgium
in the town of Fosses at the end
of the 1000’s. Educated from his
early childhood to become a cleric,
he was made secretary to Burchard the bishop
of Cambrai not long after he was ordained to
the priesthood. The life of the episcopal chancery
made him uneasy, however, as he wanted to live
the apostolic and common life of the canons
regular and not the more independent life of
the secular diocesan clergy who were allowed
to own property. Hugh had himself acquired
a substantial portion of this world’s goods, so
when he encountered St. Norbert, who had been a friend of bishop Burchard, he was deeply moved and challenged
to make good on his desires for a holier way of life. Norbert had been extremely wealthy as a cleric of the
court of the archbishop of Cologne, but had undergone a profound conversion, and was now a preacher of the
reform of the clergy, with full powers from the Pope to work for this reform anywhere he chose. Hugh became
Norbert’s closest follower, and when the latter founded his first monastery at Prémontré near Laon in France,
Hugh became the prior of the community, and ruled it during the founder’s frequent absences on preaching
journeys. When St. Norbert was made archbishop of Magdeburg in far-off Saxony in the eastern parts of Germany,
Hugh followed him there at his bidding, but then returned to Prémontré to become the first abbot of the
mother abbey of the whole Order of Prémontré. It is to Blessed Hugh that the Norbertine Order owes its
first Statutes and its traditional liturgical practices, as well as its amazing growth, so that at the end of his forty
years of abbatial service, there were more than one hundred houses of the Order throughout Europe and in
Palestine. Blessed Hugh died in 1164 on February 10th, which is kept in the Order as his feast day. He learned
well his lessons from St. Norbert, which he tells in the third person in the life of St. Norbert composed by him:
“He taught him how to be reconciled to God, and how he ought to approach sinners, and by what efforts, labors,
and virtues a just man should attain the company of the good Spirits, of what great power are humility whereby the
road to heaven is laid, simplicity whereby one penetrates therein, obedience whereby one comes to the knowledge of
the hidden things of God, chastity which makes one close to God, poverty which makes one possess the kingdom
of God.” May Blessed Hugh pray for the Norbertines of St. Michael’s that they learn these lessons too!
Patron saint of animals, environmentalists, lacemakers
and zoologists
January 7
St. Raymond of Penafort
Patron saint of lawyers
January 14
St. Godfrey, O.Praem.
Patron saint of benefactors
January 14
St. Gerlac
January 20
St. Sebastian
Patron saint of athletes
January 25
Conversion of St. Paul
Patron saint of public relations personnel
February 4
St. Frederick, O.Praem.
February 10
Blessed Hugh of Fosses
1st Abbot of Prémontré
Abbot General of Norbertines
February 15
St. Claude de la Colombiere
Patron saint of toy makers
Question and Answer
What is the basis of church teaching that the celibate life is superior to the married state?
This is not only the teaching but also the example of Christ. Modern people don’t like “better than”
because it implies a “less than.” We must be sure of one thing: the love of God possessed by one in
the state of grace is what makes one pleasing to God and in the end this love alone is the standard
of judgment between people. The one who loves God more is greater than the one who loves God
less. A loving husband and father is better than a mediocre monk. But it remains true that objectively
some life choices or “states of life” make it easier to love God and neighbor than others. Celibacy makes
loving God easier. So do voluntary poverty and obedience. This is the teaching of the New Testament
(see for example Mark 10: 17-31; 1 Cor 7: 25-40; Acts 2: 37-47). But just because someone has a way
of life that makes it easier to love God, doesn’t mean that that person will in fact love God more. Their
chosen path is better, but they may not be better persons themselves. Everybody knows they should be
better, since with the grace of a vocation to celibacy or religious life they have been given a great gift.
The Church is not a cult, and so she has always left her children free to choose their path in life, whether
good, better, or best. The main thing is to arrive at the goal of the journey: the love of God and the
happiness of heaven. Still, if we taught our children and grandchildren the surpassing value of a life of
celibacy we would have all the priests and sisters we need: think about it!
February 27
St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother
Patron saint of seminarians and students
March 17
St. Patrick
Patron saint of against snake bites
March 19
St. Joseph
Patron saint of peaceful death, the Church, husbands & working men
April 5
St. Vincent Ferrer
Patron saint of builders, construction workers
April 25
St. Mark
Patron saint of notaries
April 26
St. Ludolph, O.Praem.
Want To Help St. Michael’s?
Photo by R. Belcher
Calendar Of Events
1 New Year’s Day
There are many ways that you can contribute.
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Mass 11:00 a.m.
The Abbey and the school have year-round needs
that rely upon your generosity.
9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Prep School Open House
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Many students receive scholarships and your continued
generosity allows these young men to receive the
best education available.
Many companies offer an Employer’s Matching
Gift Program that you can ask about at your work.
2 Solemnity of the Presentation
Have you considered including a charitable bequest
as part of your will? Or donating a gift of stock?
A simple gesture will have far-reaching effects: it will
help clothe, feed, house and educate a rapidly growing
number of seminarians; it will enhance the sacramental
ministry of the Abbey and it will help to meet the
retirement needs of our Norbertine priests.
15 Classes resume (Prep School)
27 Prep School Entrance Exam
11:00 a.m. Mass
19 President’s Day holiday
21 Ash Wednesday
4 Prep School Open House
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
19 Solemnity of St. Joseph
For more information on how you can donate,
please call (949) 858-0222 x264.
11:00 a.m. Mass
Palm Sunday
Chrism Mass
Good Friday
Prayer to St. Michael
Classes resume (Prep School)
Prep School Open House
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense
against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke
*For more information on Lent and Easter services,
please visit
him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly
Mass is held each day at 7:00 a.m. and on Sundays at 11:00 a.m.
host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the
For further information on calendar of Liturgies and
events, please visit
For more information about the Prep School, please visit
other evil spirits who go about the world for the ruin of souls.
An envelope has been included in this newsletterto allow you to requestthe Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be celebrated for you and your loved ones, both living and decased.
St. Michael’s Abbey and Preparatory School
19292 El Toro Road
Silverado, California 92676-9710
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