Podcast Transcript - March 30, 2017

Out of Many, One: Community Life, Part 1

TONY CECIL: I never expected that I would be in school with guys from Vietnam and Korea and Africa, so on this hill is kind of a glimpse of the world.

BR. KOLBE: This is Echoes from the Bell Tower.

BR. JOEL: Stories of wit and wisdom from Benedictine monks who live, work and pray in Southern Indiana. I'm Br. Joel Blaize.

BR. KOLBE: And I'm Br. Kolbe Wolniakowski. Welcome to our second season of the podcast. This episode is the first part of a two-part series on brotherhood and community life.

BR. JOEL: In this episode, we are going to talk about community in the seminary and go in depth about the Around the World party and the role it serves in community building and seminary formation.

BR. KOLBE: If you listened to the preview episode we released in November about the Around the World party, you may recognize some of the ambient audio you'll hear in this episode.

BR. JOEL: In the second part of this episode…

BR. KOLBE: …Which will air in two weeks…

BR. JOEL: You will hear about brotherhood and community life in the monastery. Every monk plays a role in community; everyone does their part. Here is seminarian Luke Hassler to start us off.

LUKE HASSLER: The seminary community here at Saint Meinrad is different than what you would find at a college campus, because I think that at the core of this community is Christ. A central idea of the Catholic faith is community and building that community around Christ.

BR. JOEL: In the seminary, community is built in several ways: through the daily prayer schedule, having family-style meals three times a week, by taking the same classes and informal recreation like ping pong tournaments and the Mardi Gras party.

BR. KOLBE: There's even a new Frisbee golf course on campus.

BR. JOEL: Even the organization of the seminary helps build a community centered on Christ.

BR. KOLBE: The seminary breaks down into several smaller communities. Every seminarian is affiliated with a diocese or religious community; that's one community. They are members of academic classes. That would be a second community.

BR. JOEL: Every seminarian has neighbors on the floor they live in - that creates a third community. And every seminarian also belongs to a formation house. Within each formation house, there are members from all six classes, starting from deacons down to first-year philosophy students.

BR. KOLBE: Here is Fr. Tobias Colgan. He is the vice rector of the Seminary and School of Theology.

FR. TOBIAS COLGAN: Each seminarian, as they enroll at Saint Meinrad, are assigned to one of the five formation houses: St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, St. John, St. Paul. And that formation house becomes kind of a subset of the entire community and each seminarian will be in that formation house the entire time he is at Saint Meinrad, whether it be six years, fours years, two years, however long, so he comes to know a certain segment of the full community a little better.

BR. JOEL: The international seminarians create a small community of their own and they have events during the year just for them. For several years, Fr. Tobias has served as a kind of a coordinator of the international students and he says it's one of the most enjoyable things about his job.

FR. TOBIAS: We're very intentional about giving them, as an international group, opportunities for their own outings and activities. It's a way for them to build community within the larger community and a way for them to help each other cross-culturally, inter-culturally, because they're all kind of facing the same cultural adaptation challenges and they do help each other quite beautifully, I would say.

BR. KOLBE: The international seminarians have an outing each semester that includes a multilingual Mass with several different languages being used in the prayers, readings and music. And once each semester, the whole seminary community attends a multilingual Mass.

BR. JOEL: There are two seminarians who are responsible for organizing the social events in the school. This year, Luke Hassler, who we heard earlier in this episode, is the social events coordinator and David Farrell is his assistant. Last year, Joseph de Orbegozo and Gil Pierre organized the social events. Here's Joseph.

JOSEPH DE ORBEGOZO: It's funny because the job that we had is sometimes thought of one of as like the harder or more time-consuming jobs in the seminary, just because there's a lot to do, a lot of prep work. I think what Gil and I found, though, if I can speak for him, is that the community really helped us and made our job much lighter because of all the people who came together to help us, whether it be on the day, whether it be behind the scenes.

GIL PIERRE: Yeah, I know for me I was very intimidated by the job at first.

BR. KOLBE: This is Gil.

GIL: What I found is that because the community was already so strong when we began the job, that it was facilitating whatever gifts people had and kind of bringing that together to serve the community. Just thinking of all the stuff that a parish priest does in collaborating with people, bringing people's gifts out to serve a parish community, I definitely kind of saw that in the role as social coordinator.

JOSEPH: I also felt like it helped me become a little more comfortable with being a leader. I'm a introvert and maybe that's not my first thing I'd want to do, but it's a role that I'm coming to find that I can do. 

BR. JOEL: One of the biggest community-building social events of each semester is the Around the World party. It's put on by the community for the community.

JOSEPH: So first of all, you have to know that the student body here is very diverse.

BR. KOLBE: Twenty-nine percent of the student body is international. There are 36 students who were born outside the U.S., representing 16 countries of origin.

JOSEPH: We have people from Kenya, we have people from Togo in Africa, we have people from Korea and Vietnam in Asia. We have people who have lineage from Peru, from South America, from Central America, Mexico, Nicaragua, even New Zealand, just all these different places around the world plus all of the different ethnicities and all the different cultural backgrounds in the United States, from Kansas and Indiana down to Arkansas and Alabama.

And so it's an event where all of these different cultures, all of these different expressions of culture, come out in food. And that food is shared all together. It's kind of like a fair-style event and people walk around and try what they want.

BR. WILLIAM SPRAUER: And tell me what you're making here. What is this?

EMMANUEL TORRES: It's called horchata. It's a rice water.

BR. JOEL: This is Emmanuel Torres talking to Br. William Sprauer at the Around the World party this past fall.

EMMANUEL: We blend the rice with cinnamon and then we just add some condensed milk and sugar. It's very traditional in Mexico. You can find it in almost all Mexican restaurants. Ah, it tastes good. I just tried it, it's good.

BR. WILLIAM: May I try some? Alright. That is very, VERY good. It's not too sweet, it's not too sweet.

EMMANUEL: Oh, that's perfect.

BR. WILLIAM: I think that's delicious.

FR. JULIAN PETERS: It broadens our experience of other cultures and backgrounds.

BR. KOLBE: This is Fr. Julian Peters. If you remember from the first season of the podcast, cooking is one of Fr. Julian's hobbies. If he has time, he usually prepares a table for the Around the World party.

FR. JULIAN: We know a lot about what happens in other parts of the world, we hear a lot about other cultures, but this is an opportunity to really taste and see, to experience something of them in a very genuine way. Because these are, very often, they're recipes that the guys have brought from home, or they've learned to make from their families. And so I think that is one of the great values that helps us to be more informed about other cultures and our understanding of where people come from.

BR. KOLBE: Students make a variety of foods for Around the World. Anything from homemade ice cream to Kansas City barbecue to tacos and spring rolls. One year, students even made pig brain. 

FR. JULIAN: It's always interesting to see what people are going to prepare. And I'll try anything once; I'm an adventure eater. Some years back; some of the African students have prepared goat. They went even to a farm and butchered their own goat. And so there's always unique opportunities.

BR. KOLBE: Here is Br. William again at the Around the World party this past fall. He went around to the different booths and talked to the students about the food they prepared.

BR. JOEL: This is seminarian Jay Cartwright from the Archdiocese of Nassau, Bahamas.

JAY CARTWRIGHT: The Around the World party really allows us international seminarians, in particular, to showcase our culture, to share another aspect of who we are with the rest of the seminarian community, um, to show a little bit of where we've come from, to tell a little bit of our story. So it helps build a fraternity among us brothers and it helps us understand each other a little bit better too.

Our theme this year is coconut and so we've made a Bahamian beans and rice with coconut milk. We've also made bajan, that's Barbados curry with coconut milk. We have a coconut tart and we have a drink called Sky Juice from the Bahamas, and it's gin and coconut water and with sweetened condensed milk and coconut rum. ­

VIC LUONG: My original name is Vuong Luong is long, but I go by Vic.

BR. KOLBE: Vic is originally from Vietnam, but he is studying for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

VIC: Today we've got two kinds of rolls and the first one is egg rolls, is right there, the other's spring rolls. One is fried and the other is un-fried rolls. So at Saint Meinrad, I have been here for…this is my fifth year and I can tell for every Around the World party we, you know, present and we contribute a little bit to the community. So hopefully Vietnamese food are going to help the community and make them feel happy.

JOHN HERRERA: This is the Arch OKC table and I've got some peach cobbler.

BR. KOLBE: This is John Herrera. And Arch OKC means Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

JOHN: And in addition to that, we have some homemade ice cream, which we whipped up over the past couple days and then a few hours ago as well.

BR. WILLIAM: So this is like the American table?

JOHN: Yeah, it's about as American as you can get I think. It's great; I think this is my favorite dish of all American foods.

BR. WILLIAM: Peach cobbler?

JOHN: Yeah, desserts anyway.

BR. JOEL: Next up is Daniel Velasco. He's from Pueblo, Mexico, and he helped organize both the Arkansas and Latin American tables.

DANIEL VELASCO: So we start with some cheese quesadillas. We have some barbecue from Arkansas, so you can put some barbecue on your quesadilla. We have three different kinds of hot sauces and then we'll have some tequila shots.

BR. WILLIAM: Oh wow, for dessert.

DANIEL: For dessert, yes sir. If you're getting too cold, you can get some tequila.

RICHARD TOBOSO: Today we prepared the three main meals.

BR. KOLBE: Richard Toboso is originally from Kenya, in East Africa.

RICHARD: We have chapatti, which we make from wheat flour. You have to make a dough out of it to look like a tortilla and you have to fry it using olive oil. And then we have beef stew. I had to buy enough beef, then use fresh tomatoes, onions and some spices to make it. Then we have the kale, which is so nutritious, and I just used oil, fresh onions and tomatoes to make it look like that.

One thing I love about Around the World party, first of all, you get socialized from different cultures, you get different meals from different cultures and also it helps the seminarians and other staff members to give their hospitality to the entire community. Then you just enjoy walking from one table to another, even you may not know what you're eating, but you enjoy it. That's the beauty of Around the World party and I love it!

GIL: Just a little bit of my personal background,

BR. JOEL: This is Gil Pierre again.

GIL: My family's always made fun of me as the picky eater, so that always kind of scared me off from different kind of foods. So to come here and be able to have the opportunity to try some of that, I think my family would be proud of me now, the amount of stuff I've grown to eat. So that's my favorite part of it, just kind of the diverse foods that we get.

FR. TOBIAS: As one who has studied in a foreign language myself many years ago, I know the relief, the comfort, that a person feels when they're able to eat food that is familiar and to pray and to speak in your own language. So when we have the multilingual liturgies, if just for a moment if a student from a different country is saying a prayer in his native tongue in front of the entire chapel full of seminarians and staff, there's a certain sense of being at home, at ease in that moment, and I think foods often have that same effect on us. We don't call them comfort foods for nothing.

BR. JOEL: And so the Around the World party is a chance for everyone in the community to share a part of their home, a part of themselves.

FR JULIAN: As I say, there's something sacramental about gathering around the table. Now whether it's a stand-up event like this is out in the courtyard or whether we're sitting down at a meal together, there's just a dynamic that people begin to open up their lives to each other in different ways in those types of occasions.

BR. WILLIAM: Did you guys go to the Around the World party this year? What was your favorite food?

BR. JOEL: Yeah, oh man, I don't even remember. I went all the way around the world. I tried everything. I was so full. I felt guilty actually.

BR. WILLIAM: I went. I liked Vic's rolls, the unfried rolls.

BR. JOEL: The shell was amazing. It was like transparent and stretchy. It was super fresh. 

BR. WILLIAM: What is community like in the seminary and the monastery?

BR. KOLBE: I think one big difference is the age range is a lot tighter in the seminary. The monastery, our age range is 23 to 98, I believe.

BR. JOEL: And the majority of the seminarians are probably in their 20s.

BR. WILLIAM: There's a lot more diversity in the seminary population too. What is it like living with 90 monks?

BR. KOLBE: You have to stop and think about others before you do almost anything, because anything you do pretty much affects the people you're living with. When you're living by yourself, you're the king of the castle.

BR. JOEL: There's no rules about what I wear in my kitchen.

BR. WILLIAM: One thing about community life, living with a bunch of other people, is that you learn a lot about people and their habits. In that way, you learn about yourself and your own habits, I think.

BR. JOEL: I always say that the most rewarding part of monastic life and the most challenging part is the other monks, is living with all of them.

BR. KOLBE: And hearing the stories throughout the years, because I mean the monks who are older than us were at one time in our spot.

BR. WILLIAM: Wouldn't you guys also say there is no one cookie cutter Saint Meinrad type monk? I mean I would say that everyone's really kind of very different.

BR. KOLBE: I mean it's a complex community and you throw in a complex creature like a human being, you're going to get some craziness.

BR. JOEL: Yeah, I guess that would be the one common denominator is that it was God that brought us all here, ultimately.

BR. WILLIAM: Right, that's the bottom line.


BR. JOEL: Thank you for listening to this first episode on brotherhood. Tune back in on April 13, to hear about community life in the monastery.

BR. KOLBE: This podcast was edited and produced by Krista Hall, with the help of Br. Joel Blaize, Br. Kolbe Wolniakowski, Br. William Sprauer, Mary Jeanne Schumacher, Jim Paquette, Tammy Schuetter and Christian Mocek. The music for this podcast was written and produced by Br. Joel.

BR. JOEL: We would like to give a special thanks to monks Fr. Tobias Colgan and Fr. Julian Peters. We also want to thank our seminarians Tony Cecil, Luke Hassler, Joseph de Orbegozo, Gil Pierre, Jay Cartwright, Emmanuel Torres, Vic Luong, John Herrera, Daniel Velasco, Richard Toboso and everyone who shared their stories with us.

BR. KOLBE: Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

BR. JOEL: We are having our very first giveaway. If you leave a review for our podcast on iTunes, you can enter to win a prize pack. All of the contest details, including a picture of the prize pack, are on our website at saintmeinrad.edu/giveaway.

BR. KOLBE: We also have a couple extra short stories about the seminarians' St. Nicholas Banquet and a soccer tournament on our blog at saintmeinrad.edu/echoes.


BR. WILLIAM: What kind of shorts are people supposed to wear? That's what I don't understand. You can't wear cargo shorts.

BR. JOEL: You can wear khaki shorts as long as they're not too baggy or shorts out of other materials, I think.

BR. KOLBE: Echoes from the Bell Tower podcast gets real.

BR. WILLIAM: This is like the fashion segment.

BR. KOLBE: This is fashion corner brought to you from a monk.