The absolute highlight of Mount St. Alphonsus 100th Anniversary celebration was Mass in its awesome chapel, a Mass for which so many priests were present that only a fraction of the group could be seated in the sanctuary. The laity present had received the Eucharist and had ample time for their prayer of thanksgiving as the priests continued to approach the altar to take Communion. It must have been a moving moment for each of them since it was that sanctuary in which they were ordained. For many of them, the Mount, is like Mother Earth.
Father General Joseph Tobin was the chief celebrant. In his homily he spoke of the joy of the moment, the pride and the privilege of having been a part of this place, of the Congregation nurtured there, of the vast numbers of priest who went forth from its halls to minister and serve, to go on mission, to teach, to write, and, above all else, to bring the love of Jesus Christ the Redeemer to the poor and most abandoned. Fr. Tobin said it was very easy in moments such as this to remain with ones eyes looking back. He reminded that the place and the occasion call us to look forward in hope and in trust. Of necessity, Mount St. Alphonsus is no longer a seminary. Of necessity missions are being closed and parishes returned to diocesan management. But a new spirit of St. Alphonsus is blowing through the Congregation, not only within the individual provinces but throught out the world. This view offers much encouragement.
Earlier in the day we enjoyed a lecture by two Redemptorist scholars of history, Fr. Carl Hoegrel and Fr. Thomas Travers (See the link to his homily blog in the side bar.) Here are some amazing factoids from that presentation.
The Baltimore Province of the Redemptorists bought the property (235 acres) for $57,000.
There were 2000 apple tress on the property (Newton-Pippin apples).
The building is 440 feet long and 90 feet high.
Wintersee, the architect also designed Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Brooklyn, a flagship Redemptorist parish, and also the towers on the Redemptorist Mission Church in Boston.
At one point in the building process 100 Italian stone cutters were on the job and earning $3.50 per day.
Building began on 1905 and in the fall of 1907 the first seminarians arrived.