This story is one part of a five part series where we highlight seniors with interesting paths after graduation. This is only a small sample of the many students who are doing interesting things.
This August, senior theology major Tyler Tangen will be on his way to the University of Notre Dame where he will start the formation process to become a priest. Formation lasts seven years.
When Tangen came the University of Portland four years ago, he was initially planning to become a nurse. It was only three semesters later when he realized that theology was his true calling. He said he “took a leap of faith” and changed his major.
Initially, he wanted to be a hospital chaplain because he likes caring for people and knew that being a chaplain would let him do that in a spiritual way. What inspired Tangen to choose the path of becoming a priest is the time he spent at UP with the priests and brothers.
“The story for me kind of choosing to do that has just been my time here at UP and getting to know the Holy Cross priests and brothers and just falling in love with just what kind of work they do and how they live their life,” Tangen said.
After his first year at UP, Tangen went to Ghana, Africa with some of UP’s priests and brothers. He said that trip made is one of the reasons he feels confident in his decision.
“So, I guess just going there and feeling completely welcome in a totally new place but still feeling very at home, kind of the familiarity of the Holy Cross, just the way they lived their life you could tell that these people in Africa were doing the same things as the people in Portland even though they are at two completely different places,” Tangen said. “Holy Cross is very big on community living and they really put an emphasis on family.”
Formation is a long process. To start, young men spend three years in the Old College Undergraduate Seminary, which introduces them to religious life and prepare them for Moreau Seminary.
“It will be an introduction year when you learn about the way of life, learn about how to live in community with them and the history of the order,” Tangen said.
Men like Tangen, who have already completed a college degree, begin their formation in the Moreau Seminary Postulant Program, which starts by a complete overview of the vowed life in Holy Cross.
During the second year of the program, called the Novitiate Year, Tyler will go to Colorado and begin a year of prayer and discernment. During this year, seminarians are removed from the distractions of everyday life like work or study, so that they can focus on only on their prayer life.
“It will be very bare-boned, like a monk,” Tangen said.
The Professed Program will follow the Novitiate Year, where Tangen will begin the Master of Divinity Program at the University of Notre Dame. At the end of the Professed Program, seminarians will profess perpetual vows and become ordained as transitional deacons. After completing their diaconate, they will finally be ordained as priests.
“Most rewarding would be to go through all seven years and really have that piece of knowing that I made the right choice for myself,” Tangen said.
Tangen is excited to go through the program, but he says that something that scares him a little is to go through all those years and find out that it’s not the right path for him.
“The most challenging is the time that it takes. I think it’s the most daunting thing to think about,” Tangen said. “Going next year it’s just a really small step in kind of exploring the whole field of what they do...I can leave at any point when I feel like that it isn’t for me. So, that’s why it’s seven years because it’s like a really big commitment and they do want you to be really sure that this is the path that you want to take.”
Tangen said that faith is his deepest value and it motivates everything he does.
“My core value is loving others. So, like having faith in that and trusting that no matter what I do with my life it will always be the strongest guiding path for me. And going to Holy Cross is like how I think I can do that best in my life,” Tangen said. “It will provide me the tools.”
Anush Hakobyan is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.