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Mundelein seminary in Illinois celebrates 100 years of priestly training


By Michelle Martin, Catholic Information Service

MUNDELEIN, Ill. (CNS) – Hundreds of alumni, benefactors and guests gathered on a cool October morning to celebrate the start of the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Centennial Year Seminary.

The October 17 celebration included Mass said by Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, a former seminary student; Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago; guided tours of the grounds by cart; and talks about the history of the school.

The institution was founded on its present campus by Cardinal George W. Mundelein under the 1844 charter of the University of St. Mary of the Lake.

The seminary trains future priests of American dioceses. About 116 seminaries from 24 dioceses are registered this year.

Cardinal Gregory graduated from Mundelein and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1973.

As a seminarian and young priest, said the cardinal, he spoke with priests and professors who had known Cardinal Mundelein, who died in 1939 after leading the Archdiocese of Chicago for 23 years.

“I don’t remember them using the word ‘intimidating’ to describe it,” Cardinal Gregory said in his homily. “But he was a man who exuded confidence.”

Cardinal Mundelein was sent to what was still a border diocese at the beginning of 1916; the terms of the first three bishops in the diocese lasted less than 15 years combined. The Catholic population was dominated by immigrants from Ireland, Poland, Italy, Germany, Lithuania and “a dozen more European countries,” Cardinal Gregory said.

These groups often brought their own priests with them, as well as orders of nuns and religious, he said.

Cardinal Mundelein “needed to prepare an American clergy,” Cardinal Gregory said. “Even someone who spoke several languages. Mundelein’s seminary was his answer and his dream of creating a united presbytery. Mundelein Seminary would remind seminarians and visitors that this was an American institution, and that it was to create servant leaders.

The cardinal spoke in a Full Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, a building modeled after the First Congregational Church in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Even Pope Francis acknowledged Cardinal Mundelein’s insistence on building in an American style.

In a congratulatory letter read by Cardinal Cupich, the Pope referred to “the university’s unique architecture, so expressive of the American spirit”.

Preaching the Gospel text of Mark, in which Jesus tells the apostles that whoever wants to be great must be a servant, Cardinal Gregory spoke about the nature of the priesthood, what it is and what it is not. .

“The priesthood initiates a new relationship with the Lord,” he said. “It leaves us human. We have been endowed with no particular holiness by virtue of our ordination.

Instead, during the years of his priesthood, Cardinal Gregory, now 73, said he was impressed by the holiness of God’s people.

Priests, he said, by virtue of their ordination, are not only servants of God, but friends, and as friends they are called to accompany Jesus and the church even in the moments. difficult, whatever crosses they are asked to wear.

“I am not a brave man,” said Cardinal Gregory. “I would much rather be the friend of an ascendant than a descendant.”

Father John Kartje, rector and president of the university, welcomed the guests, noting the scaffolding that enveloped the chapel’s steeple and forced visitors to enter through the side doors.

He was shocked, he said, when he learned that the scaffolding would still be in place for the centennial celebration. But then he thinks about the meaning of the scaffolding.

“It’s about putting in place a structure in which something new can develop,” said Father Kartje. “I hope you all realize how essential you are to the scaffolding. A seminar like this only happens because of the work of many hands.

This not only includes donors, students, faculty and academic staff, he said.

“If this big old place looks pretty good,” he said, it’s thanks to the work of gardeners, kitchen staff, housekeepers and others. “It’s mainly because of their efforts, day in and day out.

After mass, Tom and Madelyn Tirpak enjoyed brunch on the lawn with their six children. The family, parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Glenview, Illinois, have long supported the seminary.

Tom Tirpak told Chicago Catholic, the Archdiocesan newspaper, that they often go to seminary to support seminarians and pray for vocations, including praying that if one of their children is called to the priesthood or to the priesthood. religious life, he is open to it.

In addition to the seminary and its associated graduate school of theology, the university includes institutes for the education and training of deacons and lay ecclesial ministers, the Liturgical Institute, the Instituto de Liderazgo Pastoral (Institute of Pastoral Leadership ) and the Joseph and Mary retreat. Housing.