Archbishop Vlazny attended St. Gall School and Quigley Preparatory Seminary. When he was in the seminary system, young men went to four years of high school at Quigley and remained at Quigley for their first year of college. They were all aware of Mundelein, but Archbishop Vlazny first went to Mundelein when he arrived on campus September 8, 1955. There were 73 seminarians in his class and 65 of them were from Chicago. Archbishop Vlazny was at Mundelein for his three years of college studying Philosophy and then was chosen to go to the North American College and Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome for his four years of graduate school studying Theology. He enjoyed his study in Rome. The rules were more relaxed than the stricter rules at Mundelein. Mundelein required men to stay on campus for the entire academic year with many restrictions.
Vlazny and the other high school seminarians studied Latin at Quigley to prepare them for their three years of Philosophy at Mundelein which was all taught in Latin and liturgies then celebrated in Latin. He said the Mundelein Philosophy curriculum was challenging for the men because they had to complete their oral and written exams in Latin. Most of their teachers and spiritual directors were Jesuits, and the Diocesan priests were the administrators.
One of Vlazny’s favorite faculty members was the priest in charge of the Philosophy students, Reverend Edward Fitzgerald, who oversaw the 180 men. When Vlazny’s father passed away in his first year at the seminary in October of 1955, Fr. Fitzgerald helped him get through that loss and tough time in a very supportive way.
On June 1, 1958, Vlazny and Bob Mahoney were given the surprising news by the rector that they both would be sent to Rome for theology studies. He gave Vlazny and Mahoney permission to stay up late that night and to call their parents to let them know the exciting news. Vlazny and Mahoney spent that evening taking a stroll around St. Mary’s Lake talking about the excitement of going to Rome.
Vlazny remembers being off campus only three times during his academic years at Mundelein, for his father’s funeral, his grandmother’s funeral, and to serve as a witness in a Chicago trial about a car accident he saw as a high school student.
What do you tell others about the mission of Mundelein Seminary that appeals to you?
As a seminarian, Vlazny and his classmates grew in their appreciation of prayer and liturgy. Fr. Fitzgerald gave conferences every Saturday for the college seminarians.
He also taught Church history, one of Vlazny’s favorite courses. Fr. Fitzgerald was a great storyteller and taught about not only the good things in the life of the Church, but also some of the shocking ways the Church made mistakes in the past as a very human institution. That history has given Vlazny great comfort over the decades as his love for the Church remains strong even though he realizes it is not perfect – “Something can always go wrong, but you cannot let that drag you down,” said Vlazny.
Upon arrival in Rome, Vlazny also appreciated the strength of his Mundelein education as Bob Mahoney and he quickly realized they were better prepared for success with the continuation of their studies.
What or who inspired you to include Mundelein Seminary in your estate plans?
It is Archbishop Vlazny’s love for the Archdiocese of Chicago, his home parish of St. Gall, the parishes he served, his appreciation for his seminary education, and his love of Chicago that all contributed to his making an estate commitment to Mundelein. He loved his time serving in the AOC and enjoyed all of his assignments, especially as seminary teacher and parish priest. He remains very grateful to Chicago for the many blessings he received from the community and loves Chicago priests!
One of the saddest days occurred when he left Chicago after being appointed as the Bishop of Winona, MN in 1987. Minnesota seemed perplexed about receiving a Bishop from Chicago, but, after an uncertain beginning, Archbishop Vlazny quickly became engaged in their Catholic spiritual community and grew to care deeply about them as well.
Why do you think it is important to support seminary education and the future of the Catholic Church?
If the Catholic Church is to continue the mission of Jesus, then we need well-formed and educated priests, said Vlazny. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI who said, “Without the Eucharist, there is no church. Without priests, there is no Eucharist.”
Mundelein is the only remaining seminary in Chicago where he studied or taught and he is grateful for great formators like Fr. Fitzgerald and many others., Archbishop Vlazny wants to support the excellent human, academic, spiritual and pastoral formation that is offered at Mundelein Seminary.
What are your hopes for your generous gift?
He hopes that the gift will contribute in some way to building up the Body of Christ in Chicago through the life and ministry of good priests. Nothing more, nothing less.
Archbishop Vlazny is grateful too that the legacy of excellent Rectors at Mundelein Seminary continues today with Very Reverend John Kartje. He has known all the Rectors at Mundelein. He himself was a faculty member at Quigley Preparatory Seminary and after serving as pastor of St. Aloysius Parish became Rector of Niles College Seminary (1981-1983).
Is there a benefit for donors that goes beyond the seminary and which directly impacts you as a donor and your family?
When his brother-in-law, Dennis Carroll, recently passed away, Vlazny was impressed that his sister, Marion Carroll, and her sons asked that donations in Dennis’ memory go to not only their parish, St. Emily’s, but also Mundelein Seminary. This was a great reminder to Archbishop Vlazny of the impact that Mundelein can make on the lives of people who are aware of the importance and need of seminary education and formation for our future parish priests.
Are there other organizations or causes that you are supporting with a planned gift?
Because he is so grateful for his Chicago roots and life experiences, Archbishop Vlazny is pleased to have made provisions to support ministries in all three dioceses where he served, Chicago, Winona-Rochester and Portland in Oregon.
If you have any questions about how you might support Mundelein Seminary with a planned gift, please contact Jim Jarocki, Senior Director of Development Operations, at email@example.com.