In recognition of Cardinal Francis George’s contributions to Mundelein Seminary as its chancellor from 1997 to 2014, Mundelein Seminary dedicated a new memorial garden in his honor at the annual Rector’s Mass on Sunday, Oct. 27. More than 500 people attended the Mass, dedication and brunch on a sunny fall day on the campus of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake.
Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago and current chancellor of Mundelein Seminary, joined Father John Kartje, rector of Mundelein Seminary, in celebrating a public Mass in Mundelein’s Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.
In his homily, Cardinal Cupich remembered the strength and dignity Cardinal George showed in his physical struggles with the effects of childhood polio and later through several bouts with cancer.
“He was an individual who was very much in touch with his humanity and the sinfulness of human life,” Cardinal Cupich said. “That allowed him to be internally free enough to use his talents and abilities—not to build up his own persona or image—but in the service of the Church and the service of so many people.”
Listen to Cardinal Cupich’s full homily here:
After Mass, Cardinal Cupich led a procession over to the Francis Cardinal George, OMI Memorial Garden for the blessing and dedication. Located in the middle of the seminary’s campus, the garden includes a walking path that connects a grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, outdoor Stations of the Cross, a statue of Pope Pius X, and a statue of Saint Joseph with Jesus that was previously displayed at Saint Joseph College Seminary at Loyola University Chicago.
Dedicated to Cardinal George on behalf of all the priests he ordained, the garden was made possible through the generosity of William H. McEssy, a longtime supporter of Mundelein Seminary.
“Whether you were a priest, bishop, or lay person, Cardinal George was equally friendly and engaging,” McEssy said. “His knowledge of our Catholic faith was so vast that he could answer complex theological questions quickly and succinctly. He truly was a great leader not just here in the Archdiocese of Chicago, but for the Catholic Church worldwide.”
Father Kartje, who was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal George, recalled the cardinal’s warm and loving persona toward the priests of the Archdiocese, making time to meet with them whenever necessary, despite his demanding schedule.
“Even if it meant coming to his residence at 10:00 at night after a full day of appointments, he would be there and he would give you the time,” Father Kartje said. “I will never forget that, and it’s something that I try to emulate myself.”
Read more about the inspiration behind the garden here.
Visitors are welcome to enjoy the new garden when the campus is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. More visitor information can be found here.