In a beautiful ballroom in downtown Chicago, on a rare day that actually felt like spring, the past, present, and future gathered together to celebrate and support the work of Mundelein Seminary.
The occasion was the 25th Celebration of Mundelein: An Evening of Tribute, honoring the men and women who have worked so tirelessly to form parish priests that have served in dozens of dioceses across the world. Three former rectors, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Monsignor John Canary, and Monsignor Dennis Lyle, joined current rector Father John Kartje at the event and welcomed their friends, colleagues, and former students to the event. We are grateful to Mary Ann Ahern of NBC 5 Chicago for serving as our lovely Mistress of Ceremonies.
Honorees from the previous 25 years were invited to attend, with their photos featured prominently in the programs and on the video screens at the event. We were honored that so many were present at the event to be recognized in a special way. Their commitment to Mundelein Seminary has made an immeasurable impact on the church.
The As Those Who Serve award is given in recognition of service to the church and to the Catholic faith. The Christo Gloria award was added to specifically honor lay Catholics whose lives exemplify the teaching of the Gospel. A wide array of people – business men and women, priests, sisters, politicians, and more – have made meaningful contributions that formed thousands of priests.
Father Tom Franzman, the 2008 recipient of the As Those Who Serve Award, led the evening of speeches with a retrospective look at the people and events that formed Mundelein Seminary itself. A Mundelein alumnus and former provost, Father Tom is well known around the seminary and Archdiocese as a priest who can listen with his heart, guide you with his spirit, make you laugh with his stories, and fix any mechanical issue while he’s at it.
“Cardinal Mundelein wanted all of his seminarians to be strong and united in their faith, formed by those who would prepare them academically, spiritually, and physically. Sound mind, sound body, and sound spirit were all important, with plenty of opportunities for sports. The idea was that men who are ordained should be able to engage the men and women of their parishes, even if they had to go to the ballfield, golf course, or lend a hand,” Father Franzman said, “Engagement at the parish level should happen all throughout formation.”
Current seminarians who will be ordained as deacons or priests this year also attended the event, and shared their experiences from the Holy Land Pilgrimage and the Teaching Parish Program. The Holy Land Pilgrimage is a pivotal moment for many of these men, as they are literally walking in the footsteps of Jesus.
The Teaching Parish Program places seminarians in parishes, not just as deacons, but throughout their formation. Seminarians spend time each week in their teaching parish, gaining invaluable pastoral experience and growing in their sense of priestly identity. This helps to ground the seminarian in selfless dedication to the local Church which he will serve one day as a diocesan priest.
As our rector, Father John Kartje, stated, “The best way to see what the life of Jesus looks like is in our parishes. Every parish is a teaching parish. Every parish is a place where we all grow and are formed. Whether we teach at the seminary, support it, or are a student, the parish is what we care about most deeply.”
We are deeply grateful for all of our supporters at past Celebrations, for all of our honorees who have dedicated their lives to serving the Church, for all of the men who have answered their vocational call to the priesthood, and to all of you who pray for our seminarians and priests every day.
The event raised $412,ooo, with nearly $43,000 contributed by generous guests during our first electronic paddle raise. Proceeds from the evening support the Holy Land Pilgrimage, Teaching Parish Program, and other programs of the seminary.
We are so thankful for your support and prayers. Together with you in Christ, we are Mundelein. We form parish priests.