Bill Lynch addressed a packed house at Mundelein Seminary’s 2018 Rector’s Classic Awards Dinner, introducing this year’s honoree, Father Robert Heinz (Mundelein Class of 1980). Lynch asked, “What characteristics make Fr. Bob a recipient of the ‘In Service of One Another’ Catholic Humanitarian Award? How does one measure his impact?”
The answer came not just verbally, but visually, as the Mundelein refectory was packed with hundreds of Fr. Bob’s friends, family, colleagues, and parishioners from his 38 years of service as a priest. Old friends showed up to share stories and honor a good priest who made a positive impact in their lives.
“Father Bob best fits the definition of a shepherd, who leads and watches over his flock, encouraging them to use their gifts,” Lynch continued. “You have nourished all of us with your homilies and shown us by example what it means to ‘do unto others.’ You’ve been in our homes, visited us in hospital rooms, prayed with us at funerals, and celebrated our weddings and baptisms. You have listened and counseled us, laughed and cried, comforted us, prayed and supported us when we needed strength.”
Father Bob has shepherded numerous parishes across the Archdiocese of Chicago: St. Ailbe, St. Mary Star of the Sea, St. James in Arlington Heights, St. Alphonsus in Prospect Heights and currently at St. Norbert and Our Lady of the Brook in Northbrook. He attended high school at Carmel Catholic, across the street from the seminary, but attended Xavier University and worked in sales before his calling to the priesthood brought him back to Mundelein.
The day’s events started with an afternoon round of golf at Pine Meadow, adjacent to the seminary. Guests were able to interact with their future parish priests, who took time to welcome everyone, grill up a delicious lunch, serve dinner, and challenge golfers to “Beat the Seminarian” at longest drive and closest to the pin contests.
The Rector’s Classic Golf Outing started 27 years ago, and serves as the seminary’s second-largest fundraising event. Proceeds help fund the formation and education of future parish priests that will lead their parishioners closer to God.
The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin “In Service of One Another” Catholic Humanitarian Award is presented in recognition of a significant contribution to the humanitarian spirit supporting the dignity of the human person as embodied in Catholic teaching. Honorees like Father Bob Heinz help seminarians visualize what a powerful difference they can make through their vocation.
“Father Bob is an excellent witness of what it means to serve others as a parish priest, and it is a privilege to celebrate and honor him,” said rector Father John Kartje. “That same spirit is what we try to instill in our seminarians here at Mundelein, and our mission is critically important: to train holy, wise and committed parish priests for our Church, both today and for decades to come.”
As Father Bob accepted his award, a theme of love for God, the Holy Mass, and each other echoed throughout his speech. Many of his family members beamed with pride as their brother/uncle/cousin was honored.
“While there are many things that parish priests do, perhaps the most important is when we say Mass…I pray this prayer with a conscious gratitude for what God in Christ has done for me, for what the priesthood has done for me, for what the people I have been privileged to pray with and work with and serve have done. I am grateful and humbled by this call that I am trying to live out as best a I can,” he said.
He made a point to encourage all seminarians in attendance, saying, “If you want to be inspired, look to the people you’re serving. Look to the people you’re praying with. There are saints among them. You don’t have to look up, your inspiration and purpose will be before you. If you want to fall more in love with Christ, fall in love with his people and give thanks and be humbled, as I am tonight. As I am every time I say the Mass.”
The evening was concluded with remarks from Sean Klock, who thanked Father Bob for his service and shared the impact his own parish priests have made in his life – all of whom studied at Mundelein. Klock’s love for Christ was attributed to the St. “Monica-esque prayers” of his mother, the example of his father, and his high school chaplains who made daily Mass, frequent confession, and retreats available.
Klock’s closing comment summed up the event, saying, “Without good priests, how would this world look?”