Mundelein IV

Nolite Timere – Do not be afraid.  

Duc In Altum – Put out into the deep.


Saint John Paul II Chapel

These words (in Latin above), adorn the altar of the Chapel to Saint John Paul II at Mundelein Seminary.*  Both sentiments are placed appropriately, and profoundly.  The Saint urges us to conquer timidity, and cast our nets into the sea of all mankind: to be fearless fishers of men.  As meaningful to the Scouts I was with, as it was to the seminarians who work and live there.

I was returning to Mundelein for our Scout Troop’s annual “Fishers of Men” outing*, and our first stop at this Chapel was a fitting start on this rainy Saturday morning in mid-September.


Courtyard Statue

The quiet solemnity of this holy place was to set the tone for a day of reflection and prayer.  At least it was for me, if not for the majority of young men I and my fellow Scout leaders were there to chaperone (i.e. keep from getting into trouble).  I like to think we were mostly successful chaperones, returning with the same number of Scouts we left with at least.

Those two quotes of John Paul II remained with me that day, as I listened to the words of the priests and seminarians, who came to guide us through their residences, lives and vocations.  I came to a better understanding of the ways Mundelein Seminary prepares her sons for the challenges of priesthood.


The Belvedere

Whether from the story of a seminarian from overseas who heard the call at a very young age, or that of a lawyer like myself who left my profession to begin along the path to diocesan priesthood, each of their journeys left its impression on me.  How strong their Faith!

As I experience the changes age brings, I learn that those things I once deemed important begin to fade with the years:  the wealth I sought in my younger days, the importance of winning every argument, and my own stubborn insistence on being right.

I marvel that the young seminarians realize these are hollow goals, at little more than half my age.  They willingly forego wealth and materialism, wives and careers, to follow the way of the Cross.  I respect their choice and am humbled by it; but more, at times I am given the Grace to see through their eyes the wealth and reward their choice brings.

No path in this world is easy or without pain.  How we deal with the world and its troubles is what makes us human, and suffering is part of the path to the divine, as hard as that is to believe sometimes!  I suppose we must rely on Faith to persevere, in good times and bad.

Mundelein is a well-spring of that Faith.  In the quiet of the Main Chapel, I could almost feel the presence of those countless seminarians who passed through this sanctuary.  How many prayers and devotions does this place bear witness to?


Main Chapel

Solemn pictures of graduating classes, going back to the 1920’s, are a glimpse of the history of this edifice to Faith.  The few graves silent witness to lives of service and devotion.  Even the red brick of the buildings themselves seem to patiently preside over the onset of seasons, and years.


Statue at Cemetery

Yet of all I experienced in Mundelein, I return to the enthusiasm and cheer of those I met, their sense of mission and devotion, their understanding of obligation and trust in the Lord.  Above all, this is what truly inspires me during my annual visits.


Immaculate Conception

The rain eventually moved off, and we enjoyed blue skies and white clouds for the remainder of our day.  I suppose the Faith I experienced restored mine to some degree, and made my world a little brighter as well.

Not many trips can do that.

Peter Murphy                                                                         September 2016

*          the Seminary’s web page is:


*          the Chicago Archdiocese Catholic Committee on Scouting web page is:




As I loaded up my car for what would be my third early Fall trip to Mundelein and the Seminary, I tried to make the best of what was a rainy morning.  Our Scout Troop was indeed heading back to St. Mary of the Lake, but the weather was far from promising.  The idea of a carload of Scouts covered in mud on the trip back was daunting, and I’d already planned to have the Chrysler detailed when I returned home.

The drive up from the south suburbs started as expected, somewhat like driving through the middle of an East Asian monsoon.  But little miracles still do sometimes happen, and as we passed north of O’Hare Airport we left the cloud banks behind and welcomed the sun.


            The campus was breathtaking, as we walked the circle drive around to the soccer field, its red brick buildings sharp against the picturesque blue sky contrasted with bright clouds.  We arrived in good spirits at the field, where the priests and seminarians were waiting to welcome us to their annual “Fishers of Men” outing, hosted as in past years by the Chicago Archdiocese CCS*.

After signing in, our hosts lead us in morning prayer, followed by a Q & A with the boys about life as a seminarian.  The new theology students at Mundelein confessed that spending the next five or six years there was hard to imagine, but all felt blessed to be a part of the quiet, contemplative campus.  It was hard not to envy them just a little, despite the challenging path ahead of these young men.  Not surprisingly, most had been Boyscouts in their younger days as well.


            We gathered up our fishing rods and camp chairs, and headed down past the Belvedere to the Lake.  This area of campus is a popular spot for professional photographers, and we saw several groups in formal wear, posing before the historic backdrops.  I discovered these groups were primarily wedding and Quinceañera parties, with the odd professional model session also in evidence.  Permission to visit the Seminary for a photo shoot must be secured prior to the planned photo date*.


            After a morning of moderately successful fishing, and lunch outside near the soccer field, the staff took us on a tour of the campus.  My favorite part of our Mundelein outings, we visited the buildings where seminarians lived, studied, and prayed.

New to me was the John Paul II Chapel.  Smaller than the Main Chapel, and closer to the seminarian’s rooms, it is at once more intimate and accessible than the Chapel of Mary.  Which is the point:  The Presence of Christ near, for adoration or prayer, inspiration or consolation.  The very Center of vocational life, as many of those young men expressed to us.


            The John Paul II Chapel departs from many I’ve visited, in placing the Tabernacle behind the main Alter, in the very center of the Chapel.  Like the Tabernacle in the Chapel of Mary, this placement is significant and appropriate, as Christ is the center of our lives and the Mass.

The walls of the John Paul II Chapel are adorned with stain glass windows, beautifully imaging several Catholic Saints, with special attention given to those Saints that inspired Pope Saint John Paul II.

Most striking, however, is the portrait of the Chapel’s namesake.  The image of Pope Saint John Paul II is almost three dimensional, and seems to gaze serenely into the soul of all who visit.  Pictures of this portrait cannot wholly capture the power of this iconic image.


            All too soon, we completed our tour of the Seminary, and a few hours later were done fishing for the day.  The boys I drove to Mundelein, including my Son, each had their own favorite memories of fish caught and lost, and friendships strengthened.  All wanted to make the trip again next year.


            As for me, it was a successful trip on many levels.  I helped the boys experience a taste of seminary life, and they were able to enjoy a day away from video games and electronic apps.  I shared the friendship of other Scout leaders, and got to spend some informal time with the priests and seminarians.  I was also able to unplug my mind from daily cares, and allow my soul some rest on a sunny day.

And I never did have to bother with mud in the back seat of my car.

Pete Murphy                                                                 September 14, 2015

            *          the Chicago Archdiocese Catholic Committee on Scouting web page is:

*          the Seminary’s new web page is:

Mundelein Revisited

Mundelein Revisited

Santo Subito!

This phrase was heard constantly throughout the streets of Rome during Pope Saint John Paul II’s funeral in 2005.  It means “sainthood now,” and those words echoed in my mind as I approached the Chapel of Mary at Mundelein’s St. Mary of the Lake Seminary for the second time in my life.  There, at the entrance to the Chapel, hang the large icons of two of our recently Sainted Popes:  Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Saint John XXIII.

ChapelSt. Mary Chapel     

It was comforting to see these images of the two larger than life Saints, continuing to inspire visitors and seminarians alike, in wisdom, patience and courage.  How quickly that Italian phrase was realized!

Nearby, inside the Seminary’s Library, an ornate chair is displayed, with a modest plaque indicating it was used by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Chicago.  I remembered his visit as I touched the chair, reflecting on how close I was standing to a physical artifact used by a living Saint.  I was humbled.

LibrarySeminary Library

            We were visiting Mundelein again as a Scout Unit, during the annual “Fishers of Men” event, hosted by Mundelein Seminary and organized by the Chicago Archdiocese Catholic Committee on Scouting.*   It was a warm and sunny day, as the boys lined up with rods and reels, to listen to the priests and seminarians talk about vocation, discernment, and the joys of religious life.

LakeLake View

            I’m always impressed by these selfless young men, meeting the daily challenges of study while reflecting on their own callings.  Most of us look forward to a job after college or graduate school, and maybe even think in terms of a career.  But these seminarians think in terms of service and vocation, of a life-style and commitment, which will encompass much more than just a 9 to 5 work schedule.

Reflective MomentA Reflective Moment

            Family is also a much broader term for these men.  I’ve found priests and religious have extended families compared to most of us.  They find family beyond their parents and siblings, extending their families to include fellow seminarians and teachers (even decades after ordination or vows), close personal friends, and the parishes or communities they eventually serve.  We are all fortunate to call our parish priests Father.

And that is perhaps the biggest difference between my education as an attorney and theirs in religious life:  they graduate to serve others, not themselves.  Which is not to say the laity doesn’t serve.  We do.  But our careers are rarely service.  We work to provide for our own wives and children, and for ourselves in later years.  We serve our parishes and communities in our spare time.

I try to explain this to our scouts, through scouting’s religious awards programs, special scout masses, and these retreats.  Religious life is a choice that all young people should consider, and discern in the silence of their hearts.

StatueSaint Therese Statue

            I remain hopeful that our society is less materialistic, at least for this coming generation.  We need to defeat secularism, but I hear less from my scouts about having a fast car, large house, or massive wealth, than I did from my peers during my own younger years.  Time with family and friends is becoming, appropriately, more important to our youth, even if it takes the form of texting, tweeting, and skyping.

The chase for riches is an empty one.  This was the lesson my generation had to learn.  I hope our younger generations learn lessons about the society they are confronted with, whether those involve peer popularity, instant gratification, global competition, or simple information overload.  I hope they find answers to these challenges in our Faith.

Library WalkwayLibrary Walkway

In the end, most attorneys (and other professionals) I know cherish their volunteer time.  Giving of ourselves feeds the soul, as we lay up treasure in heaven.

How great would it be, if fulfilling those endeavors was your full time job?

*          the Chicago Archdiocese Catholic Committee on Scouting we page is:



–           Pete Murphy                November, 2014