Nolite Timere – Do not be afraid.
Duc In Altum – Put out into the deep.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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: http://mundeleinseminary.org
* the Chicago Archdiocese Catholic Committee on Scouting web page is: