Friday, March 4, 2011

The Chicago Seminaries – The Plan That Never Happened

The Chicago Archdiocese once boasted two high-school seminaries. The consolidated Quigley Seminary closed its doors in 2007. The property is now Archdiocesean office space. The College seminary has shrunk into the size of a frat house at Loyola’s Lakeshore Campus. The major seminary, St. Mary of the Lake, is still in the “enchanted forest” in Mundelein.

According to a former seminary rector, some innovative plans were discussed for the seminaries decades ago, but were never implemented…

The years were in the late 1960’s. The college years had already been transferred to Niles. (John) Gorman, (Gene) Lyons, (John) O’Donnell, and (John) Fahey were rectors of our four seminaries. I think that it was Gorman who suggested a seminary study to Cody. The Cardinal assigned Bishop Tom Grady to head the study. A management consulting firm was hired. The study took two years, many joint committee meetings, with each seminary faculty providing members. I never saw a print-out of the final report that was given to Cody. I know that it proposed a Chicago seminary that would be “ urban, university-centered, and ecumenical.”

In the end, a group of Mundelein faculty disagreed with the draft consensus. I think that they found a way to inform the cardinal of their dissent. The cardinal called a formal meeting of his consultors. The results of the study (with whatever data had been gathered) were shelved.

The implementation of the recommendations would have been startling. The proposed seminary would have been unique in American Catholic education, more like Louvain than Catholic University. I think that other bishops would have shrunk away from the idea. The proposal was still-born. But who knows? If the study itself were re-examined, it might be more feasible now.


  1. Too late. Now with the JP II "seminarians and priests" running around there would be little hope that it would make any impact on the church.