Cardinal calls men to govern church well

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, February 27, 2011

This is an “odd moment” to be building a seminary, Cardinal George said at the Feb. 21 blessing and groundbreaking for the new St. Joseph College Seminary building on the campus of Loyola University Chicago.

As countries around the world and the church itself suffer crises in governance, and as the United States copes with growing globalization that will reduce its status, the Archdiocese of Chicago is building a new facility to educate and form priests, men who are entrusted with the governance of the church, the cardinal said.

‘Love his people’

The need for governance as Jesus would have governed is so important that it is one of two things the cardinal said he asks seminarians to particularly consider — in addition to celibacy — as they discern whether they are called to the priesthood. Many of the 33 St. Joseph seminarians were in the congregation as the cardinal spoke.

“Jesus taught and priests must teach,” said Cardinal George in his homily during a prayer service to bless the site of the new building.

“But he didn’t teach as a professor or as a scribe. He taught as one who has authority, because he obeyed the Father’s will in all things. And after his resurrection, he gave the same authority to his apostles to govern in his name, those whom the Lord was gathering in his church. Are you called to holiness as a chaste and a celibate man, and can you govern?”

For a generation, the cardinal said, some church leaders have declined to govern, falsely interpreting “pastoral” to mean approving of things that are not in accordance with God’s law. To be a true pastor, a priest must “love his people in Christ’s name. If he doesn’t, his governance is illegitimate. But in that love, the priest is to act in such a way that the people become holy because they follow his instructions.”

New plans

The cardinal spoke to seminarians, priests, bishops and supporters in the chapel of the current home of St. Joseph College Seminary, Loyola University’s Campion Hall, 6551 N. Sheridan Road. The new building will be directly behind Campion Hall on Loyola Avenue, in the heart of campus.

The archdiocese has been leasing the existing building since 1994, but the contract expires in 2012, and the archdiocese decided it would be better served by using the money it would have spent on rent to cover the cost of loans for its own building.

The archdiocese has operated a college seminary for 50 years, starting with St. Mary of the Lake Junior College and later Niles College and then the present St. Joseph College Seminary. At all times dedication to priesthood has remained.

The new building, designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, will have a residence area, a chapel, library, office space, dining hall and recreational space. The Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel will feature stained glass windows from the now-closed Holy Rosary Church, as well as a new rose window from Rigali Studios. Thirty-four rooms will accommodate 68 seminarians and there will also be six suites for priests on staff and guests.