Vocation Blog

Fr. Francis and St. Joseph Seminarian, Hank Lyon will be on “The Morning Shift” with host Tony Sarabia to promote "WHO WILL THESE SHOES?" Tune in! 



Men in the Archdiocese of Chicago, ages 16-35, are invited to Mundelein Seminary by Most Reverend George J. Rassas, and Very Revered John F. Kartje, the new Rector of Mundelein Seminary.  Come learn more about the priesthood and how to discern God’s call.









Men in the Archdiocese of Chicago, ages 16-35, are invited to attend this exciting vocation event at Mundelein Seminary hosted by Most Reverend George J. Rassas, and Very Revered John F. Kartje, the new Rector of Mundelein Seminary.  Come learn more about the priesthood and how to discern God’s call.



Exploring Priesthood Weekend

A retreat designed to help men who are, college age and older, discern God’s call to priesthood. Throughout a weekend of prayer, discussion, and group interaction, men begin to understand God’s movement in their life.

Presentations on

Practical steps for discerning a vocation

Values of priesthood

Vocational journeys of priests and seminarians and how they came to understand God’s call

Seminary life, academics, and formation


Mundelein Seminary -1000 East Maple Avenue

Mundelein, IL.  Located about 30 miles north of Chicago and is easily accessible by car or train.


You can obtain further information or make a reservation by contacting Fr. Francis Bitterman at 312-534-8298, fbitterman@archchicago.org.

Mass at 7:30 p.m.

Celebrant and Homilist: Fr. Connor Danstrum

NightFever: 9:00 p.m.

Night Prayer: 11:30 p.m.

Adoration - Music – Reconciliation


Join us!

Bishop-Elect Robert t Barron at vespers…his concluding remarks are at 1:07:00

Mass of the Holy Spirit and Candidacy when Fr. John Kartje was appointed Rector / President of St. Mary of the Lake University Mundelein Seminary

by Robert Mixa | August 29, 2015


Biblical Scholar and Astrophysicist has taught at the University and Seminary since 2009

Chicago, IL (August 28, 2015) – Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, today announced the appointment of Rev. John Francis Kartje as the rector / president of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, effective August 28, 2015. Archbishop Cupich made the announcement this evening at the conclusion of the Mass of the Holy Spirit which celebrated the beginning of the academic year. Father Kartje succeeds Bishop-elect Robert E. Barron who was appointed an auxiliary bishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese by Pope Francis on July 21, 2015.

“Father Kartje is a well-respected priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago, with a keen mind, pastoral heart and mature personal spirituality,” said Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago. “These qualities will serve him well as he takes on this new office. I am confident he will build on the already well established tradition that has distinguished Mundelein Seminary both nationally and internationally.”

Father Kartje has served at the seminary since 2009 as the Acting President of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biblical Studies, Seminarian Spiritual Director and team member of the Formation Faculty. He has also served since 2009 as a summer program faculty member of the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska, and was Director and Chaplain of the Sheil Catholic Student Center at Northwestern University from 2009 to 2013. While he completed doctoral studies in scripture at The Catholic University of America from 2004 to 2009 he served at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Washington, D.C. After his ordination he served as Associate Pastor at St. Benedict Parish in Chicago from 2002 to 2004.

“Father Kartje represents the spirit of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary,” said William H. McEssy, Chairman of the Mundelein Seminary Board of Advisors. “His intellectual and academic prowess are matched by his exceptional commitment to the formation of our seminarians in the compassionate pastoral tradition that has characterized our Archdiocese and been a gift to the global Church.”

A native of East Chicago, Indiana, Father Kartje is a graduate of Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in 1987 from the University of Chicago. In 1995, the University of Chicago’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics conferred a Ph.D. degree on Father Kartje. The title of his doctoral dissertation is “Models of the Optical/Ultraviolet Continuum Polarization in Active Galactic Nuclei: Implications for Unification Schemes.”

Father Kartje was ordained in the Archdiocese of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in 2002. He earned a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Catholic University of America’s Department of Biblical Studies in 2010. The title of his dissertation is “Wisdom Epistemology in the Psalter: A Study of Psalms 1, 73, 90, and 107.”

“I am humbled by the honor of serving our Archdiocese and the Church as rector / president of Saint Mary of the Lake University / Mundelein Seminary,” said Father John Francis Kartje, newly appointed rector / president. “This is a place where I found peace and support as I fulfilled my vocation and I look forward to helping form men for the priesthood and teaching others about the faith through our many programs.”

“I have known Father Kartje as a colleague and brother priest for many years,” said Bishop-elect Robert E. Barron, former rector / president of Saint Mary of the Lake University / Mundelein Seminary. “His ability to reach and inspire the minds and hearts of seminarians is extraordinary and I look forward to watching as his leadership moves our alma mater to even greater achievement heights in faith and scholarship.”

The University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary is the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago with a national and international reach. A graduate school of theology, it has an enrollment of 337 degree students, of which 225 are seminarians preparing for service as diocesan priests in 39 dioceses. Additionally, its institutes of diaconal studies, lay formation and the Instituto de Liderazgo Pastoral prepare more than 300 women and men for these roles of service. The University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary’s ongoing formation program offered courses to 1,980 participants this past year.

Dr. Hahn delivers an insightful lecture on Scripture and the New Evangelization.  At the heart of the new Evangelization is the Gospel Joy.  Watch this video to lean why.

Pope Francis said Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning. Following the readings of the day, the Holy Father reflected on the place of poverty in the Gospel, saying that the Gospel becomes incomprehensible if poverty is removed from it, and that it is unfair to label priests who show a pastoral concern for the poor as, “Communists”.

In the 1st reading, which tells of how St. Paul organized a collection in the Church of Corinth, for the benefit of to the Church of Jerusalem, whose members were facing great hardship. Pope Francis noted that, today as then, poverty is “a word that always embarrasses.” Many times, he said, we hear: “But this priest talks too much about poverty, this bishop speaks of poverty, this Christian, this nun talks about poverty ... aren’t they a little communist, right?” On the contrary, he warned, “Poverty is at the very center of the Gospel: if we remove poverty from the Gospel, no one would be able to understand anything about the message of Jesus.”

When faith does not reach the pockets it is not genuine

St. Paul, he said, speaking to the Church of Corinth, highlights what is their real wealth: “You are rich in everything, in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and love that we have taught you.” The exhortation of the Apostle is: “as you are rich, be you also great in this generous work in “this collection”:

“If you have so much richness in the heart, these great riches of zeal, charity, the Word of God, the knowledge of God - let this wealth reach your pockets – and this is a golden rule: when faith does not come with pockets, not a genuine faith. It is a golden rule here that Paul says, in essence: ‘You are rich in many things now, so be generous in this work of generosity.’ here is this contrast between wealth and poverty. The Church of Jerusalem is poor, is in economic difficulty, but it is rich, because it has the treasure of the Gospel message. This poor Church of Jerusalem, has enriched the Church of Corinth with the Gospel message; it has given the richness of the Gospel.”

Let the poverty of Christ enrich us

Continuing his paraphrase of St. Paul, Pope Francis went on to call on all of us to follow the example of the Church of Corinth: the Church, whose members had a great deal of material wealth and so many things, who were poor without the proclamation of the Gospel, but who enriched the Church of Jerusalem, helping to build up the People of God. Here is the foundation of the “theology of poverty”: Jesus Christ, who was rich – with the very richness of God – made Himself poor, He lowered Himself for us. This then, is the meaning of the first Beatitude: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ i.e. “to be poor is to let oneself be enriched by the poverty of Christ, to desire not to be rich with other riches than those of Christ”:

Interested in learning more about the Sacred Heart? Read more about it here.

Mundelein Seminary leads our students down three great spiritual paths that have always struck me as extremely helpful for thinking about the Christian life: finding the Center, knowing you are a sinner, and realizing that your life is not about you.

Path one was beautifully expressed by St. Paul when he remarked, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” Paul was announcing that the center of his life was no longer his own ego, with its distinctive projects and plans, but rather Christ Jesus. Now everything in him – mind, will, passions, talents, etc. – would be in service to Christ and his purposes. Kierkegaard said that a saint is someone whose life is about one thing. He did not mean the saint lives a monotonous existence, but rather all of the elements that constitute the saint’s being are gathered around, focused upon, the Lord alone. What this singular attention produces is the beautiful and integrated soul.

Path two – knowing you are a sinner – follows ineluctably from path one. It is precisely in the light of grace that one understands how far one has departed from the way of God. St. John of the Cross compared the soul to a pane of glass and observed that it is when the light is shining most directly on the glass that the marks and smudges on it are most apparent. Because St. Augustine could “confess” the praise of God, he also was able to “confess” his sin. If the consideration of the Christian spiritual life commences with sin, it gets rather quickly off the rails, devolving into pelagianism or puritanism. It begins indeed in grace, but then moves naturally to the acknowledgement of sin and the deep willingness to do something about it. Path two is, accordingly, the “purgative way” of which so many of our spiritual masters speak. One of the greatest guides on path two is the poet Dante.

In his Divine Comedy, he recounts the journey that he made up the seven story mountain of Purgatory, coming to terms with all of the deadly sins. Anyone who is serious about guiding others on the spiritual journey has to be willing to undergo the “searching moral inventory” that is path two.

Having been purified, the Christian disciple is ready to be sent. In the Bible, no one is ever given an experience of God without being given, subsequently, a mission. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, Peter and Paul: all of them are commissioned by the God of Israel to go forth.

Path three – realizing your life is not about you – is all about this spiritual adventure. Hans Urs von Balthasar was gesturing toward this path when he spoke of making a transition from the “ego-drama” to the “theo-drama.” The former is the drama we write, produce, direct and, above all, star in; the latter is the drama written, produced and directed by God. Being the star of the ego drama amounts, finally, to nothing. Joseph Campbell said most of us climb the ladder of success only to find out it’s up the wrong wall! But being even a bit player in the theo-drama – acting the role God wants us to play – is to discover the pearl of great price and the treasure buried in the field.

Anyone who wants to be a priest of Jesus Christ must be willing to be an apostle, which is to say, someone who is sent. Anyone aspiring to the priesthood must, like the prophet Isaiah, say, “Here I am Lord! Send me!” He must, in a word, be willing to commit himself to path three, realizing in his bones that his life is not about him.

From grace through purgation to mission: that is the threefold rhythm of the Christian spiritual life; that will be the pattern of our formation program.

2015-05-02 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday made the short trip to Rome’s Janiculum Hill to the Pontifical North American College, the national seminary for the United States.

The College was hosting a day of reflection on Blessed Junipero Serra, the Franciscan missionary to California who will canonized by Pope Francis during his trip to Washington, DC, in September.

Pope Francis said during his homily he wanted to discuss three aspect of the life of Blessed Serra – his missionary zeal, his Marian devotion, and his witness of holiness.

Pope Francis said it was “that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ: a gift that he had first received and experienced in all its truth and beauty” which drove the Franciscan Missionary to leave everything he knew and go to the ends of the earth.

The Holy Father said this is a challenge to us today, and asked if we are able “to respond with the same generosity and courage to the call of God, who invites us to leave everything in order to worship him, to follow him, to rediscover him in the face of the poor, to proclaim him to those who have not known Christ and, therefore, have not experienced the embrace of his mercy.”

Pope Francis noted Blessed Junipero wanted to consecrate his life to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to ask her for the grace to open the hearts of the colonizers and indigenous peoples, for the mission he was about to begin. The Pope said you cannot “separate her from the hearts of the American people.”

And finally, Pope Francis pointed out he was one of the founding fathers of the United States, a saintly example of the Church’s universality and special patron of the Hispanic people of the country.

He said this zeal was also true for the many missionaries who brought the Gospel to the New World and, at the same time, defended the indigenous peoples against abuses by the colonizers.

The Pontifical North American College has been at capacity enrollment for four years, reflecting an overall increase in vocations to the priesthood in the United States over the past few years.

The full text of the homily by Pope Francis at the Pontifical North American College is below.


Both St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have declared that the New Evangelization should be the central preoccupation of the Catholic Church at the beginning of this third millennium. Accordingly, upon becoming rector of Mundelein Seminary, I resolved that this historic place should be placed on a New Evangelization footing. This means that Mundelein will be about the business of training priests skilled in the art and science of announcing the Christian message to a culture that is growing increasingly indifferent, even hostile, to it.

What precisely are the marks that ought to characterize someone geared to this mission? There are, of course, many, but I would specially highlight seven.

In Love with Jesus Christ

First, a new evangelist has to be in love with Jesus Christ. Evangelization is not simply the sharing of ideas or convictions. If it were, any theologian or historian of ideas would be automatically skilled in it. The Good News is about a relationship with the person of Jesus, a friendship with the risen Christ. As the Romans said long ago, nemo dat quod non habet (no one gives what he doesn’t have); therefore, if someone wants to share this friendship with others, he has to have it himself. This is why the new evangelists we are seeking to train here have to be men of prayer. The reading of Scripture, the Liturgy of the Hours, daily Eucharist, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Rosary, Lectio Divina, and contemplation must be regular features of their lives, for these are the means by which a relationship with the Lord is cultivated.

Passion and Enthusiasm

Second, a new evangelist must be a person of passion and enthusiasm. In a talk given in Haiti, in 1983, St. Pope John Paul II said that the evangelization practiced today must be new “in ardor.” I believe that St. Pope John Paul II sensed that in the years following the Council, the Church had lost a good deal of its fire. Caught up in endless debates about its own internal dynamics (largely concerning sex and authority), many Catholics had forgotten that their fundamental task was to proclaim Christ to the world with boldness and confidence. In his Rhetoric, that masterpiece dealing with persuasive speech, Aristotle argued that people finally only listen to “an excited speaker.” Catholic evangelists, who are unsure of the truth of Catholicism, hesitant in speech, and lacking in ardor, will simply fail to persuade anyone. I want to train a generation of preachers who have the requisite fire.


Please prayer for the seminarians who were ordained Transitional Deacons at Mundelein Seminary.

(2015-04-22 Vatican Radio) (Vatican Radio) At his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the family, focusing again on the complementarity of men and women.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters: Continuing our catechesis on the family, we recall God’s creation of man from the ground. He is placed in the garden, where he is to care for creation. Yet God sees that man is alone, and so he creates woman, someone complementary with whom man can share his life. Man and woman are created to live a life of reciprocity, to enter into a covenant together. Yet sin introduces discord into their relationship, lack of trust and suspicion. We see throughout history the fruit of this sin, especially towards women – oppression, violence and exploitation. Most recently, this mistrust and skepticism has led our culture to disregard the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, that covenant which deepens communion and safeguards the dignity of their uniqueness. When the stable and fruitful covenant between a man and a woman is devalued by society, it is a loss for everyone, especially the young. For all our sins and weaknesses, our vocation is to care for the covenant of marriage. It is a vital and energizing vocation, through which we cooperate with our heavenly Father, who himself always cares for and protects this great gift.”








Exploring Priesthood Weekend 
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Oct. 27-29, 2017
Jan 12-14, 2018
Apr 16-18, 2018