Something is up about the TLM for seminarians at Mundelein Seminary (Chicago)

I am trying to get to the bottom of something which seems to be going on at Mundelein Seminary in the USA.  A seminarian sent me a copy of a letter that the Rector of Mundelein sent, I believe, to bishops whose seminarians were represented at that seminary.

My emphases.

The letter:

Dear (Ordinary),

Greetings from Mundelein Seminary.

As you know, on July 7, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI released the apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum. This letter helps to clarify the Church’s liturgical law concerning the use of the Roman Missal of 1962. It has also sparked interest in some seminarians to learn how to celebrate this “extraordinary” form of the liturgy. In particular, a number of fourth year seminarians have asked to participate in a seminar offered by the Society of St. John Cantius at their parish in Chicago. This seminar aims to instruct seminarians and priests on how to celebrate the 1962 form. From your Diocese, X has requested to participate in this seminar. Classes will be held every X night during the Spring Quarter. However, in order for a seminarian to participate I am requesting two items.

The first is a letter from his ordinary granting permission to participate in the seminar. This letter should be sent to my office and include whether or not you allow your seminarian(s) to participate. The second requirement is that the seminarian must complete an examination to demonstrate his knowledge of Latin. The results of the examination will be sent to you.

I recognize that you will decide if there is a pastoral need for the celebration of the 1962 form in your Diocese and I encourage you to speak with X about his interest in serving this need.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding this issue.

Sincerely, yours in Christ,
Denis J. Lyle

My reaction to this ….

First, I have absolutely no objection to a bishop knowing what sort of formation his seminarians are receiving.  I have always thought that seminarians should be trained also to say the older form of Mass.  I would really have objected to any bishop forbidding a seminarian from learning the older form.  However, now that Summorum Pontificum has stated that, juridically, there is one Roman Rite in two uses, it seems to me that a bishop cannot prevent a seminarian from being instructed in the older form.  In fact, the bishop has the responsibility to make sure that the seminaries are providing adequate training, and that training must include the older form if it is going to be adequate.

Second, I have no problem with seminarians being tested in their knowledge of Latin.  Of course, we all know, as do the rectors of every seminary in the world, that the 1983 Code of Canon Law requires that seminarians be well trained in Latin.  So, if the seminary is doing its job, it is entirely reasonable to test students in Latin, even if they don’t have to learn the older form.  However, if a seminary wasn’t actually requiring students to learn Latin, and then were to impose tests as a prerequisite for being well trained in the Roman Rite…. well… that would just be hypocrisy, would it not?

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  1. Fr. Z.,

    I am one of the seminarians at Mundelein who is interested in learning about the TLM. Here is the situation as I understand it. A number of seminarians have showed interest in learning the EF and inquired of the seminary if training could be provided. The seminary finally said that nothing would be done this year. Therefore, one of the deacons contacted a priest at St. John Cantius who agreed to work with interested seminarians as a personal favor. It should be noted that this is being done completely on the seminarians’ own time, driving an hour each way, and obviously receiving no credit or support from the seminary.

    It surprised everyone when a copy of the letter which you posted above was placed in our mailboxes. Previously the seminary said we were on our own if we wanted training and didn’t want to have anything to do with this. So, a private arrangement was made and word was passed amongst the fourth year deacons. I think what has led to the current letter is that there are probably 30 or more men that decided they wanted to learn and this caught the administration off guard. That’s a good chunk of the seminary community that is migrating to St. John Cantius every week. Further, rumor has it that Cardinal George was not happy that the seminary was not providing training. So, the letter appears to be an attempt to quickly make it look like the seminary is actually doing something to provide training.

    As to the contents of the rest of the letter, well obviously no one needs permission to go to learn about the Mass during their free time, nor has anyone I know “requested” such permission as the letter states. You are also correct that Mundelein has not required Latin and thus, unfortunately, many of us deacons have not received the education we should have. However, we’re trying to pick it up through our study of the Mass during these sessions. We are learning the Latin prayers and how to translate them and pray them as we go. Clearly politics are getting in the way of people thinking rationally here, but that is the way of things. Pray for us.

  2. Mark says:

    I appreciate the above comment. It is good to keep a positive attitude. It is unfortunate that these political games have to be played, but with trust, respect, obedience (where obedience is due), and unintimidated perseverence, there is no reason why any seminarian who wants to learn this mass could be lawfully prevented.

  3. dominic1962 says:

    When I visited Mundelein a few months ago, I got the impression that they didn’t seem to have much of a problem with doing what you pleased. If its on your own time, what’s the big deal? My prayers are with you, I know how it is.

  4. Diane says:

    I think what has led to the current letter is that there are probably 30 or more men that decided they wanted to learn and this caught the administration off guard. That’s a good chunk of the seminary community that is migrating to St. John Cantius every week.

    Oh, how much I look forward to the Church hierarchy of the future!

  5. Richard says:

    I get upset when I hear Cardinal George (or any other Ordinary who has seminarians who aren’t getting the proper training the’re entitled to) claim to be “upset” about it. Why doesn’t Card. George (and the others) DO SOMETHING IT????????? He and they could easily knock a few hard heads together immediately and say “Hey, guys! Get with it, whether you like it or not.” In fact it’s their duty to do so. But they just wring their hands and let the situation fester. When will we get more bishops with some backbone?

  6. Graham says:

    I was surprised to read the letter to seminarians from the Rector of Mundelein Seminary.
    I have despatched a copy of Monsignor Perl letter to the Rector of Director of Vocations, it will be interesting to judge their response!

  7. Greetings friends, from those of us in the Hyde Park seminaries of Chicago! This is a fascinating conversation for those of us who are studying in non-Catholic seminaries, having heard about the comeback of the Latin Mass and wondering how our friends are handling this. I would welcome further conversation, essays, etc., especially for our inter-seminary newspaper, the Chicago Seminarian. You may reach us at newspaper (at) seminaryaction (dot) org. Thanks! I’m looking forward to keeping up on how things go!


    Le Anne

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