What memories would you like to share about Mundelein Seminary?
As a youngster in the mid-40s through the early 50s, I have fond memories of traveling to Mundelein Seminary with mom, dad and my two brothers while dad tended to the seminarians in need of medical care. Dad was a general practice physician/ surgeon with an office in downtown Chicago. He also served as personal physician for Cardinal Mundelein and Cardinal Stritch until dad’s death in 1951.
In fact, it was dad who responded following a call from Monsignor Patrick Hayes who reported Cardinal Mundelein’s passing and asked dad to hurry to the Seminary. After dad’s arrival at the Cardinal’s house, he pronounced Cardinal Mundelein deceased.
Occasionally, mom, my brothers and I waited for dad over at the red brick home of seminary gardener Bill and Lucy O’Carroll located just inside the main gate off Route 176. (now the Public Safety office) A memorable image of Mr. O’Carroll is of him holding a “cigar stub” pinched between his thumb and index finger, in a shirt with suspenders, invariably a fedora, and sometimes using words colored by his brogue that weren’t supposed to be heard by someone my age. He was a colorful character…likeable with a faux gruff veneer that shielded a soft-hearted man with a good sense of humor. Lucy was hospitable, gentle, and always made us feel welcome. Their personalities really complemented one another.
In the Spring of each year, O’Carroll’s staff would create a large garden of flowers replicating the current Cardinal’s coat of arms. It was best viewed traveling counterclockwise on the Seminary roadway as one came across a bridge either to the east or west of the Cardinal’s home (memory is vague on location). There were greenhouses in the vicinity of the old red powerhouse building on the west side of the campus closer to Route 45 where the flowers for the Seminary grounds were grown. The beauty of the coat of arms comprised of the colorful flowers was an extraordinary sight.
On one occasion visiting O’Carroll’s home in the early Winter, Mr. O’Carroll suggested that we take a ride in his pickup truck. My mom, brothers and I climbed into the open bed of the truck while O’Carroll piloted us to a spot where two-tire ruts intersected with the roadway, and seemingly led into the woods. After a short bouncy jaunt the ruts opened on to the then-Seminary golf course. The early Winter cold had hardened the ground. O’Carroll said to hang on as he took off over hills and across the course at what seemed like lightning speed. The smile on his face was visible in his rearview mirror, old brown fedora on his head, cigar stub characteristically clenched in between his jaws as he took delight in our bobbing and rolling in the rear bed. The golf season was over and any turf damage left by the truck would surely be repaired by the grounds crew prior to the next season.
These days my wife Mary Beth, our oldest daughter, Susan, a resident at Misericordia, and I walk on the campus when she is home. The special treasured memories of time spent as a very young visitor to the Seminary linger longer. I can still hear echoes of Bill O’Carroll, recall the smell of his cigar, and the aromas of beautiful flowers in the large greenhouses.
What are your hopes for the future of Mundelein Seminary?
As a lay person, the experience as a youth was memorable. We have continued to visit the Seminary over time. It is a very special place. In this day and age, the Seminary is such a needed educational and spiritual resource. Mundelein the educational/spiritual resource is much like a spiritual tree. Each year graduates, like seeds from a tree, are distributed into our society to spread the Word of God, and to encourage and support the Catholic network of believers.
Like the trees on the Seminary grounds that annually produce, nurture and then shed their leaves, the Mundelein alumni/alumnae, in turn, spread the faith and feed the faithful. In turn, the faithful are nurtured and encouraged to spread the faith among others.
And so, from person to person the faith is spread and nurtured, and then passed along—and the forest grows and the process goes on. Importantly, it all starts at Mundelein Seminary.