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Settling in at Mundelein Seminary


By Liz Sullivan

It’s been a year-and-a-half since Bishop Patrick J. McGrath announced that seminarians in the Diocese of San Jose would attend Mundelein Seminary (also known as the University of Saint Mary of the Lake) in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

As the seminarians endure their second winter in the Midwest, there is a sense of a stronger bond among the 11 men currently studying there.

“Being at Mundelein has brought us, Diocese of San Jose seminarians, closer to one another, thanks to our weekly “diocesan brothers nights” (every Thursday) that provide us with the opportunity to pray together as seminarians of one diocese, and to have fellowship with one another,” said Robain Lamba, a Theology 3 seminarian, who is expected to be ordained a transitional deacon in July. “Spending time with, and getting to know better the men with whom, God-willing, I will be ministering in the same presbyterate, have strengthened my vocation. The relationship we have now within the seminarian group is a small step yet crucial toward fostering priestly fraternity and forming powerful presbyteral unity in the future.”

Since the creation of the Diocese in 1981, seminarians had been sent to Saint Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park. Prior to the Diocese ordaining two priests, Father Gabriel Lee and Father Khoa Vo in 2017 the Diocese hadn’t had a priestly ordination since 2014.

In the interim, Bishop McGrath convened a special committee headed up by Monsignor J. Patrick Browne to look at the needs of the Diocese while also conducting a national search for the seminary that would best address those needs.

In February of this year, the Bishop, with the recommendations from the committee, made the decision to send the eight seminarians to Mundelein, 57 miles northwest of Chicago. It was originally founded in 1844; reopened in 1921, the seminary serves 46 dioceses from eight different countries. The seminary is named for Cardinal George Mundelein, who led the Archdiocese from 1916-1939.

Cardinal Mundelein did succeed in establishing a place with world-class expertise in theology, liturgy and pastoral formation with past rectors including now-Bishop Robert Barron and current professors like Dr. Scott Hahn.

“Studying with more than 200 other young men is an affirming and inspiring experience. I am moved to see these young men from all around the country dedicate their lives to Christ and see their faith increase my faith,” said Manuel Barrios, Theology 1 seminarian. “Thanks to their example and the formation faculty, I believe I have grown spiritually and pastorally. I look forward to one day, God willing as a priest; to bring with me what I’ve learned in the seminary back to the people of San Jose.”

The weekend of February 8-10 saw 34 men participate in a Men’s Discernment Weekend at Saint Lawrence Parish. On June 1, the Diocese will ordain John Hoang and Victor Trinidad to the priesthood; the third straight year for priestly ordination.

Lamba added something everyone who has experienced a Midwest winter or two can appreciate.

“Being at Mundelein has also increased in us a deeper longing for our home diocese, the Diocese of San Jose, and a better appreciation of Santa Clara County weather,” he said.

For more biographies and ways to support our seminarians please visit, www.dsj.org/vocations/vocations-office/meet-our-seminarians or email vocations@dsj.org.