Exciting news for the church in Chicago — and for the young men at Mundelein Seminary:
Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, has named Rev. Robert L. Barron as the rector/president of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, effective July 1, 2012. He had been serving as the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein and as founding director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Fr. Barron joined the full-time faculty of Mundelein Seminary in 1992 and has taught at the seminary since that time. He succeeds Msgr. Dennis J. Lyle who completed six years as rector.
A native of Chicago, Fr. Barron’s family are parishioners at St. John of the Cross Parish in Western Springs. Fr. Barron received a master of arts degree in philosophy from the Catholic University of America before attending the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1986 with a master of divinity degree and later received his licentiate in sacred theology from the University.
Fr. Barron’s first assignment was as associate pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Park Ridge. He was then appointed to the faculty of Mundelein Seminary and sent for advanced studies at the Institut Catholique de Paris where he received the doctor of sacred theology degree. In 1992, he returned to the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary. He has published ten books and is a sought after public lecturer. He has held visiting professor appointments at the University of Notre Dame, the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome, and was twice scholar in residence at the Pontifical North American College, also in Rome.
Recognizing the need for a new evangelization, Fr. Barron founded Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. In 2011 Word on Fire produced Fr. Barron’s television series Catholicism, which has been aired on Public Television. Catholicism has been described as bringing a fresh and robust view of the Gospel to contemporary society.
The University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary is the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago with a national and international outreach. A graduate school of theology, it has an enrollment of 250 degree students of which 165 are seminarians preparing for service as diocesan priests in 25 dioceses. Additionally, its institutes of diaconal studies, lay formation, and the Instituto de Liderazgo Pastoral prepare over 400 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 1200 participants this past year.
From the Word on Fire website:
“As a priest of Jesus Christ I accept this responsibility with joy,” said Father Barron. “The appointment brings together many of the elements that have long been of great importance to me, namely, the priesthood, theological scholarship, pastoral care and evangelization.”
Barron is currently the Director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, a media group he founded to advance the new evangelization. He will continue in this role and its mission, along with his new appointment at Mundelein. Last year, Word on Firereleased a 10 part documentary series, Catholicism, which Father Barron created, wrote and hosted. The series aired across the country on PBS and EWTN, and has been seen in parishes, universities and schools throughout the world. The documentary also won a Christopher Award for excellence.