As one of the less visible contributors to Creative Minority Report, I have tended to stay out of the spotlight. But it seems to me time to do a little shameless plug on behalf of the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois where I have been teaching for the last 8 years. The Institute was founded in the year 2000 by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago who wanted to start a program in liturgical studies which would be faithful to the Church by remaining close to the Church’s liturgical books and solid sacramental theology. We offer 4 different degrees for those who want to work in a parish or those who want to get a doctorate or something in between. We publish a line of books called Hillenbrand Books, and offer public conferences and workshops that can be trusted in their content and tone. Our students–lay people, religious and priests– sing morning and evening prayer together and attend Mass every day and radiate a joyful approach to the Truth which they hope to bring to the world for the New Evangelization.
Really– in how many other academic institutions could you be absolutely assured of the orthodoxy and joyfulness of this program? See a priest in a cassock joyfully digging his car out of the snow? What other programs host a conference on preaching for priests and deacons led by a priest who thinks that von Balthasar’s theology of Beauty should be applied to preaching in the parish? Or has a faculty member who assigns short in-class presentations on why black vestments are permitted by the Church for funerals? Or another who teaches that the primary model for the church building is the Heavenly Jerusalem as foreshadowed by the Temple of Solomon? Or is trusted enough by the superiors of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and those of Mary Mother of Eucharist in Ann Arbor that they send their sisters here for studies? (So did the Franciscan University of Steubenville in sending one of their professors for an advanced degree.) That can claim that its students and graduates hold leadership positions in the offices of worship in 14 dioceses, including those headed by Archbishop Burke (both as ordinary in LaCrosse and St. Louis), Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix, and Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia? Or whose students can earn a doctorate, talk about anticipated eschatology, and still like each other enough to meet after prayer for a viewing of Alfred Hitchcock’s “I Confess” over homemade soup? Or whose conference on the Bible and the Liturgy is bringing together Scott Hahn, Jeff Cavins and faculty members from the University of Notre Dame? Or whose line of books is personally checked for its orthodoxy by a trustworthy censor while still being free to explore new lines of intellectual inquiry? Or whose special project, the Mundelein Psalter, has seeded the public chanting of the Divine Office in families and parishes across the nation?
Something important is happening at the Liturgical Institute. Its combination of loyalty to the Church, serious scholarship, a joyful spirit, understanding of the New Evangelization and beautiful setting make for an extraordinary experience and opportunity for service to the Church. If you know someone who would like to earn a degree in liturgical studies or sacramental theology, send them our way. If your pastor would like to give his parish staff some trustworthy further training, send him the link to our conferences. If you need to recommend some trustworthy reading on liturgical topics, send them to the titles of Hillenbrand Books. (Also, if you know any millionaires who support this sort of endeavor, please send them our way as well as we have great need for scholarships for our students–we turned away two students this year who couldn’t afford to attend).
Long live the Liturgical Institute! May it help restore all things in Christ!