Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has named Catholic communicator and evangelist Father Robert L. Barron as the rector and president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary.
“As a priest of Jesus Christ I accept this responsibility with joy,” Fr. Barron said May 10. “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.”
Fr. Barron is founding director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, a nonprofit media organization to support Catholic evangelism through the lives of the saints and through the Catholic traditions of art, architecture, poetry, philosophy and theology.
In 2011 Fr. Barron created the television series “Catholicism” to explain the history and the self-understanding of the Catholic faith. The series, which was well-received, aired on public television and on EWTN.
The priest was ordained in 1986. He received a masters of arts in philosophy from the Catholic University of America before attending the University of St. Mary and Mundelein Seminary. He has a master’s degree in divinity and a licentiate in sacred theology from the university. He received a doctorate in sacred theology at the Institute Catholique de Paris.
He is a Chicago native with family at St. John of the Cross Parish in the suburb of Western Springs. After his ordination, he served as associate pastor at St. Paul of the Cross Parish in the Park Ridge suburb.
He has been a full-time faculty member of Mundelein Seminary since 1992. Fr. Barron has served as a visiting professor at the Unviersity of Notre Dame and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. He has been scholar in residence at the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican twice.
Fr. Barron said that he will continue to “set the ethos” for Word on Fire and will provide new media content to “enhance the Church’s outreach to the culture.”
“The mission of evangelization will continue to be a priority for me, and Word on Fire is essential to this mission,” he said.
Mundelein is the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago, with national and international reach. It has an enrollment of 250 students, 165 of whom are seminarians preparing to become diocesan priests in 25 dioceses.
Its institutes of diaconal studies and lay formation help prepare over 400 men and women for service to the Church. Its ongoing formation program held courses for 1,200 participants in the last year.
Fr. Barron’s appointment will take effect July 1. He will succeed Msgr. Dennis J. Lyle, who has served as rector for six years.