Mundelein priest ‘always knew the answer’
Rev. Richard Schroeder
Updated: February 18, 2013 2:24PM
MUNDELEIN — Rev. Richard Schroeder was so passionate about his ties to the Mundelein Seminary that he would answer calls from students or staff, day or night — even after he retired.
“He was always available to everyone no matter what time of day,” Rev. Thomas Baima, vice rector for academic affairs, said. “It was an example of how to truly be responsible for other people. It’s not that the buildings needed watched or worked on constantly, but people have needs and he was there for them.”
Schroeder, 92, was the procurator, or chief operations officer, of the Mundelein Seminary from 1967 until he retired in 1991. He died Friday, Feb. 8 and visitation followed days later at Kristan Funeral Home and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Johnsburg. He was buried in in St. Mary of the Lake Cemetery in Mundelein Seminary, 1000 E. Maple Ave.
After retiring, Schroeder was an assistant at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Johnsburg, which is approximately 30 minutes northwest of Mundelein.
Baima was a student in 1976 when Schroeder watched over the Mundelein campus.
“I am one of his many successors since his retirement in 1991,” Baima said. “I was appointed in 2000 and shortly after I accepted the role I told some of my former classmates ‘We never appreciated Father Dick for all he did on a daily basis.’”
The university experienced immense growth following Schroeder’s retirement, adding six colleges and volumes of expenses, but his wisdom was still needed from time-to-time.
“Father Schroeder had 40-to-60 years of institutional memory,” Baima said. “He knew much of what his predecessors had done. Sometimes we come across a long-standing policy or an old portion of campus that we knew nothing about. We’d call and he always seemed to have the answer.”
Sitting procurators are responsible for maintaining the seminary’s museum, and Baima said Schroeder was well known for being passionate about the school’s history.
When Cardinal George Mundelein headed the Chicago Archdiocese in the 1920s, he brought voting ballots back from Rome to the museum after Pope Pius XI was elected. Baima said Schroeder cherished the artifacts and publicized their existence.
In recent years, Baima said Cardinal Francis George took interest in the museum and added to it by bringing voting ballots from Rome after Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005.
Today, Baima said Mundelein Seminary still has several faculty members who either served with Schroeder or were students under his watch.