Spiritus Speaker Series

Launched in the fall of 2019, the Spiritus Speaker Series is designed to enkindle faith, encourage dialogue, and bring people together in Christ. In its inaugural year, Carmel Catholic welcomed three speakers and hundreds of visitors to campus.

Join us to be inspired, to grow in faith and to encounter Christ. All events are free of charge and open to the public.

Past Events
Spiritus: Quarantine Edition


During a time when we are not able to physically gather, enjoy Spiritus in a new format. This year's engaging talks are being rebroadcast including exclusive new material.

We share the footage of the original talk by Kevin Matthews prefaced by a conversation between Kambra French, Carmel Catholic's Director of Mission Effectiveness, and Carmel Catholic students Matthew Barker '20 and Hannah Arends '21. Listen to this new footage to hear their impressions of the original Broken Mary presentation and about the impact Mary has had in their lives...and then enjoy the talk Broken Mary originally presented at Carmel Catholic in October 2019.


This is a conversation between Fr. John Kartje, Rector and President of University St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary and Mr. Jason Huther, Principal of Carmel Catholic High School. Listen to this new footage and hear their perspectives on this unprecedented time; hear how they are dealing with the challenges we face...and then revisit their original compelling conversation.

'Open Line', Questions of the Faith with Mr. Mark Plaiss and CCHS Theology Faculty
Students at Carmel Catholic enjoy the opportunity to ask any and all questions about the faith in a format called "Open Line." They gather together during class time once per month and Theology department faculty members share answers rooted in the authentic teaching of the Church. The resulting conversations are lively and thought-provoking. Mr. Mark Plaiss and other members of the Carmel Catholic Theology Faculty will host an "Open Line" style event for adults interested in asking questions in a friendly, informative environment. We hope you will join us for this opportunity to inspire faith, encourage dialogue and reveal our community in Christ.
Questions range from inquiries regarding The Mass ("Why do we genuflect when we enter the Church building?", "What is the point of the priest washing his hands before the Eucharistic Prayer?") to Moral theology ("Why does the Church teach that people can't live together before marriage?", "Why does the Church prevent divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving communion?") to current events ("Why has the Church responded to the abuse crisis in the way that it has?", "What is the Synod on the Amazon?").
Date and Time: Thursday, March 12, 6:30 pm
Location: Black Box Theater (enter door A or N), Carmel Catholic High School, One Carmel Pkwy, Mundelein, Illinois
Please RSVP for this event. You may also submit a question in advance for the event.


Mark Plaiss

Mark Plaiss is in his ninth year teaching at Carmel Catholic. His speech betrays his southern Indiana roots, and when he really gets going, he is often accused of actually hailing from points further south. He likes to read, write and take long walks at dawn. His favorite poet is Wordsworth, and his favorite book of the Bible is Luke, but with the Song of Songs biting closely at his heels.  Mark holds a M.A. in Theology from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He was ordained to the diaconate in 2003, and in the summer of 2020 he will make his oblation at St. Meinrad Archabbey, a Benedictine monastery in southern Indiana.

'An Evening with Fr. John Kartje', Rector of Mundelein Seminary, Interviewed by Jason Huther, Principal of Carmel Catholic High School


Come meet Fr. Kartje, astrophysicist turned Catholic priest and one of the most gifted leaders of the local Church as he is interviewed by Jason Huther, Principal of Carmel Catholic High School. Learn more about what drives these two brilliant and creative individuals to work for the future of the Church and the world.

Date and Time: Thursday, September 26, 6:30 pm
Location: Black Box Theater (enter door A or N), Carmel Catholic High School, One Carmel Pkwy, Mundelein, Illinois

kartjeVery Rev. John Kartje, Ph.D., S.T.D., Mundelein Seminary

Fr. Kartje has been the Rector at Mundelein Seminary since 2015.

Ph.D. (Astrophysics), University of Chicago; M.Div, S.T.B., University of St. Mary of the Lake; S.T.L, S.T.D. (Biblical Theology), Catholic University of America. Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2002. Former Associate Pastor, St. Benedict, Chicago, IL. Former Chaplain and Director, Sheil Catholic Center, Northwestern University. Author of Wisdom Epistemology in the Psalter: A Study of Psalms 1, 73, 90, and 107 (De Gruyter, 2014). Member: Catholic Biblical Association, contributor to Chicago Studies.

Click here to read Father Kartje’s #RectorReflections

hutherJason Huther, Principal, Carmel Catholic High School

Mr. Jason Huther recently completed his first year as Carmel Catholic High School's principal. Jason previously held the position of Headmaster at Covington Latin School in Covington, Kentucky. He has served as an instructor in higher education and as a high school Latin teacher. Jason has earned two Master’s degrees and is a graduate of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame.

'Broken Mary' presented by renowned radio personality Kevin Matthews

In 2008, Kevin Matthews, a well-known ABC and CBS radio personality in Chicago, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As the drive-time radio host for seventeen years and also the voice of his sports commentator, Jim Shorts, and other characters, Matthews entertained ten million listeners weekly, sold out every appearance in the Midwest, and performed in front of 65,000 fans at Grant Park. He traveled around the world, met the famous, had babies named after him, and helped countless charities. He entertained hundreds of thousands of people inside prisons, army bases, and backyards. His promotions included comedy jams, a band, barbeque throw downs, and golf outings.

Broken Mary is Matthews' story of his early years in radio and stand-up comedy, his successful career, his struggle with MS, his awakening to the dignity of women, and, importantly, his chance encounter with a broken statue of Mary left next to a dumpster and all that happened as a result. Told with Matthews' signature good humor, this confession of the brokenness of mankind is touchingly honest, personally inspiring, and full of hope.

Matthews’s book is just the beginning of his story, what has happened since, is proof that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, leads us to her son and Kevin Matthews is a living testament of Mary’s grace and promises, through the statue of Our Lady of The Broken, Broken Mary.


Date and Time: Wednesday, October 16, 6:30 pm
Location: Auditorium, Carmel Catholic High School, One Carmel Pkwy, Mundelein, Illinois.
Seating is first-come, first-served.

Jen Kramer '88 and the Year of Love Project #yearoflove


Year of Love

Jen Kramer '88 is an average everyday human with one caveat, she has a gigantic heart. As Jen looked at ways to best impact her year in 2018, she created the “Year of Love” as a way to share and express her love for all people (both those she knew and had yet to know) on her social media channels. What started as Jen’s ambitious New Year resolution, the Year of Love has evolved as a social experiment to be Christ-like in our world.

Date and Time: Thursday, February 13, 6:30 pm
Location: Black Box Theater (enter door A or N), Carmel Catholic High School, One Carmel Pkwy, Mundelein, Illinois.


Jen Kramer CCHS '88

Jen, an alumna of Carmel Catholic High School, has spent more than 20 years in the private sector working for Fortune 500 companies and in the public sector, coordinating large-scale events for the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, Navy Pier and now DePaul University. Jen’s projects have included the Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Marathon, and both the White Sox and Blackhawk ticker-tape parades to name a few.

Jen is a graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism management. From there she worked for the Disney Corporation, Pepsi Co. and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, businesses that taught her an unparalleled standard of excellence.

Jen has taught Special Event Management classes at Moraine Valley Community College and was awarded “People Who Made a Difference” in the adjunct professor category. In addition to her current role as Director of Events for DePaul University (the nation’s largest Catholic University), Jen also teaches a sold-out events class at DePaul several times a year.

Jen is the largest personal fundraiser and immediate past president of Special Olympics Chicago, a board she has served on since 2002. She grew up in a family where service above self was taught at a very young age, and looks for ongoing ways to make a difference in her community, and in Chicago.

Jen lives on the north side of the city. She loves riding her bike, enjoys Chicago’s tremendous food scene, and works to make time for Chicago Theater, never missing a musical. Jen is a fan of Chicago political history, her beloved lakefront, and loves to be a tourist in her own town.

Find out more about Jen and the Year of Love at her website and via the project's active ‘The Year of Love’ Facebook group.

Jen’s project garnered extensive local, national and international press on tv, print and blogs:





Questions? Email mission@carmelhs.org.