21 years ago Father Frank Phillips, C.R. took over as pastor of St. John Cantius Parish in urban Chicago. The parish, while debt-free, was down to about 200 parishioners and the 95-year old church building was showing the effects of decades of deferred maintenance. "A pandora's box full of extensive building maintenance issues," according to one observer.
Today, St. John Cantius is a vibrant community of over 3,000 parishioners, some of whom drive as much as two hours each week to attend Sunday Mass. 350 to 400 confessions are heard every Sunday and Mass is offered in both the Novus Ordo and Extraordinary forms. The parish has also been the seedbed for many vocations and has become the home of a new religious community.
What is Father Phillips secret? Quite simply, it lies in restoring the sacred, whether that be the liturgy, the music, the vesture or the art.
A 30 minute video chronicling the restoration of St. John Cantius Parish is embedded below. Also, one may order his own copy of the video in exchange for a $15.00 Paypal donation by going here. (When I made my donation I was actually sent two copies and asked to give the second one away.)