Saturday, October 05, 2013

An inspirational film about St John Cantius, Chicago

If you have half an hour to spare, you must watch this inspiring film which has been recently aired on EWTN. In it Father Frank Phillips speaks about the daunting problems which faced him twenty-five years ago when he was asked to become Parish Priest of St John Cantius in Chicago, IL. Large parts of the parish had disappeared as new expressways had been built, the new roads having the effect of marooning the church and cutting it off. However, Fr Phillips realised that although the roads took people away, they could also bring people in. This practical and positive approach underlines the story of the rise of this remarkable parish in the face of adversity. Faced with insurmountable maintenance bills, the parish mustered a group of volunteers to fix the boiler plant. Another rather extraordinary problem came in the form of ten tons of pigeon droppings which had built up in the church attic threatening to collapse the vault. The weight also caused one of the rose windows to bow out, coming dangerously close to being lost. And during a particularly hot summer when candles liquefied on the altar, the vinyl floor buckled and had to be completely replaced. The parish met every one of these challenges and lovingly restored the church. The restoration will reach its culmination with the dedication of the newly installed Casavant Organ on 20 October by Cardinal Francis George.

St John Cantius has been transformed from a dying parish into a powerhouse of evangelisation. Especially known for its excellence in liturgy, Mass is offered in both forms. Fifteen years ago, ten men came forward with vocations, and the Canons Regular of St John Cantius were founded. People come from far and wide to experience the liturgy at Cantius and I myself am greatly looking forward to visiting the church later this month. Towards the end of the film Fr Phillips says 'It takes a lot of work to do what we are doing, but the thing is, this can be done anywhere... any parish can do what we are doing here.'

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