Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Model for "New Evangelism"?

I tried lifting this video from Fr Henry's blog, for some reason he could but I can't, it is about St John Cantius' parish in Chicago, it shows the revival of an inner city parish, it grew from 200 parishioners to 3,000. I suppose it demonstrates something of "the New Evangelisation"; the return to a strong Catholic identity, beautiful liturgy. In England it seems to have a parallel in the Oxford Oratory but I can't think of anywhere else
The PP speaks of building problems, he then introduced Mass (Novus Ordo) in Latin! people started to come, he restored the music of the Church, implementing the directives of Vatican II. He speaks of the "Liturgical Apostolate" of men founding a new community, he says, "Any parish can do what we are doing".

I'd love to discuss this with some of my parishioners, why is St John Cantius so successful, is it simply what is shown in the video, does it have something with a religious community, a large church, skilled pastors or what?


Physiocrat said...

The Latin liturgy with Gregorian chant, done properly, IS Pentecostal.

How many times is Alleluia sung between Easter and Whit Sunday in the traditional liturgy?

berenike said...

Is it 3,000 people living in the parish, or 3,000 people coming to the parish?

Sue Sims said...

Coming to the parish. I heard Mass there when we were over in the US some years back - there are two Masses each weekday, the 6 am one in the EF, the 7.30 in the OF (in English), and I went to the 6 am one. It's an wonderful church, and attracts people from all over Chicago. The original congregation (Polish Americans) had mainly moved away from this area of Chicago, and there were very few Catholics living in the parish when the current parish priest, Fr Frank Phillips, took it over in 1988.

It has a fascinating history -

pelerin said...

Wonderful to watch this uplifting film. Thank you for the link. There is indeed a hunger out there for beauty - the beauty of the liturgy, the beauty of art and the beauty of music all contributing to the beauty of Faith itself. And what an example to other parishes declining along with their guitars and their felt banners.

That Regina Caeli is fantastic (though I would not like to attempt to sing it myself). And what a magnificent altar - nearly as beautiful as St Mary Mags! I could see parallels in what you, Fr Ray, have achieved over the past few years. Restoration of Gregorian Chant, Celebration of the TLM, Window and heating problems etc. I don't think you had to contend with 10 tons of pigeon droppings though, although getting rid of the asbestos must have been just as bad. Perhaps the local seagulls are more considerate.

When we read comments on Fr Z regarding some parishes in the US which have lost their way it is good to know that parishes such as St John Cantius in Chicago are flourishing.

Father John Boyle said...

Thanks for this. I am visiting Chicago next week and hope to pay a visit to this church.

shane said...

IMHO the worst feature of the Novus Ordo is the lectionary. Memory spans are much shorter now than even 30 years ago (especially among the young) and all but a handful of people forget the readings they hear at Mass. The readings should be kept 'short and sweet'. The NO would be enormously enriched if it adopted the old lectionary.

I'd like to see it made mandatory in both the NO and the EF for the readings to be in Latin. The Jerusalem Bible and the New American Bible may be okay for private study but the prose in both is so unspeakably grotesque that they are totally inappropriate for liturgical use.

The term 'mutual enrichment' sends shivers down my spine. Sorry but the Novus Ordo is Committee Liturgy. If the Tridentine Mass (which is after all a drastically cut down curial version of the Roman rite) is to be 'enriched' it should be from pre-Tridentine medieval usages. The NO should be either abolished or retained as a reminder of how NOT to do liturgy.

Michael said...

I'm not sure if that's what Pope Benedict had in mind, Shane. Funnily enough I thought that most traddies would have accepted that the new Lectionary was one of the more positive aspects of the OF. And I'm pleased to see in the new instruction that the readings can be read in the vernacular in the EF.

P Standforth said...

Shane, I'd be interested to know your basis for claiming memory spans have shortened. Attention span, arguably. If memory has reduced in span, then it matters not a jot which set of readings you use, as you claim people won't remember anyway. Now combine that with saying the readings in Latin, and you're guaranteed that not only will they not remember them, they won't understand them in the first place (the number of people in almost all congregations in the world that will understand spoken Latin being indistiguishable from zero).

Sharon said...

all but a handful of people forget the readings they hear at Mass

I agree with you and this is partly the fault of the parish priest who doesn't unpack the scriptures and apply them to the lives of the people but gives a generic "God lurves you, save the whales, what I did on my holiday" homily. This forgetfulness is also due to the congregation not working at making the readings meaningful by attending a bible study or studying the Sunday readings before the Mass.

I'd like to see it made mandatory in both the NO and the EF for the readings to be in Latin.

That would guarantee that no one understood the readings.

I really like the increased number of readings in the Ordinary Form, something the EF could take on board I think.

EWTN has a great documentary on St Cantius; they repeat programmes so keep an eye out for it. I like it that ST C has Mass in both the OF and the EF.

Society of St. Bede said...

"That would guarantee that no one understood the readings."

So no one would understand the Epistle and Gospel if they are read / sung in Latin?

Do you really think everyone is so ignorant. In our communities many people speak more than one language, Is Latin really more difficult than some of the many languages we hear on our streets?

Also as far as I know most people in "Western" countries can read so they can pick up their hand Missals and read the passages, they then might notice the references and go home and read them in their own Bible.

We could then all choose what translation we want to read.

Having spent many years attending the OF and being a lay reader I could tell you nothing about the OF readings the translation was so uninspiring. How having spent the last few years only going to the EF, I know quite a few of the readings in Latin, having self taught the language mainly from reading the Vulgate. My children also have no problem with the Latin they here it at Mass and use it in their personal prayers (the eldest is not yet 6)

Sadie Vacantist said...

I agree that the lectionary sequence is flawed. Simply throwing a huge number of decontexualised "readings" at an unsuspecting laity is not working. It runs contrary to best educational practice where the student is presented achievable and manageable goals. Most of the laity "don't get" the present system and there is a suspicion that neither do the clergy.

santoeusebio said...

Many thanks Father. Inspirational!

Nicolas Bellord

Andrew Lyons said...

Fr. Ray,
Look a little closer to home than Chicago.
A failing church (average Sunday Mass attendance less than 100), in a bad state of repair and about to be sold by the Society of Jesus - even got as far as being put into the hands of an estate agent. However, following public concern was given a 12th hour reprieve (sadly not the presbytery and hall). Along came a priest of another diocese to begin the process of starting an Oratory of St Philip Neri. 20 years on and the church has been lovingly restored, the fabric of the building has been significantly improved and refurbished, several tons of pigeon droppings removed from the tower, four phases of restoration completed, the organ rebuilt and restored, the bells in the tower restored and given a modern operating system, I could go on and on........
But most importantly, the liturgy has been restored and renewed - (long before it became fashionable to do so - the Sunday Mass attendance now numbers many hundreds of people and a small but stable community has been formed at the church.
So you see even in these islands such a thing is possible with faith!!
Of course I refer to the Church of the Holy NAme of Jesus in MAnchester.


The way I understand it to be is that the churches which are either becoming more traditional are growing their congregation and those churches that are taking the pentecostal happy clappy route are also growing. Anne Widdecome said exactly the same thing in her programme on the state of Christianity recently on the BBC.

Ironically she also said that Anglican Cathedrals had also seen a 40% increase in attendance because they were deemed as being traditional.

epsilon said...

Father, have you tried to embed it with the code below (otherwise create a account like this and upload St John Cantius' and all your other favourite videos, as well as recordings from your own church to it:)

N.B I had to put a space between the '<' and 'embed' at the start - otherwise for this comment-box the code is invisible!

embed src='' height='438' width='584' allowscriptaccess='always' allowfullscreen='true' flashvars="&author=StoryTel%20Foundation&bandwidth=1758&bufferlength=5&controlbar=over&controlbar.position=over&dock=false&duration=27%3A24&file=%2Fstorage%2Fcantiusweb.flv&"/>

Richard said...

Society of St. Bede said...

"In our communities many people speak more than one language. Is Latin really more difficult than some of the many languages we hear on our streets?"

Yes, but those are usually spoken languages, that they pick up from an early age by being exposed to them at home, at school, on the television and so on.

Latin, at least currently, isn't like that.

Yes, it might be good to go back to an age when Latin was, for example, the common academic language. And if our televisions can have a soap opera in Welsh, they could certainly have one in Latin.

But it isn't going to happen, at least in the near future.

Well done you for learning it, and for teaching it to your children. But even if all Masses were said in Latin, that still wouldn't give the everyday exposure that most people would need to learn it.

Richard said...

Father, I suspect it is the only church doing that sort of thing in Chicago, so is drawing people in from all across the City.

The Chicago area has a population of 9.5 million, 61 times Brighton. So them increasing their attendance from 200 to 3,000 in Chicago is equivalent to you getting an extra 46 people in Brighton.

It seems you're doing much of what they are. I don't know how many new people you have brought in to the Church, but I suspect proportionately to the size of Brighton vs Chicago you're not doing to badly.

Jam said...

St John Cantius does draw in people from all over the city. There are other Latin masses (the Institute of Christ the King has some churches on the south side, I think) but I can't think of anything else on the north side off the top of my head. Certainly no where that puts out all the bells and whistles like this! No one ever mentions it, but Cantius sits practically on top of one of the major public transit lines and on at least one major bus route, and, all things considered, even if it's in an overlooked neighborhood it's not that far from downtown. Knowing something about the neighborhood and making unfair judgments based on the appearances of my fellow attendees, I'd say at least half don't live within the parish boundaries, and probably closer to 75% - although in a city like Chicago hardly anyone seems to care about which parish they "technically" belong to. There are a LOT of Catholic churches in Chicago (I have four with Sunday schedules within walking distance) and people do go to the one that offers Mass in their language, with the music they like, where the other young rich people go, etc. Like anywhere I suppose.

Richard's thought has often gone through my mind. Could Chicago sustain three churches like this? Five? Ten? I have no idea. I suppose you don't know until you try. And if Cantius weren't so spectacular - weren't obviously setting such a high bar and offering a place for Those People to go - would other parishes move into that market, so to speak? By far the best thing about Cantius is how the old and new rub shoulders, and it isn't "this group" and "that group". Hypotheticals can't take into account the movement of the Spirit, I suppose. I do think it's significant that the Latin Novus Ordo is always the most crowded. Granted it has the plum 11:00 time slot, and is always turned out with the choir and six altar boys etc.

That said, there is something to be said for simply offering services. There is St Peter's in the Loop which is right in the heart of downtown Chicago, just blocks from some of the most important financial markets in the country. St Peter's does almost continuous daily masses and confessions - I just looked it up, seven daily masses and confessionals are staffed from 7:30am-6pm on weekdays. (The downtown is fairly empty when it's not a workday so the schedule is much reduced Sat/Sun and federal holidays.) I've heard statistics about the numbers of people who have their confessions heard there, it's obviously working.

Jonathan said...

Andrewy Lyons is right, the Holy Name of Jesus church in Manchester is amazing. When I stay in Manchester I go to the weekday Mass. Every evening about 5pm they have a NO Mass at one of the side alters that is reverently celebrated and it feels so natural to kneel at the alter rail to receive communion with the other few dozen in the congregation. The priests take the trouble to preach a homily and I have found these Masses so helpful in deepening my faith.

Richard said...

Also there's a big pool of 'ethnically' or 'culturally' Catholics in Chicago.

I looked it up, and 17% of the population identify themselves as descended from European Catholic countries (mainly Irish, Polish, Italian), and 29% are Latin American.

So a better comparison would be not Brighton but cities like Liverpool or Manchester, with large Irish and Italian Catholic traditions to tap into.

That's where I'd really like to see an experiment like St John Cantius.

Anonymous said...

I remember a number of years ago on a visit to Chicago going to St. Mary of the Angels, which was run by Opus Dei priests. It was excellent. Is it still that way>

Pablo the Mexican said...

Please pray for a young man I am helping.

Satan's attack upon him is becoming unbearable.

Please help him with your prayers, they are much appreciated.


michael addison said...

Dear Fr Ray,
Thank you for your permissiom ref: Papal Flag! The Blog is: JARROW SCRIPTORIUM!


Clare Mulligan said...

Here's the embed code for the video:

Physiocrat said...

Having seen the video, it is apparent that one factor is good quality music in the liturgy, this is the case at St Aloysius, Oxford.

How about trying to get in a visiting choir for some of the Sundays during the Brighton Early Music Festival?

Lee Gilbert said...

I'd be very amazed if even 5% of the parishioners live within the parish boundaries. The area used to be heavily populated with Poles, but then practically the whole neighborhood was industrialized, the Kennedy expressway came through destroying much of the housing, people moved out to the suburbs, etc.

Until Fr. Philipps took over, the church had practically no raison d'etre.

About fifteen years ago a friend took me to a Tridentine Mass in the early stages of Fr. Philip's tenure. It was very thinly attended, the liturgy was wooden, and the schola was nigh unbearable.

However, he persisted and the results are wonderful. In fact, he has founded a new order based at the church with no shortage of vocations.

They have a satellite parish at St. Peter's in Volo, another lovely, lovely church, in the far northern, rural reaches of the archdiocese, also with the TLM and the NO Mass in Latin.

One delightful irony is that, since the Church is not far from center city, the expressway system the devastated the parish in the mid fifties now carries practically the entire population of the parish to the church from all corners of the metropolitan area. Even from 25 miles out it is only 25 minutes away on a Sunday morning.

Ferdinand said...

Attention focused in numbers is a sick heritage of democracy, i.e liberalism. We as Catholics should know better and not fall into the number trap.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...