My guest this week in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” is a longtime friend, Fr. Frank Phillips, former pastor for 30 years at Chicago’s well-known St. John Cantius Church. After a number of years, we met serendipitously over my vacation at a pre-investiture ceremony for the Order of the Holy Sepulchre that was held at St. John Cantius.

I’ve always been intrigued by the rich history of this parish and you will be too as you hear Fr. Frank talk of his 30 years here, of his love of reverent and beautiful liturgy, of his founding of a religious community, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, and so much more.

Thanks to Fr. Frank’s dedication, inspiration, as well as decades of both material and spiritual renewal, the current pastor, Fr. Josh Caswell and his staff offer many liturgies during the week, including morning, afternoon and evening prayers, vespers and high and low Masses in both Latin and English.

Astonishingly enough, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius today work in 3 parishes in 2 dioceses in Illinois, offering 57 public Masses weekly and hearing more than 700 confessions each week! Yes, you read that right!

First called the Society of St. John Cantius by Cardinal George, the name was later changed to the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius.  The reference is to St. John of Kenty, Poland!

Here are some of the dozens of photos I took at the Holy Sepulchre liturgy on September 24. Some kind of technical glitch prevented me today from uploading all the pictures I took but when I finally make that happen, there are many photos and many stories to tell What you see is only a small representation of the main body of the church, the reliquary room and what I call the Polish chapel, a room in which Fr. Phillips had recreated to one-third original size the main altar of St. Mary Church on Market Square in Krakow. You’ll love the story of this Polish parish!

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Just a bit of history from the wonderful website (

In July of 1988, His Holiness Pope John Paul II issued the motu proprio, “Ecclesia Dei,” calling for a wide and generous application of the indult of 1984, which renewed the celebration of Mass according to the Missal of 1962 (the Tridentine Mass, also known as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass). His purpose was to fulfill the rightful need of those attached to this liturgical tradition and to bring those members of the laity affiliated with the Society of Pius X back into the true fold.

​Late in 1988, in response to Pope John Paul II’s request in his motu proprio, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin contacted Fr. Frank Phillip about establishing St. John Cantius Church as the site for the renewed celebration of the Tridentine Mass in the Archdiocese of Chicago. As a result of discussions between Fr. Phillips and Fr. Robert Kealy of the Archdiocese of Chicago and with the approval of Fr. Phillips’ superiors on the Provincial Council of the Congregation of the Resurrection, it was decided that the Indult Tridentine Mass would be celebrated on a weekly basis at St. John Cantius Church.

The first of these Masses was held on February 4, 1989. For many years, a group of Archdiocesan priests celebrated this Mass on a rotating basis.