December 18, 2011
Restoration of the Sacred: Inside and Out
St. John’s in its former splendorANY TRUE RESTORATION of the Sacred begins with our own lives. If we restore the Sacred within ourselves then God’s Image is seen through the beautiful and holy temple that He created. True beauty always points back to God, the Author of beauty. This is the case not only for our own lives, but also for the “Domus Dei’ the House of God.
Since his arrival at St. John Cantius, parish over 23 years ago, Fr. Frank Phillips dreamed of a complete restoration of the interior of the Church of St. John Cantius. His vision was to return the church to its former days of glory when it was home to thousands of Polish Immigrants. The many sacrifices made by those generous souls shows that they truly understood the motto that adorns the façade of the church, ‘Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam‘—For the Greater Glory of God.
The last attempt at restoration was in 1933. The pastor at the time, Fr. Walter Bartylak, C.R. was not afraid to embark on a restoration during hard financial times, not unlike our own, because he knew what the Psalmist knew, “Unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do its builders labor.” All that we have is from the Lord and if He is building the house, then we can be confident that He will see it through and provide for our needs.
The restoration continues!
Like Fr. Bartylak during the Great Depression, Fr. Phillips is also moving forward with the restoration project in times of financial uncertainty. Over the years Fr. Phillips has been able to update most of the structural aspects of the building and the things that no one sees like electrical and plumbing work. The final phase is the interior restoration which includes cleaning all the surfaces, regilding the capitals and plaster ornamentation, restoring the murals, and a complete re-stenciling of all decorative images.
As if the interior restoration wasn’t enough, we are also installing a breathtaking Casavant pipe organ which will be refurbished to replace the old organ which had run its course. Nicknamed “Tina Mae” after the organist who designed it, the organ was acclaimed as the best organ in Chicago by world renowned organist Marcel Dupré. As to be expected, this project is a massive undertaking and the anticipated date of completion is not until August of 2013. Click here for more information on the Pipe Organ Restoration Project »
As always, we ask that you keep us in your prayers for the success of both of these efforts as God wills them. These projects are only possible because of those who share the vision with Fr. Phillips and the Canons Regular for a restoration of our ‘House of God’ and ‘Gate of Heaven.’ If you would like to help us financially or otherwise please contact Fr. Frank Phillips for more information »