Dignitaries, clergy, friends and former and current students helped Rev. John Smyth celebrate his 50th anniversary as a priest Friday at Notre Dame College Prep.
The school released the following statement:
Fr. John P. Smyth, President of Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Ill., is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on April 28, 2012. Father Smyth was the Executive Director of Maryville Academy, the “City of Youth” in Des Plaines, Ill. for 40 years.
Father Smyth has significantly impacted the lives of thousands of girls and boys in the greater Chicagoland area for more than four decades. Recognized nationally as well as locally for innovative and creative strategies in caring for youth at risk, his “family model” for residential living became the template for orphanages and child-care institutions world-wide.
Father Smyth was a pioneer in fund-raising and development efforts. His annual production of the “Chuck Wagon” weekends on Maryville’s grounds, united union leaders, major league athletes, politicians, and thousands of regular folks in the common cause of helping “needy kids”.
Father Smyth’s tireless energy was demonstrated early in his commitment to athletics. A three-sport high school star at DePaul Academy, Father Smyth was a distinguished scholar-athlete at the University of Notre Dame. Evaluated at a skill level similar to Wilt Chamberlain, he was offered a playing position for National Basketball Association upon graduating from Notre Dame in 1957.
Choosing instead to enter the Archdiocese of Chicago Seminary at Mundelein, IL, Father Smyth was ordained on April 28, 1962. His only priestly assignment, before the presidency at Notre Dame College Prep, was at Maryville Academy. His ministry was so critical to the Church, and to the State of Illinois, that none of four Cardinals he served under would allow him to transfer.
The Executive Board at Notre Dame College Prep offered the presidency to Father Smyth early in 2007. On April 1, 2012, Father Smyth completed the fifth year of his term. Under his direction, enrollment, physical plant enhancements, and enthusiasm have multiplied. Currently 815 young men make up the student body. Major renovations in a number of areas have preceded the ground-breaking for a new educational building, now in the planning stages.
The priests who concelebrated Friday's Mass include:
President Rev. John P. Smyth, Rev. Richard Conyers, CSC, who is a teacher and head of the Fine Arts Department at Notre Dame, Notre Dame Executive Vice President Rev. Raymond Klees, Rev. Daniel McCarthy, pastor emeritus at St. Tarcissus in Chicago, Rev. Gregory Sakowicz of St. Mary Church in Evanston, Rev. Michael Meany of St. John Brebeuf Church in Niles, Rev. Michael Goergen of St Bart's Church, Rev. Ronald Kalas, retired, and Rev. Daniel Smilanic, St Paul of the Cross Church in Park Ridge.