The priests of Chicago’s St. John Cantius parish have pledged both continued support for their parishioners and obedience to the liturgical changes implemented by Pope Francis and Cardinal Blase Cupich.

The church is well known for its dignified liturgical celebrations according to both the Novus Ordo and the usus antiquior.

“When Pope Francis issued his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, some worried it might spell the end of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. But let not your heart be troubled. We’re not going anywhere,” Fr. Joshua Caswell, Superior General of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius and pastor of the West Town Chicago neighborhood’s St. John Cantius Parish, said Jan. 16 at the 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass.

“We fully acknowledge that many of you have endured a heavy cross and have been preoccupied by confusion, uncertainty, and sadness,” Caswell said. “Each of us, brothers and priests, have shared a great deal in these emotions and we carried that same cross right alongside of you”

The canons regular, founded in 1998, follow a form of vowed religious life that celebrates both the Tridentine and the post-Second Vatican Council forms of the Catholic Mass. In addition to St. John Cantius, they work in the Chicago archdiocese at St. Peter Parish in Volo, Ill., a village to the northwest of Chicago. They also staff a parish in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and a chapel in Michigan.

“We are committed to continuing our ministry to you, to restore the sacred in all things,” Caswell told the congregation Sunday. “The canons regular are just as committed to filial piety for the Office of the Archbishop of Chicago and the Bishop of Rome.”

Last month Cardinal Cupich issued a policy for the Archdiocese of Chicago that curtails the celebration of the Mass and other sacraments according to the usus antiquior.

The canons regular celebrate both forms of the Mass, including the rarely celebrated Latin-language ordinary form of the Mass. Benedict XVI had granted broad permission for the usus antiquior, but these permissions are in question following Pope Francis’ Traditionis custodes. 

Under the Chicago archdiocese policy which takes effect Jan. 25, clerics who wish to use the “old rite” must submit their requests to Cupich in writing and agree to abide by the new norms under Pope Francis’ motu proprio.

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Those rules specify that the usus antiquior must incorporate scripture readings in the vernacular, using the official translation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Such Masses cannot take place in a parish church unless both the archbishop and the Vatican agree to grant an exemption. 

Further, Cupich’s policy also prohibits the celebration of Traditional Latin Masses on the first Sunday of every month, on Christmas, during the Triduum, on Easter Sunday, and on Pentecost Sunday.

These changes will take place at St. John Cantius Church effective Jan. 25, the church website said.

“We are grateful that His Eminence Cardinal Blase Cupich has pledged to empower our community to live our charism and to pursue our mission in accordance with his policy which implements the Holy Father’s motu proprio,” said Caswell.

“This means that for the foreseeable future, we will continue to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass both in the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form. We will continue to pray ‘ad orientem’,” the priest said.

The Latin term “ad orientem,” meaning “towards the east,” is used to describe liturgies where the priest faces the altar. This was generally the orientation of the Catholic liturgy before the Second Vatican.

On their website, the canons regular say both the ordinary form and the extraordinary form, as the “official liturgies of the Church,” are “the perfect fulfillment of the church’s unceasing obligation of praise due to our God who is the source of all life.”

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“They are the center of our spirituality and religious life by being for us the primary means by which we are daily drawn closer to God.”

In a Dec. 27, 2021 statement, Caswell said he had an audience with Cupich on Dec. 23, in which he assured the cardinal that the canons regular are committed to unity with the archbishop and the pope.


“His Eminence indicated he wants the work of the Canons Regular to continue, albeit within the boundaries established by the Archdiocesan policy to take effect January 25, 2022.”

“We will be petitioning His Eminence for various permissions. The cardinal has encouraged us to do so,” he said.

Caswell said the canons regular received the news of the new policy “with no little sadness,” but recognized the challenge to “live more fully our charism.”

“In this moment we are prayerfully discerning how to be a bridge for unity in the life of the Church by faithfully implementing the archdiocesan policy in accord with our spiritual and pastoral patronage, as well as the guidance of the Archbishop of Chicago, and at the same time remain faithful to our mission,” Caswell said in the message.

He asked the faithful to join the canons regular in praying a rosary novena beginning Jan. 25

“Throughout this novena, our hearts will be fixed on Mary’s—whose heart was also pierced—and who will ultimately say to us, as she told the wedding guests at Cana, pointing to her Son: ‘Do whatever He tells you’,” said Caswell.