ACTION ITEM! Video about the revival of a inner city parish by using actual Catholicism.

I want about 15 minutes of your time.

If you are a bishop or a priest or a seminarian, please give your special attention.

Below is an excerpt from a documentary to be shown soon on EWTN (30 April 6:30 EDT) about the vision that has revived an inner city church and parish in Omaha.

St. Peter’s in Omaha.  HERE

The documentary is called Where Heaven Meets Earth.

These priests have their heads screwed on in the right direction and I give them high marks.

You will note along the way that, as part of their backstory, they inspired by what Fr. Philips did at St. John Cantius in Chicago.  However, part of that backstory is that St. John’s was in part inspired by what Msgr. Richard Schuler did at St. Agnes in St. Paul.

What I love about this is how the baton get passed on.

But it not just a baton.  The baton multiplies as it is passed on.

What follows is not rocket science.  It is especially well articulated, however.


I’d enjoy visiting this parish some day.

After you try out my donation button, you might go over there and try theirs.

Hey, people write to me all the time asking about good causes to donate to, things they don’t worry they are wasting their money on.  I think this is one.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, REVIEWS, The future and our choices, Year of Faith and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. A.D. says:

    I am overwhelmed! What a parish! How I long for that genuine Catholic way of worship. They are doing it for all the right reasons, too: the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

  2. Similarly, here is the full video of a previous EWTN program about St. John Cantius in Chicago:
    Saint John Cantius: Restoring the Sacred

    “how a decaying old church in Chicago became a thriving religious and cultural treasure. When a Catholic priest with no previous parish experience arrived, he faced a building in severe disrepair, but he realized that there was an even deeper need: to restore the faith and sacred culture of the parish community.”

    According to one history of the parish, it’s 23,000 members earlier in the 20th century had dwindled to a Sunday attendance of perhaps a hundred or so, until a “recovery of the sacred” and the Latin liturgy (both EF and OF) spurred a revitalization of both the church and the surrounding neighborhood.

    A lesson, indeed, for beautiful inner-city churches all over that benighted bishops are closing. Sadly, we sense all around–at every level from the lowest to the highest in the Church–little recognition that the restoration of the sacred in liturgy is central to the restoration of the Church itself.

  3. acardnal says:


  4. kal says:

    What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it.

  5. Jacob says:

    I pass this parish every week on my way to Immaculate Conception Parish in Omaha. This is right up the road from our FSSP church.

  6. jkm210 says:

    My husband applied for and was offered a job at this church about two years ago. We were apprehensive about moving far away to Omaha, so he did not end up accepting it, but we had seen this video back then and were very impressed by the parish. They spend a lot of time on developing choral singing among children and getting the neighborhood involved in their work. The parishioners have seemed to take real ownership of the direction the parish has moved in, which is especially wonderful because movements that are priest-dependent usually fizzle out when the priest is moved.

  7. APX says:

    Has something like this ever been done which first involved moving a church? This is something that, according to a priest who was also a civil engineer, is possible and more cost effective than building new churches. Unfortunately, sometimes bishops get in the way of these things.

  8. Mandy P. says:

    Definitely a “share.” Posting to Facebook immediately.

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  10. Fr. Andrew says:

    My brother and his family were parishioners there while in Omaha and it was always beautiful and inspring to visit St. Peter’s. I was a seminarian for many o those visits and am grateful to the generous vision of Father Damien. Thank you Father Z for promoting his good and noble labor for the Lord!

  11. A great video – and I can’t pretend I was not happy to see that they were celebrating the Novus Ordo with reverence, which is how it should be (and is the closest to my heart). It also saddens me to think what could go on in the US if this is a story that has made Fr. Z’s blog: I mean there is nothing at this parish that would not be the everyday normal way of doing things at any church in my native Eastern European country. (Not every church would have a choir, or Vespers or a procession and some would have altar girls, too, but music would always be worthy of Mass, there would be confessions before every Mass and the liturgy would always be dignified.) A heart-warming story – thank you, Fr. Z.

  12. Jack Hughes says:

    I was blessed to meet a Ukrainian missionary last Christmas, her home parish has gone from 7 parishioners (old ladies who asked the bishop to send a priest so they wouldn’t die without the sacraments) to 500 in 20 years, they apparently have 6 boys in seminary at the moment and over the last 20 years they have had not one, not two, not three but 12 First Masses since Father was sent there.

    I don’t know if Father says the Traditional Mass (its a Roman rite parish) but they’re certainly doing something right!

  13. Rose in NE says:

    St. Peter’s is a wonderful parish and Fr. Cook is great! Their main fundraiser every year is a Trivia Night which is lots of fun and raises a good sum of money for the parish. They have a wonderful choir, too. It’s one of those parishes that people come to from all over the city.

    If you ever do stop to see St. Peters, be sure you also stop just down the road to visit Immaculate Conception Church (FSSP)–we have restoration going on as well. “ICC” was built in 1926, but was “renovated” a few decades ago. Work has begun to restore what was lost. A “new” high altar was recently installed, along with some beautiful Stations of the Cross. We have recently received permission from the Archdiocese to begin restoration on our four bells. We are one of only three or four parishes in Omaha that has a set of actual bells that can peal. We also hope to begin work soon on the sanctuary–new floors, a pulpit and better altar rails. This restoration is made possible by the generosity of our parishioners. We are truly blessed. Oh, and don’t forget to check out our bowling alley. Yes, my parish has a ten-lane bowling alley!

  14. marylise says:

    Bring back the altar rails! Bring back Communion on the tongue! Bring back the incense! Bring back the bells! Bring back the altar boys! Bring back sermons! Bring back Sunday confessions! Bring back nuns! Bring back processions! Bring back adoration! Bring back holy silence! Bring back priests dressed like priests! Bring back solemnity! Bring back reverence! Bring back genuflections, prostrations and every other sign of love for the Real Presence!

  15. RobertK says:

    Amazing how trends always start in the midwest. I doubt you will ever see something like this in the Archdiocese Philadelphia or Los Angeles. The majority of liturgical lefties in Archdioceses like Philadelphia and Los Angeles would eat this priest up and spit him out, for restoring anything remotely looking like a pre Vatican 2 style liturgy. They prefer a socialite atmosphere, that embraces the priest having good eye contact with his flock, and the “equality of the sexes” like altar girls, etc… . And don’t forget the requirement of lay EMHCs. That is an absolute requirement!!. Glad to see this priest making an effort though.

  16. MAJ Tony says:

    The reform of the reform seems to be slowly progressing “from the bottom up” much like the oil-spot theory of counter-insurgency. The oil spot spreads over time, and other oil spots start in other places, and do likewise.

  17. Scott W. says:

    Great stuff. I got a little chuckle when he described the neighborhood as a “downtown situation” (I’ll have to remember that one), but great watching.

  18. JustVicky says:

    I have been fortunate enough to sing for Mass in this church!
    The renovations will be beautiful when they are complete, and I can’t wait to go back to sing again (hopefully later this spring).

  19. fin-tastic says:

    Parishioners at this church are awesome! Genuine believers who see Catholicism as the bridge to heaven. So much better than the whale-kissing, Dukakis-loving moon maidens who see church as nothing more a political vehicle for expanding the welfare state here an Earth.

  20. NBW says:


  21. Maggie says:

    Does anyone have a YouTube link for this video? I’d like to share it on facebook but the flv format doesn’t lend well to sharing.

  22. priests wife says:

    he said VATICAN II!!!!!!!!!! ;) if reference to praying vespers in the church available to the people instead of at home alone….BEAUTIFUL!

    (and a bit jealous….we borrow 2 churches for our two missions, so this is not possible for my husband….priests with churches- consider doing this!)

  23. acardnal says:

    priests wife, I loved that in the film, too. I have never experienced in these post-Vatican II years praying of Vespers in a parish Church – even on Sundays – even though, for you “spirit of V2 types”, it is specifically recommended in Sacrosanctum Concilium, #100 – a V2 document!

    Since we have a seminarian at our parish, the pastor began praying Lauds (Morning Prayer) out loud with him after Mass in the church. Because I pray the Office, I have been joining them as a layman. Curiously, I have at times observed some of the other daily Mass-goers quietly sitting in their pews in the rear and listening (praying?) with us. Wouldn’t it be great if more and more of the laity will do the same?

    I am going to encourage my pastor to do a Sunday evening Vespers devotion.

  24. Rosary Lady says:

    Amen and Alleluia! How I LOVE what they are doing! It makes me rather envious as in my neck of the woods they have built “auditoriums” for Catholic Churches. Very cold, and sterile. Not many statues and NO COLOR ANYWHERE. Everything a grey beige. These new Churches also keep the tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament in a side Chapel and not on the main altar. Not quite like a broom closet like I have heard others do, but not acceptable either, in my opinion. Wish I could send some people this video. People are starving for REAL CATHOLICISM……..STARVING!

  25. acardnal says:

    it is posted on the parish website. Try that.

  26. StJude says:

    Looks like a wonderful parish! ooooh.. you should go see it Father Z.

  27. marylise says:

    And furthermore: Bring back the softly whispered Latin prayers! Bring back Catholic hymns! Bring back Gregorian chant! Bring back the chalice veil! Bring back the sweetly swallowed Host! Bring back the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel! Bring back the curtained Tabernacle at the centre of the main altar! Bring back stillness in the pews! Bring back self-annihilation of priest and congregation for the love of God! Bring back bowed heads at the Holy Name of Jesus! Bring back calloused Catholic knees! Bring back the great Catholic “Amen.”

  28. Therese says:

    Can I quote you, Marylise? ;-)

  29. acardnal says:

    That’s a few Tweets, Therese. ;-)

  30. Rich Leonardi says:

    A half-dozen years ago, St. Cecilia Catholic church on Cincinnati’s East side was a parish in decay. It was hemorrhaging younger Catholics to the vibrant big-box evangelical community around the corner, and what was left were mostly a dwindling number of longtime parishioners. Enter Fr. Jamie Weber, an energetic, orthodox, and humble young priest who was appointed as pastor. He kept it simple and yet dynamic: (1) “resacralize” the liturgy — a Latin NO was introduced in short order, (2) spend time in the confessional — Fr. Weber is “in the box” every single day, and (3) get the laity involved in bringing Christ to the community rather than crowding the sanctuary — the parish’s charitable efforts are the talk of the town. The transformation is nothing short of remarkable. Mass attendance is up, penitents gladly wait in ever-growing lines, the poor are better served, and — get this — it’s an incredibly happy place. This is only as complicated as we make it.

  31. Rich Leonardi says:

    (My apologies for the syntax errors in the second sentence.)

  32. Therese says:

    “That’s a few Tweets, Therese.”

    More’n a few, acardnal: they went viral almost immediately. (Marylise, are you on Twitter? If not, you should be. ;-)

    This story was on Register Radio this afternoon, by the way. Wonderful stuff.

  33. Therese says:

    Thanks for the link, Rich Leonardi. These revitalized parishes urge us on.

  34. medicus2013 says:

    I’m so thrilled to have seen this video. I’m moving to Omaha in June and I already knew about the FSSP option but now I’m thrilled to have this wonderful parish as well!

  35. Cathy says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Father Z!

  36. VexillaRegis says:

    Someone got a Green Card laying around for me? I would consider emigrating to one of these wonderful places.

    Vexilla the Viking lady

  37. skyfire says:

    Does anyone know the soundtrack/song played early on in the video?

  38. ryanmatthew says:

    Thank you for posting this! I’m from Omaha and will be returning there-God willing-in the fall. Having finally come into full communion with the Church this Easter, I was excited to be returning home in several ways and had chosen Immaculate Conception for my parish. After this, I rather think St. Peter’s is my destination. Either way, after a long stint at sea a parish with beauty is most welcome.

  39. Scott W. says:

    I would like a Youtube of this as well for my blog. It’s the only format that will embed.

  40. rtjl says:

    Concerning Fathers comments on vespers, I was so happy to hear him say something that I have been saying for years. Priests have an obligation to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. It that’s the case is there really any reason why the Liturgy of the Hours have vanished from our public prayer life. Since priests have to pray the Office anyway, why not pray it in the church and open the doors? I understand that you might not be able to make it as elaborate as Sunday Mass but it really doesn’t need to be. Simple and dignified is all that is required for most occasions.

    Unfortunately, I suspect the real problem is that many priests don’t pray the Liturgy of the Hours themselves. We were fortunate in our diocese for several years to have had an auxiliary bishop who clearly prayed his office regularly. It was obvious because fragments from the day’s Morning Prayer or Office of Readings would make their way into his sermons, homilies and speeches. He was a deeply prayerful and spiritual man and the spirit of the liturgy – the whole liturgy – pervaded his whole ministry. Sadly he was transferred and made the bishop of another diocese: good for them, bad for use.

  41. Rose in NE says:

    That’s another great thing about Immaculate Conception Church (FSSP) in Omaha–our priests publicly chant the Divine Office as often as their schedules allow. Books are provided so the laity can follow along. They even post which hours they will be chanting each day on the website.

  42. APX says:


    It might be a time/schedule thing. The Divine Office, while ideally is prayed at or around the specific hours, must be prayed each day. If something foreseeable would prevent it, there’s the option of praying the anticipated hours the day before.

    Given the busy schedules of many priests, I suspect at times their Hours get prayed in lumps when they have the time to do it.

  43. Scarltherr says:

    This is wonderful!!! Hey Father Z, This is our parish. I wrote about the difference between their fundraiser and other we’ve attended ( What do you need if you come to Omaha? We will gladly make the calls to get you here. Fr. Cook and I shared a laugh over your post on birettas. You would be quite at home. The Corpus Christi procession is coming up…;) And you will never have a better steak.

    A side note, Father Cook is so good with the altar servers. We’ve had occasion to attend several family funerals in other parishes recently. Even though our son is a novice server, he’s had deacons tell him he’s better trained than they are. Brick by Brick indeed!

  44. Scarltherr says:

    P.S. The first time we went to St. Peter’s we were struck by two things: 1. The number of LARGE families with very well behaved toddlers and babies, and 2. The reverence of the congregation.

    After the St. Michael prayer, and the final procession, EVERYONE knelt down for more prayers of thanksgiving. Just amazing. Father Cook is one of the most joyful priests you will ever meet. He was instrumental in our nephew’s vocation while he was an assistant the the Cathedral. I can’t say enough about how wonderful this parish is.

    Come to the College World Series, or any of the major events we have coming to Omaha, and come to Mass at Saint Peter’s!!!

  45. jkm210 says:

    By the way, if you are looking for another good cause to support, Lumen Christi Catholic School is a small, independent school operating with the approval of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. They have daily Mass (some OF, some EF) and teach a classical curriculum, including Latin. My daughter has been a kindergartener there just this semester, after we moved to the area. It is amazing to see the difference this school has made to her growth in the faith.

    After attending the “State of the School” address on Thursday, I learned that the school needs about $60,000 to meet its operating costs for the rest of the year, which is primarily teachers’ salaries. The 22 teachers earn a combined salary of about $280,000 per year, so there is no extravagance going on here! We need schools like this to help form good Catholics who will be able to defend their faith in the future. If you would like to check out their video and prayerfully consider a donation, you may do so here.

  46. dominic1955 says:

    We also have a Ukrainian Eastern Catholic parish (Assumption) and a soon to be Ordinariate Anglo-Catholic parish (St. Barnabas) in Omaha and its only a day trip to the FSSP seminary and the Carmelite convent at Valparaiso, NE. There are lots of good Catholic things going on in Nebraska.

    In the neighboring diocese of Lincoln, they also have an FSSP parish (St. Francis), a Ukrainian parish (St. George) and the Newman Center (St. Thomas Aquinas) is rebuilding their facility to be much more traditional. Word on the street is that they plan on having the TLM there as well.

  47. kat says:


    The music was the Credo from Mozart’s Coronation Mass. I was privileged to sing this years ago in a mixed public school/local community choir!! The whole Mass is very beautiful…though not very liturgical …more suitable for a concert than for Sacred Liturgy.

  48. New Sister says:

    This made me weep for joy – Deo gratias!

  49. jcapt says:

    I am from Omaha and can attest to how wonderful St. Peter’s and Fr. Cook are! Unfortunately for us, we live on the other side of town in the suburbs where the parishes are more bland and in the spirit rather than the letter of Vatican II (with the typical show tunes, etc). My wife and I need to use this as a reminder to put forth some effort and take the 30 minute jaunt with the kids to the other side of town for Mass at St. Peter’s one day soon!

  50. skyfire says:


    Thank you so much. Do you know the exact version played in the video? I tried to look on and listen to several samples but none, in my opinion, was as good as the one in the video.

  51. jflare says:

    Oh my! I never anticipated THIS! *chuckles* As you can see from a few previous comments, some of us here at St Peter’s love you Fr. Z! ..And while I’m not able to invite you exactly–that’d be Fr Cook’s job, I think–it’d be cool to have you pay us a visit! Fr Cook has offered Mass ad orientem a few times at the high altar; I’ve been thinking it’d be quite neat to have someone offer a traditional Mass.

    I saw a comment or two that I might address:
    – I do not know if our pastor has been trained for the Extraordinary Form. After Summorum Pontificum though, well, both proximity AND scheduling played a role. Immaculate Conception Church (ICC) has offered the traditional form for some time and sits about 1 mile south; St. Peter’s (the building) already offered 5 Masses each Sunday (2 English, 2 Spanish, 1 Vietnamese), so adding a Mass in the traditional form would be logistically troublesome, at best.
    (Oh, yes, and Vespers at 5 on top of it all. Our sanctuary stays busy on Sunday….
    Which reminds me: I haven’t been to Vespers during the week in some time. I should make an effort to go again soon.)

    – medicus2013, ryanmatthew: I’ve been a parishioner at St. Peter’s for a fair time now, but I’ve also become much more interested in the traditional form of the Mass. I’ve been thinking: since I don’t sing each week, I may begin attending EF Mass at ICC some of the week-ends when I’m not required at St. Peters. I’m not entirely comfortable with that solution, I admit, but it seems to be the best answer right now. Worth thinking about.

    – What music came on the video? I don’t know, nor do I know precisely whom to ask, but I’d be happy to ask around here and there. Another of our choir members has been more involved with the parish council than have I, so he might have better knowledge. ..or know someone else who does.

  52. rtjl, I think it is very serious to think that priests don’t pray the Office… For one thing, they are required to pray it but they are not required to pray it publicly. I think in most cases it’s like APX says: because of their schedule it gets lumped together. For example a priest may pray Matins and Lauds with his morning coffee before his first Mass and Nona, Vespers and Compline just before going to bed at night.

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