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Over the next two decades Smyth expanded its mission to more than 18 inner-city sites, caring each year for more than 16, neglected, abused and abandoned youth. These centers treated cocaine-addicted newborns, toddlers with complex medical needs, teenagers with mental illness and substance-abuse problems, teenage girls at odds with the law, victims of prostitution, child pornography and sexual abuse, children damaged from family violence, and included a state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital for children up to the age of Smyth never had to refer to "Catholic social teaching"; he embodied it.

John was devoted to the Blessed Mother and in at the request of Hispanic Catholics initiated the building of a shrine to Our Lady at Guadalupe on the Maryville grounds. It was just one of those things that John would say "yes" to and then do, but who could have known that the first weekend of Our Lady's feast days on Dec. For Fr. Smyth in , it was just another good day. According for Fr.

Esequiel Sanchez, rector of the shine since , who celebrated John's funeral Mass in its new Chapel of St. Joseph, thousands come to its five Masses every Sunday, and last December , pilgrims again brought their roses and petitions to the shrine on her feast. What started as a request to Fr. Smyth became the largest shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe outside Mexico City, and draws more than 1 million pilgrims each year.

By the late s the world of child care turned upside down. Smyth felt a responsibility to take on severe cases, rejected, hardcore kids who were different from the kids who came to Maryville in the past. Maryville was the only safety net left. John's belief that there is no such thing as a kid who could not be saved left him no option. Maryville became the scandal de jour and John its lightning rod. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, never a friend to Smyth or Maryville, jumped on the political bandwagon and withdrew state funding to Maryville even though it was picking up the state's pieces, and the governor declared that foster care was the best way to care for wards of the state.

For the good of Maryknoll's mission Fr. Smyth resigned. Blagojevich become a ward of the State when he was later impeached for corruption and sentenced to federal prison for 14 years. John was almost 70 and could have retired. His vision was to produce a new generation of Catholic ethical leaders. Always relying on the Blessed Mother, one of the first things he did was build a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes at the entrance way of the school, similar to the one at the University of Notre Dame — only three feet taller and three feet wider.

John also established the Standing Tall Charitable Foundation to provide scholarships to underprivileged children.

A local newspaper once reported that you might catch him on a Chicagoland golf course a couple dozen times a year, but not golfing. I don't golf. I stand there like an idiot and shake everybody's hands. John was the recipient of innumerable awards during his lifetime, including a special award for promoting child safety presented to him by former President Ronald Reagan, and a Laureate in the Lincoln Academy of Illinois for his work in the field of social services, the highest honor an Illinois governor can bestow upon a citizen of the state.

The award he valued most was the University of Notre Dame's prestigious Laetare Medal; established in the Laetare Medal has been worn only "by men and women whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church, and enriched the heritage of humanity. Kennedy, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Sr.

Brennan, and Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day. But no honor is greater than the gratitude of thousands of children who will always know him as Father.

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Because of them, I believe, the archdiocese suspended its investigation so this spiritual giant beloved by alumni and admired by the priests of Chicago, could have a public funeral on the Maryville grounds. On April 26 more than a thousand people crowded the Chapel of St. Sanchez's sermon was eloquent in charting John's spiritual quest. As I write this a few days later, the archdiocese has not given formal closure to the accusation I believe they too believe is spurious, and four sources tell me they will not until the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services finishes its investigation.

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That could take a day or months. The Des Plaines police department ended its probe weeks ago "based on the lack of any credible evidence or testimony from the accusers. Smyth's legacy is not the buildings he put up or the millions he raised, but the family he built and the values he gave his kids by example, and that so many of them have embraced: compassion, kindness, generosity, gratitude, dedication, devotion to Mary, and a desire to follow Jesus and his teachings.

Kids Ministry

I'm sure they hear him now as he whispers to them the words that Jesus confided to his disciples before his death: "I will not abandon you as orphans. I will come back to you. For quieter activities for kids, try the Cades Cove Museum to learn the history of the region, or the Parkway Drive In, where you can watch movies the old-fashioned way!

Art classes at Studio Arts are another great way to have fun together with your children.

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There is so much for families to explore here in Blount County. Head to Maryville, TN for more fun activities for kids! Learn where the best attractions , activities , dining and lodging options are with our free travel apps for iOS and Android.


  1. Welcome to Little River Learning Center!.
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Download and enjoy your trip to the Peaceful Side of the Smokies. Posted Friday, May 4th, Share on Facebook or Twitter. Holiday Happenings in the Smoky Mountains Well the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are beginning to fall, which means Christmas will be here before you know it! If you're planning a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains this holiday sea Which is why spending time with them as they grow is even more important, despite the demands and rewards! There we will meet your family, check your child into our system, and then one of our volunteers will lead your child to their age-appropriate room.

Upon checking in for the first time, we will ask for the following personal information at the check in station NOTE: We value your privacy and will not share this information with anyone :. We also ask parents to sign a waiver allowing pictures of their children to be displayed in social media posts or on our church website. We understand that for security reasons, some parents feel uncomfortable with their children's image appearing on even our church's media pages.

Any pictures taken will only be used to show the opportunities and results that the ministry groups they are involved in provide. A volunteer will help you to sign in. If it's your first visit they will help you to fill in the Children's Safety Info. Your child will be given a name tag with the names of who can pick up the child listed on the back. During Service: In the event that we need to contact you during the service, we will text the number provided in the contact information.

She is a part time employee who spends her day as an associate professor in the school of education at NWMSU.


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If you feel called to serve, please email Pradnya Patet for more information! If you have further questions concerning our kids opportunities or visiting FUMC Maryville with children, simply click the button below and get in touch with us!