James F. Cahillane: Positive development for St. John Cantius

Published: 10/18/2021 11:02:38 AM

The city of Northampton’s offer to purchase St. John Cantius church to serve its homeless population is gratifying. The issue is now in play with deadlines for the developer. A few months ago, I was asked to write a letter of support, which follows:

“As a native of Northampton and long committed to its downtown viability, I support saving St. John Cantius. To repurpose its classic exterior would be a contribution to history for this generation of citizens. I’ve written with dismay that our former parish, St. Mary of the Assumption, is up for sale with no rescue in view.

I have no doubt that the one-time parishioners of St. John Cantius feel exactly the same about their beautiful church. A believer’s first memories will be of their parents taking them to church. It is there we heard the words that would guide us through life.

In 1989, my wife Maureen and I were privileged to represent Mayor Musante in Northampton, England. Our sister city was marking the 800th year of its civic Charter, granted by King Richard 1st, the Lion Hearted. The celebration took place in the round church of the Holy Sepulcher built by the Crusaders on their return home, circa 1100.

Similarly our Polish community identifies with what went before and wishes to honor it with preservation. My dad’s mayoralty owed much to his Polish campaign manager, Charlie Borowski, and friends in Ward 3. Mayor Sean Dunphy relied on attorney Tom Growhoski doing the same great job.

I titled my Northampton 350th book, “The Best Place of All,” dad’s words for the city he loved to serve. Now, in the 21 century, let’s come together to save St. John Cantius as the historic anchor that so many visionaries propose it to be for today and tomorrow.”

James F. Cahillane


The writer was Chair of the Northampton Redevelopment Authority, 1971-1975. The NRA built the city’s Industrial Park and led a 1974 downtown study.

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