Born in Chicago, Rev. John P. Smyth is a 1952 graduate of DePaul Academy and a 1957 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. He captained the Notre Dame basketball team his senior year; was selected an All-American; and was a first-round draft choice of the then young NBA’s St. Louis Hawks. He elected to forgo a professional basketball career and entered the seminary instead.
1962 to 2004
Fr. Smyth was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in April 1962. His first and only assignment as a priest was Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, Illinois.
Fr. Smyth was named Executive Director of Maryville in 1970. At the time, Maryville was an enormous drain on the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the physical plant was well beyond repair. By utilizing his networking skills, he eked out a financial existence for Maryville without help from the Archdiocese.
During his administration, Maryville expanded to various sites that specialized in caring for neglected, abused, and abandoned youth comprised of cocaine-addicted newborns to the medically complex child; from teenage girls at odds with the law to youth with both mental illness and substance abuse problems; from the victims of child pornography, teenage prostitution, and sexual abuse to the damaged child who is the result of family violence.
2004 to 2019
After almost forty-two years of service at Maryville Academy, in January 2004, the title of Past President was bestowed upon Fr. Smyth. He continues his pastoral duties with the community of Maryville-Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine.
Fr. Smyth gives of his time, energy, enthusiasm, leadership and love to the service of the children and their families and caretakers throughout the State of Illinois. Consistent with a quote that has been paraphrased and associated with him – “No person stands so tall as the one who stoops to help a child” – in July 2005 Fr. Smyth established the Standing Tall Charitable Foundation. He embarked upon this course because of his belief that education is the key factor in breaking the cycle of poverty, abuse, and neglect.
In March of 2007, Fr. Smyth was appointed President of Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Illinois. His goal is to guide the student body by enlightening their minds and enhancing their spirits so when they walk out the doors into the world, they will possess the qualities for success with a full appreciation of not only what they have received and achieved at Notre Dame High School, but also what they may return to the community and society as a whole.