I know nothing about thie priest's theology or anything other than what it says in this article, but I do know that we need more priests who see the priesthood as a vocation and not a 9-5 job. I think Fr. Iacona understands that it is a vocation.
During most Wednesday morning Masses at Sacred Heart Church, the pews are lightly peppered with people.
But Wednesday, attendance swelled.
Some missed work and others dragged themselves out of bed for an 8 a.m. service to honor Father Frank Iacona, who congregants say has turned around this parish.
"I don't do mornings, so for me to do this is a sacrifice," laughed Sandy James, who has been a member here for 37 years.
The parishioners credit Iacona with stitching together a sense of community among the Anglo and Hispanic members, organizing the church, being a dynamic speaker and bringing a new level of compassion. Above all, he has been a friend to many.
They surprised him with a party for the fifth anniversary of his priesthood.
"He arrived exactly when we needed him," said Rolanda Avila, 42.
The 59-year-old priest helped oversee construction of a church expansion. Also a former lawyer, Iacona is admired for the millionaire lifestyle he gave up to become a priest and shepherd a north-side church.
"I had it all, but I felt a hunger," Iacona said.
That hunger led him to volunteer, get more involved with the Catholic church and eventually decide to follow a more spiritual life. This is his fourth parish. Bishop John Leibrecht said it is not unusual to celebrate a priest's anniversary, but the 25th and 50th are usually milestones.
"I'm really delighted they are celebrating Father Frank's fifth anniversary," Leibrecht said. "No use waiting."
Joe and Mary Bridges live in Brighton, and both have cancer.
"Me and my wife have both been ill, and he's been down here twice to see us. He's a terrific guy," Joe said over the phone.
Iacona visits the sick, elderly and homebound every Wednesday.
"He has, oh boy, how can I say it, he has more than just a call, he has a gift from God," said Estera Enciu, who organized the party. "He's so much more than a priest. I was sick in September and he came every day for a week."
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