Priest, pastor, educator, social justice advocate and liturgical reformer, Monsignor Reynold Hillenbrand (1905-1979), a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, served as Rector of Saint Mary of the Lake Seminary from 1936 to 1944, and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Winnetka, Illinois from 1944 to 1974. Known as one of Chicago's most influential and inspirational priests, Hillenbrand was a visionary leader of liturgical reform and social renewal. As one of the American pioneers of the Liturgical Movement in the United States, Hillenbrand began began promoting active participation in the liturgy decades before the Second Vatican Council made today's liturgical practices the norm. Always conscious that worshippers formed a Mystical Body with Christ as its head, Hillenbrand encouraged appropriate lay participation so that Christ's work, which continued in the Church, could flourish on earth.
Deeply interested in social renewal during and after the Great Depression and World War II, Hillenbrand believed that Christians would be transformed by the Divine Life by participating fully in the sacred liturgy, giving praise to God and receiving sanctifying grace. These individuals, then transformed, would bring this overflowing Divine Life to others in the workplace, schools, at home, with the poor, and in all aspects of social interaction. This cultural renewal avoided the excesses of both unbridled capitalism and collectivist communism, instead finding its source in Christ.
As a prolific speaker and founder of numerous organizations and events, including the National Liturgical Weeks, the Summer Schools of Social Action and the Catholic Family Movement, Hillenbrand shaped the understanding of generations of priests and laypeople. He helped them to understand that the grace of Christ available in the sacred liturgy was the true source of personal and social renewal, and that this grace was most fruitful when people participated in the sacramental life of the Church most fully.