Rev. John Phelps, C.SS.R.


Father John Phelps is the President and C.E.O. of Life Directions, which he co-founded in 1973 with four other concerned Detroit citizens. Fr. Phelps was invited to bring Life Directions to Chicago in 1990. He is a Roman Catholic Priest, ordained in 1968, and belonging to a religious community of men called the Redemptorist Congregation. Fr. Phelps’ primary work is among young adults (13-35 years of age), with a priority on those on the verge of dropping out of school and into self-destructive life choices. He is especially focused on those who come from families below or near the poverty line.

Fr. Phelps has led hundreds of workshops in cities, colleges, and universities throughout the United States and abroad. Additionally, his work had led him to be highly sought after as a consultant on issues concerning at-risk youth. He has served with many various ecumenical organizations, church groups, corporations and educational institutions that are striving to place a priority on developing inclusive partnerships among people of diverse backgrounds and economic differences.

With Fr. Phelps’ leadership, Life Directions has been working for over 40 years to promote the powerful dynamic of Peers Inspiring Peers Through Forgiveness. Four core values drive the organization:

  • Practice self-responsibility

  • Create healthy balance in relationships

  • Embrace partnership in diversity

  • Discover a mission-driven attitude

The work has impacted over 164,000 young adults in Detroit, Chicago, San Antonio, Tucson, New Orleans, and Marion County, Oregon, with many more to come!

Sr. Rosalie Esquerra

Co-Founder and Director of Training

Fr. Alex Steinmiller

Co- Founder

Alexander and Judith MacDonald

Co- Founders

Life Directions inspires achieving peers to motivate, mentor and lead their peers to take charge of their Life Direction!

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