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Diocese of Peoria

Diœcesis Peoriensis
Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception
Coat of arms
Country United States
Territory26 counties across central Illinois
Ecclesiastical provinceChicago
Area16,933 sq mi (43,860 km2)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2015)
121,965 (8.2%)
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedFebruary 12, 1875 (146 years ago)
CathedralSt. Mary's Cathedral
Patron saint
Current leadership
BishopDaniel Robert Jenky, CSC
CoadjutorLouis Tylka
Vicar GeneralPhilip D. Halfacre

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria (Latin: Diœcesis Peoriensis, Peoria, Illinois) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the central Illinois region of the United States.


The Diocese of Peoria was canonically erected on February 12, 1875. Its territory was taken from the former Diocese of Chicago. The first bishop of the diocese was John Lancaster Spalding. Later bishops included William E. Cousins (bishop from 1952 to 1958), John Baptist Franz, Edward William O'Rourke, and then O'Rourke's coadjutor bishop and later successor, John J. Myers (now Archbishop emeritus of Newark), who hosted Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta's December 1995 visit to the Peoria diocese.

The Diocese of Peoria comprises the Counties of Bureau, Champaign, DeWitt, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, Livingston, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Piatt, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, Vermilion, Warren and Woodford. Aside from Peoria, the Illinois portions of the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa are also part of the Peoria Diocese. The St. John's Catholic Newman Center on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the St. Francis of Assisi Newman Center on the campus of Western Illinois University, John Paul II Catholic Newman Center on the campus of Illinois State University as well as the St. Joseph Newman Center on the campus of Bradley University are part of the Peoria Diocese.


Catholicism in this region dates from the days of Jacques Marquette, who rested at the Native American village of Peoria on his voyage up the Illinois River in 1673. Opposite the present site of the episcopal city, Robert de La Salle and Henri de Tonti in 1680 built Fort Crèvecoeur, in which Mass was celebrated and the Gospel preached by the Recollect Fathers, Gabriel Ribourdi, Zenobius Membre, and Louis Hennepin. With some breaks in the succession, the line of missionaries extends to within a short period of the founding of modern Peoria. In 1839 Father Reho, an Italian, visited Peoria, remaining long enough to build the old stone church in Kickapoo, a small town twelve miles distant. St. Mary's, the first Catholic church in the city proper, was erected by Father John A. Drew in 1846. Among his successors was the poet, Rev. Abram J. Ryan.

Many of the early Irish immigrants came to work on the Illinois and Michigan Canal; owing to the failure of the contracting company, they received their pay in land scrip instead of cash, and were thus forced to settle upon hitherto untilled farm-land. These Irish farmers, with the Germans, were followed by Poles, Slovaks, Slovenians, Croats, Lithuanians, and Italians who came to work in the coal mines. They were first organized in parishes looked after by priests of their own nationality. The first appointee to the see, Fr. Michael J. Hurley, requested to be spared the responsibility of organizing and governing the new diocese, and died as vicar-general in 1898.

John Lancaster Spalding was consecrated first Bishop of Peoria, on 1 May 1877. He was stricken with paralysis on 6 January 1905, and resigned the see, 11 September 1908.[1]

On May 11, 2020, Louis Tylka was appointed as coadjutor bishop of the diocese.


Bishops of Peoria

  1. John Lancaster Spalding (1876–1908)
  2. Edmund Michael Dunne (1909–1929)
  3. Joseph Henry Leo Schlarman (1930–1951), appointed Archbishop ad personam in 1951 before he died
  4. William Edward Cousins (1952–1958), appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee
  5. John Baptist Franz (1959–1971)
  6. Edward William O'Rourke (1971–1990)
  7. John Joseph Myers (1990–2001; Coadjutor 1987-1990), appointed Archbishop of Newark
  8. Daniel Robert Jenky, CSC (2002–present)
    - Louis Tylka (Coadjutor 2020-Present)

Auxiliary Bishop

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops


The diocese has thirty-one elementary schools and seven high schools.

Elementary schools

High schools

Ecclesiastical province

Further information: List of the Catholic bishops of the United States § Province of Chicago