Illinois, Catholic Church in
ILLINOIS, CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
A north central state in the Great Prairie region of the U.S., admitted (1818) to the Union as the 21st state, Illinois is bordered on the north by Wisconsin, on the northeast by Lake Michigan, on the east by Indiana, on the southeast by the Wabash and Ohio Rivers, on the south by the Ohio River, and on the west by the Mississippi River. Springfield is the capital; the largest city is Chicago. In 2001 there were 3.8 million Catholics, about 32 percent of the total population (12.1 million) of the state. They are served by the Archdiocese of Chicago and five suffragan sees: Belleville (1887), Joliet (1919), Peoria (1877), Rockford (1908), and Springfield (established as diocese of Quincy, 1853).
Early History. The Illinois country was under the jurisdiction of the Quebec diocese from 1674 to 1784, during which period from 15,000 to 20,000 members of Native American tribes and eventually about 2,000 French trappers and settlers formed the Illinois mission field. Among the early Jesuits to serve the area were Jacques marquette, who accompanied the Louis Jolliet expedition (1673); Claude allouez, who labored there for more than 11 years; and Jacques Gravier, Pierre Gabriel Marest, Jean Mermet, and Alexandre Guyenne. Other missionaries active in Illinois included the Seminary Priests of the Foreign Missions of Quebec and the Franciscans Zenobius Membré, Louis hennepin, and Gabriel de la Ribourde. When the century-long struggle between England and France in the New World ended in French defeat (1763) and British occupancy of the Illinois country, there was a mass exodus of French Catholics to the Louisiana territory. Among the many priests who worked in Illinois from 1763 to 1843, when Chicago was made a diocese, were Sebastian meurin, SJ, the "patriot priest" Pierre gibault, the Sulpician Gabriel rich ard, and Donatien Olivier. Other itinerant priests who visited the area from time to time were Stephen Theodore badin, Elisha durbin, Charles Felix van quickenborne, SJ, Peter Doutreluingue, CM, John Francis Loisel, Vitalis Van Coostere, John Mary Irenaeus St. Cyr, Peter Paul lefevere, John Blase Raho, CM, Aloysius Parodi, CM, and Patrick McCabe. Chicago was designated a metropolitan see in 1880, and its suffragans eventually included the Dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield.
Diocesan Development. On Feb. 12, 1875, the Diocese of Peoria was created, embracing 23 counties in central Illinois; it now consists of 26. On Jan. 7, 1887, the 28 southernmost counties of the state were detached from the Diocese of Alton and formed into the Diocese of Belleville. The Diocese of Rockford was established on Sept. 23, 1908, for 11 counties of northwestern Illinois.
Finally, the Diocese of Joliet came into being on Dec. 11, 1948, covering seven counties. Thus the see of Chicago was left with only two counties, Cook and Lake. Meanwhile, on Sept. 10, 1880, Chicago had been raised to metropolitan rank. The new ecclesiastical province was coterminous with the State of Illinois; the first archbishop, appointed on the same date, was Patrick Augustine Feehan, a native of Ireland and formerly Bishop of Nashville. The Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of St. Nicholas in Chicago was established in 1961; it comprises all the United States west of the western borders of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
The first American-born bishop in Illinois was Thomas Foley, a native of Baltimore, who in 1869 was appointed coadjutor to the bishop of Chicago with right of succession, and apostolic administrator of the diocese (because of the insanity of Bishop James Duggan); he served in that office until he died in 1879. In 1924 George William Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago, became the "First Cardinal of the West" (i.e., west of the Alleghenies). The first black to head a diocese in Illinois was Wilton D. Gregory, who was appointed to the See of Belleville in 1993 after having been an auxiliary to the Archbishop of Chicago for ten years.
Illinois was the scene of the labors of the first black American priest recognized as black, namely, Augustus Tolton. Born a slave of Catholic parents in Missouri in 1854, he was brought by his mother to Quincy during the Civil War and was tutored by a German priest and educated at Quincy College. He then studied at the Urban College of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide and was ordained in Rome in 1886. Having been accepted by the Diocese of Alton, he became pastor of a black church in Quincy, but because of opposition from the clergy and the paucity of black Catholics, in 1889 he was transferred at his request to Chicago, where he was appointed founding pastor of St. Monica's Parish. He died in 1897 and was buried in Quincy.
Education and Catholic Schools. Catholic schools at all levels have flourished in Illinois although the State Constitution of 1870 denies public funds to sectarian institutions. In 1889 the General Assembly, dominated by Republicans, passed the Edwards Law, named after the superintendent of Public Instruction, Richard Edwards, which provided for compulsory school attendance and required that the elementary subjects be taught in the English language. Catholics and Lutherans protested vehemently against it, mainly because it vested undue power over parochial school in local school boards, which could determine whether private day schools satisfied the state requirements for instruction. This controversy should be viewed in the context of a national intensification of anti-Catholic feeling and the rise of the nativist American Protective Association, which was strong in Illinois. In a joint pastoral letter issued in September, 1892, the Catholic bishops of Illinois denounced the law as a violation of their constitutional rights and urged that it be repealed. After the Democrats won majorities in both houses of the General Assembly and the governorship in the November elections, the law was repealed. When the Illinois Federation of German Catholic Societies was organized in 1893, it established a Legislative Committee to scrutinize bills dealing with education; its members also testified frequently before the Education Committees of both the House and the Senate.
Following the chartering of the short-lived University of St. Mary of the Lake, 23 Catholic institutions of higher learning were founded in Illinois, ten of which survived into the 21st century, namely, St. Francis Xavier College for Women (now Saint Xavier University) in Chicago, founded by the Sisters of Mercy and chartered in 1847; Quincy College (now University), founded in 1860 by the Friars Minor (Diocese of Springfield); Loyola University Chicago (St. Ignatius College until 1909), founded in 1870 by the Jesuits; St. Procopius College (now Benedictine University), founded in 1887 by the Benedictine monks at Lisle (Diocese of Joliet); DePaul University, founded in 1898 by the Vincentian Fathers in Chicago; Barat College, founded in 1918 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest (Archdiocese of Chicago); College (now University) of Illinois, St. Francis, chartered in 1920 and opened in 1925 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate in Joliet; Rosary College (now Dominican University), founded in 1922 by the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa (Wisconsin) at River Forest (Archdiocese of Chicago); Springfield College in Illinois, founded in 1929 by the Ursuline Sisters; and Lewis College of Science and Technology (now Lewis University), founded in 1930 by the Brothers of the Christian Schools at Lockport (now Romeoville, Diocese of Joliet).
The only major seminary for diocesan students in the state, founded by Archbishop Mundelein, opened in 1921. The University of St. Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary, as it came to be called, was staffed by Jesuits of the Missouri Province who occupied the principal chairs in theology and philosophy and provided spiritual direction. By virtue of its 1844 charter from the State of Illinois, the University of St. Mary of the Lake was authorized to confer the bachelor of arts degree and the master of arts in religious studies. In 1929 the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities granted the theological faculty the power to confer a baccalaureate, license, and doctorate in Sacred Theology. At this time the seminary was also designated a provincial seminary and opened to students from other dioceses in Illinois. St. Mary of the Lake became the first American institution designated as a "pontifical faculty of theology" under the apostolic constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus (1931). In 1970 the seminary became an associate member of the Association of Theological Schools and in 1972 a full member with the right to award the master of divinity degree and to have its other academic degrees recognized as accredited.
Catholic Conference of Illinois and the Historical Society. The Catholic Welfare Committee of Illinois, organized by the bishops in 1929 to give a unified and official expression of the positions of the Church on pending and proposed legislation, was superseded in July, 1969, by the Catholic Conference of Illinois. Under the leadership of John Cardinal Cody, Archbishop of Chicago, the Conference was formed originally to obtain from the state direct financial aid for Catholic schools. It is the agency that enables the six dioceses of the state to develop, coordinate, and implement interdiocesan programs and to cooperate with other religious bodies and with secular and governmental organizations in promoting the social and moral welfare of the people of Illinois. The Conference has its headquarters in Chicago and an office in Springfield. It is governed by a board of directors composed of the six diocesan bishops of the state, all auxiliary and retired bishops, one priest, one lay man, and one lay woman from each diocese, and four religious who are at-large members. The Archbishop of Chicago is ex officio chairman of the board.
The Illinois Catholic Historical Society was founded and incorporated in 1918, the centenary of statehood and the 75th anniversary of the erection of the See of Chicago. It was organized at Loyola University in Chicago under the guidance of Frederic Siedenburg, S.J., dean of the School of Sociology, who became first vice-president. The first president was the prominent layman, William J. Onahan. It published a quarterly, the Illinois Catholic Historical Review from July, 1918, to April, 1929. Articles and source materials on the colonial era predominated. Since the editors felt themselves hampered by the limitations imposed by the name of the state in the title of the journal, the name of the journal was changed to Mid-America beginning with the 12th volume in July, 1929, and the administration was taken over by Loyola University.
Bibliography: g. j. garraghan, The Catholic Church in Chicago, 1673–1871 (Chicago 1921, reprinted Ann Arbor 1968). j. p. donnelly, Jacques Marquette, S.J., 1637–1675 (Chicago 1968); Pierre Gibault, Missionary, 1737–1802 (Chicago 1971). d.w. kucera, Church-State Relationships in Education in Illinois (Washington, D.C. 1955). h. c. koenig, Caritas Christi Urget Nos: A History of the Offices, Agencies, and Institutions of the Archdiocese of Chicago, 2 vols. (Chicago 1981). j. f. mcdermott, Old Cahokia: A Narrative and Documents Illustrating the First Century of Its History (St. Louis 1949). r. r. miller, That All May Be One: A History of the Rockford Diocese (Rockford 1976). a. o'rourke, The Good Work Begun: Centennial History of Peoria Diocese (n.p.1977).