Parish mergers, church closures in La Salle, Bureau, Putnam, neighboring counties announced by Peoria diocese

156 parishes consolidated into 75

The Diocese of Peoria announced Saturday it will merge 156 parishes into 75 parishes with 127 worship sites, and in the process, close a handful of churches in La Salle, Bureau, Putnam, Marshall and Livingston counties.

St. Francis of Assisi in Ottawa, St. Joseph in Wedron, St. Mary in Peru, St. Patrick in Ransom, St. Mary in Grand Ridge, Sts. Peter and Paul in Leonore, St. Patrick in Arlington, Immaculate Conception in Ohio, Illinois, St. Mary in Tiskilwa, St. John the Baptist in Lostant, St. Joseph in Henry and St. Joseph in Flanagan are among the churches that will no longer be in use. These churches no longer will be used for liturgical purposes. It would be a separate process carried out by the diocese to formally relegate a worship space so that it can be made available for another use or for sale, the diocese said.

The changes go into effect July 1.

The newly-designated parishes will be overseen by 71 diocesan and religious order pastors, according to the diocese. These modifications include the merging of 12 parishes into neighboring parishes and 107 parishes being merged to create 38 new parishes. All of the new parishes are asked to evaluate their schedule of Masses, their programs of pastoral care and evangelization even in parishes where there is no change to the pastor or parish structure – some parishes have been given 12 months, others up to 36 months to accomplish these goals. Every parish is being challenged to be more intentional in cultivating disciples, the diocese said.

In the next 10 years, the diocese may have fewer than 100 active priests, it said. Currently, there are more parishes than diocesan priests serving in parishes, the diocese said.

St. Mary in Peru is one of the churches named to close with the recent announcement from the Peoria Diocese. The church will merge with St. Valentine in Peru along with St. Joseph.

For informational data provided by the diocese, visit and for frequently asked questions.

Bishop Louis Tylka said in an online video the “necessary changes” are designed to create a more vibrant, mission driven and sustainable church for growing disciples with the diocese that covers 17,000 miles across 26 counties. Tylka said a study called Growing Disciples was started two years ago with the mission of renewing the church. He said the process on merging parishes and closing churches was thorough, using hard data and examining numbers of baptisms, funerals, parishioners, maintenance costs, church budgets, geography and population trends, among other items. He also said a church’s story was taken into consideration.

Baptism and marriage trends within the diocese reflect the national landscape, as they are half of what they were 20 years ago.

Five criteria or considerations shaped the parish models, according to the diocese. They are: Evangelization Potential, including vibrant liturgies and expanded outreach and ministry; Geography and demographics with no priest or lay person needing to travel more than 30 minutes to attend Mass; Natural affinities and past collaboration among parishes; Long-term sustainability including having the necessary scale and resources for lay leadership, evangelization and financial sustainability; feedback of priests and the faithful. In addition, the size and physical conditions of parish buildings were considered.

Tylka said he is aware the closing of a parish can weigh heavily on a churchgoer’s mind, causing sadness. He said he is hopeful parishioners can see the change is necessary to reach a wider mission and “bring new life to the church.”

Merges are listed (by primary church in bold):

Holy Cross, Mendota, with St. Theresa of Avila, Earlville and St. Peter and Paul, Peterstown.

Holy Family, Oglesby, with St. Mary, Utica.

St. Thomas More, Dalzell, with St. Patrick, Arlington and Holy Trinity, Cherry.

St. Louis, Princeton, with St. John the Evangelist, Walnut, Immaculate Conception, Ohio, Ill. and St. Mary, Tiskilwa.

Nativity of our Lord, Spring Valley, with St. Mary, DePue.

St. Hyacinth, La Salle, with Queen of the Holy Shrine and St. Patrick, both La Salle.

Sacred Heart, Granville, with St. Patrick, Hennepin.

St. Mary, Wenona, with St. Ann, Toluca, St. Patrick, Minonk and St. John the Baptist, Lostant.

St. Columba, Ottawa, with St. Patrick, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Joseph, Wedron. Masses will continue at St. Francis of Assisi until St. Columba is renovated and Masses will continue at St. Joseph while Father Waugh is available.

St. John XXIII, Henry, with Immaculate Conception, Lacon. Primary worship will be at St. Mary Church in Henry.

St. Joseph, Chenoa, with St. Joseph, Flanagan and St. Mary, Lexington.

St. Joseph, Marseilles, with St. Patrick, Seneca, St. Patrick, Ransom, St. Mary, Grand Ridge and Sts. Peter and Paul, Leonore.

St. Valentine, Peru, with St. Joseph, Peru and St. Mary, Peru.

St. Patrick, Dwight, with St. Paul, Odell.

St. Michael the Archangel, Streator, no change. Streator parishes merged in 2010 and Immaculate Conception and St. Stephen churches have since been closed and deemed no longer churches, with Immaculate Conception sold.

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