History Of The Diocese

Faith of the Past Informs the Present

in the Diocese of Belleville

(Editor’s note: The following pages detail in abbreviated form, some of the people and events that have shaped the Diocese of Belleville today. It is our intent to highlight a few of those people and some of those events to shed light on who we are and from where we have come. In that way, we can look to the future with light and faith, standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us.)

The Indian missions of Holy Family in Cahokia and Immaculate Conception in Kaskaskia were the first Catholic communities in southern Illinois, almost two hundred years before the erection of the Diocese of Belleville in 1887. French missionaries from Quebec opened the Cahokia mission in 1699.

The Immaculate Conception mission was opened in northern Illinois by the famous missionary and explorer Pere Jacques Marquette in 1673. It moved to Kaskaskia around 1700, following an Indian migration. The parishes were under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Quebec in modern-day Canada.  During those early years of Catholic presence in what would become the Diocese of Belleville, the vast majority of Catholics were Indians, whose stability and presence was eventually decimated by colonial wars and the inexorable westward march of American expansion, including expulsion of the tribal Indians and their cultures. 

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About the Diocese - Statistics & Demographics

Established January 7, 1887

Demographics

Square Miles - 11,678 Counties - 28
Total Population — 860,600 Total Catholic Population - 70,000
Parishes - 108  
(57 with Resident Diocesan Priests)  
(6 with Resident Religious Priests)   

Men Religious

 Diocesan Clergy - 98  Permanent Deacons - 36
 (Including Retired Priests)  Transitional Deacons - 1
 Religious Order Clergy - 36  Diocesan Seminarians - 8
 Clergy of other Dioceses - 13  Brothers - 6

Women Religious

Sisters - 124  

Institutions

Elementary Schools - 27 High Schools - 3
(Students - 4,886 - Grades P-8) (Students - 1,027)
Hospitals - 5 Homes for Sr. Citizens - 2
Retired Priests’ Homes - 1