Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago

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Archdiocese of Chicago
Archidioecesis Chicagiensis
Archdiocese of Chicago Coat of Arms.svg
Country United States
Territory Counties of Cook and Lake
Ecclesiastical province Chicago
Area 1,411 sq mi (3,650 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
2,438,000 (39%)
Parishes 356
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established November 28, 1843 (171 years ago)
Cathedral Holy Name Cathedral
Patron saint Immaculate Conception
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Archbishop Blase J. Cupich[1]
Auxiliary Bishops Francis J. Kane
John R. Manz
Joseph N. Perry
George J. Rassas
Alberto Rojas
Andrew P. Wypych
Vicar General Ronald A. Hicks [2]
Emeritus Bishops John R. Gorman
Raymond E. Goedert
Archdiocese of Chicago map 1.png

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago (Latin: Archidioecesis Chicagiensis) was established as a diocese in 1843 and as an archdiocese in 1880. It serves more than 2.3 million Catholics in Cook and Lake counties in Northeastern Illinois, a geographic area of 1411 square miles. The archdiocese is divided into six vicariates and 31 deaneries. This local church is headed by the Most Rev. Blase Joseph Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, assisted by six episcopal vicars, each responsible for a vicariate (region). The see city for the diocese is Chicago. The cathedral parish for the archdiocese is the Holy Name. Cardinal Francis George, who served from 1997 until 2014, was the Archbishop Emeritus until his death on April 17, 2015.

Diocesan history[edit]

Arrival of missionaries[edit]

Father Marquette

A French Jesuit missionary, the Rev. Jacques Marquette, SJ first explored the area that is now Chicago in the mid-17th century. On December 4, 1674, Father Marquette arrived at the mouth of the Chicago River where he built a cabin to recuperate from his travels. His cabin became the first European settlement in the area now known as Chicago. Marquette published his survey of the new territories and soon more French missionaries and settlers arrived.[3]

First priest[edit]

In 1795, the Potawatomi tribe signed the Treaty of Greenville that ceded to the United States a tract of land at the mouth of the Chicago River. There in 1804, Fort Dearborn was erected and protected newly arrived Catholic pioneers. In 1822, Alexander Beaubien became the first person to be baptized in Chicago. In 1833, Jesuit missionaries wrote a letter to the Most Rev. Joseph Rosati, Bishop of Saint Louis and Vicar General of Bardstown, pleading for the appointment of a resident pastor to serve over one hundred professing Roman Catholics living in Chicago. Rosati appointed a diocesan priest, the Rev. John Mary Irenaeus Saint Cyr. Fr. Saint Cyr celebrated his first Mass in a log cabin owned by the Beaubien family on Lake Street, near Market Street, in 1833.[4]

First parish[edit]

St. Mary's Cathedral, Chicago

At the cost of four hundred dollars, Father Saint Cyr purchased a plot of land on what is now the intersection of Lake and State Streets and constructed a church building of 25 by 35 feet (7.6 by 10.7 m). It was dedicated in October 1833. The following year, the Bishop of Vincennes visited Chicago, where he found over 400 Catholics with only one priest to serve them all. The bishop asked permission from Bishop Rosati to send Fathers Fischer, Shaefer, Saint Palais, Dupontavice, and Joliet from Vincennes to tend to the needs of the Chicago region. In 1837, Fr. Saint Cyr was allowed to retire and was replaced by Chicago's first English-speaking priest, the Rev. James Timothy O'Meara. Father O'Meara moved the church built by Fr. Saint Cyr to what is now the intersection of Wabash Avenue and Madison Street. When Fr. O'Meara left Chicago, Saint Palais tore down the church and replaced it with a new brick structure.[5]

Diocesan establishment[edit]

The First Plenary Council of Baltimore concluded that the Roman Catholic population of Chicago was growing exponentially and was in dire need of an episcopal see of its own. With the consent of Pope Gregory XVI, the Diocese of Chicago was canonically erected on November 28, 1843. In 1844, William Quarter of Ireland was appointed as the first Bishop of Chicago. Upon his arrival, Quarter summoned a synod of 32 Chicago priests to begin the organization of the diocese.[4] One of Quarter's most important achievements was his successful petitioning for the passage of an Illinois state law in 1845 that declared the Bishop of Chicago an incorporated entity, a corporation sole, with power to hold real and other property in trust for religious purposes.[6] This allowed the bishop to pursue mass construction of new churches, colleges and universities to serve the needs of Chicago's Roman Catholic faithful.[7] After four years of service as Bishop of Chicago, Bishop Quarter died on April 10, 1848.[7]

Fire of 1871[edit]

Holy Name Cathedral on State Street in Chicago

The church lost nearly a million dollars in church property in the Chicago fire of 1871, leading to administrative instability for decades[8]

Archdiocese establishment[edit]

The southern section of the state of Illinois split from Chicago diocese in 1853, becoming the Diocese of Quincy. The Quincy diocese was renamed the Diocese of Alton in 1857, and eventually became Diocese of Springfield. The Diocese of Peoria was established in 1877 from another territorial split from the Chicago diocese.[9]

From 1844 to 1879, the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Chicago held the title Bishop of Chicago. With the elevation of the diocese to an archdiocese in 1880, the diocesan bishop held the title Archbishop of Chicago. Since 1915, all Archbishops of Chicago have been honored in consistory with the title of Cardinal Priest and membership in the College of Cardinals. The archbishops also have responsibilities in the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. All but two diocesan bishops were diocesan priests before assuming the episcopacy in Chicago. Two came from religious institutes: the Society of Jesus (James Van de Velde) and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Francis George).[4]

Our Lady of the Angels fire[edit]

Monument to the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery

The Our Lady of the Angels School Fire occurred at the Our Lady of Angels School on December 1, 1958 in the Humboldt Park area of western Chicago. The school, which was operated by the Archdiocese, lost 92 students and three nuns in five classrooms on the second floor.

Archbishop's Residence[edit]

The Archbishop's Residence at 1555 North State Parkway is the official home of the Archbishop of Chicago and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1885 by the Most Rev. Patrick Feehan, first Archbishop of Chicago, the Archbishop's Residence is a three-story, red brick building and is one of the oldest structures in the Astor Street District, according to the Landmarks Preservation Council.

When Pope John Paul II visited Chicago in 1979, he became the first Pontiff to stay at the residence. Two previous popes stayed at the residence as cardinals: Cardinal Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII; and Cardinal Giovanni Montini, who became Pope Paul VI.

Before the establishment of the Archbishop's Residence, the Bishops of Chicago were in residence at a home on LaSalle Street and North Avenue.

All archbishops of Chicago lived at the mansion until the appointment of the ninth archbishop, Blase Cupich, who chose to live at Holy Name Cathedral.


Diocesan bishops[edit]


  1. William J. Quarter (1844–1848)
  2. James Oliver Van de Velde, SJ (1848–1853)
  3. Anthony O'Regan (1854–1858)
  4. James Duggan (1859–1880)


  1. Patrick Augustine Feehan (1880–1902)
  2. James Edward Quigley (1903–1915)
  3. Cardinal George Mundelein (1915–1939)
  4. Cardinal Samuel Stritch (1939–1958)
  5. Cardinal Albert Gregory Meyer (1958–1965)
  6. Cardinal John Cody (1965–1982)
  7. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (1982–1996)
  8. Cardinal Francis George, OMI (1997–2014)
  9. Blase J. Cupich (incumbent) (2014–present)

Coadjutor bishops (who did not become diocesan bishop)[edit]

Current auxiliary bishops[edit]

See Auxiliary bishop

Retired auxiliary bishops[edit]

Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Lake View East

Deceased auxiliary bishops[edit]

Bishops who once were priests of the archdiocese[edit]

The following men began their service as priests in Chicago before being appointed bishops elsewhere:



Structure of the archdiocese[edit]

Archdiocese of Chicago Vicariate Map


The Archdiocese Pastoral Centers are Archbishop Quigley Center, 835 North Rush Street and Cardinal Meyer Center, 3525 South Lake Park Avenue, both in Chicago.

Administrative Council to the Archbishop

Ronald Hicks, Vicar General
Stephen Kanonik, Moderator of the Curia
Jeffery Grob, Chancellor
Francis J. Kane, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicare, Vicariate II
John R. Manz, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate IV
Joseph N. Perry, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate VI
George J. Rassas, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate I
Alberto Rojas, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate III
Andrew P. Wypych, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate V
Thomas A. Baima, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs, University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary
Michael M. Boland, Director, Catholic Charities
Betsy Bohlen, Chief Financial Officer
George Puszka, Director, Finance
Christopher J. Cannova, Department of Personnel Services
Peter de Keartry, Interim-Director, Department of Human Services
Richard P. Hynes, Director, Department of Parish Life and Formation
Jim Rigg, Superintendent, Archdiocesan Board of Catholic Education


Departments, agencies and offices include:

  • Metropolitan Tribunal
  • Ministerial Evaluation
  • Ministry in Higher Education
  • Office of Catholic Schools
  • Office of Information Technology
  • Office for Peace and Justice
  • Office for Persons with Disabilities
  • Office of Professional Responsibility
  • Ongoing Formation in Ministry
  • Parish Life and Formation
  • The Protection of Children and Youth
  • Racial Justice
  • Research and Planning
  • Respect Life
  • Stewardship and Development
  • Vocations
  • Young Adult Ministry
  • Youth Ministry Office.[10]

Office of Catholic Schools[edit]

Archbishop Quigley Pastoral Center, 835 N. Rush St., one of two administrative centers for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The Office of Catholic Schools operates, manages, and supports diocesan and Catholic primary and secondary schools. Catholic education in the Chicago area began on June 3, 1844 with the opening of a boys' school. Chicago parochial schools served various ethnic groups, including Irish, Germans, Poles, Czechs and Bohemians, French, Slovaks, Lithuanians, Puerto Rican Americans, African Americans, Italians, and Mexicans. Many local nuns living in convents established and operated Catholic schools.

The school construction boom ended when Cardinal John Cody, the archbishop at the time, decided to limit construction of Catholic schools in Lake County and suburban areas in Cook County. Due to changes in demographics, the archdiocese has since closed more than half of its urban schools since 1966.[11]

Between 1984 and 2004, the Office of Catholic Schools closed 148 schools and 10 school sites.[12] An August 17, 2000 article by the Chicago Sun-Times refers to the Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Catholic Schools as the largest private school system in the United States.[13] As of 2015, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools is Jim Rigg.[14]

Respect Life Office[edit]

Cardinal Francis George established the Respect Life Office within the archdiocese. "It promotes the cause of life through advocacy and prayer. It has available educational resources, a speakers bureau and sponsors annual conferences, retreats and rallies for adults and youth. The Office also maintains Project Rachel, a program of reconciliation for those who participated in an abortion; and the Chastity Education Initiative, which serves youth and young adults of the Archdiocese, inspiring them to make positive choices about the gift of human sexuality."[15]

The Respect Life Office has coordinated several pro-life initiatives in the Chicago area. These include the local 40 Days for Life[16] campaign, annual trip to the March for Life in both Chicago and Washington, DC for college and high school students.[17]


Province of Chicago[edit]

Province of Chicago

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Joshua J. McElwee (2014-09-21). "Exclusive: Chicago's new archbishop talks about 'stepping into the unknown'". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online". Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  4. ^ a b c "Archdiocese of Chicago". Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  5. ^ "Father O'Meara biography". Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago". Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  7. ^ a b "Bishop William Quarter (1806-1848)". Archived from the original on January 5, 2006. Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  8. ^ "Chicago Encyclopedia". Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  9. ^ "Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago history". Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  10. ^ "Departments and Agencies" (shtm). Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  11. ^ School System
  12. ^
  13. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  14. ^ "Rigg leaves archdiocese, prepares for new challenges in Chicago". The Catholic Telegraph 184 (10) (Archdiocese of Cincinnati). October 2015. p. 22. 
  15. ^ "Archdiocese Respect Life Office". 
  16. ^ "Catholic New World". 
  17. ^ "Archdiocese of Chicago Release". 
  18. ^ Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

Further reading[edit]

  • Coughlin, Roger J. Charitable Care in the Archdiocese of Chicago (Chicago: The Catholic Charities, 2009)
  • Dahm, Charles W. Power and Authority in the Catholic Church: Cardinal Cody in Chicago (University of Notre Dame Press, 1981)
  • Faraone, Dominic E. "Urban Rifts and Religious Reciprocity: Chicago and the Catholic Church, 1965-1996." (2013, PhD, Marquette University); Bibliography pages 359-86. online
  • Garrathan, Gilbert J. The Catholic Church in Chicago, 1673-1871 (Loyola University Press, 1921)
  • Greeley, Andrew M. Chicago Catholics and the struggles within their Church (Transaction Publishers, 2011)
  • Hoy, Suellen. Good Hearts: Catholic Sisters in Chicago’s Past (University of Illinois Press, 2006)
  • Kantowicz, Edward R. Corporation Sole: Cardinal Mundelein and Chicago Catholicism (University of Notre Dame Press, 1983)
  • Kantowicz, Edward R. The Archdiocese of Chicago: A Journey of Faith (Ireland: Booklink, 2006)
  • Kelliher, Thomas G. Hispanic Catholics and the Archidiocese of Chicago, 1923-1970 (PhD Diss. UMI, Dissertation Services, 1998)
  • Kennedy, Eugene. This Man Bernardin (Loyola U. Press, 1996)
  • Koenig, Rev. Msgr. Harry C., S.T.D., ed. Caritas Christi Urget Nos: A History of the Offices, Agencies, and Institutions of the Archdiocese of Chicago (2 vols. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 1981)
  • Koenig, Rev. Msgr. Harry C., S.T.D., ed. A History of the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago. (2 vols. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 1980)
  • McMahon, Eileen M. What Parish Are You From?: A Chicago Irish Community and Race Relations (University Press of Kentucky, 1995)
  • Neary, Timothy B. "Black-Belt Catholic Space: African-American Parishes in Interwar Chicago." US Catholic Historian (2000): 76-91. in JSTOR
  • Parot, Joseph John. Polish Catholics in Chicago: 1850-1920: a Religious History (Northern Illinois University Press, 1981.)
  • Reiff, Janice L. et al, eds. The Encyclopedia of Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2004) online
  • Sanders, James W. The education of an urban minority: Catholics in Chicago, 1833-1965 (Oxford University Press, 1977)
  • Shanabruch, Charles. Chicago's Catholics: The evolution of an American identity (Univ of Notre Dame Press, 1981)
  • Skerrett, Ellen. "The Catholic Dimension.” in Lawrence J. McCaffrey et al. eds. The Irish in Chicago (University of Illinois Press, 1987)
  • Skerrett, Ellen. Chicago’s Neighborhoods and the Eclipse of Sacred Space (University of Notre Dame Press, 1994)
  • Skerrett, Ellen. et al. eds., Catholicism, Chicago Style (Loyola University Press, 1993)
  • Skok, Deborah A. More Than Neighbors: Catholic Settlements and Day Nurseries in Chicago, 1893-1930 (Northern Illinois University Press, 2007)
  • Wall, A.E.P. The Spirit of Cardinal Bernardin (Chicago: Thomas More Press, 1983)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°53′46″N 87°37′40″W / 41.8960°N 87.6277°W / 41.8960; -87.6277