Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago

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Archdiocese of Chicago

Archidiœcesis Chicagiensis
Gerald Farinas Holy Name Cathedral from Street.jpg
Holy Name Cathedral
Archdiocese of Chicago Coat of Arms.svg
Coat of arms
Flag of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.svg
CountryUnited States
TerritoryCounties of Cook and Lake
Ecclesiastical provinceChicago
Area1,411 sq mi (3,650 km2)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2017)
5.94 million
2,179,000[1] (37%)
Parishes246[1] (As of 1/2022)
Schools156 archdiocesan-run[1]
35 non-archdiocesan-run[1]
DenominationCatholic Church
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedNovember 28, 1843; 178 years ago (1843-11-28)
CathedralHoly Name Cathedral
Patron saintImmaculate Conception[citation needed]
Secular priests770[1]
Current leadership
ArchbishopBlase J. Cupich[2]
Auxiliary Bishops
Vicar GeneralRobert Gerald Casey[3]
Bishops emeritus
Archdiocese of Chicago map 1.png

The Archdiocese of Chicago (Latin: Archidiœcesis Chicagiensis) is a Latin Church ecclesiastical jurisdiction or archdiocese of the Catholic Church located in Northeastern Illinois, in the United States. It was established as a diocese in 1843 and elevated to an archdiocese in 1880. It serves the more than 2.2 million Catholics in Cook and Lake counties in the state of Illinois, an area of 1,411 square miles (3,650 km2). The archdiocese is divided into six vicariates and 31 deaneries.

Blase Joseph Cupich was appointed Archbishop of Chicago in 2014 (and Cardinal in 2016) by Pope Francis, and is assisted by six episcopal vicars, who are each responsible for a vicariate (region). The cathedral parish for the archdiocese, Holy Name Cathedral, is in the Near North Side area of the see city for the diocese, Chicago. The Archdiocese of Chicago is the metropolitan see of the Province of Chicago. Its suffragan dioceses are the other Catholic dioceses in Illinois: Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield.

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago from 1982 to 1996, was arguably one of the most prominent figures in the Church in the United States in the post-Vatican II era, rallying progressives with his "seamless garment ethic" and his ecumenical initiatives.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6]

First parish[edit]

St. Mary's Cathedral, Chicago

At the cost of four hundred dollars, Father Saint Cyr purchased a plot of land at 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, Bishop Simon Bruté of Vincennes visited Chicago, where he found over 400 Catholics with only one priest to serve them. 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 demolished the church and replaced it with a new brick structure.[7]

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.[6] One of Quarter's most important achievements was his successful petitioning for the passage of an Illinois 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.[8] This allowed the bishop to pursue large-scale construction of new churches, colleges, and universities to serve the needs of Chicago's Roman Catholic faithful. After four years of service as Bishop of Chicago, Bishop Quarter died on April 10, 1848.[9]

Fire of 1871[edit]

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 the Diocese of Springfield. The Diocese of Peoria was established in 1877 from another territorial split from the Chicago diocese.[8]

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).[6]

28th International Eucharistic Congress[edit]

In 1926, the archdiocese hosted the 28th International Eucharistic Congress.

Our Lady of the Angels fire[edit]

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

In 1959 the National Fire Protection Association's report on the blaze blamed civic authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago for "housing their children in fire traps" – their words – such as Our Lady of the Angels School. The report noted that both the Chicago School Board and the Archdiocese continued to allow some schools to be legally operated despite having inadequate fire safety standards.


Archbishop's Residence[edit]

Archbishops House Chicago

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, it 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, though two previous popes had stayed there as cardinals: Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII; and Giovanni Cardinal 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 and current archbishop, Blase Cupich, who chose to live at the Holy Name Cathedral rectory.


Bishops of Chicago[edit]

  1. William J. Quarter (1844–1848)
  2. James Oliver Van de Velde, S.J. (1848–1853), appointed Bishop of Natchez
  3. Anthony O'Regan (1854–1858)
  4. James Duggan (1859–1880)
Monument to the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery

Archbishops of Chicago[edit]

  1. Patrick Augustine Feehan (1880–1902)
  2. James Edward Quigley (1903–1915)
  3. Cardinal George Mundelein (1915–1939)
  4. Cardinal Samuel Stritch (1939–1958), appointed Pro-Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith
  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. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich (2014–present)

Current auxiliary bishops[edit]

Former auxiliary bishops[edit]

Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Lake View East neighborhood

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops[edit]

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

Most Reverend Robert Casey, Vicar General
Stephen Kanonik, Moderator of the Curia
Daniel Welter, Chancellor
Jeffrey S. Grob, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate I
Mark A. Bartosic, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate II
Robert J. Lombardo, CFR, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate III
Kevin M. Birmingham, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate IV
Andrew P. Wypych, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate V
Joseph N. Perry, Auxiliary Bishop, Episcopal Vicar, Vicariate VI
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
Peter Wojik, Director, Department of Parish Vitality and Mission
Jim Rigg, Superintendent, Archdiocesan Board of Catholic Education


Departments, agencies and offices include:

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, 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 27, 2015, article in the Chicago Tribune refers to the Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Catholic Schools as the largest private school system in the United States. At the outset of the 2020/21 academic year, the archdiocese ran 160 elementary schools and three high schools. An additional eight Catholic elementary schools and 28 Catholic high schools that are not archdiocesan-run are located within the Archdiocese of Chicago.[1] As of 2015, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools is Jim Rigg, Ph.D.[13]

In January 2018, the Archdiocese announced the closure of five of its schools.[14] In January 2020, the Archdiocese announced the permanent closure of five of its other schools.[15] As of 2022, there are 33 Catholic high schools currently operating in Cook and Lake counties, seven all-girl high schools, seven all-boys high schools and 19 co-ed high schools.[16]

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."[17][18]

The Respect Life Office has coordinated several anti-abortion initiatives in the Chicago area. These include the local 40 Days for Life[19] campaign, annual trip to the March for Life in both Chicago and Washington, DC, for college and high school students.[20]


Province of Chicago[edit]

Province of Chicago

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Facts and Figures - Archdiocese of Chicago".
  2. ^ Joshua J. McElwee (September 21, 2014). "Exclusive: Chicago's new archbishop talks about 'stepping into the unknown'". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  3. ^ "Cardinal Blase J. Cupich Names Bishop Robert G. Casey New Vicar General of Archdiocese of Chicago" (Press release). Archdiocese of Chicago. August 28, 2020. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  4. ^ "A Consistent Ethic of Life: Continuing the Dialogue". Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  5. ^ Monet, J. (1979). "Marquette, Jacques". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. University of Toronto/Laval University. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Melody, John (1908). "Archdiocese of Chicago". Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  7. ^ "Father O'Meara biography". St. Dennis Church. Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2006.
  8. ^ a b c Avella, Steven M. (2005). "Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society/Newberry Library. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  9. ^ "Bishop William Quarter (1806–1848)". Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society. September 2, 2007. Archived from the original on January 5, 2006. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  10. ^ "Departments and Agencies" (shtm). Archdiocese of Chicago. Retrieved April 29, 2006.
  11. ^ Skerrett, Ellen (2005). "Catholic School System". Chicago Historical Society/Newberry Library. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  12. ^ Simons, Paul. "Closed School History: 1984–2004" (PDF). Archdiocese of Chicago. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  13. ^ Crosby, Rachel (August 27, 2000). "Chicago Catholic Schools names new superintendent". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  14. ^ Hope, Leah; Elgas, Rob; Hickey, Megan (January 19, 2018). "Archdiocese of Chicago to close 5 Catholic schools". ABC7 Chicago.
  15. ^ "Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago to Close 5 Schools". NBC Chicago. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  16. ^ "Six decades later, officials say Regina Dominican's all-girls education increasingly relevant". Chicago Tribune. March 26, 2019. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  17. ^ Office, Respect Life. "Chastity Education Initiative/Youth". Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  18. ^ "Respect Life Office". Archdiocese of Chicago. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  19. ^ DeFiglio, Pam (October 12, 2008). "Crowd kicks off '40 Days for Life' prayer vigil". Catholic New World. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  20. ^ ""March for Life Chicago" to Mark Respect Life Month Activities" (Press release). Archdiocese of Chicago. January 16, 2014.
  21. ^ "Information, Schedule & Directions". Shrine of Christ the King. Retrieved March 3, 2016.

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