Diocese of Joliet

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History of the Diocese of Joliet

The Uncharted Frontier:
Before the Diocese of Joliet
Beginning of a Diocese:
Bishop Martin D. McNamara
Years of Change:
Bishop Romeo R. Blanchette
A Time of Growth:
Bishop Joseph L. Imesch
A Time of Renewal:
Bishop J. Peter Sartain
Looking to the Future:
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon




The Unchartered Frontier...

In the 17th century there were brave men who dared to
test themselves against the unknown in the New World.

In 1659 the Holy See created the Diocese of Quebec, which
included the territory known as the New France. Illinois was part of
this territory and thus under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Quebec.

In 1672 Pere Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet made their historic journey into the territory, through what we now know as Wisconsin, to the Mississippi River, and then back up the Illinois River to Lake Michigan.  Other explorations followed, and then came the French settlers, unaware that their influence would continue more than 200 years later in the names of hamlets and cities that would rise up in Illinois—cities like Joliet and villages such as Bourbonnais, St. George, St. Anne, and L’Erable.

Approximately 130 years later, with the Declaration of Independence and the subsequent development of the United States, Joliet and the surrounding area came under the following dioceses: Baltimore (1789-1810), Bardstown (1810-1827), St. Louis (1827-1834), Vincennes, (1834-1844) and Chicago (1844-1949). It should be noted here that some of the area of what is now known as the Diocese of Joliet was, during the period 1844-1949, under the jurisdiction of the Rockford and Peoria dioceses.


  • Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus Dedication Book (1955)
  • Diocese of Joliet Twenty-fifth Anniversary book (1974)
  • Diocesan 50th Anniversary Book (1999) History of the Diocese of Joliet by Rev. Richard Walsh
  • Various articles from The Joliet Catholic Explorer and Christ is our Hope