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Bishop Louis Tylka is radically reshaping his diocese in response to challenging times. (CNS/Diocese of Peoria)

The Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, will have half as many parishes by 2026 as it does now, as part of a pastoral planning effort focused on helping the diocese “be more intentional in cultivating disciples”. Source: CNA.

Peoria Bishop Louis Tylka announced on Saturday that between now and May 2026, the diocese will be reshaped from 156 parishes to 75 parishes, with 129 worship sites. The remaining parishes will be overseen by 71 diocesan and religious order pastors; 39 priests will be reassigned. 

The Peoria Diocese covers 26 counties in Illinois in the United States Midwest. Out of a total population of 1.4 million, nearly 11 per cent of that population is Catholic, the diocese says.

The decision to drastically downsize the diocese comes amid declining Mass attendance and a prediction of a shrinking number of priests. Seventy per cent of the 145 total priests ministering in the diocese are over the age of 50. According to the diocese’s projections, in the next 10 years, there may be fewer than 100 active priests.

Mass attendance shrank 22 per cent between 2019 and 2022, the diocese says, while infant baptisms are down 27 per cent since 2015-2016. In addition, funerals are down 10 per cent and Catholic marriages are down 34 per cent since 2015-2016.

In announcing the “Growing Disciples” pastoral planning initiative in August 2022, Bishop Tylka said he launched the plan “so that we can not only meet the ministry challenges of today, but we can also grow a vibrant, sustainable mission-driven Church for the future”. 

“We must recognise that in each successive generation, we are called to read the signs of the times and, entrusting our discipleship to the Holy Spirit, discern the path forward,” Bishop Tylka said at the time.


Peoria Diocese to reduce the number of parishes in the diocese by half (CNA)