Saint Monica Catholic Church
In the years before St. Monica’s Parish was established, the Catholic families of East Peoria and the surrounding area traveled to Peoria to attend Mass. They traveled by horse and buggy through rain and mud and cold. Needless to say, they could not attend Mass regularly, nor could the children receive religious instructions. Four Catholic men from the East Peoria Area, (John Murphy, Charles Schmitt, John Ely. and M. J. Maloney) met with Bishop John L. Spalding to request the establishment of a Parish in this area. These men were joined by Father Francis J. O’Reilly, an assistant priest from St. Mary’s Cathedral and together they succeeded in organizing forty Catholic families from the surrounding area into St. Monica’s Parish.
In the spring of 1898, they purchased an acre of ground near the top of Spring Street and began construction. The men of the Parish did most of the actual construction work. The Church was dedicated by Bishop Spalding on October 9, 1898. The entire cost of the site and the Church was $2,000.00 and was pr actually debt free at the time of dedication. The Rectory was completed in December 1901. Father O’Reilly continued as acting Pastor from 1898 until 1901.
The following are comments about the Dedication as it appeared in the Peoria Evening Times of October 10, 1898:
The new Roman Catholic Church in East Peoria was dedicated yesterday morning. It is named St. Monica, and is located on or near the spot where Father Jacques Marquette first addressed the native Indians of the surrounding vicinity.
It was a great day for the little parish; a great day for the Catholics of Central Illinois. Fully 1.500 people were in the congregation, a special train having been run over to the village over the T.P.&W. Railroad at 9:30 carrying 600 people, and as many more went over from the city and gathered in from the surrounding countryside.
There were two services during the day. The dedicatory ceremonies with solemn high mass and the address by Bishop Spalding in the morning- followed at 4 o’clock by solemn vespers. The ceremonies were preceded by a parade in which all the uniformed and other Catholic societies of Peoria participated.
On September 25, 1901, Father Joseph H. Fennen was appointed Pastor of St. Monica’s Parish. He exercised this office for almost 62 years until his death on August 24, 1963.
On November 14, 1942, a Mission was established in Creve Coeur with a membership of fifty families. Fattier Fennen continued to care for this Mission until the establishment of Sacre Coeur Parish in June 1952.
On November 8, 1964, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to dedicate the site for a new church, parish hall, and rectory. On Sunday, the 20th day of June, 1965, the corner-stone of the new Church of St. Monica was set by the Right Reverend Monsignor James B. Reidy, P.A., Vicar-general of the Diocese of Peoria. The pastor of the parish at this time was the Reverend