Streator Catholic Churches
404 N. Park St.
St. Anthony’s Church, 407 S. Park St.
St. Stephen’s Church, 711 Lundy St.
Citing shrinking congregations and costly building
repairs, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria approved a
consolidation plan that resulted in the September 2010
closure of three late-19th and early-20th century
churches in this north-central Illinois community. Land
was purchased—outside the city limits—to construct a new
church serving a single consolidated parish. While
congregants from each closed parish are currently
challenging the consolidation under a Canon Law process
with the Vatican, services are being held at St.
Stephen’s Church. However, many fear this is temporary
until funds can be raised to build a new church. St.
Anthony’s Church and Immaculate Conception Church have
been vacated and are planned for demolition.
Immaculate Conception Church, built in 1884, is Italian
Renaissance-inspired with an attached tower. While the
outside is relatively unornamented with white and brown
trim, the inside is elaborately decorated with a
three-aisled basilica and a blue and gold star, coffered
ceiling. Most of the distinctive stained glass windows
are thought to be by the noted
Munich Studio of Chicago and date from about
St. Anthony’s Church is the largest of Streator's
Catholic churches, completed in 1897. It is a
three-aisled, twin towered, neo-Romanesque brick church
coated to look of ashlar. Its interior cluster columns
are each composed of four iron tubes with elaborate
plaster capitals and pedestals on which stand painted
plaster saints fabricated by the
Statuary Company of Chicago.
Several studios provided the fine stained glass windows.
The altar is a superb example of late-19th century
St. Stephen’s Church, built in 1908, is the oldest
Canonically-established Slovak Catholic church in the
United States. It was built of local brick in a
neo-Medieval style. The modesty of the interior reflects
its Slovak heritage. Each window is stained glass,
possibly also by the Munich Studio of Chicago.
In early 2010, a grassroots organization, “Save our
Catholic Churches,” submitted nearly 900 petition
signatures to the Peoria Diocese in opposition to the
consolidation plan, noting that the Diocese’s own
engineering study of the historic churches demonstrated
that the cost of construction of a single new church
would nearly equal renovation costs for all three of the
historic churches. Despite this protest, on September
29th, Immaculate Conception Church and St. Anthony’s
were officially closed and St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic
Church was renamed St. Michael the Archangel as an
interim place of worship for the consolidated parishes.
Congregants from the three closed parishes filed appeals
to the Peoria Diocese to delay any demolition plans to
the buildings and to request reinstatement of their
parishes. The request was denied. They have since
forwarded their appeals to the “Congregation of the
Clergy” at the Vatican in Rome, under a Canon Law
procedure. If again denied, the parishes are able to
file a third and last appeal to the Vatican “Apostolic
Signatura.” The local pastor of the consolidated
parishes has stated that these appeals are delaying his
plans to demolish the closed churches, but it is also
unlikely that the Vatican will overturn the decisions.
The pastor also stated that, based on the results of a
November survey of Streator’s Catholic households, which
showed parishioners would prefer to remain at St.
Stephen’s than worship in a new church, he would
consider a renovation plan. However, he has not ruled
out the option of constructing a new church. To date,
Streator city officials have remained neutral on the
future of these historic and irreplaceable buildings.
What You Can Do
On Facebook, join “Save the Catholic Parishes of
Write to Streator’s mayor to urge city officials to work
with the Peoria Diocese to identify adaptive uses, or to
initiate a planning effort, for the two vacated churches
rather than demolition. There are dozens of examples of
historic Catholic churches nationwide that have been
sensitively adapted so that they may remain community
See link on a current effort in Johnstown,
Encourage the Peoria Diocese to renovate and retain all
of the historic churches rather than build a new church.
Mayor James Lansford
City of Streator
204 South Bloomington St.
Streator, IL 61364
Most Reverend Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.
The Catholic Diocese of Peoria
Spalding Pastoral Center
419 N.E. Madison Ave.
Peoria, IL 61603-3719