The parish of St. Edward was founded by Jesus Christ through the faithful of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Jesus Christ gave us the mission to worship God, to be sanctified by the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to educate all To His Divine Word. The worship, love and education which we offer make up the sign of Christ’s Presence in our midst.
HISTORY OF ST. EDWARD’S CHURCH
PARISH: St. Edward’s Catholic Community of Chillicothe
PASTOR: Msgr. Michael C. Bliss
The oldest Catholic community in northern Peoria County was located three miles west of Rome, within the present limits of St. Edward’s parish. It was known as Mooney Settlement and mass was of-fered there by priests from LaSalle and Chicago in private homes during the 1830’s and 1840’s. In 1885 a church was erected in this settlement and named St. Joseph’s Church. It was attended as a mission church by priests from St. Joseph’s parish in Henry.
At about the same time, in 1854, the Catholics of the town of Chillicothe were offered masses in their homes and in local halls by priests from Lacon and Henry. A reformed Episcopal Church building was purchased in 1885 by the Rev. J. E. Reilly and it was named St. Mary, Church of Our Lady – Help of Christians. Both Catholic mission churches, St. Joseph (Mooney settlement) and St. Mary (Chillicothe), were served from 1855-1877 from St. Patrick’s Church of Peoria and from 1988 until 1904 from St. Joseph’s in Henry.
In 1900 the Rev. E. J. Kniery of Henry built St. Edward’s Church on land purchased at Sixth and Cedar Streets and it was dedicated on December 15, 1901, by Auxiliary Bishop P. J. O’Reilly.
The Rev. E. M. Hayden was appointed as the first pastor in June, 1904, and later built the rectory in 1906. Father Hayden was succeeded by Rev. J. E. Roach who served from 1911-1914; Rev. W. J. Burke from 1914-1917; and the Rev. T. J. McCarthy from 1917-1923.
The last mass at St. Joseph (Mooney) was said in 1922. It was razed in 1936, but its foundations are still visible in the old cemetery.
Rev. Martin J. Spalding was appointed pastor in September, 1923, and he remodeled the church and rectory. Father Spalding served the parish for more than 34 years, acquiring land adjacent to the church for a proposed school and convent. It was his dream to provide a Catholic school for the children of the area and he left a substantial financial bequest for its completion.
Rev. R. E. Raney succeeded in December, 1957, as pastor and was joined in June, 1958, by the Sisters of Christian Charity. Classes opened at the newly built St. Edward’s School in September, 1960, with four grades. In 1961 the convent was completed. In 1963 the school included all eight grades. A new rectory was built in 1966 and on October 19, 1967, the newly-built St. Edward’s Church was dedicated by Bishop John B. Franz. In the summer of 1969 the 7th and 8th grades were eliminated and classes were conducted for the first six grades. In September, 1972, a kindergarten was added. In 1986, 7th grade was reinstated and 8th grade was added in 1987. This was the first time in the history of St. Edward’s that the parish was able to offer a kindergarten through eighth grade education, offering a complete Catholic education for the children.
The first co-pastorate in the Diocese of Peoria was formed at St. Edward’s in 1973 with Rev. John C. Anderson joined Father Raney. Father Anderson was appointed sole pastor in October, 1975, with the reassignment of Father Raney. Rev. Duane LeClerq shared the co-pastorate in 1979. In September, 1985, Rev. Ernest E. Pizzamiglio became pastor of St. Edward’s. Since then many priests have served at St. Edward’s. The current pastor is Msgr. Michael Bliss appointed.