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When the Diocese of Vincennes was established, the village of Chicago was just one destination among many for Bishop Brute. The rapid growth of Chicago was evident when nine short years later Chicago became a diocese on its own. On November 28, 1843 the Diocese of Chicago was founded. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the history of the Church in Chicago this way:

In 1833 a petition was addressed to the Right Rev. Joseph Rosati, Bishop of St. Louis and Vicar-General of Bardstown in which latter diocese the state of Illinois then lay, praying for the appointment of a resident pastor. The petition declared that there were about one hundred Catholics in Chicago and was signed by thirty-eight men representing one hundred and twenty-two souls. In answer to this request Bishop Rosati appointed Father John Mary Irenæus St. Cyr to take charge at Chicago, and he celebrated the first Mass in Mark Beaubien’s log cabin on Lake Street, near Market, 1833. Shortly thereafter Fr. St. Cyr secured a lot near the corner of Lake and State Streets and put up a church building twenty-five by thirty-five feet, at the cost of four hundred dollars. This modest structure was dedicated in October, 1833. A little later when Bishop Brute, the first Bishop of Vincennes, visited Chicago, he found there a congregation of four hundred souls. The growing necessities of the missions in northern Illinois soon demanded the services of more than one priest. So, at the solicitation of Bishop Rosati, Bishop Brute sent Fathers Fischer, Shaefer. St. Palais and Dupontavice. The last named was appointed to Joliet. Father St. Cyr was recalled in 1837. He was succeeded as pastor of the English-speaking congregation by Father O’Meara, who removed the church building erected by Father St. Cyr to Wabash Avenue and Madison Street. After the departure of Father O’Meara, Father St. Palais built on this site a new brick structure. To the priests already mentioned the names of Fathers Plunkett and Gueguen should be added as having rendered good services in the first period of the Church’s history in Chicago.

Bishop Brute visited Chicago in 1838. Afterwards wrote to Mother Rose in Emmitsburg about this small village. He said:

Chicago, one hundred and fifty miles north of Vincennes on the Lake Michigan, southwest corner; a city of seven or eight thousand,””largest in the diocese. Alas ! so small a wooden church where I have just celebrated the Divine Sacrifice, though we have near a thousand Catholics, they tell me;

One priest, Mr. O’Meara,””I had a second, Mr. Schaeffer, our Lord recalled him to heaven, I hope. Arrived yesterday night from the line of the works of the Illinois canal. I will spend till Sunday here planning and devising for my successors. Also, so little of genius at plans “” unless our Lord himself pity such an immense “avenir” that I know not how to begin well!

I dream of Sisters here!””but how so? Col. Beaubien offers lots, etc. Very well””but Sisters? A small wooden church, not sufficient for the fourth part on Sunday; and yet most, (as usual) of our Catholics are of the poorest; and the few better off, (as usual too, in our West) so eagerly busy at the great business of this West, growing rich, richer, richest;””too little ready, when the talk is only of lots, interest and estate in Heaven; or of placing in its
Bank on earth, by hands of the Church, and that poor Bishop, the cashier of said Bank, in this part of the world, who
could sign bills of millions of eternal acquittal, etc., etc.

Well Mother! tell me how I will succeed to spirit our busy Chicago to build a good, large brick church. Another man,””
yes, some proper man might succeed, not this unworthy Simon. But enough! I must go to meet Mr. O’Meara, and devise
plans. I would take more pleasure to speak of the shanties where I have lived, and have done some duty these few days
past ; but now I am in the city, and owe myself as well to the
city as to the shanties. 1

  1. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHICAGO 1673 – 1871 AN HISTORICAL SKETCH By Gilbert J. Garraghan, S. J. — LOYOLA UNIVERSITY PRESS, Chicago, Illinois 1921[]

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