Since coming to the “Heart of Illinois,” Bishop Louis Tylka has experienced firsthand the faith and good works of our priests, religious and laypeople, and he has listened to the people of the Diocese of Peoria. In response to what he has learned, Bishop Tylka has commissioned a pastoral planning process called Growing Disciples, with the goal of moving further into the mission which Christ has given us: to go and make disciples.

In order to renew discipleship and enhance relationships with Jesus in every corner of our region, Growing Disciples will examine the current structure of parishes and schools in the diocese to evaluate how they can best meet the needs of the faithful and address challenges facing the Church today.  

Learn more about Growing Disciples in the videos and links below.

Latest News & Updates

Why are we doing Growing Disciples as a Diocese? We are Growing Disciples. Bishop Tylka chose that title intentionally. The world is different and we have to find new ways of doing things. We have fewer priests. Fewer Catholics. Fewer children. People are moving. We have to reimagine the way we reach people with the Good News.

The Growing Disciples process is designed to provoke conversation, to gather data and receive feedback. No decision has been made – and Bishop Tylka will consider all of the data and your feedback as he discerns the future footprint of the Diocese of Peoria.

Please attend your parish meetings, and check out for information about how the second draft models were created and how to provide your feedback to them. Please continue to pray that all our efforts today will bear fruit for a brighter tomorrow.

Growing Disciples Parish Meetings

Information about the next phase of Bishop Louis Tylka’s Growing Disciples initiative has been released. We will host a “town hall” meeting at each parish to discuss the latest updates and give parishioners the chance to share their feedback. 

St. Mary Church in Downs: Sunday, Oct. 8th following the 9am Mass

St. Patrick Church of Merna: Sunday, Oct. 15th following the 11am Mass

Watch as Monsignor Jason Gray, Priest and Director of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, and Katie Bogner, Teacher for the Diocese of Peoria and creator of “Teaching with Fulton Sheen” curriculum, discuss the life of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, his first recorded miracle, and the many ways he modeled how we can pursue our lives as disciples, living and working in witness for Christ.

In this latest update, Bishop Louis Tylka discusses the state of our mission, reminding us that although we have many challenges ahead, through the Five Foundations we have much to be hopeful for as we embark on a renewed path forward to go out and proclaim the Gospel, making and growing disciples of Jesus Christ and becoming a more vibrant, mission-driven Church, alive with the Holy Spirit. You can view Bishop’s letter below.

Father David Richardson shares an update regarding the recent Key Parish Leader meetings, where those in attendance learned about this first round of “parish models” – that is, groupings of parishes that might work together as a new “unified” parish in the future as part of the Growing Disciples pastoral planning process.

Important Info & FAQ’s


Bishop Tylka announces launch of Growing Disciples

Monsignor Mark Merdian explains the role of Key Parish Leaders, and how their feedback and insights from the parish level support the Growing Disciples pastoral planning process.

What did Jesus intend for all of us when he called his first disciples–and what does that mean for us as a Church today? Matt Faley Chief of Mission for the Diocese of Peoria, and Jenny Witt, Director of Evangelization at St. Philomena Parish, discuss what we mean when we use the word “discipleship,” how to discern what Jesus intended for all of us, and how to live out vibrant discipleship–both in our personal apostolates and in our parishes–which is an important goal of the Growing Disciples pastoral planning process.

Most Reverend Louis Tylka, Bishop of Peoria, outlines the Growing Disciples planning process from now through Pentecost 2024. He discusses information about parish draft modeling milestones, timelines and key consultative bodies involved in providing feedback. A graphic which illustrates this information can be found below.

How did God make you to love? Which path will lead you to holiness? Fr. Chase Hilgenbrinck, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Peoria, and Sr. M. Bernadette, FSGM, discuss our universal call to holiness, how to listen for the path God is calling us to take, and why they each felt called to enter the religious life – a foundational understanding essential to the Growing Disciples pastoral planning process.

Do you believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? Did you know that the Mass is our invitation to join in Christ’s sacrifice and participate in communion with God and love for Jesus? Father Luke Spannagel, Priest and National Eucharistic Preacher for the Diocese of Peoria, and Ana Rodas, Assistant Director of Divine Worship for the Diocese of Peoria, discuss how we can come to know and experience Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist, so that our participation in the Mass produces the fruit our Lord intended when He gave us the gift of sharing in communion through the Eucharist – a foundational understanding essential to the Growing Disciples pastoral planning process.

Father Chase Hilgenbrinck introduces the individuals and teams who are guiding the vision and process for the Growing Disciples Pastoral Plan in the Diocese of Peoria. View the full list of leadership team members here.

What does “evangelization” really mean, and how are we called to evangelize as Catholics? What does this have to do with the Growing Disciples Pastoral Planning initiative? In this video, Bishop Lou Tylka and Father Adam Cesarek, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Pontiac, IL, discuss their perspectives–and address common challenges and questions–related to evangelization and Growing Disciples.

Father David Richardson discusses the important aspects of our parishes–aside from numerical data–that are essential to consider as we plan for the future in advancing the Five Foundations for Growing Disciples, and creating an even more vibrant, mission-driven and sustainable network of parishes.

Most Reverend Louis Tylka, Bishop of Peoria, shares an update on how Catholic schools in the Diocese of Peoria will be addressed in the Growing Disciples pastoral planning process. Read more in the statement here.

Father Chase Hilgenbrinck, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Peoria, shares an update regarding the recent Priest Assembly Day and Pastoral Planning Commission meeting.

Growing Disciples Prayer