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Founded: 1864
Current Number of Families: 650

            In 1862 land was purchased for a new parish to begin---St Louis---for the small Catholic population in Princeton.  It was purchased from Mr & Mrs Andrew Gosse.  The site was located near the fair grounds.  For a few years Holy Mass was celebrated in the Gosse home, until 1865, when the first St Louis Church, a small frame structure, was built by some men of the parish. Priests from LaSalle would make the four to six-hour trek to offer the Sacraments to St Louis mission parish.  Beginning in about 1870, St Louis Church was attended from Mendota.  Later, St Louis received priests from Sheffield and Tiskilwa. In 1909, Bishop John Lancaster Spaulding, the first Bishop of Peoria, purchased a small parcel of land at the corner of Main Street and Central Ave, from Mr and Mrs George Roth.  The original St Louis Church was physically moved from its former site to its new location, on Main Street.  Soon after, the Catholic population of Princeton outgrew the original structure and so the congregation enlarged it.  Fr James Dollard was the first resident pastor of St Louis Parish, starting in 1910.  During his administration, a framed rectory was built.  At this time St Louis Church had, as a mission parish, St Francis Xavier’s in Bureau.  Soon Fr Dollard saw the need for another mission church . . . in Wyanet.  Fr Dollard oversaw the building of St Margaret Mary Church there.  The second pastor of St Louis Parish was Fr Gildea, from 1914 to 1917.  Fr John D Ring was assigned as pastor, from 1917 to 1929.  The parish continued to grow steadily, despite the strong sentiment of anti-Catholicism in the town of Princeton. Fr Louis Dougherty was appointed pastor on April 20, 1929 and served until 1946.  During this time, the relatively small wood-frame church on Main Street was seen as an inadequate size.  Plans were set in motion and a new site was found for a new St Louis Church building.  Fr Edward Farrell was assigned to St Louis in 1946 and land was purchased, from Mr Robert J Anderson, in July of the same year.  An English Gothic-style church was planned and construction began in 1949.  Christmas Eve of 1950 saw the first celebration of Mass.  Dedication of the new church was on June 17, 1951 by Bishop Schlarman.  The church was contracted by the Swanson Brothers (Ray and Elliott), but many people of the parish contributed not only treasure for the project, but ample time and talent as well.  Fr EC Blough became pastor in June of 1955.  Fr James P Culleton became pastor in February of 1960, whose tenure would last until 1975.  Plans for a school began soon after Father Culleton’s arrival.  St Louis School opened its doors in September of 1964 and blessed by Bishop Franz in May of 1965. The present stone rectory of St Louis was purchased from C.E. Dietmeier in November of 1965.  The wood-frame rectory that used to sit where the present main parking lot is was physically moved north, to the other side of Peru Street, where it still stands.  The brick home of Mrs Anna Fleming was purchased in April of 1964 to become a Convent for the teaching Sisters of Mary of the Presentation. In 1975 Fr Richard Kolczaski became pastor and, three years later, oversaw the addition to the school for a Kindergarten and new library.  In 1988, Fr Edward Harkrader began his 13 year pastorate.  In 1998 he oversaw a large addition made between the church and school of a sizable parish hall with a kitchenette, a new library, a computer lab, and an additional office.  In 2001 Fr James Ramer continued the good work of the many pastors before him.  In 2003 Fr Jeffrey Stirniman began his pastorate at St Louis Parish.  At the request of the parishioners he helped convert the Convent building into a Preschool---which opened its doors in September of 2005.  Never let us forget the many parishioners who have come before us, for whom we should show gratitude, by living our Catholic Faith as best we can.


            St Louis was born in France on April 25, 1214.  His mother was very religious.  She taught her son to love God and to act according to this love.  Louis became the King of France at the age of 12.  He was married at 20 and had six sons and five daughters.  During Louis’ lifetime, Christians fought holy wars called Crusades.  Christians would go to the Holy Lands to protect it against those who did not believe in God.  Louis led two of these Crusades.  St Louis ruled his people with such wisdom, charity, and fairness that even foreign kings asked him to settle their disagreements.  Louis spent a great deal of time praying and attending Mass, often times twice daily.  He built hospitals and universities.  St Louis was also noted for his charity to the poor.  Even while he was alive the people thought of him as a Saint.  His feast day is August 25th. Let us, like our patron King St Louis, strive to be a Saint. 

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