About The Illinois Latin Mass Society

The Illinois Valley is blessed with a rich Catholic history. Fr. Jacques Marquette, S. J., was the first Catholic missionary to explore the Mississippi and Illinois river valleys. There is a shrine dedicated in his honor in the town of Utica, near Starved Rock State Park, and on the grounds of St. Mary’s Parish. Approximately at that spot, Fr. Marquette fulfilled a promise he had made to the Native Americans of that place to return and offer Holy Mass for them.

A couple hundred years later, it would be the Vincentian missionaries from St. Louis who established parishes along the Illinois River in towns such as LaSalle and Ottawa. LaSalle is home to the oldest serving Catholic church in the Peoria Diocese: the Church of St. Patrick. Many of the Illinois Valley Catholic churches were built by the Irish immigrants who constructed the Illinois and Michigan Canal, or by the Polish and Italian immigrants who worked in the mines.


The Illinois Valley Mass Society appreciates all the cultural richness that each historic Catholic church and parish have brought to this corner of the Peoria Diocese. We endeavor to rediscover the Catholic heritage that inspired our founding parishioners, led by dedicated priests and religious, to build such beautiful churches, solid schools and impressive medical facilities throughout the Illinois Valley area. The cornerstone of this endeavor will always be to grow in personal holiness by uniting our will to that of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are also completely dedicated to His Most Blessed Mother and beg her intercession and protection over our Society and our families and friends.

Our Latin Mass Society began, with the blessing of our Bishop, Daniel J. Jenky, C.S.C., and with regular Masses in the Extraordinary Form at St. Valentine Church and St. Mary Church in Peru, IL. St. Mary Church is a beautiful Romanesque church, with stunning stained glass windows and brilliant altars made of white Carrara marble. St. Mary Church was traditionally the Irish parish of Peru, IL. But, as the territorial parish, it also attracted Catholics from other ethnic groups as well.

St. Valentine Church was traditionally the Polish parish of Peru, IL. It was built during the time that St. Hyacinth Church in LaSalle was being rebuilt due to a fire. The founding fathers of St. Valentine Church wished to erect an imposing Gothic edifice that would express the “Christocratic spirit of the parishioners”.

In other words, the majestic steeple of St. Valentine Church stands up in the Illinois Valley to proclaim that Christ is to be obeyed, not only by the souls of men… but also by nations! “Going, therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matthew 28)


Eventually, at the invitation of Frs. Antonio Dittmer and Paul Carlson, we were invited to bring our Traditional Latin Mass community to the Queen of the Holy Rosary Shrine in nearby LaSalle, IL. At the Shrine we have found a wonderful home, with a beautiful church, pipe organ, and all the appointments needed for celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass. We are so grateful that the Good Lord has allowed us to continue this special ministry at Our Lady’s Shrine. The Shrine, under the direction of Very Rev. Paul Carlson, is also dedicated to the veterans who have served our country so generously and courageously.

We invite all Catholics of the area to join us, in order to rediscover and re-appreciate the beauty, the reverence, and the solemnity of the Catholic Tridentine Mass. This endeavor is far more than a fascination with a nostalgic past. It is rather a humble recognition of the greatness of the Faith that was inspired by the ancient usage (usus antiquior). The same Traditional Latin Mass that formed so many Catholics to be saints can also inspire us to serve the Lord more generously and courageously in these troubling times! Please do join us!


Affiliation and Team

TThe Illinois Valley Latin Mass Society is a parish organization under the direction of Fr. Paul Carlson, Pastor the LaSalle Catholic Parishes. As such, the Society operates under the authority of Most Rev. Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., Bishop of Peoria, and the Vicar General of the Diocese, Msgr. James Kruse. Fr. William M. Gardner, priest of the Peoria Diocese, regularly offers the Traditional Latin Mass for the Society. Mrs. Kori Suarez is the Director of the Scola. Jeff Moore is our organist. Derek Bonnell is the webmaster and liaison to Mass attendees. Peter Suarez, Margie Rhodes, Derek Bonnell, and Amy Bonnell help to organize refreshments and other activities.