Friar Don Miller. OFM
I am a Franciscan priest. I spent my early years of ministry in New Mexico working among the Pueblo Native Americans and the Hispanics. In 1978 I began my years in academics working as a chaplain, faculty member, and administrator at various universities in the southwest and the midwest. I taught various course in theology, especially in my area of specialty which is moral theology. I have been the Vocation Director for the Province of Saint John the Baptist since 2003.
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Friars in Peoria, Illinois

For many years, the Franciscans of Saint John the Baptist Province staffed a number of parishes in the Central Illinois area. Two of these were Sacred Heart and Saint Boniface in Peoria. Sacred heart was downtown and was less of a parish than a service church to the business/commercial area of the city. Saint Boniface was one of four Catholic parishes on the southside. As the years passed those four parishes merged into one, Saint Ann, and the friars no longer had a presence in that part of town.

Saint_josephWhile the parishes were merged, there were still two church buildings in operation. The old Saint Joseph had become Saint Martin de Porres. A few years ago the friars at Sacred Heart moved their living quarters to St. Martin. Not too long after that, there was a damaging fire at St. Martin and the building was closed. But due to its historic nature, the church was rebuilt. About the time it was ready to reopen, the decision was made to remodel Sacred Heart. So the congregation of Sacred Heart moved to St. Martin and the friars were asked to staff both churches. When the church was reopened it reverted to its original patron, Saint Joseph.

Sacred_heart_exteriorSo Sacred_heart_insidepresently, the friars are serving the downtown and near southside of Peoria. All services are being conducted at Saint Joseph because now  Sacred Heart Church is under construction. Once both buildings are up and operational, the friars will continue with their ministry to the area using two refurbished buildings.

If all this seems a little confusing, welcome to the emerging scene of parish structures in the present Church. Buildings, congregations, as well as diocesan priests and priests of various Religious Orders and Congregations have to remain flexible as formats change, but the People of God continue to worship and celebrate God's goodness. Even little Peoria has not avoided the great shuffle--all to the greater glory of God and the service of His people.


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