Former home to diocesan offices, convent razed

A piece of Catholic history became a memory this week with the razing of the former Sheen Pastoral Center in Peoria, built as a convent in 1958 and adapted for use as headquarters for many central offices of the Diocese of Peoria from 1985 to late 2008.

The space will be utilized for guest parking at the diocese’s new Spalding Pastoral Center, which opened about 100 yards from its front door last November.

For its first 27 years, the three-story brick structure at 412 N.E. Madison Ave. served as home for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet who taught at the neighboring Academy of Our Lady and Spalding Institute. The community had already given nearly a century of service to the diocese, and their new convent was built on the site of an earlier structure and convent known as the Academy of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

In October of 1985, the Sisters began leasing the building’s basement and first two floors to the diocese, with Sisters who taught at Spalding-Academy continuing to live on the top floor. The building was renamed in honor of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the diocese’s most famous native son and whose cause for sainthood the diocese is now advancing. (The diocese’s new pastoral center is home to the Archbishop Sheen and Diocese of Peoria Museum.)

On Tuesday, demolition crews reached the former convent’s cornerstone and found a bronze box within. The box preserved the contents of a “time capsule” that held April 1958 copies of The Register (as the diocesan newspaper was known then) and The Academy Compact newspaper; an eight-inch ceramic statue of St. Joseph from Germany; a scapular; a badge from the Apostleship of Prayer/Sacred Heart League, and a sealed envelope containing the names of Sisters residing at the Academy that year.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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