Chicago vs St. Louis. Which city is more Catholic?


Hi everyone. I used to post on CA before but it’s been awhile and I forgot my old s/n. But now i’m back asking the question: Between Chicago & St. Louis, which city is more Catholic? And by Catholic I mean conservative Catholic, not Catholic in name only (like Boston) I always hear that both cities are very Catholic, but I also hear that they’re very liberal. Are these good cities to raise a Catholic family?

Factor in the suburbs too.


No idea. Never been to either.


Well…I may have voted to quickly if we’re focusing on liberal vs. conservative. We are members (displaced to the Left Coast for now) of the largest parish in the Chicago Archdiocese. There are Catholics everywhere–lots of large families and generations of tradition. They are active, generous, welcoming to newcomers, vocal and involved in social justice issues–in that they walk the talk of values that are at the core of our faith about our communal responsibility for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We also found a very strong tradition of Marian devotion among the faithful.

However…most of the Catholics we knew well were on the more liberal side in their beliefs–specifically as regards authority of the Church and obedience to doctrines concerning lifestyle, education of children, and the formalities of mass and worship. My faith was never stronger or more fulfilling than when we lived there and I was buoyed by the omnipresent active practice of faith I experienced there. Being Catholic wasn’t just a “Sunday thing”–we interacted with, volunteered for, served and socialized with parish members day in and day out. I have to admit I find myself in a much more conservative/orthodox parish now and yet am more detached and less involved and far less energized by my faith or the community than I ever was in Chicago. It’s not a matter of mere “entertainment” but a profound difference in the spiritual connection and commonality I experienced there vs. here.


Being from the STL I would have to say it is pretty conservative. Now, I never lived in Chicago but have visited there. I have an uncle that has lived in both cities and is an attorney, I wonder what he would think??:confused: I do know that STL has tons of Catholic high schools (and grade schools) but not sure w/ compared to Chicago if we have more or less than them?? Of course the number of schools doesn’t necessarily mean more conservative but just letting you know, that’s all :wink: Have you been to either city, OP??


Well I’ve only been through St. Louis a couple times. Never been to Chicago. But I was just thinking about which city would be better to relocate to and raise a family. I’d like a city that’s like a Catholic version of where I live (somewhere in the South) I like how people down here center their lives around church. It’s very conservative. There’s not many Catholics here though. I’m not sure if there’s a Catholic version of that in the US.


Well it’s nice to hear that the Catholic community is strong in Chicago. I can’t believe that in such a large Northern city, Catholics are so involved in church. Only thing is many people have liberal ideals. I guess it’s a trade off.


There are lots of cities between Chicago and Saint Louis, but if I were to hazard a guess, I would think that Peoria, IL might be one of the more Catholic cities.


^Lol I didn’t mean litterally b/t Chicago & St. Louis.When I said “between”, I meant “of the two” Sorry


I’ve been in both cities and now reside in Springfield, IL. Here is my 2 cents… Being conservative, I found that St.Louis is the place for me if I had a choice. The conservative aspect of faith comes first for me, but also the hometown feeling I get with STL. A place, in which I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute, to raise my children in.

Chicago, in itself, is VERY liberal. It has a lot of cafeteria Catholics. Not to say that everyone who claims Catholicism up there is that way, but they are the majority. (Just take a look at the politics). Way to much huggy-feely, good vibrations, peace to everyone, do not judge type of thing.

This isn’t to say the people up there are bad. It is more of a social justice environment, which isn’t bad either.

But if you are truly looking for the conservative practice of your faith, head further south on I-55.

You know, the Springfield Diocese isn’t too bad. If you were ever in the neighborhood, swing on in.

There are some awesome priests out there who are not afraid to tell his congregation what is right and what is wrong without being afraid of losing the tithe. It seems to me, they are the ones whose parishioners flock to the sermons, the confessionals, adoration chapel, giving more when they thought they couldn’t give any more, and hence all of the social justice and concerns naturally fall into place.

Are you planning on relocating?


The name says it all. :wink:


I wish I lived in Chicogo. Based on what a previous poster said about the community there. I am frustated with St. Louis and I have lived there for 31 years (all my life).

St. Louis has a lot of Catholics in the overall Metro area and a lot of conservative Catholics in certain neighborhoods. It also has many bueatiful churches. But no sense of community. Especially for young people. There are so few young adult type activities in St. Louis. There are only like two parishes with singles groups and they are located in very affluent suburbs. If you attend Mass or any devotion (Rosary, Perpetual Help Devotions) at any typical St.Louis parish almost everyone there will be over 60.

St. Louis is becoming more diveded along racial, ethnic, and also religious lines. So many of the churches in the city and certain parts of the suburbs are closing. If I tell people the Church in St. Louis is falling apart, I am told no-it is just a shift in demographics. But it is more than that. One new parish has opened in a growing part of St. Charles county but like ten or more other churches have closed. 10 to 1 is not good odds. No efforts at evangelation are being made in St. Louis. And we wonder why churches close! Becuase Catholics do not evangelize.

All this adds up to the fact that I can count on one hand the number of practicing Catholics under 50 I know in St. Louis. They are not here. There is no social network to meet other Catholics. I know that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church but I tend to think they are prevailing to destroy the Church in St. Louis.



I’m sorry, but I must disagree with you about the evangelization effort. Perhaps this is true in some age groups, but I work for the church, and I am very involved in youth ministry… and it is booming in St. louis. Just check out xlt south, or the lifeteen Mass at a few of the bigger parishes. Hundreds of young people are going to them.

I do agree that the young adult things seem to be lacking, however, I know of many many attempts at parishes to start stuff, only for no one to show up and it is dropped.

My parish has a great sense of community (I’m in St. Charles too). I think that the closing parishes are a result from there being one on every corner to begin with. I think the reason we are not filling them is the overall state of society in general as the church (and other churches) experience a decline in people’s perceived need for God. That’s an overall evangelization effort, not just the way that St. Louis is.

I know hundreds of Catholic under 50. Mostly in the teen to 30 range. Perhaps I can introduce you? :slight_smile:
I absolutely love St. louis. It was once referred to as the Rome of the west.


Why is that? Why would it be otherwise?


The Chicago metropolitan area is large and varied. You can find whatever it is you want here… and everything you’d prefer to let pass by, also. But you will find a certain vibrancy which is inherant in a major metropolis that may not be present elsewhere. The faith of immigrant communities, in particular, and the community which they traditionally form for their parishes is strong and inspiring. The Polish community is the larest outside Warsaw. The various Hispanic parishes are very family oriented.

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, of interesting communities… and often people pitch in, get to know each other, stay connected for many years. It is a place which people tend to consider “home”. Once you have lived in Chicago, it stays with you forever. It truly is like a big “town”.

Suburban parishes may be large and vibrant or bland and typical. Often they have no parish schools, but large religious education programs. City parishes more often have Catholic schools, though many have closed for lack of enrollment in recent years. The Catholic high school system is largely run by religious orders here, of which there are many.

The politics of the people in the city is decidedly Democratic. But that doesn’t necessarily mean liberal. Often people’s real views, while perhaps somewhat egalitarian as suits a metropolis, lean more traditional. There are a lot of old skool Democrats here. Though certainly there are the very left liberals both socially and within the Church. Indeed, the North Shore Republicans tend to not exactly always be conservatives, save in ecomonics, perhaps. DuPage County (within the diocese of Joliet) trends more right wing politically, though religiously it may or may not be more conservative, again depending where exactly you choose to go.

Undoubtedly, the academic environment here tends to support and foster progressivist thinking. Chicago has long been a base of liberal Catholic thought and innovation…sometimes for the good, sometimes for the troublesome.

Yet it has it’s more conservative elements, also. There is significant memebership among Opud Dei locally. We have traditioanlist groups (both attached to the Church, like at SSPX). And some parishes just have a more conservative/traditional bent. Again, certain immigrant populations tend to adhere to the old world practices which may be in line with something you’d be more comfortable with.

Of course, Chicago has cultural institutions which offer opportunities of great potential. Not to mention the extensive parks. And the lake. Even transportation is significant.

Chicago is the 2nd largest Archdiocese in the country - and that doesn’t include neighboring dioceses which are part of the Metropolitan area. And, yet, there is so much ethnic/racial, cultural, and religious diversity which enriches the environment, also.

The wunnerful city uf Chicaga has so much to offer, but it also has it’s own tuft. As Nelson Algren wrote in his famous poem of many years ago, entitled City on the Make, "Once you’ve come to be a part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”

So is Chicago a good place to raise a family? I think so! But it all depends on what you’re looking for, I suppose. Come visit for a few days and see what you think.


Hi, JHousley! I’ve been to both places, and if I had to pick, I’d say Chicago. I’ve had some bad experiences in St. Louis, and also know people who had bad experiences in St. Louis. I was in danger of being kidnapped by a fugitive running from police in a downtown library, and someone I know, she was accosted by a drug dealer, in front of a Catholic church, no less!

I think Chicago is the more liberal of the two, but a lot of its residents are Irish, Italian, or Polish, all of whom are mostly Catholic. St. Louis, because of its location, which is more in the South, may have more of a Protestant presence.

Note that this is just a wild guess, so I may be completely off-base here, and you will want to take this with a pound of salt.

And oh, about Boston. Well, there’re some very devout Catholics in the Boston area, though I can’t speak for Boston proper, which is younger and more hip.


I vote St. Louis-as another poster mentioned, we were referred to as “Rome of the west”. Plus, now, we have Archbishop Raymond Burke: Need I say more.

And, I guess if you’re in the city, the Church is shrinking, but I’m one of those horrible “white flighters” who moved to St. Charles County, and Catholicisim IS booming out here. Like AgapeWolf mentioned, youth ministry is very vibrant, and my parish (Immaculate Conception) has The Dead Theologians Society for h.s. and college kids (I only wished they’d open it up for all ages!). St. Louis also has Theology on Tap, and St. Monica’s parish (yes, out in West County-but what are you gonna do, that’s where the people have gone) has a young adult coffee house. When I was growing up, I didn’t think the Church had anything “extracurricular” (i.e., outside of Mass) like Protestant denoms did, but now I know I just didn’t know where and how to look for it. Yeah, you might have to drive a bit if you live in the City, but we have a peculiar problem here w/ driving anyway-everyone drives, our public transportation system is awful, and outside of the City, everything is designed for cars, so it’s nearly impossible to walk anywhere (one of things I don’t like about being way out here, but my parish is the main thing keeping me from wanting to move).

I’ve only visited Chicago a couple of times (and I know St. Louis has serious Chicago Envy :o ), and I don’t know much about Cardinal George (he’s Archbp of Chicago, now, right?), but w/ being blessed w/ Raymond Burke and being in a “red state” (even though the City itself is blue, the outer suberbs are still red), I’d have to say, even if the numbers are smaller, St. Louis is probably more orthodox. JMO :thumbsup:

In Christ,



Hi, Well I would most definatly volt for STL! We have Archbishoip Burke who is WONDERFUL. He most assurdly is on track with what Rome wants and isn’t afraid of people not liking what he says.
I must disagree and encourage you to disregaurd some of this posters comments. Yes, they are right, there have been parish closings in STL. However, my understanding from a historical perspective is too many churches were built here for may decades. In the city you can be in walking distance of 5-6 churches. Hard to keep all those bulidings up.
With all due respect I must really disagree with the poster about the sense of community in the STL church. This could not be farter from the truth. Our Catholic schools are wonderful, both at the grade school and high school level. The opportunities for social activities in most churches are huge. I have experienced all kinds of retreat offerings, womens and mens groups, youth and teen groups, opportunities for service to the church at my parish number in the 100’s and I enjoy many, St. Monica’s I think reflects a diverse population and the Catholic Singles Club is not I believe associated with any particular church. They offer many many activites and lots of fun.
I would say you would be very happy in STL!!!


All right, I am in a better mood and going to reply. Part of the reason why I find St. Louis so frustrating is it is a frustrating city to live if you are an adult who does not drive and does not want to depend on other people to take you places.
No, I do not have a driver’s license and I do live in South St. Louis. I find it hard to meet other people who share my Catholic faith but I am scared to take my driver’s test. It is just not true that everyone in the Catholic Church has a car and can drive. I don’t. I am terrified to. Why should a driver’s license be a necessary part of being a Catholic?
Even if I drove, I don’t want to be part of contributing to urban sprawl. I don’t dislike any of you for living in O’Fallon or St. Charles but I do sort of feel that urban sprawl has destroyed our church. It is prevented evangelization and made communities not close-knit anymore.
And I don’t think it is bad to have a Church on every corner. What would you rather have on every corner? An abandoned church?


Necessary to drive to be Catholic? Where did that come from?
I do not live in the area where the churches are closing but, I have friends who do and they LOVE their parish and parish school.
Come to STL! You won’t be sorry


I am in StL. I never lived anywhere else but I feel so isolated here. There are no groups for young adults here in South St. Louis. They are all out in the suburbs. I can go to Mass without a driver’s license and therefore be practicing Catholic but I do not know any yoiung Catholics my own age and I feel sort of friendless in the CHurch. I don’t know how to meet other Catholics my age-my neighborhood is mostly elderly people and I have no transportation.

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