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The Past Five Bishops of Joliet

(L-R) Bishop Martin D. McNamara, Bishop Romeo R. Blanchette, Bishop Joseph L. Imesch, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon

Bishop Martin D. McNamara

Bishop Martin D. McNamara was born on May 12, 1898, in Chicago. After five years of study at the Cathedral College, later known as Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, he attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore and later the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. On Dec. 23, 1922, at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal George Mundelein. After a brief stay as assistant pastor at Queen of Angels Parish in Chicago, the bishop spent 12 years teaching American history at Quigley. In March 1946, Pope Pius XII named him a domestic prelate with the title of Rt. Rev. Monsignor. On Dec. 11, 1948, the Diocese of Joliet was created. Soon after, on Dec. 17, 1948, he was named as its first bishop. He was ordained as bishop on March 7, 1949. He died at the age of 70.

Bishop Romeo R. Blanchette

A native of Kankakee County, Bishop Romeo R. Blanchette was born on Jan. 6, 1913, on a farm in St. George. He attended St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein and was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal George Mundelein, the archbishop of Chicago, on April 3, 1937. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology, a master’s degree in theology, and a licentiate in canon law. On Jan. 6, 1950, he was appointed to be the vicar general of the Diocese of Joliet, and on Aug. 1, 1950, he was invested as domestic prelate with the title of Rt. Rev. Monsignor. On April 3, 1955, he was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop in the diocese, and, on Aug. 31, 1966, he was installed as the second bishop in the diocese. He served in this capacity until Jan. 30, 1979, when he resigned after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He died on Jan. 10, 1982.

Bishop Joseph L. Imesch

Bishop Joseph L. Imesch was born on June 21, 1931, in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, to Dionys and Margaret (Margelisch) Imesch. He went to elementary school at St. Ambrose and schools in Grosse Pointe. He attended Sacred Heart Seminary High School and College in Detroit where he received his bachelor’s degree. He attended the North American College in Rome where he received a licentiate in sacred theology from the Gregorian University. He was ordained Dec. 16, 1956, in Rome. Upon returning to Michigan, he was appointed assistant pastor at St. Charles Parish in Detroit, from 1957-1959 and was secretary to John Cardinal Dearden, archbishop of Detroit, from 1959-1971. He was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Farmington, where he served from 1971-1977. He was ordained auxiliary bishop of Detroit on April 3, 1973. In 1977, he was assigned as regional bishop of the Northwest Region. On Aug. 28, 1979, he was installed as the third bishop of the Joliet Diocese. Bishop Imesch retired on June 27, 2006. He died on Dec. 22, 2015.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was born to Joseph and Catherine Sartain on June 6, 1952, in Memphis, TN. On July 15, 1978 he was ordained in the Diocese of Memphis. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English at St. Meinrad College in 1974. He graduated with a bachelor’s in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome in 1977 and earned a licentiate of sacred theology with specialization in sacramental theology in 1979. He was an associate pastor and pastor at two churches in Memphis; from 1981 to 2000 in the Diocese of Memphis, he was also director of vocations, chancellor, moderator of the curia, vicar for clergy and vicar general. He was the diocesan administrator from September 1992 to May 1993, while the See of Memphis was vacant. Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, AR, and he was installed on March 6, 2000. He was appointed bishop of Joliet and was installed on June 27, 2006. Pope Benedict XVI then appointed him to be the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle, where he was installed on Dec. 1, 2010. He resigned on Sept. 3, 2019.

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon was born in Cincinnati on Dec. 4, 1948. He is the oldest of six children of Robert and Carla (Holzman) Conlon. He grew up as a member of St. Mary Parish, Hyde Park, Cincinnati. Following graduation from Purcell High School and St. Gregory Seminary High School in 1966, he began studies at the Athanaeum of Ohio/Mt. St. Mary’s of the West Seminary in Cincinnati and on March 9, 1974 was ordained a deacon at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, Cincinnati. He completed a master of divinity degree in 1975 and, after serving as a deacon at St. Agnes Church, Cincinnati, was ordained a priest on Jan. 15, 1977.

He served as associate pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Anderson Township, Cincinnati, from February, 1977 until July, 1982. Beginning in August, 1981 until August, 1983, he served as director of the Office of Planning and Research and assistant chancellor in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. For the next three and a half years, he studied canon law at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario, earning the degrees of Doctor of Canon Law and Doctor of Philosophy in January, 1987. He returned to Cincinnati to become the archdiocese’s chancellor and director of its Department of Executive Services, serving in those capacities until July of 1996, when he was named pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish, New Bremen, OH.

He was named as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville by Pope John Paul II and was consecrated and installed there on Aug. 6, 2002. He chose as his episcopal motto, “Take Courage.”

Pope Benedict XVI named him as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Joliet, where he was installed on July 14, 2011, at the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet.

On Dec. 27, 2019, Bishop Conlon received permission from Pope Francis to take a medical leave of absence. On May 4, 2020, the Holy Father accepted his resignation as bishop of Joliet. He is now the bishop emeritus of Joliet.