General history of the Diocese

Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese website screen capture.

General History of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, as provided by the Diocese.

By decree of Pope Pius IX, January 8, 1857, the northern half of the State of Indiana was erected into the Diocese of Fort Wayne, the boundaries being that part of the state north of the southern lines of Fountain, Montgomery, Boone, Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Randolf and Warren counties. The remaining southern half of the state made up the Diocese off Vincennes. (This old see – the original designation of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis – has been designated a titular see).

In 1944, the Apostolic Decree of His Holiness Pope Pius XII established the Diocese of Lafayette, from the southern 24 counties of the Fort Wayne Diocese, approximately dividing the size of the diocese in half.

Another division occurred in 1957, the year the sixth bishop of Fort Wayne, Bishop Leo A. Pursley, was installed and the Diocese celebrated its 100th anniversary. At that time, for northwestern counties of Indiana were taken from the Diocese of Fort Wayne to form the new Diocese of Gary.

Three years later, the Diocese of Fort Wayne was renamed the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and St. Matthew Parish in South Bend was designated the Co-Cathedral along with the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne. With this change, the second auxiliary bishop of the Diocese, Bishop Joseph R. Crowley, was consecrated two years later and was assigned to St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend.

Today, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend comprises 14 counties of northeastern Indiana and has a Catholic population of nearly 160,000, comprised of 57,345 Catholic families and households. The area covers 5,792 square miles with a total population of 1,262,788.

There are 80 parishes in the Diocese, three chapels and two oratories. The clergy consists of one bishop, 75 diocesan priests, 21 international priests as well as five other priests serving in the Diocese. The total number of priests in the Diocese is 238, which includes 37 priests from nine Religious Orders. There are 13 permanent deacons.

The Diocese also includes approximately 413 women from 19 religious orders.

There is one seminary for religious orders in the Diocese with 17 candidates for the priesthood.

The Diocese serves five colleges and universities – made up of 16, 557 students — four Catholic high schools with a total enrollment of 3,180 students, and 40 parishes with parochial schools with 9,701 elementary-school students. In addition, there are three Catholic hospitals, three other health-care facilities and four homes for the elderly.

Official Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese website


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