Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington

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Archdiocese of Washington
Archidioecesis Vashingtonensis
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.svg
Country United States
Territory District of Columbia plus counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, St. Mary's, Calvert, and Charles in Maryland[1]
Ecclesiastical province Washington
Area 2,104 sq mi (5,450 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2014)
630,823[2] (22.0%)
Parishes 139
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established November 15, 1947[3] (69 years ago)
Cathedral Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
Patron saint St. Matthew
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Auxiliary Bishops Barry Christopher Knestout
Mario E. Dorsonville[4]
Emeritus Bishops Theodore Edgar Cardinal McCarrick
Francisco González Valer
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.
The Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, Maryland

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is a particular church of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It comprises the District of Columbia and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's and Saint Mary's counties in the state of Maryland.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to The Catholic University of America, the national Catholic university operated by the United States bishops. Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher education in the United States, founded in 1789, is also located within the Archdiocese of Washington. The Archdiocese is also home to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a minor basilica dedicated to the nation's patron saint, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The Basilica, though not a parish of the Archdiocese of Washington, is the site of the Archdiocese's Easter and Christmas Masses, which are normally televised nationally on EWTN.


The ordinary of the Archdiocese of Washington is an archbishop whose cathedra is the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in the City of Washington and who is metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Washington. Its sole suffragan see is the Diocese of Saint Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands.

The first Archbishop of Washington was Michael Joseph Curley in 1939. Eight years later, on November 15, 1947, the archdiocese received its first residential archbishop, with the appointment of Patrick Aloysius O'Boyle. The current Archbishop is Donald Wuerl.


The Archdiocese of Washington often prides itself in sharing the fact that the Society of Jesus celebrated the first Mass in British North America on its shores in 1634.[5] During the colonial era however, Catholics would remain a persecuted people suffering the wrath of oppression allowed by local penal laws.[5]

Upon the establishment of the United States by its founding fathers, a Jesuit priest, Father John Carroll, was elected head of the missionary territory (later Prefecture Apostolic) of the United States. In 1789 the Diocese of Baltimore was established, with Carroll as its first bishop. The newly created diocese — which would later become the Archdiocese of Baltimore — had jurisdiction over all Catholics in the new nation and its territories, including residents of the present-day City of Washington.[6]

In 1858, Mount Olivet Cemetery was established in Washington, D.C., the first Catholic cemetery to serve all the parishes in the area.[7]

On July 22, 1939, Pope Pius XII separated the City of Washington from the Archdiocese of Baltimore and created two Archdioceses (Baltimore and Washington) under the oversight of one archbishop — in persona episcopi.[3][5] The process of separation was officially concluded on November 15, 1947, with the appointment of Washington's first residential archbishop.[3][5] The Archdiocese of Washington became a metropolitan see on October 12, 1965, when the Diocese of Saint Thomas became its suffragan see.

To manage Mount Olivet and three other cemeteries, in 1978 the archdiocese created and incorporated Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington; 25 years later, All Souls Cemetery in Germantown, Maryland became its fifth archdiosesan cemetery.[7]


The lists of archbishops, auxiliary and affiliated bishops and their terms of service.


  1. Michael Joseph Curley (1939–1947; simultaneously Archbishop of Baltimore);[3] died in office
  2. Cardinal Patrick Aloysius O'Boyle (1947–1973); retired; first residential archbishop;[3] died 1987
  3. Cardinal William Wakefield Baum (1973–1980); appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (1980–1990) and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary (1990–2001); died 2015
  4. Cardinal James Aloysius Hickey (1980–2000); retired; died 2004
  5. Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (2000–2006); retired
  6. Cardinal Donald Wuerl (since 2006)

Auxiliary bishops[edit]

  1. John Michael McNamara (1947–1960) died
  2. Patrick Joseph McCormick (1950–1953) died
  3. Philip Matthew Hannan (1956–1965) appointed Archbishop of New Orleans
  4. William Joseph McDonald (1964–1967) appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco
  5. John Selby Spence (1964–1973) died
  6. Edward John Herrmann (1966–1973) appointed Bishop of Columbus
  7. Thomas William Lyons (1974–1988) died
  8. Eugene Antonio Marino S.S.J. (1974–1988) appointed Archbishop of Atlanta
  9. Thomas Cajetan Kelly O.P. (1977–1981) appointed Archbishop of Louisville
  10. Alvaro Corrada del Rio S.J. (1985–1997) appointed Apostolic Administrator of Caguas, Puerto Rico, appointed Bishop of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
  11. William George Curlin (1988–1994) appointed Bishop of Charlotte
  12. Leonard James Olivier S.V.D. (1988–2004) retired
  13. William Edward Lori (1995–2001) appointed Bishop of Bridgeport
  14. Kevin Joseph Farrell (2001–2007) appointed Bishop of Dallas
  15. Francisco González Valer S.F. (2001–2014) retired
  16. Martin David Holley (2004–2016) appointed Bishop of Memphis
  17. Barry Christopher Knestout (since 2008)
  18. Mario E. Dorsonville (since 2015)

Affiliated bishops[edit]

The following began their service as priests in the Archdiocese before being appointed bishops elsewhere:

High schools[edit]

Archdiosesan cemeteries[edit]

In addition to the nearly four dozen parishes which have their own cemeteries,[9] the archdiocese centrally operates five major cemeteries:[7]

Two former parish cemeteries are also operated by the parish:

Province of Washington, D.C.[edit]

Ecclesiastical Province of Washington map

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Archdiocese of Washington
  2. ^ "Statistics". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. 2016-12-06. Retrieved 2016-12-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Although the archdiocese was created on July 29, 1939, it shared its first archbishop with the Archdiocese of Baltimore — Archbishop Curley — who continued to administer the two archdioceses as a single unit, until Washington's first residential archbishop was appointed on Nov. 15, 1947. Most Rev. Michael J. Curley. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on 2016-11-19. Archbishops of the Modern Era. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on 2016-11-19.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d About Us. Archdiocese of Washington. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  6. ^ "Prefect Apostolic". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. Retrieved 6 Aug 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c History from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington
  8. ^ "Most Reverend John F. Donoghue". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ Parish Cemeteries from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°57′11″N 76°59′7.4″W / 38.95306°N 76.985389°W / 38.95306; -76.985389