Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana

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For The Diocese of same name in Louisiana, see Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana.
Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana
Dioecesis Lafayettensis in Indiana
CoA Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana.svg
Country United States
Territory Central Indiana
Ecclesiastical province Indianapolis
Area 9,832 sq mi (25,460 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2004)
98,003 (8.3%)
Parishes 62
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established October 21, 1944 (71 years ago)
Cathedral The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception
Patron saint Immaculate Conception
St. Théodore Guérin
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Timothy L. Doherty
Emeritus Bishops William Leo Higi
Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana map 1.png

The Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana (Latin: Dioecesis Lafayettensis in Indiana) was established by Pope Pius XII on October 21, 1944, from the territory of the Diocese of Fort Wayne. At that time, there were 54 parishes. The diocese contained approximately 31,700 Roman Catholics at its inception.

Bishop William Leo Higi presided over the diocese from June 6, 1984, until March 12, 2010, when the Holy See announced his successor, Timothy L. Doherty of the Diocese of Rockford. Doherty was consecrated bishop of the diocese on July 15, 2010, and has presided over it since, becoming its sixth Ordinary.

Ordinaries of the See of Lafayette[edit]

St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The list of ordinaries of the diocese and their years of service:

  1. John George Bennett (1944–1957) – Died
  2. John Joseph Carberry (1957–1965) – Appointed bishop of Columbus (Ohio)
  3. Raymond Joseph Gallagher (1965–1982) – Retired
  4. George Avis Fulcher (1983–1984) – Died
  5. William Leo Higi (1984–2010) – Retired
  6. Timothy Doherty (2010–present)

† = deceased


Missionaries and Diocese of Vincennes[edit]

The Roman Catholic Church in Indiana began with the Diocese of Vincennes which was created in 1834 by Pope Gregory XVI. It was in this diocese that many French missionaries came to this very anti-Catholic area. The most notable of these missionaries was Theodore Guerin who made her way to southern Indiana with her Sisters of Providence in 1841. Guerin and others in the Sisters formed St. Mary of the Woods College at Terre Haute, Indiana with many alumni throughout the state to preach and spread the Church. From the 1840s to the early 20th century many different parishes were built throughout the area along with Catholic schools which not only broadened the spread of Catholicism, but also created the need for a new diocese. In the late 19th century, the Holy See formed the Diocese of Fort Wayne, separate from the Diocese of Vincennes. The area that was to eventually become Lafayette was at that time part of this new See added to Indiana.

Formation of the Lafayette dioceses[edit]

After many years in the Vincennes dioceses, and later in the Fort Wayne Diocese, the area of north central began to grow in Catholicism and it became apparent that a new diocese was to be formed. On January 18, 1945, Bishop John George Bennett was consecrated the first bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Lafayette. Bishop Bennett encouraged Catholics of the area to go out and actively help to develop this new diocese. In 1957, Bishop Bennett died while remaining in charge of the Lafayette Diocese. It was announced before his death, while he was ill, that the successor to Bennett would be Bishop John Joseph Carberry.[citation needed]

Bishop Carberry continued the work of his predecessor in the growth of the Diocese, while maintaining his own style of leadership. On March 15, 1964, Bishop Carberry announced that a census would be held on November 15. The census found that the diocese had 73,822 Catholic and signified a move from mostly rural populations to scattered suburban areas. On January 20, 1965, it was announced that Bishop Carberry would be transferred to the Diocese of Columbus where he would later on be appointed a Cardinal.[citation needed]

Continued growth[edit]

In August 1965, Raymond Joseph Gallagher was appointed as the next bishop. Bishop Gallagher not only attended the final sessions of the Second Vatican Council but made sure that new parishes were being erected where the growth of Catholic's were the greatest. Within the first five years of being Bishop, Gallagher dedicated many churches in northern Indiana. Bishop Gallagher was part of the Catholic Church during a time when social issues such as birth control were at their height. In 1968 Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical letter forbidding artificial birth control. Throughout he reign, the Diocese grew, and Bishop Gallagher became very successful in his mission.[citation needed]

With Gallagher's retirement in 1982, Bishop George Avis Fulcher was appointed by Pope John Paul II. Within three weeks of his installation as Bishop, he was appointed to the US Bishops' Committee for the implementation of the Pastoral Letter on Peace. While driving to a conference on Canon Law in January 1984, Bishop Fulcher died when his car crashed off US-41 at Gobbler's Knob north of Rockville. With the sudden death, the Diocese was left in shock and would not have another Bishop appointed until April of that year.[citation needed]

William Leo Higi who was chosen by John Paul II to succeed Fulcher and was installed on June 6, 1984.[citation needed]

New millennium and contemporary era[edit]

During Bishop Higi's reign, he not only expanded the Diocese by dedicating new churches, but also added the second high school to the diocese, St. Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville. In addition to working within the diocese, he also made connections to Haiti with many outreaches the third-world country. After over twenty-six years as head of the diocese, Bishop Higi retired in May 2010.[citation needed]

It was announced that Timothy Doherty would succeed Higi as the sixth bishop of the diocese. Bishop Doherty was consecrated bishop of the diocese on July 15, 2010, becoming the sixth and current bishop of the See of Lafayette.[citation needed]

  • Information from A History of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana by Rev. Anthony Prosen

Patron saint[edit]

See: Immaculate Conception
See: St. Mother Théodore Guérin

From its beginning in 1944, the patron of Lafayette Diocese has been the Immaculate Conception because the seat of the diocese, The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Lafayette shares the namesake. The feast day for the Immaculate Conception is on December 8. It was in the early first decade of the 21st century that the diocese began contemplating adding another patron. With the formation of St. Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville in 2004, Guerin was officially named another patron of the Diocese of Lafayette.


Arms of Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana
CoA Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana.svg
Arms was designed and adopted when the diocese was erected
The arms of the diocese are composed of a crescent at the top. The crenellated dividing line, just below the crescent, suggests the wall of a castle or fort. The bottom section of the diocesan arms features a field of bell-like devices in silver (or white) and blue. On that field is a red shield with a diagonal gold bar.
The crescent at the top is the emblem of the Blessed Virgin under the title of the Immaculate Conception. She is the patroness of the diocese and its cathedral, the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception. The use of lunar symbolism to represent the Blessed Mother is common, and comes from the Scriptures that say: “... and a great sign appeared in the sky — a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars.” (Revelation 12:1) The crescent moon also is found in the arms of the Diocese of Fort Wayne, mother diocese of the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana.

The crenellated dividing line, just below the crescent, suggests the wall of a castle or fort. The same motif is found in the coat of arms for the Diocese of Fort Wayne–South Bend, to represent the historic Fort Wayne. But for the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana, it likely pays homage to Fort Ouiatenon, a French trading fort that once stood near the Wabash River, south of modern-day West Lafayette. There, as early as 1717, Catholicism came to what is now northcentral Indiana.

The bottom section of the diocesan arms features a field of bell-like devices in silver (or white) and blue. On that field is a red shield with a diagonal gold bar: the arms of the Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who became a major general in the colonial Army under General George Washington during the American Revolution. General Lafayette was touring the United States in 1825, when the frontier town of Lafayette was platted and named in his honor; the use of the marquis' personal arms thus identifies Lafayette, Indiana, as the diocesan see city.

High schools[edit]


Catholic radio within the diocese
  • WRDF "Redeemer Radio" 106.3 FM licensed to Columbia City and based in Fort Wayne, plus audiostream.
  • WSQM "Catholic Radio Indy" 90.9 FM in Noblesville.(repeater of WSPM 89.1 based in Indianapolis and licensed in Cloverdale), plus audiostream.

The Diocese of Lafayette publishes a weekly newspaper, The Catholic Moment, which was established on January 21, 1945. Its circulation is about 28,000.[1]

Ecclesiastical province[edit]

See: List of the Catholic bishops of the United States#Province of Indianapolis

Further reading[edit]

  • Burton, Katherine (2007). The Eighth American Saint: The Life of Saint Mother Theodore Guérin, Foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Skokie, Illinois: ACTA Publications. ISBN 978-0-87946-324-3. 
  • Mitchell, Penny Blaker (2006). Mother Theodore Guerin – Saint of God: A Woman for All Time. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana: Sisters of Providence. 
  • Prosen, Reverend Anthony, S.T.L., PH. D. (2006). A History of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. Éditions su Signe. ISBN 2-7468-1682-2. 


  1. ^ "The Catholic Moment". Diocese of Lafayette. Retrieved 2015-01-15. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°25′02″N 86°52′43″W / 40.41722°N 86.87861°W / 40.41722; -86.87861