Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana

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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 (73 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, then a priest 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.


St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Bishops of Lafayette in Indiana[edit]

  1. John George Bennett (1944-1957)
  2. John Joseph Carberry (1957-1965), appointed Bishop of Columbus and later Archbishop of Saint Louis (elevated to Cardinal in 1969)
  3. Raymond Joseph Gallagher (1965-1982)
  4. George Avis Fulcher (1983-1984)
  5. William Leo Higi (1984-2010)
  6. Timothy Doherty (2010-present)


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 (later on, Bishop Carberry would be Archbishop of St. Louis and 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 the 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 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.




  • Saint Joseph's College, Rensselaer in February 2017 the university's trustees announced the temporary closure of their Rensselaer campus at the end of the Spring 2017 semester. The trustees stated the university needs to raise $100 million in order to continue operations. The nursing campus in Lafayette, IN remains open.[1]

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.[2]

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. 


External links[edit]

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