Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, more than 1.1 million Catholics make this diverse, vibrant, and faith-filled diocese their home.he Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix is committed to helping the faithful encounter the living Christ through conversion, communion and solidarity. Led by the
The faithful worship, receive the sacraments and participate in the many activities and social events at one of the 93 parishes in the Diocese. More than 14,000 students attend one of our 28 Catholic elementary schools, six high schools and 28 preschools.
And thanks to your generous support of the Charity and Development Appeal, more than 70 community and charitable organizations are able to provide hands-on help for seniors, the homeless, those who have lost jobs, women who have been abused, and families in crisis.
The Diocese of Phoenix was established on December 2, 1969, by Pope Paul VI. The Diocese, which is comprised of 43,967 square miles, includes the counties of Maricopa, Mohave, Yavapai, and Coconino (excluding the territorial boundaries of the Navajo Indian Reservation), and also includes the Gila River Indian Reservation in Pinal County.
Arizona and the Valley of the Sun (Metro Phoenix) are rapidly growing areas in the Southwest, and the Diocese of Phoenix has grown with it. When the Diocese of Phoenix was established in 1969, the Catholic population numbered around 180,000. There were 51 parishes, 61 missions, and a total of 182 Diocesan and Religious priests. Today, those numbers have drastically changed.
The history of the Catholic Church in Arizona is synonymous with the growth and history of the State of Arizona. Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries were the forerunners of the European civilization who brought European culture and Catholicism to the Southwest.
The beginning of the Catholic Church in Arizona can be traced back to the year 1539; 47 years after Columbus discovered the Americas. A Franciscan friar named Marcos de Niza traveled up through the Gulf of California into a northern territory, which had never been explored. He planted a cross on the land and named it “the New Kingdom of St. Francis.” As a result, Padre Marcos de Niza is called the discoverer of Arizona and New Mexico.