Discover the Diocese of Oakland

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland (LatinDioecesis Quercopolitana) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Northern California. The diocese comprises Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Cathedral of Christ the Light serves as the bishop's seat, replacing the Cathedral of Saint Francis de Sales which was demolished after the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.

Once a part of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Diocese of Oakland remains a suffragan of the ecclesiastical province of San Francisco. Its fellow suffragans include the dioceses of HonoluluLas VegasRenoSacramentoSalt Lake CitySan JoseSanta Rosaand Stockton.

The diocese has suffered from Catholic sex abuse cases which were brought forward by parishioners against some of its priests. From 1994 through 2009, the diocese paid $60.5 million to its victims of sexual abuse, the largest payments being made in 2004 and 2005.

The patron saints of the Diocese of Oakland are the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Francis de Sales.


The first known Mass celebrated in the area that is to become the Diocese of Oakland was on March 27, 1772, by Father Juan Crespí on the shores ofLake Merritt. Twenty five years later, Mission San José was established in what is now Fremont, becoming the first parish in the area. Within time, Mission San José became the most prosperous of the California Missions and after secularization by the Mexican government the mission remained an integral part of area with many of the early pioneer families sharing close ties with the mission.

In the 1820s the Peralta family, landowners of much of what would become Alameda County, built a chapel on the grounds of Rancho San Antonio in present-day Oakland. The chapel was served by priests from the mission and was called Saint Anthony's chapel.

The area came under episcopal control in 1840 with the establishment of the Diocese of the Two Californians. After the Mexican–American Warin 1850, the diocese was split in two with the Diocese of Monterey in California administering the areas under American control. In 1853 Joseph Sadoc Alemany, the Bishop of Monterey, moved his seat to San Francisco and became the first Archbishop of San Francisco. At the time Mission San José was the only parish in the East Bay.

In 1858, Archbishop Alemany sent Father James Croke to establish a parish in Oakland. Fr. Croke founded St. Mary, Immaculate Conception at Eighth and Jefferson Streets.

By the turn of the twentieth century many parishes were formed in Berkeley, Fremont, LivermoreHayward, Oakland and San Leandro to reflect the growing populations in the East Bay. After World War II rapid growth in the San Francisco region led Pope John XXIII to establish the Diocese of Oakland in 1962 from the eastern portion of the San Francisco Archdiocese. Saint Frances de Sales was established as the diocesan mother church and Floyd Begin of Cleveland, Ohio was installed as Oakland's first bishop.

In the following decades the Cathedral of Saint Francis de Sales developed a national reputation for a lively liturgies and social ministries. The cathedral parish was also known for its excellence in music, developing what was called the "Oakland Cathedral Sound". Unfortunately, the cathedral church suffered damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The diocese deemed the repairs too costly (estimates were at $8 million for both the Cathedral and Sacred Heart Church) and instead opted to demolish the churches.

In May 2005, ground was broken for the new $131 million Cathedral of Christ the Light, located on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland. The new cathedral opened in 2008 with a new parish formed out of the then cathedral parish of Saint Mary-Saint Francis de Sales.


Today, the Diocese of Oakland serves an estimated 560,000 Catholics in the East Bay region. As the Bay Area is known for a diverse population the diocese celebrates mass in fifteen different languages including Spanish, American Sign Language, Vietnamese, Filipino and Latin (Mass of Paul VI and Tridentine Mass).

The diocesan Department of Catholic Schools administers over forty seven elementary/middle schools and nine high schools serving over 19,000 students. Some of the more notable schools include De La Salle High School, known nationally as a football powerhouse, St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda, known as having state championship basketball teams, Bishop O'Dowd High School, andSalesian High School.

In addition to the elementary and high schools, seven Universities and Seminaries are located within Diocese of Oakland, these include:


The Diocese of Oakland is led by a bishop who serves as ordinary. The first bishop was installed in 1962, appointed from the Diocese of Cleveland. Thus far, five persons have served as Bishop of Oakland. A former vicar general of Oakland was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Bishop of Honolulu. Bishop Allen Vigneron's promotion to Archbishop of Detroit in January 2009, the diocese's interim administrator, Rev. Daniel E. Danielson, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone named the fourth Bishop of Oakland by Pope Benedict XVI on March 23, 2009. The Most Rev. Alexander Brunett, archbishop emeritus of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, served asapostolic administrator of the diocese, during the sede vacante period following Cordileone's installation in San Francisco  until the installation of Bishop Barber.

Bishops of Oakland

Bishops from Oakland

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