Discover the Diocese of Stockton

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of theRoman Catholic Church in the Central Valley and Mother Lode region of California in theUnited States. It comprises the Counties of AlpineCalaverasMonoSan Joaquin,Stanislaus and Tuolumne. Also known as the See of Stockton, it is led by a bishop who pastors the 34 parishes and 12 missions.

Originally a part of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Diocese of Sacramento, the present-day diocese was established in 1962. The diocese is geographically and ethnically diverse. The majority of the population lives in the San Joaquin Valley. The two major population cities are Stockton and Modesto. The diocese has shown a significant population increase in all counties except Alpine County. The majority of San Joaquin Valley is farming, and there are many migrant camps in which the Church has a presence.

Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Alpine counties are located on the western side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Most parishes in these counties date back to the gold rush days. Mono County is on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and is usually cut off from the rest of the diocese during winter. The parish church located in Mammoth Lakesprovides for the spiritual care of vacationers during the winter and summer.

The largest racial/ethnic groups in the Diocese are White and Hispanic. There are also many of Filipino and South East Asian descent. The largest Azorean Portuguese population outside the Azores is found in the Diocese of Stockton. It is estimated that 60% of the diocesan Catholic population is Hispanic. However, this does not imply that Spanish is their first language, only that their heritage is Spanish. The largest Pacific Island community is the Filipino community. Then the next largest ethnic concentration is Vietnamese. The USCCB statement Asian and Pacific Presence lists the Diocese of Stockton as among the top thirty dioceses in the United States with the highest Asian and Pacific Island population. Within the Diocese, Mass is celebrated more than 180 times each Sunday in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin and Laotian. Weekday masses are celebrated in these languages and Vietnamese.

Today, the See of Stockton remains a suffragan of the ecclesiastical province of theArchbishop of San Francisco. Its fellow suffragans include the Dioceses of HonoluluLas VegasOaklandRenoSacramentoSalt Lake CitySan JoseSanta Rosa.


Bishop Hugh A. Donohoe, was installed as the first bishop on April 24, 1962. During his stewardship the diocese saw the growth of St. Joseph’s Hospital (Stockton), the beginning of the Cursillo movement in the area, and the first diocesan pastoral council. Bishop Donohoe supported the farm workers’ right to organize and other social issues. He was named Bishop of Fresno in 1969.

Bishop Merlin Guilfoyle succeeded Bishop Donohoe and was installed on January 13, 1970. During his tenure, there was both great growth and great financial struggle within the Catholic schools of the diocese. He retired in February, 1980 and died November, 1981.

Bishop Roger Mahony was installed as the third bishop of Stockton on April 17, 1980. In the late Seventies after the Vietnam War, great numbers of Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians and Hmong settled in the Stockton and Modesto areas. Catholic Charities and the St. Vincent De Paul Society worked with the Southeast Asian community to begin the slow, difficult process of integration. In 1981, Bishop Mahony conducted a diocesan-wide convocation, resulting in a mission statement for the diocese and ten major goals with an emphasis on spiritual renewal.

After Bishop Mahony was named Archbishop of Los Angeles, Bishop Donald Montrose was installed February 20, 1986. Bishop Montrose brought a contemplative community of religious women, the Religious of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to the diocese. Bishop Montrose oversaw the growth of the School of Ministry, the RENEW program, and the increase of Spanish speaking priests in the diocese. He retired in 1999 and died on May 7, 2008.

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire was installed as the fifth bishop of Stockton on March 16, 1999. Bishop Blaire held the diocesan Synod in 2006. He is the current Bishop of Stockton.

In 1998 a jury awarded two brothers $30 million in a judgement against the Diocese of Stockton over its handling of a priest who abused the men while they were boys, allegedly starting when they were three.

At the trial it was revealed that in a 1976 letter to his superiors O'Grady, the abusive priest, had admitted to sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl. In 1984 an attorney for the diocese promised to get O'Grady away from children, a promise recorded in a police report. O'Grady abused the boys who latter brought the suit from 1978-1991. In 1993 he pled guilty to abusing them and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

During the O'Grady trial Mahony claimed that O'Grady was the only accused priest he dealt with in Stockton. Later in 2004 Mahony admitted under oath that parents had confronted him with accusations against another priest in the diocese, Antonio Munoz.

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