Discover the Diocese of Orlando

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando (LatinDioecesis Orlandensis) is a Roman Catholic diocese in Florida. It was established on June 18, 1968. Prior to that the Central Florida area was part of the Diocese of St. Augustine. Today the diocese encompasses nine counties including OrangeOsceolaSeminoleMarionLakeVolusiaBrevardPolk, andSumter, a total of about 9,611 square miles (24,890 km2). In 2010, the diocese contained 81 parishes, 10 missions, and 37 schools. St. James Cathedral serves as the seat of the diocese. Within the diocese are two of America's minor basilicasMary, Queen of the Universe Shrine, a basilica which ministers to Catholic tourists, and St. Paul's in Daytona Beach.

In 2011, the population of the diocese was estimated at about 400,923 Catholics. There are 208 priests, 87 religious nuns, and 181 permanent deacons. Twenty-six men are studying for the priesthood.

The current Bishop is John Gerard Noonan. He took over effective October 24, 2010, having served previously as an Auxiliary Bishop of Miami, after the previous Bishop of Orlando,Thomas Wenski, was promoted to Archbishop of Miami.

Administration

For administrative purposes, the diocese has five deaneries centered in the following towns:

The diocese operated the San Pedro Center for the benefit of over 10,000 retreatants during 2008.

Diocese administration contains the following organizations: Office of Communication, Office of Advocacy and Justice, Office of Hispanic Ministry, Office of Family Life and Pastoral Care, Campus Ministry, Office of Finance and Accounting, Office of Human Resources, Buena Nueva FM 104.1, El Clarin, The Florida Catholic, IT, Media Center, Youth/Young Adults, Catholic Charities of Central Florida (including Pathways to Care), Bishop Grady Villas, Tourism Ministries, Mission Office, Propagation of the Faithm and Farmworker Ministry.

The diocese raised $10 million from its parishes in 2007 to support its ministries.

Ministries

1,342 couples participated in the marriage program under the Family Life Office in 2007.

In the diocese, 1,000 people were prepared and entered the church in 2008.

Over 900 people are trained to minister to the sick as of 2007.

The diocese has a sister diocese in the Dominican Republic. Missioners built two churches and one community center. The medical mission helped 2,000 patients in 2007.

The diocese has unique services for the large number of tourists who visit the area. Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine was opened in 1979 near Walt Disney World to provide a location for mass for Orlando-area tourists. An Apostleship of the Sea ministry is located at the Stella Maris Center at Port Canaveral for the benefit of seafarers.

Catholic charities

In 2007, Catholic charities gave food and financial assistance to 23,000 families; helped over 290 refugee families and 4,000 people with immigration issues; and visited 2,000 prisoners. Pathways to Care assisted 290 homeless people with medical and shelter.

Other diocesan ministries

Education

In 2007 there were 12,116 elementary, and 2,687 high school students enrolled in the Diocesan Catholic schools. There were 816 elementary and 221 high school teachers in the Catholic School District.

Within the diocese more than 29,000 young students are educated in religion by 4,069 catechists and religious educators. 

The Superintendent of Schools was Henry Fortier.

In 2011, there were 14,500 students in the 38 schools in the diocesan school system. This includes 32 elementary schools, 5 high schools and one special education school.

In 2008, the National Catholic Educational Association recognized the diocesan school board as "outstanding", the only diocesan board to be so recognized. At the same time, the Father Lopez Catholic High School Board was simultaneously recognized as outstanding; also the only school board to be so designated.

In 2009-2010, the diocesan schools received more than $1 million in Title I and Title II funds through the federal government.

Secondary schools

The average tuition at diocesan high schools for 2007-8 was $7,476 annually. The average annual cost to educate each student was $10,297. There are five secondary schools:

Elementary schools

The average tuition for diocesan elementary schools in 2007–08 was $4,162. The actual average cost of educating each student was $5,610. The Diocese of Orlando had 32 elementary schools in 2011. Since 1985, 18 of those have been awarded the designation of National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

Brevard County

Lake County

Marion County

Orange County

Osceola County

Polk County

Seminole County

Volusia County

Special Education

History

Hernando de Soto, explored Florida in 1539. The Timucua and the Ais Indians around Cape Canaveral were hostile to the Spaniards and allowed no mission centers.

Florida was first part of the Church of Havana, Cuba, as early as 1606. Bishops of Santiago de Cuba ministered to Catholics in Florida until 1763, when England acquired Florida from Spain. The first mass migration to the New World took place when hundreds of Catholics from Minorca settled in New Smyrna in 1768. They were members there of San Pedro Church until they abandoned that Atlantic coastal site in 1777 and moved north to St. Augustine. Cuban bishops resumed control after Florida was returned to Spain in 1783.

In 1858, Bishop Augustin Verot became Vicar Apostolic of part of Georgia and all of Florida. He became Bishop of Savannah in 1861 and remained Vicar Apostolic of Florida.

In 1870, the Diocese of St. Augustine, including all of Florida, was formed with Verot its first bishop. The Diocese of Orlando was established on June 18, 1968. Prior to that time, Central Florida was part of the Diocese of St. Augustine. At its formation, the new diocese consisted of fifty parishes and served 128,000 Catholics. Because of the growth of the Orlando metropolitan area, engendered by the opening of Disney World and other tourist destinations, the diocese became one of the fastest growing ones in the nation. It 2007 it included 73 parishes, 10 missions, and 37 schools spread over the nine counties of Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Marion, Lake, Volusia, Brevard, Polk, and Sumter. It serves a population of approximately 350,000 Catholics. The patroness of the Diocese of Orlando is Mary, the Mother of God.

Orlando’s first bishop was William D. Borders who was installed on June 14, 1968. Border’s achievements included establishing parish councils, parish education boards, participation of the laity as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, a Sisters’ Council, a migrant ministry apostolate staffed by full-time personnel, and a campus ministry program which was acclaimed nationally. Diocesan Catholic communities became integrated in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Thomas J. Grady was installed as bishop on December 16, 1974. He ran the diocese during a period of growth. He established eighteen new parishes, a tourism ministry, San Pedro Center (a centrally-located spiritual life center), and a sister diocese in the Dominican Republic. He also encouraged the greater participation of women in the work of the Church. At the end of his tenure in 1990, the Catholic population of the diocese had grown over 76% and the number of parishes had increased by more than a third.

When the Diocese of Orlando was founded, St. Charles Borromeo Church in the College Park neighborhood of Orlando was designated the diocesan Cathedral. On October 1, 1976, the cathedral was destroyed by an electrical fire. On March 25, 1977, St. James Church in downtown Orlando became the new Cathedral.

Norbert M. Dorsey, was installed as bishop on May 25, 1990. The diocese added parishes and schools, as well as expanded the ministry to the growing Hispanic community through establishing Radio Paz and health clinics for migrant and farm workers. Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine was established as a church, built in the midst of the tourist area, for visitors to attend Mass and pray. Bishop Grady Villas, which opened on January 1, 2004, was constructed as a residential community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A cemetery at San Pedro Retreat Center for priests of the diocese was established.

On July 1, 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed Thomas G. Wenski as Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando. On November 13, 2004, Bishop Wenski succeeded Bishop Dorsey, becoming the fourth Bishop of Orlando.

From 2004-10, six new parishes and two missions were created. A capital and endowment campaign raised $100 million. Two diocesan churches were raised to the status of minor basilicas. The Spanish-language radio station Buena Nueva FM was started along with the Spanish-language newspaper, El Clarin.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops held their spring convocation in the diocese in 2008.

On April 20, 2010, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Miami by Pope Benedict XVI. On June 3, 2010, the College of Consultors met and elected Father Richard Walsh, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park, as the Diocesan Administrator, who served in that capacity until the new bishop was appointed in October.

On October 23, 2010, Benedict XVI appointed Bishop John Gerard Noonan, as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Orlando.

The past bishops of the diocese are:

  1. William Donald Borders (1968–1974)
  2. Thomas Joseph Grady (1974–1989)
  3. Norbert Mary Leonard James Dorsey (1990–2004)
  4. Thomas Gerard Wenski (2004–2010)
  5. John Gerard Noonan 2010–current

Parishes

There are 93 parishes in the Diocese of Orlando.

Parishes include:

Other

St. Jude Maronite Church is in Orlando and Catholic, but subject to the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn (Maronite Catholic Church).

Media

The diocese owns the Spanish-language radio station Buena Nueva FM 104.1 Sub-Carrier which reaches eight counties of the nine comprising the diocese. It is broadcast on the internet.

Newspaper

A localized version of the Florida Catholic Newspaper is published 38 times a year. Diocesan circulation is 40,200, the highest in theEccesiastical Province of Miami.

 

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