Discover the Diocese of Indianapolis

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis is a division of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. When it was originally erected as the Diocese of Vincennes,Indiana, on May 6, 1834, it encompassed all of Indiana as well as the eastern third of Illinois. It was renamed the Diocese of Indianapolis on March 28, 1898. Bishop Francis Silas Chatard, who had been living in Indianapolis since 1878 when he was appointed Bishop of Vincennes, became the first Bishop of Indianpolis. It was elevated from a diocese to ametropolitan archdiocese on October 21, 1944.

Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Archbishop Daniel M. BuechleinOSB, in September 2011, due to illness. Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne served as theApostolic Administrator until the Pope's appointment of Joseph William Tobin on October 16, 2012. Per the 2000 census, the archdiocese contained 2,430,606 people, 233,273 of whom were Catholic. The archdiocese covers 39 counties in central and southern Indiana, with a total area of 13,757 square miles.


The archdiocese is normally headed by an archbishop, but the see was recently vacant, due to the resignation in September 2011 of Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, OSB, on account of illness due to ongoing issues with cancer. Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, who was ordained a bishop in March 2011, became the apostolic administrator, pending the installation of a new archbishop. In October 2012, Joseph William Tobin was appointed as the archbishop by Pope Benedict XVI. He was officially installed December 3, 2012.

Ordinaries of the see of Indianapolis

  1. Simon Bruté de Rémur (1834–1839)
  2. Célestine Guynemer de la Hailandière (1839–1847)
  3. Jean Bazin (1847–1848)
  4. Jacques-Maurice De Saint Palais (1848–1877)
  5. Francis Silas Chatard (1878–1918)
  6. Joseph Chartrand (1918–1925, 1925–1933)
  7. Joseph Ritter (1934–1946)
  8. Paul Schulte (1946–1970)
  9. George Biskup (1970–1979)
  10. Edward O'Meara (1979–1992)
  11. Daniel BuechleinO.S.B. (1992–2011)
  12. Joseph William TobinC.Ss.R. (2012-)

Auxiliary bishops


The Catholics of the land that is now Indiana have been shepherded by many clerics from the start of the colonization of America. The earliest records of the Catholic Church in Vincennes date to 1749, but French Jesuitmissionaries had been in the area as early as the 1730s.:7. In these early years, the Church in Indiana was under the authority of theDiocese of Quebec, Canada. In its early years, the faith community experienced suffering during the American Revolution, hostility fromNative Americans, and epidemics that swept through the frontier, as well as a profound lack of money and priests to minister to the people.

In 1789, Pope Pius VI created the first Catholic diocese in the United States, the Diocese of Baltimore. Indiana came under the authority of Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore, and in 1791 he sent Fr. Benedict Joseph Flaget to succeed Fr. Pierre Gibault at the fledgling parish of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes.:9 In 1808 Pope Pius VII divided the United States and its territories into five dioceses, and the Northwest Territories came under the authority of the then-Diocese of Bardstown with Benedict Flaget as its bishop.

In 1832, Bishop Flaget, along with Bishop Joseph Rosati of St. Louis, Missouri, petitioned the Holy See to name Fr./Dr. Simon Bruté de Rémur as the first Bishop of Vincennes. The Diocese was created by Papal Decree on May 6, 1834 and Fr. Bruté was elevated to Bishop on October 28. At the time of his installation, there were only 3 priests in his diocese which covered all of Indiana and the eastern third of Illinois.:12-15 Bishop Bruté made a point to visit each Catholic family in his diocese, regardless of the distance from his rectory. His devotion to his diocese contributed to his demise, as he caught a cold while going to a provincial council in Baltimore, which weakened his immune system and he continued to minister despite this.:17

Despite the consecration of a cathedral, Bishop de Hailandière experienced many problems with the size of the diocese, leading to his resignation in 1847.:21 His successor, John Stephen Bazin, was the first bishop ordained in Indiana and quickly delegated authority to two vicars general. He died shortly thereafter, having served just six months.:25 His successor, Maurice de Saint-Palais, had to contend with unresolved monetary issues from Hailandière's episcopacy and a cholera epidemic, all while expanding the educational and ministerial opportunities. It was under Saint-Palais' watch that Mother Theodore Guerin started an orphanage in Vincennes, the monks from Einsiedeln, Switzerland came to found an abbey and seminary in southern Indiana, St. Ann's opened as a school for Negroes and the Holy See added a suffragan diocese in northern Indiana at Fort Wayne.:27-30

Bishop de Saint-Palais also had to contend with the call for soldiers in the American Civil War. Several priests from the Diocese of Vincennes served as chaplains, and one Fr. Ernest Audran was drafted as a soldier in 1864.:32 De St. Palais did not preach in regards to the topic of the Emancipation Proclamation because he feared that doing so would venture too much into politics and would violate his character. He recognized that Indianapolis was quickly growing and was the eighth-largest city in the United States as of 1870 but he relegated the decision to move the seat of the diocese there to his successor, Silas Chatard.:35 Despite moving the see to Indianapolis and ordering the new cathedral, Chatard's reign was marked not by his accomplishments, but by his poor health, having been paralyzed by a stroke in 1900.

Chatard's successor, Joseph Chartrand, expanded the education of young children in the diocese, opening more than 25 elementary and secondary schools in his first 14 years. When he died, the diocese had 126 parochial schools and 19 secondary schools.:42 He also faced much adversity during his time as bishop. The outbreak of World War I led to many sermons against war as well as the rise ofCommunism shortly thereafter. Chartrand also dealt with threats by the Ku Klux Klan by publishing a list of members' names in the newspaper. During the years of the Great Depression, he dispensed the entire diocese from fasting except on Fridays during Lent.:43-46

Joseph Elmer Ritter succeeded Chartrand as Bishop of Indianapolis, having served as auxiliary bishop under Chartrand. In 1937, he ordered that three of the girls' schools in the diocese integrate and allow students of all races. Later he integrated all of the schools under threat of closure. In addition to integrating schools, Ritter was named Archbishop of Indianapolis when the diocese was elevated in October 1944 to a metropolitan archdiocese. He left the archdiocese to become the archbishop and later cardinal of St. Louis.:47-50

Archbishop Paul C. Schulte served as the leader of the archdiocese from 1946 until 1970 and was called to Rome for the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. He was known for his humility, for building 3 high schools in the Indianapolis area and for leading his flock through the tumultuous times of the 1960s. He retired as the oldest and longest-serving bishop in America. Schulte's successor, George J. Biskup, established the first Priests' Senate in order to expedite decisions at the diocesan level.:57

Archbishop Edward T. O'Meara worked to consolidate many of the archdiocesan offices, and used the former site of Cathedral High School as a building for the offices. He was very vocal regarding the shortage of priests and the need to remain stalwart on the issue of female clergy even in the face of a shortage as well as the right-to-life and needs of the poor.:63 His successor, Daniel M. Buechlein, continued his devotion to life, education, and the poor through his ministry, with a particular focus on education to the point that newspapers called him "the education bishop." On September 21, 2011, the Vatican granted Buechlein an early retirement at age 73 due to health reasons. Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Coyne, appointed by the Pope in March 2011 to assist the ailing Buechlein with his duties, is serving as Apostolic Administrator until the Pope appoints the next Archbishop.:66


The patron saints of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are Ss. Francis Xavier and Theodora Guerin. St. Francis Xavier was the patron of the first cathedral of the diocese, and therefore also of the diocese. St. Theodora Guerin was the first saint canonized from the archdiocese and was recognized as patroness of the archdiocese in 2006.


The original cathedral for the Diocese of Vincennes was the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes, Indiana. Designed from the Bardstown Cathedral, it was begun in 1826 and consecrated on August 8, 1841by Bishop Hailandière.:11-13 The bell tower was designed by the architect Jean-Marie Marsile, who was appointed the diocesan architect. The interior features three murals by the German painter Wilhelm Lamprecht – the first depicting the Crucifixion; the second, the Virgin Mary and SS. Simon, Celestine, Stephen and Maurice and the third mural depicting St. Francis Xavier.:14

Prior to and during the construction of the new cathedral, St. John the Evangelist parish church in Indianapolis was used as the pro-cathedral. It was designed by the architect Diedrich A. Bohlen who followed a mix of Romanesque and French Gothic style. Construction began on July 21, 1867 and was completed in 1893 by Diedrich's son, Oscar D. Bohlen, over 20 years after its dedication as a parish church.:21-23 The Stations of the Cross were painted by the Parisian L. Chovet. On the centennial of its dedication in 1871, it was restored by the generosity of Msgr. Charles P. Koster and adapted for the Novus Ordo by removing the pre-Vatican II communion rail and adding an altar that allowed the priest to celebrate the congregation.:25

SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral currently serves as the seat of the archdiocese. It was completed in 1907 under the authority of Francis Chatard. Construction began for the cathedral rectory and episcopal chapel on July 15, 1891, following the plans of James Renwick, Jr. and supervised by the architectural firm D.A. Bohlen and Son.:32 The design for the cathedral was modeled after St. John Lateran in Rome, Italy. Despite owning the proper land and having the money, Chatard did not have permission to build a new cathedral until March 28, 1898 when Pope Leo XIII transferred the seat of the diocese to Indianapolis – construction began in April 1905.:33-35 James' nephew William Whetten Renwick assumed sole responsibility for the completion of the cathedral and simplified the design laid forth by his late uncle. Renwick designed the building, the interior decorations and the altars, but Bohlen and Son supervised construction of the building and the baptismal fonts and the original wooden furnishings.:37 The final facade was designed by the firm of August Bohlen, son of Oscar and grandson of Diedrich, and was commissioned by Archbishop Joseph Elmer Ritter. The facade was also drawn from the design of St. John Lateran in Rome.:50

The interior of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral was very ornately decorated, with Carrara Marble statues by Cesare Aureli,:39 and a Mural of the Holy Family flanked by SS. Peter and Paul done by Edgar S. Cameron of Chicago (which was later replaced by a mosaic of Jesus enthroned flanked by SS. Peter and Paul:51). The Cathedral has undergone many renovation projects in the decades between its construction and how it stands today.


The archdiocese contains 2 Catholic colleges, 2 Seminaries, 11 Catholic high schools and 60 Catholic elementary schools.

High schools

The following schools are operated under the auspices of the archdiocese:

The following schools are operated under the auspices of religious institutes:



St. Meinrad Archabbey serves the archdiocese as a seminarylay graduate school of theology, and Benedictine Monastery. It was founded in 1854 by monks from the Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland in order to meet the needs of a growing German-speaking Catholic population. In 1969, it opened its programs to lay degree-seekers during the summer for graduate level theological studies and in 1993 opened its lay program during all academic sessions.

Catholic radio serving the Archdiocese

Both stations offer an audiostream from its website.


Other stations outside the Archdiocese offer online streaming from the websites of:


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