Discover the Diocese of Lafayette

The Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana (LatinDioecesis Lafayettensis in Indiana) was established by Pope Pius XII on October 21, 1944, from the territory of the Diocese of Fort Wayne. At that time, there were 54 parishes. The diocese contained approximately 31,700 Roman Catholics at its inception. Bishop William Leo Higi presided over the diocese from June 6, 1984 until March 12, 2010, when the Holy See announced his successor, Timothy L. Doherty of the Diocese of Rockford. Doherty was ordained bishop of the diocese on July 15, 2010 and has presided over it since, becoming its sixth Ordinary.

Ordinaries of the See of Lafayette

  1. † John George Bennett (1944–1957) – Died
  2. † John Joseph Carberry (1957–1965) – Appointed bishop of Columbus (Ohio)
  3. † Raymond Joseph Gallagher (1965–1982) – Retired
  4. † George Avis Fulcher (1983–1984) – Died
  5. William Leo Higi (1984–2010) – Retired
  6. Timothy Doherty (2010–present)

† = deceased


Missionaries and Diocese of Vincennes

The Roman Catholic Church in Indiana began with the Diocese of Vincennes which was created in 1834 by Pope Gregory XVI. It was in this diocese that many French missionaries came to this very anti-Catholic area. The most notable of these missionaries is Theodore Guerin who made her way to southern Indiana with her Sisters of Providence in 1841. Guerin and others in the Sisters formed St. Mary of the Woods which was located in Terre Haute, Indiana spread many alumni throughout the state to preach and spread the Church. It was from the 1840s to the early 20th century that many different parishes were built throughout the area along with Catholic schools which not only broadened the spread of Catholicism, but also created a new diocese. In the late 19th century, the Holy See formed the Diocese of Fort Wayne, separate from the Diocese of Vincennes. This area to become Lafayette now became part of this new See added to Indiana.

Formation of the Lafayette Dioceses

After many years in the Vincennes Dioceses, and later in the Fort Wayne Diocese, the area of north central began to grow in Catholicism and it became apparent that a new diocese was to be formed. On January 18, 1945, Bishop John George Bennett was consecrated the first bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Lafayette. Bishop Bennett encouraged Catholics of the area to go out and actively help to develop this new diocese that he had been put in charge of. In 1957, Bishop Bennett died while remaining in charge of the Lafayette Diocese. It was announced before his death, while he was ill, that the successor to Bennett would be Bishop John Joseph Carberry. Bishop Carberry continued the work of his predecessor in the growth of the Diocese, while maintaining his own style of leadership. On Mar 15, 1964, Bishop Carberry announced that a census would be held on November 15. The census found that the diocese had 73,822 Catholic and signified a move from mostly rural populations to scattered suburban areas. It was later announced on January 20, 1965, that Bishop Carberry would be transferred to the Diocese of Columbus where he would eventually move on to become a Cardinal.

Continued Growth

With the leave of Bishop Carberry, a new bishop, Raymond Joseph Gallagher in August 1965. Bishop Gallagher not only attended the final sessions of the Second Vatican Councilbut made sure that new parishes were being erected where the growth of Catholic's were the greatest. Within the first five years of being Bishop, Gallagher dedicated many churches in northern Indiana. Bishop Gallagher was part of the Catholic Church during a time when social issues such as birth control were at their height. In 1968 Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical letter forbidding artificial birth control. Throughout he reign, the Diocese grew, and Bishop Gallagher became very successful in his mission. With Gallagher's retirement in 1982, a the new Bishop George Avis Fulcher was appointed by Pope John Paul II. Within three weeks of his installation as Bishop, he was appointed to the US Bishops' Committee for the implementation of the Pastoral Letter on Peace. While driving to a conference on Canon Law in January 1984, Bishop Fulcher died when his car crashed off US-41 at Gobbler's Knob north of Rockville. With the sudden death, the Diocese was left in shock and would not have another Bishop until April of that year. It was William Leo Higi who was chosen by John Paul II to succeed Fulcher.

New Millennium and Contemporary era

It was during Bishop Higi's reign, he not only expanded the Diocese by dedicating new churches, but also added the second high school to the diocese, St. Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville. Not only did Higi work within the diocese, but also made connections to Haiti with many outreaches the third-world country. After over twenty-six years as head of the diocese, Bishop Higi retired in May 2010. It was announced that same month that Timothy Doherty would succeed Higi as the sixth bishop of the diocese. Bishop Doherty was ordained bishop of the diocese on July 15, 2010 becoming the sixth and current bishop of the See of Lafayette.

Patron saint

See: Immaculate Conception
See: St. Mother Théodore Guérin

From its beginning in 1944, the patron of Lafayette Diocese has been the Immaculate Conception because the seat of the diocese, The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Lafayette shares the namesake. The feast day for the Immaculate Conception is on December 8. It was in the early first decade of the 21st century that the diocese began contemplating adding another patron. With the formation of St. Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville in 2004, Guerin was officially named another patron of the Diocese of Lafayette.

High schools

See also: Catholic schools in the United States

Catholic radio within the Diocese

Ecclesiastical province

See: List of the Catholic bishops of the United States#Province of Indianapolis

Further reading


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