Discover the Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines (LatinDioecesis Desmoinensis) is the Roman Catholic diocese for the southwestern quarter of the U.S. state of Iowa. It is a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The See city for the diocese is Des Moines. The cathedral parish for the diocese is St. Ambrose. Currently Bishop Richard E. Pates is the bishop of the diocese.

Like other American dioceses, the area that makes up the present diocese was under the jurisdiction of a number of prelates. Most of these were purely academic because of no actual Catholic presence in the area. In the 19th century, the area came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Saint Louis Joseph Rosati. It was under his jurisdiction that the first permanent Catholic presence came to what would be the state of Iowa.
In 1838, the Diocese of Dubuque was founded. Initially the area of the Dubuque Diocese included all of Iowa, as well as a large part of the western United States. By 1850 the Diocese's territory came to cover the state of Iowa. Bishop John Hennessey soon came to believe that the southern half of the state would be better served by its own Diocese. While he envisioned Des Moines as the See City for this new Diocese, on June 14, 1881 the southern half of Iowa was taken from the Dubuque Diocese, and formed into the newDiocese of Davenport. For just over 30 years the area that now makes up the Des Moines Diocese was part of the Diocese of Davenport.
Territory was then taken from the Diocese of Davenport on August 12, 1911 to form the Diocese of Des Moines. The territory that was taken to form the Davenport Diocese is the current territory of the Diocese.  When the Des Moines Diocese was established, Saint Ambrose Parish became the Cathedral parish for the new Diocese.

Ordinaries of the Diocese

The following men have served as Bishops of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines. Their dates of service are also included.

Diocesan Priests who became Bishops

High schools


The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area, the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties. The diocese is comprised of:

Bishop Richard Pates is the shepherd of the diocese, having been appointed in 2008. His priorities are:


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