Discover the Diocese of Allentown

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown (LatinDioecesis Alanpolitana) is a Roman Catholic diocese comprising the Pennsylvania counties of BerksCarbonLehigh,Northampton and Schuylkill, in the United States. Its cathedral is the Cathedral Church of Saint Catharine of Siena, located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The diocese has a Catholic population of 273,599 as of 2006, approximately 23.5% of the total population; it maintains 104 parishes, 48 Catholic elementary schools, 7 Catholic high schools and two Catholic colleges, as well as 291 priests (Active & Retired & Religious).

The diocese was founded on January 28, 1961 by Pope John XXIII by splitting theArchdiocese of Philadelphia; the first bishop, Joseph Mark McShea, was installed on April 11 of that year. The bishops of the diocese have been:

  1. Joseph Mark McShea (1961–1983)
  2. Thomas Jerome Welsh (1983–1997)
  3. Edward Peter Cullen (1998–July 30, 2009)
  4. John Oliver Barres (July 30, 2009–)

Also, Joseph Edward Kurtz, current Archbishop of Louisville, and Ronald William Gainer, current Bishop of Lexington, both began as priests in Allentown. (Bishop Gainer was appointed Bishop of Harrisburg on Jan. 24, 2014.) David B. Thompson, who eventually became Bishop of Charleston (South Carolina), became chancellor of the then-new Allentown diocese after having been ordained for the archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The Vicar General of the Diocese is the Reverend Monsignor Alfred A. Schlert, J.C.L., V.G. The Judicial Vicar of the Diocese is the Very Rev. John J. Paul, V.J., M.S.C., S.T.L., J.C.D.

Currently, the Diocese of Allentown is undergoing the implementation phase of their Synod. The desire of the Synod is to strengthen the life of the Catholic Church in Allentown for the future. Among the numerous topics being studied are the Restructuring and Consolidation of Parishes, Fiscal Feasibility of Catholic Schools, Catholic Youth, Vocations, Family Life, and Catechetical Programs. The Vicar for the Implementation of the Synod is the Reverend Monsignor David L. James, V.E.

On June 1, 2008, the Diocese of Allentown unveiled the first section of restructuring of parishes for the five counties. Due to the shift in population, waning number of priestly vocations, and other reasons, the Diocese closed 47 parishes effective reducing its parishes from 151 to 104. The Diocese plans to finish its efforts with restructuring over the next year where 15 or more parishes will be consolidated or merged.

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