Discover the Archdiocese of Washington DC

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is a particular church of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It comprises the District of Columbia and Calvert,CharlesMontgomeryPrince George's and Saint Mary's counties in the state of Maryland.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to The Catholic University of America, the national Catholic university operated by the United States bishops. It is also home to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a minor basilica dedicated to the nation'spatron saintOur Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The Basilica, though not a parish of the Archdiocese of Washington, is the site of Easter and Christmas Masses, which are normally televised nationally on EWTN.


The ordinary of the Archdiocese of Washington is an archbishop whose cathedra isCathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in the City of Washington and who is metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Washington. Its sole suffragan see is the Diocese of Saint Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands.

The first Archbishop of Washington was Michael Joseph Curley in 1939. The current Archbishop is Donald Wuerl.


The Archdiocese of Washington often prides itself in sharing the fact that the Society of Jesus celebrated the first Mass in British North America on its shores in 1634. During the colonial era however, Catholics would remain a persecuted people suffering the wrath of oppression allowed by local penal laws.

Upon the establishment of the United States by its founding fathers, the JesuitJohn Carroll, was elected the first bishop of the newly created diocese which would later become theArchdiocese of Baltimore. The Prefecture Apostolic of the United States, as the entity was known then, had jurisdiction over all American Catholics, including present-day City of Washington.

In 1858, Mount Olivet Cemetery was established in Washington, D.C., the first Catholic cemetery to serve all the parishes in the area.

In 1939, Pope Pius XII separated the City of Washington from the Archdiocese of Baltimore and created two Archdioceses (Baltimore and Washington) under the oversight of one archbishop. The process of separation was officially concluded on November 15, 1947.The Archdiocese of Washington became a metropolitan see on October 12, 1965, when the Diocese of Saint Thomas became its suffragen see.

To manage Mount Olivet and three other cemeteries, in 1978 the archdiocese created and incorporated Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington; 25 years later, All Souls Cemetery in Germantown, Maryland became its fifth archdiosesan cemetery.


  1. Michael Joseph Curley (1939–1947) simultaneously Archbishop of Baltimore
  2. Patrick O'Boyle (1947–1973) retired
  3. William Wakefield Baum (1973–1980) appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
  4. James Aloysius Hickey (1980–2000) retired
  5. Theodore Edgar McCarrick (2000–2006) retired
  6. Donald Wuerl (since 2006)

Affiliated bishops

The following began their service as priests in the Archdiocese before being appointed bishops elsewhere:

Archdiosesan cemeteries

In addition to the nearly four dozen parishes which have their own cemeteries, the archdiocese centrally operates five major cemeteries:

Two former parish cemeteries are also operated by the parish:


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