Discover the Diocese of Spokane

The Diocese of Spokane is a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. state ofWashington. Headquartered in Spokane, the diocese encompasses OkanoganFerry,StevensPend OreilleLincolnSpokaneAdamsWhitmanFranklinWalla WallaColumbia,Garfield and Asotin Counties. Its cathedral is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in Spokane, and its present bishop is Rev. Blase Joseph Cupich.

Canonically erected on December 17, 1913, the territories of the diocese were taken from what was then known as Diocese of Seattle. The diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Seattle; its metropolitan bishop is J. Peter Sartain.

Approximately 90,000 Catholics in Washington state are served by the Diocese. There are 82 parishes in the diocese.


The Catholic Church presence in the present-day state of Washington dates to the 1830s, when missionary priests traveled from Quebec to minister in what was then known as theOregon Country. On December 1, 1843, the Holy See established the Vicariate Apostolic of the Oregon Territory. In 1846 Pope Gregory XVI established an ecclesiastical territory in the region, and the apostolic vicariate was split into three dioceses: Oregon CityVancouver Island, and Walla Walla.

The Whitman massacre in 1847 and the ensuing Cayuse War increased tensions between Christians and the native population of the Oregon Territory, and as a result by 1850 the Diocese of Walla Walla was abandoned and its territory administered from Oregon City. On May 31, 1850, Pope Pius IX created the Diocese of Nesqually out of the defunct Walla Walla diocese. The episcopal see was subsequently moved to Seattle, and the diocese was renamed the Diocese of Seattle in 1907.

With a growing population in Spokane and other areas of Eastern Washington, church leadership in Seattle realized that a new diocese needed to be formed, and the Diocese of Spokane was canonically erected by Pope St. Pius X on December 17, 1913. The diocese's first bishop was Augustine Francis Schinner, the bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Superiorin Wisconsin, of which he was also the inaugural bishop. On June 23, 1951, the diocese lost territory when the Diocese of Yakima was formed.


In December 2004, the diocese declared bankruptcy, to protect it from claims of people allegedly abused by clergy. The diocese, as part of its bankruptcy, agreed to pay at least $48 million as compensation. The money for the settlement would come from insurance companies, the sale of church property, contributions from Catholic groups and from the diocese's parishes. In May 2012, an arrangement was made with mediators and litigants that settles outstanding claims, eliminates the need for further trials or appeals for all sides, and lessens the amount the Diocese must pay out to each of the parties, enabling the Diocese to avoid foreclosure on many of its parishes.

Bishops of the Diocese of Spokane

  1. Augustine Francis Schinner (1914 - 1925)
  2. Charles Daniel White (1926 - 1955)
  3. Bernard Joseph Topel (1955 - 1978)
  4. Lawrence Harold Welsh (1978 - 1990)
  5. William S. Skylstad (1990 - 2010)
  6. Blase Joseph Cupich (2010 - present)

High schools



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