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On August 9, 1969, Pope Paul VI established the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, after being a part of the Diocese of Dallas for almost 80 years.
The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth is made up of 28 North Texas counties which include: Archer, Baylor, Bosque, Clay, Comanche, Cooke, Denton, Eastland, Erath, Foard, Hardeman, Hill, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Knox, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Tarrant, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Wise and Young Counties. The area covers 23,950 square miles.
Image: St. Patrick's Church in 1905. The crowd had gathered to welcome President Theodore Roosevelt, who visited Fort Worth that year. William R. Hoover, St. Patrick’s: The First 100 Years (Fort Worth: St. Patrick Cathedral 1988) Photo courtesy of Amon Cater Museum
On October 21, 1969, Bishop John J. Cassata, a native of Galveston, was installed as the first bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. The diocese had 65,000 Catholics in 65 parishes at the time. Before coming to the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth as an Auxiliary to Bishop Thomas K. Gorman in 1968, Bishop Cassata was parish priest in Houston for more than 35 years.
From 1969, when the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth was established, to 1986 the Catholic population increased from 67,000, which represented only 5 percent of the total population in the region, to 120,000.
Pope John Paul II named Joseph P. Delaney the second bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth who was installed on September 13, 1981. During Bishop Delaney’s tenure, new elementary Catholic schools opened, new parishes were established and a new Catholic Center brought together under one roof all pastoral and administrative offices of the diocese. His leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth spanned 24 years and the diocese grew to 400,000 Catholics.
His Excellency Kevin W. Vann was named as the third bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth by Pope Benedict XVI. Bishop Vann was installed on Wednesday, July 13, 2005. In 2012 Pope Benedict named Bishop Vann as the Bishop of Orange, California. Bishop Vann was installed as the Bishop of Orange on December 10, 2012.
After Fort Worth was established as an army outpost in 1984 by General Worth, Catholic slowly began to make Fort Worth home. For the first 25 years of Fort Worth, priests from the Diocese of Galveston, of which Fort Worth was a part at the time, would come to say Mass in the home of one of the Catholic families. As early as 1870 Claude Marie Dubuis, the second bishop of Galveston, which diocese encompassed all of Texas at that time, had begun sending Father Vincent Perrier twice a year to visit Fort Worth. In the 1870s, Fort Worth Catholic prevailed on the Galveston bishop to assign a priest to Fort Worth. The bishop responded by sending Father Thomas Loughrey as the first resident pastor in Fort Worth in 1876. Father Loughrey arrived about the same time that the railroads made their way into Fort Worth, an accomplishment that would not have occurred had not Fort Worth residents, businesses and government leader taken the usual action of abandoning their regular activities to help rail workers to build the last miles of track into Fort Worth.
Within three months, the first parish, Saint Stanislaus Kostka, was built at 1212 Throckmorton, which was named after a Polish Jesuit saint. The first church sat on land near the present-day St. Patrick Cathedral. The first Mass in St. Stanislaus was on October 29, 1876. Father Loughrey remained in Fort Worth until 1884 when Father Jean Marie Guyot, a French native who was a Galveston diocesan priest, arrived. When Father Guyot arrived the parish consisted of 20 families and was on the outskirts of the budding Fort Worth.
Father Guyot created a bit of stir by purchasing land north of the church for expansion. The land is where St. Patrick Cathedral now sits. St. Patrick’s design is rooted in St. Patrick in New York. The church was finished and dedicated in 1892. By then a large number of Irish Catholics have moved into Fort Worth as the railroad had opened the area to the rest of the world. In a vote of parishioners, the Irish had enough votes to change the name of the church to St. Patrick.
In 1890 Catholic population of the area of the Brazos and Trinity rivers had grown large enough that Pope Leo XIII established the Diocese of Dallas. When Dallas was made a diocese the region that eventually became the Diocese of Fort Worth had seven parishes which were located in Fort Worth, Cleburne, Gainesville, Henrietta, Hillsboro, Muenster, and Weatherford.
It is worth noting that 50 of the 89 parish were established prior to 1969, such as Gainesville’s St. Mary Parish that was established in 1879 and Cleburne’s St. Joseph Parish that was established in 1888. Virtually, all rural parishes in the Diocese were established in the late 1800s and early 1900, when many Catholics had emigrated from Europe and took up farming in their new homeland.
The newest parish in the Diocese of Fort Worth is Blessed John Paul II established in 2012.
Catholic education began in what became the Fort Worth Diocese in the late 1970's when Father Loughrey opened a boy school at St. Patrick. In 1885, the Sister of Mary of Namur established St. Ignatius Academy in Fort Worth and Xavier Academy in Denison.
Fort Worth’s name was added to the Catholic Diocese of Dallas’ name in 1953 by Pope Pius XII, and St. Patrick’s was elevated to co-cathedral status.
Just as the Greater Fort Worth metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing urban areas of the country, three primary urban areas of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth are fueling the rapid growth: The Greater Fort Worth area, the Greater Arlington area and the Greater Denton area.
Today, an estimated 710,000 Catholics live in the 28-county area that makes up the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.
|Bishop John J. Cassata|
Bishop John J. Cassata was installed as the first bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth approximately three months after Pope Paul VI created the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth on August 9, 1969. The diocese consisted of 28 North Texas counties and a Catholic population of 67,000.
An auxiliary bishop in the Catholic Diocese of Dallas prior to his appointment, Bishop Cassatta brought financial stability to the diocese and encouraged lay ministry programs, He also established 12 new parishes.
Bishop Cassatta died on September 8, 1989.
|Bishop Joseph P. Delaney|
Bishop Joseph P. Delaney was named the second bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth by Pope John Paul II and was installed on September 13, 1981. Under his leadership the diocese grew to 400,000 Catholic.
Under Bishop Delaney, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth was committed to helping the less fortunate, to ecumenism and to the growth of ministries. He focused upon increasing ministries, stewardship, education and pastoral care. Bishop Delaney brought together the diocesan offices and ministries of the diocese with the opening of the Catholic Center.
Bishop Delaney died on July 12, 2005.
|Bishop Kevin W. Vann|
Bishop Kevin W. Vann was named the third bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth by Pope Benedict XVI. He was installed on July 13, 2005. The population was approximately 400,000 when Bishop Vann arrived.
As the shepherd of the diocese, Bishop Vann strengthened catechetical and pastoral work of the diocese with a particular emphasis on vocations. During his tenure, the number of seminarians grew yearly to 30 men studying for the priesthood. At the same time, Bishop Vann led preparations for the future and the unprecedented growth of the Catholic Church in North Texas, as well as all of Texas, which is anticipated to occur.
Bishop Vann created a diocesan Right to Life Office and the John Paul II Institute of Lay Ministry.
Bishop Vann served until December 10, 2012 when he became bishop of the Diocese of Orange, California.