Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse

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The Diocese of Syracuse is a Catholic diocese headquartered in Syracuse, New York, United States. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse includes 237,546 Catholics residing in seven counties of Central and South Central New York State: Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego. On June 4, 2019, Pope Francis appointed Douglas Lucia to be the next Bishop of Syracuse.[1] Lucia was consecrated to the episcopacy and installed as bishop on August 8, 2019.

Diocese of Syracuse

Diœcesis Syracusensis
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
CoA Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse.svg
Coat of arms
Country United States
Territory5,479 square miles (14,190 km2) in Central New York (Counties of Onondaga, Oneida, Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Madison, and Oswego, New York)
MetropolitanArchdiocese of New York
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2014)
289,000 (24.1%)
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedNovember 26, 1886
CathedralCathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Secular priests223
Current leadership
BishopDouglas Lucia
Vicar GeneralTimothy S. Elmer
Bishops emeritusRobert J. Cunningham
Diocese of Syracuse in New York map 1.png
Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Syracuse


Within the area that now makes up the Diocese of Syracuse, missionary activity was first recorded in 1654. During a brief truce between the French and the Iroquois, French Jesuit Simon Le Moyne, eloquent in Huron and Iroquois languages, departed from Quebec City to the upper Mohawk valley. On August 16 of that year, the Onondagas showed him a spring that they believed to be cursed, but which he immediately recognized as a salt spring.[2] Upon his return, Pierre-Joseph-Marie Chaumonot and Claude Dablon laid the groundwork to build Sainte Marie among the Iroquois in 1656, a sizable mission which housed about 7 Jesuits and 50 French workmen. This group had to abandon the mission 2 years later to avoid a threatened massacre by Mohawks. Additional missions were undertaken by Jesuits and Sulpicians.

Meanwhile, the nearby Dutch proprietary colony of New Netherlands fell to the English in 1664, and again in 1667. Almost immediately, the English and French began to dispute the territory that was inhabited by the Iroquois. Both sides incited their Indigenous allies to raid the allies of the other, leading to rivalries, atrocities, and reprisals, making it difficult to maintain and continue missions.

Several decades later, the colonial legislature under Governor Bellomont ushered in harsh penal laws that threatened to fine, imprison, and even execute Catholic priests found not only in parts of New York controlled by the British, but the disputed areas as well.[3] The last Jesuit missionary to the Iroquois surrendered at Albany in 1709.[4] Great Britain gained full legal control over this territory with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763) at the conclusion of the Seven Years' War.

The American Revolution and the ratification of the First Amendment finally removed the legal impediments to practice the Catholic faith. Nevertheless, it took many decades before Catholic churches would be built in central New York. There were very few Catholics settled there, and only a small number of them could make the journey to Albany or New York City to attend Mass. Among them were John C. Devereux, first mayor of Utica, who was a member of the board of trustees of St. Mary's Church in Albany, and Dominick Lynch, founder of Rome, New York, who was one of the signatories of an address of congratulations by the Catholics of the United States presented to George Washington upon his election.[3]

The population of Catholics swelled when teams of Irish Catholics arrived to construct the Erie Canal, and also when the opening of the canal increased trade, commerce, and additional immigration. Rev. Paul McQuade, pastor of St. Mary's Church in Albany from 1813 to 1815, frequently visited Utica, and probably celebrated Masses there in private homes. The first public Mass in the city of Utica was celebrated in the Courthouse on January 10, 1819.[3]

The advent of railroads brought an ever-increasing number of immigrants to Syracuse. The decision was made to form the diocese of Syracuse, which took place on November 20, 1886. Rev. Patrick Anthony Ludden, former vicar general of the Diocese of Albany, was named bishop, and St. John the Evangelist Church was selected to serve as the first cathedral. Bishop Ludden built a new cathedral, Immaculate Conception, and consecrated it on September 25, 1910.

Sex abuse scandal and bankruptcyEdit

In June 2020 Bishop Lucia announced that the diocese had filled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it struggled to deal with the cost of the lawsuits of hundreds of cases of sexual abuse allegations. Lucia claimed that he made the decision to file for bankruptcy to make sure the diocese would not become broke and to ensure that all the alleged victims got something for their lawsuits, although some lawyers of the plaintiffs criticized the decision saying that the diocese was seeking to avoid the lawsuits.[5] Just days before filing for bankruptcy, 38 people filed new sex abuse lawsuits under the New York Child Victims Act.[6]


The list of ordinaries of the diocese and their years of service:

  1. Patrick Anthony Ludden (1886–1912)[7]
  2. John Grimes (1912–1922)
  3. Daniel Joseph Curley (1923–1932)
  4. John A. Duffy (1933–1937), appointed Bishop of Buffalo
  5. Walter Andrew Foery (1937–1970)
  6. David Frederick Cunningham (1970–1975)
  7. Francis James Harrison (1977–1987)
  8. Joseph Thomas O'Keefe (1987–1995)
  9. James Michael Moynihan (1995–2009)
  10. Robert J. Cunningham (2009–2019)
  11. Douglas Lucia (2019–present)

Auxiliary BishopsEdit

High schoolsEdit

See alsoEdit

Coat of arms of Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse
Arms was designed and adopted when the diocese was erected
The diocesan arms consists of a blue field with a gold (yellow) Latin cross. Entwined about the lower arm of the cross is a silver (white) dolphin. To the upper left (chief dexter) is a silver (white) crescent.
The blue field with a gold (yellow) Latin cross, is of The Faith throughout sunburst. Dolphin which was the emblem on the coin of the chief Greek city, Syracuse, of ancient Sicily. Crescent is to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in her title of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Le Moyne, Simon". Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  3. ^ a b c "Syracuse". Catholic Encyclopedia.
  4. ^ "Mareuil, Pierre de". Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  5. ^ "Syracuse Catholic Diocese's move shifts sex abuse claims against priests to bankruptcy court". June 19, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ McMahon, Julie (June 19, 2020). "Syracuse Catholic Diocese files for bankruptcy". Retrieved October 15, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "History of the Diocese of Syracuse", 1909, p. 25.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 43°02′45.7″N 76°08′58.7″W / 43.046028°N 76.149639°W / 43.046028; -76.149639