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Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington

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, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's and Saint Mary's counties in the state of Maryland.

Archdiocese of Washington
Archidioecesis Vashingtonensis
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.svg
Country United States
Territory District of Columbia plus counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, St. Mary's, Calvert, and Charles in Maryland[1]
Ecclesiastical province Washington
Area 2,104 sq mi (5,450 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2014)
630,823[2] (22.0%)
Parishes 139
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established November 15, 1947[3] (70 years ago)
Cathedral Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
Patron saint St. Matthew
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Metropolital Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Auxiliary Bishops Mario E. Dorsonville
Roy Edward Campbell
Emeritus Bishops Theodore Edgar Cardinal McCarrick
Francisco González Valer
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.
The Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, Maryland

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to The Catholic University of America, the only national university operated by the bishops conference of the United States[4] and Georgetown University, the oldest Jesuit institution of higher education in the country.

In addition, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a minor basilica dedicated to the nation's patroness, is located within and administered by it, and, although it is not the Archdiocesan cathedral (nor even a parish of the Archdiocese), it is the site of its Easter and Christmas Masses.



The ordinary of the Archdiocese of Washington is an archbishop whose cathedra is the Cathedral 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. Eight years later, on November 15, 1947, the archdiocese received its first residential archbishop, with the appointment of Patrick Aloysius O'Boyle. Currently, Donald William Cardinal Wuerl serves as the ordinary of the Archdiocese.


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.[5] During the colonial era, however, Catholics would remain a persecuted people suffering the wrath of oppression allowed by local penal laws.[5]

Upon the founding of the United States, a Jesuit priest, Father John Carroll, was elected head of the missionary territory (later Prefecture Apostolic) of the United States. In 1789 the Diocese of Baltimore (later the Archdiocese of Baltimore) was established with Carroll as its first bishop, and given ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the entire nation.[6]

On July 22, 1939, Pope Pius XII separated the cities of Washington and Baltimore, creating two archdioceses (Baltimore and Washington), under the oversight of one archbishop in persona episcopi.[3][5] This process of separation was officially concluded on November 15, 1947, with the appointment of Washington's first residential archbishop.[3][5] The Archdiocese of Washington became a metropolitan see on October 12, 1965, when the Diocese of Saint Thomas became its first (and, so far, only) suffragan see.


The lists of archbishops, auxiliary and affiliated bishops and their terms of service.


  1. Michael Joseph Curley (1939–1947; simultaneously Archbishop of Baltimore);[3] died in office
  2. Patrick Aloysius Cardinal O'Boyle (1947–1973; first residential archbishop[3]); retired; died 1987
  3. William Wakefield Cardinal Baum (1973–1980); appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (1980–1990) and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary (1990–2001); died 2015
  4. James Aloysius Cardinal Hickey (1980–2000); retired; died 2004
  5. Theodore Edgar Cardinal McCarrick (2000–2006); retired
  6. Donald William Cardinal Wuerl (since 2006)

Auxiliary bishopsEdit

  1. John Michael McNamara (1947–1960) died
  2. Patrick Joseph McCormick (1950–1953) died
  3. Philip Matthew Hannan (1956–1965) appointed Archbishop of New Orleans
  4. William Joseph McDonald (1964–1967) appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco
  5. John Selby Spence (1964–1973) died
  6. Edward John Herrmann (1966–1973) appointed Bishop of Columbus
  7. Thomas William Lyons (1974–1988) died
  8. Eugene Antonio Marino S.S.J. (1974–1988) appointed Archbishop of Atlanta
  9. Thomas Cajetan Kelly O.P. (1977–1981) appointed Archbishop of Louisville
  10. Alvaro Corrada del Rio S.J. (1985–1997) appointed Apostolic Administrator of Caguas, Puerto Rico, appointed Bishop of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
  11. William George Curlin (1988–1994) appointed Bishop of Charlotte
  12. Leonard James Olivier S.V.D. (1988–2004) retired
  13. William Edward Lori (1995–2001) appointed Bishop of Bridgeport
  14. Kevin Joseph Farrell (2001–2007) appointed Bishop of Dallas
  15. Francisco González Valer S.F. (2001–2014) retired
  16. Martin David Holley (2004–2016) appointed Bishop of Memphis
  17. Barry Christopher Knestout (2008-2018) appointed Bishop of Richmond
  18. Mario E. Dorsonville (since 2015)
  19. Roy Edward Campbell (since 2017)

Other affiliated bishopsEdit

The following clergy began their service as priests for the Archdiocese, before being appointed bishops elsewhere:

High schoolsEdit

Archdiocesan cemeteriesEdit

In addition to the nearly four dozen of its parishes which have their own cemeteries,[8] the archdiocese owns and operates five major cemeteries:[9]

Two former parish cemeteries are also operated by the archdiocese:

Province of Washington, D.C.Edit

Ecclesiastical Province of Washington map

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Archdiocese of Washington
  2. ^ "Statistics". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. 2016-12-06. Retrieved 2016-12-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Although the archdiocese was created on July 29, 1939, it shared its first archbishop with the Archdiocese of Baltimore — Archbishop Curley — who continued to administer the two archdioceses as a single unit, until Washington's first residential archbishop was appointed on Nov. 15, 1947. Most Rev. Michael J. Curley. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on 2016-11-19. Archbishops of the Modern Era. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved on 2016-11-19.
  4. ^ "About Us". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved 2017-02-01. 
  5. ^ a b c d About Us. Archdiocese of Washington. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  6. ^ "Prefect Apostolic". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. Retrieved 6 Aug 2012. 
  7. ^ "Most Reverend John F. Donoghue". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  8. ^ Parish Cemeteries from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington
  9. ^ History from the official website of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington

External linksEdit