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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando (Latin: Dioecesis Orlandensis) is a Roman Catholic diocese in Florida. It was established on June 18, 1968.[1] Prior to that the Central Florida area was part of the Diocese of St. Augustine. Today the diocese encompasses nine counties including Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Marion, Lake, Volusia, Brevard, Polk, and Sumter, a total of about 9,611 square miles (24,890 km2). William Borders, the first Bishop of the diocese, claimed in 1969 to Pope Paul VI that the then-active 1917 Code of Canon Law placed newly explored territory under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the port of departure, making the Diocese of Orlando responsible for the moon following the flight of Apollo 11.[2] If true, the total area of the diocese would be 14,657,051 square miles (37,961,590 km2), making it the largest Catholic diocese in existence. In 2010, the diocese contained 81 parishes, 10 missions, and 37 schools. St. James Cathedral serves as the seat of the diocese. Within the diocese are two minor basilicas, Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine, a basilica which ministers to Catholic tourists, and St. Paul's in Daytona Beach.

Diocese of Orlando

Dioecesis Orlandensis
Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando.svg
CountryUnited States
TerritoryCounties of Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Marion, Lake, Volusia, Brevard, Polk, and Sumter
Ecclesiastical provinceMiami
MetropolitanThomas Wenski
Coordinates28°32′43.2″N 81°22′40.11″W / 28.545333°N 81.3778083°W / 28.545333; -81.3778083Coordinates: 28°32′43.2″N 81°22′40.11″W / 28.545333°N 81.3778083°W / 28.545333; -81.3778083
- Catholics

400,923 (10%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedMarch 2, 1968
CathedralSt. James Cathedral
Patron saintSt. James
Current leadership
BishopJohn Gerard Noonan
Vicar GeneralJohn C. Giel
Diocese of Orlando map 1.png

In 2011, the population of the diocese was estimated at about 400,923 Catholics.[3] There are 208 priests, 87 religious nuns, and 181 permanent deacons. Twenty-six men are studying for the priesthood.[3]

The current Bishop is John Gerard Noonan. He took over effective October 24, 2010, having served previously as an Auxiliary Bishop of Miami, after the previous Bishop of Orlando, Thomas Wenski, was promoted to Archbishop of Miami.



For administrative purposes, the diocese has five deaneries centered in the following towns:[4]

  • Eastern Deanery (Volusia County) - Daytona Beach
  • Southern Deanery (Brevard County) – Melbourne. In 2009, there were approximately 80,000 Catholics in Brevard.[5]
  • Northern Deanery (Marion, Sumter, and Lake Counties) – The Villages
  • Western Deanery (Polk County) – Lakeland
  • Central Deanery (Osceola, Orange, Seminole Counties) – Orlando
Diocesan Pastoral Center

The diocese operates the San Pedro Center[6] for the benefit of over 10,000 retreatants during 2008.[7]

Diocese administration contains the following organizations: Office of Communication, Office of Advocacy and Justice, Office of Hispanic Ministry, Office of Family Life and Pastoral Care, Campus Ministry, Office of Finance and Accounting, Office of Human Resources, Buena Nueva FM 104.1,[8] El Clarin, The Florida Catholic, IT, Media Center, Youth/Young Adults, Catholic Charities of Central Florida (including Pathways to Care), Bishop Grady Villas, Tourism Ministries, Mission Office, Propagation of the Faithm and Farmworker Ministry.[7]

The diocese raised $10 million from its parishes in 2007 to support its ministries.[7]


  1. William Donald Borders (1968-1974), appointed Archbishop of Baltimore
  2. Thomas Joseph Grady (1974-1989)
  3. Norbert Dorsey (1990-2004)
  4. Thomas Wenski (2004-2010), appointed Archbishop of Miami
  5. John Gerard Noonan (2010-present)


St. James Cathedral

1,342 couples participated in the marriage program under the Family Life Office in 2007.[7]

In the diocese, 1,000 people were prepared and entered the church in 2008.[7]

Over 900 people are trained to minister to the sick as of 2007.[7]

The diocese has a sister diocese in the Dominican Republic. Missioners built two churches and one community center. The medical mission helped 2,000 patients in 2007.[7]

The diocese has unique services for the large number of tourists who visit the area. Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine was opened in 1979 near Walt Disney World to provide a location for mass for Orlando-area tourists. An Apostleship of the Sea ministry is located at the Stella Maris Center at Port Canaveral for the benefit of seafarers.[9]

Catholic charitiesEdit

In 2007, Catholic charities gave food and financial assistance to 23,000 families; helped over 290 refugee families and 4,000 people with immigration issues; and visited 2,000 prisoners. Pathways to Care assisted 290 homeless people with medical and shelter.[7]

Other diocesan ministriesEdit

  • Council of Catholic Women.[10] In 2008, there were 32 such parish groups in the 2007, they donated $240,759 to charitable causes and recorded an estimated 130,615 volunteer hours.[11]


In 2007 there were 12,116 elementary, and 2,687 high school students enrolled in the Diocesan Catholic schools. There were 816 elementary and 221 high school teachers in the Catholic School District.[12]

Within the diocese more than 29,000 young students[clarification needed] are educated in religion by 4,069 catechists and religious educators. [7]

The Superintendent of Schools was Henry Fortier.[13]

In 2011, there were 14,500 students in the 38 schools in the diocesan school system. This includes 32 elementary schools, 5 high schools and one special education school.[13]

In 2008, the National Catholic Educational Association recognized the diocesan school board as "outstanding", the only diocesan board to be so recognized.[14] At the same time, the Father Lopez Catholic High School Board was simultaneously recognized as outstanding; also the only school board to be so designated.

In 2009-2010, the diocesan schools received more than $1 million in Title I and Title II funds through the federal government.[15]

Secondary schoolsEdit

The average tuition at diocesan high schools for 2007-8 was $7,476 annually. The average annual cost to educate each student was $10,297.[13] There are five secondary schools:

Elementary schoolsEdit

The average tuition for diocesan elementary schools in 2007–08 was $4,162. The actual average cost of educating each student was $5,610.[13] The Diocese of Orlando had 32 elementary schools in 2011. Since 1985, 18 of those have been awarded the designation of National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.[16]

Brevard County

  • Ascension Catholic School, Melbourne, 2003 and 1985 National Blue Ribbon School
  • Divine Mercy Catholic School, Merritt Island, 2004 National Blue Ribbon School
  • Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School, Indialantic, 2003 and 2000 National Blue Ribbon School
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, Melbourne
  • Our Saviour Catholic School, Cocoa Beach, 2004 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. Joseph Parish School, Palm Bay, 2006 and 1993 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. Mary Catholic School, Rockledge, 2004 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. Teresa Catholic School, Titusville

Lake County

Marion County

  • Blessed Trinity Catholic School, Ocala

Orange County

  • Good Shepherd Catholic School, Orlando, 2000 National Blue Ribbon School
  • Holy Family Catholic School, Orlando, 2006 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. Andrew Catholic School, Orlando, 2009 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, Orlando, 2007 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. James Cathedral School, Orlando, 2005 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. John Vianney Catholic School, Orlando, 2005 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. Margaret Mary Catholic School, Winter Park, 2006 National Blue Ribbon School

Osceola County

Polk County

  • Resurrection Catholic School, Lakeland, 2004 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. Anthony Catholic School, Lakeland
  • St. Joseph Catholic Academy, Lakeland
  • St. Joseph Catholic School, Winter Haven

Seminole County

  • All Souls Catholic School, Sanford, 2004 National Blue Ribbon School
  • Annunciation Catholic Academy, Altamonte Springs, 2003 National Blue Ribbon School
  • St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School, Altamonte Springs, 2006 National Blue Ribbon School

Volusia County

Special EducationEdit


Hernando de Soto explored Florida in 1539. The Timucua and the Ais Indians around Cape Canaveral were hostile to the Spaniards and allowed no mission centers.

Florida was first part of the Church of Havana, Cuba, as early as 1606. Bishops of Santiago de Cuba ministered to Catholics in Florida until 1763, when England acquired Florida from Spain. The first mass migration to the New World took place when hundreds of Catholics from Menorca settled in New Smyrna in 1768. They were members there of San Pedro Church until they abandoned that Atlantic coastal site in 1777 and moved north to St. Augustine. Cuban bishops resumed control after Florida was returned to Spain in 1783.

In 1858, Bishop Augustin Verot became Vicar Apostolic of part of Georgia and all of Florida. He became Bishop of Savannah in 1861 and remained Vicar Apostolic of Florida.

In 1870, the Diocese of St. Augustine, including all of Florida, was formed with Verot its first bishop. The Diocese of Orlando was established on June 18, 1968. Prior to that time, Central Florida was part of the Diocese of St. Augustine. At its formation, the new diocese consisted of fifty parishes and served 128,000 Catholics. Because of the growth of the Orlando metropolitan area, engendered by the opening of Disney World and other tourist destinations, the diocese became one of the fastest growing ones in the nation. It 2007 it included 73 parishes, 10 missions, and 37 schools spread over the nine counties of Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Marion, Lake, Volusia, Brevard, Polk, and Sumter. It serves a population of approximately 350,000 Catholics.[10] The patroness of the Diocese of Orlando is Mary, the Mother of God.

Orlando’s first bishop was William D. Borders who was installed on June 14, 1968. Border’s achievements included establishing parish councils, parish education boards, participation of the laity as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, a Sisters’ Council, a migrant ministry apostolate staffed by full-time personnel, and a campus ministry program which was acclaimed nationally. Diocesan Catholic communities became integrated in the late 1960s and early 1970s.[17]

Thomas J. Grady was installed as bishop on December 16, 1974. He ran the diocese during a period of growth. He established eighteen new parishes, a tourism ministry, San Pedro Center (a centrally-located spiritual life center), and a sister diocese in the Dominican Republic. He also encouraged the greater participation of women in the work of the Church. At the end of his tenure in 1990, the Catholic population of the diocese had grown over 76% and the number of parishes had increased by more than a third.

When the Diocese of Orlando was founded, St. Charles Borromeo Church in the College Park neighborhood of Orlando was designated the diocesan Cathedral. On October 1, 1976, the cathedral was destroyed by an electrical fire. On March 25, 1977, St. James Church in downtown Orlando became the new Cathedral.[18]

Norbert M. Dorsey, was installed as bishop on May 25, 1990. The diocese added parishes and schools, as well as expanded the ministry to the growing Hispanic community through establishing Radio Paz and health clinics for migrant and farm workers. Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine was established as a church, built in the midst of the tourist area, for visitors to attend Mass and pray. Bishop Grady Villas, which opened on January 1, 2004, was constructed as a residential community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A cemetery at San Pedro Retreat Center for priests of the diocese was established.

On July 1, 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed Thomas G. Wenski as Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando. On November 13, 2004, Bishop Wenski succeeded Bishop Dorsey, becoming the fourth Bishop of Orlando.[19]

From 2004-10, six new parishes and two missions were created.[20] A capital and endowment campaign raised $100 million.[21] Two diocesan churches were raised to the status of minor basilicas.[22] The Spanish-language radio station Buena Nueva FM was started along with the Spanish-language newspaper, El Clarin.[23]

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops held their spring convocation in the diocese in 2008.[24]

On April 20, 2010, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Miami by Pope Benedict XVI.[25] On June 3, 2010, the College of Consultors met and elected Father Richard Walsh, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park, as the Diocesan Administrator, who served in that capacity until the new bishop was appointed in October.[26]

On October 23, 2010, Benedict XVI appointed Bishop John Gerard Noonan, as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Orlando.[27][28][29]

The bishops of the diocese are:[30]

  1. William Donald Borders (1968–1974)
  2. Thomas Joseph Grady (1974–1989)
  3. Norbert Mary Leonard James Dorsey (1990–2004)
  4. Thomas Gerard Wenski (2004–2010)
  5. John Gerard Noonan (2010–current)

Gregory Parkes, a priest of this diocese, was appointed Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee in 2012.


The interior of the Basilica of Mary, Queen of the Universe.

There are 93 parishes in the Diocese of Orlando.[31]

Parishes include:

  • All Souls, Sanford - 1,776 registered families; average attendance 1,700 each weekend.[32]
  • Corpus Christi, Celebration - 920 registered families; average attendance 1,700 each weekend.[32]
  • St. Philip Phan van Minh, Orlando - a language parish for people of Vietnam descent[32]
  • Most Precious Blood, Oviedo - 1,900 registered families; 2,200 average weekend attendance[32]
  • St. Mark the Evangelist, Summerfield - 2,067 families registered.[32]
  • St. Faustina, Clermont - 700 registered families, over 500 attending each weekend.[32]
  • St. Mary, Rockledge. A parish of 1400 families. In 2002 the congregation opened an ultra modern church designed by architect Michael Graves. The church is set up in such a way as to show the journey of life towards Christ that one makes.




The diocese owns the Spanish-language radio station Buena Nueva FM 104.1 Sub-Carrier which reaches eight counties of the nine comprising the diocese. It is broadcast on the internet.[35][36]


A localized version of the Florida Catholic Newspaper is published 38 times a year. Diocesan circulation is 40,200, the highest in the Eccesiastical Province of Miami.[37]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Orlando Diocese official website
  2. ^ "Yes, the moon has its own Catholic bishop". Aleteia — Catholic Spirituality, Lifestyle, World News, and Culture. 2018-08-03. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  3. ^ a b Diocesan web site
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Florida Today retrieved 5 September 2009 Archived September 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ San Pedro website accessed January 28, 2008
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wenski, Thomas (2008). Grow. Lead. Share. Diocese of Orlando.
  8. ^ Buena Nueva FM 104,1 website accessed January 28, 2008
  9. ^ AOS Port Canaveral Seafarers Center retrieved April 17, 2008
  10. ^ a b Dodson, Laura (April 18–24, 2008). Forty years of growth and social change will mark women's convention. Florida Catholic.
  11. ^ Jackson, Ruth R. (November 7–20, 2008). Women's council grows in diocese. Florida Catholic of Orlando.
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ a b c d Florida Today, January 20, 2008."Parochials in a pinch." Brennan, Kate
  14. ^ staff (April 11–17, 2008). Father Lopez High School and Diocese of Orlando school boards receive national recognition. Florida Catholic.
  15. ^ "Federal and state Financial aid available to Catholic Schools". The Florida Catholic. Orlando, Florida. September 3–16, 2010. pp. A15.
  16. ^ "Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award". Retrieved 2010-07-09.
  17. ^ Dodson, Laura (February 27 – March 12, 2009). Women still yearn to serve. Florida Catholic.
  18. ^ "History of the Diocese of Orlando Video".
  19. ^ "Archbishop Thomas Wenski Biography". Archived from the original on 2007-12-26.
  20. ^ Powers, Jennifer (May 21 – June 3, 2010). "Extended pastoral reach through new parishes, missions". Orlando, Florida: Florida Catholic. pp. A2.
  21. ^ Peterson, Teresa Lantigua (May 21 – June 3, 2010). "Alive in Christ Campaign reaches $100 million". Orlando, Florida: Florida Catholic. pp. A3.
  22. ^ Dodson, Laura (May 21 – June 3, 2010). "Churches elevated to status of minor basilicas under leadership of Archbishop Wenski". Orlando, Florida: Florida Catholic. pp. A14.
  23. ^ Goodman, Tanya (May 21 – June 3, 2010). "Helping Spanish-speaking Catholics feel at home". Orlando, Florida: Florida Catholic. pp. A16.
  24. ^ "USCCB-Spring Meeting 2008".
  25. ^ "Pope Names Orlando Bishop As Archbishop Of Miami, Chicago Auxiliary Bishop As Bishop Of Springfield In Illinois". USCCB.
  26. ^ Tanya Goodman. "Father Walsh to lead diocese as administrator". The Florida Catholic. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  27. ^ "Pope gives new bishop to Catholics in Orlando diocese".
  28. ^ "For Bishop Noonan, the Magic Kingdom; Miami Aux to Orland0".
  29. ^ Jeff Kunerth. "John Noonan installed as bishop of Orlando Diocese". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
  30. ^ [3]
  31. ^ Orlando Diocese official website
  32. ^ a b c d e f Powers, Jennifer (May 21 – June 3, 2010). "Extended pastoral reach through new parishes, missions". Orlando, Florida: Florida Catholic. pp. A2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "fc100521" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "fc100521" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  33. ^ a b "Basilica of St. Paul". GCatholic. Retrieved 2014-05-29. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "gcatholic" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  34. ^ Osborne, Karen (20 August – 2 September 2010). "Florida church a pilgrimage cite for Maronite Catholics". Orlando, Floridat: Florida Catholic. p. 1.
  35. ^ [4]
  36. ^ Florida Catholic | Diocese of Orlando News Briefs
  37. ^ [5] accessed September 27

External linksEdit