The History of Fort Worth Diocese

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St. Patrick Cathedral in 1905The military post, Camp Worth, was established in 1849 on a bluff overlooking the west fork of the Trinity River. The post was deactivated in 1853, and the military detachment moved to Fort Belknap to the west. Merchants and settlers moved into the abandoned fort buildings, and soon there was a small civilian population. In 1856 the frontier town, named Fort Worth, became the seat of Tarrant County. By 1860 the population had grown to 450. The Civil War had a devastating effect on the little town. Many men left to take part in the fighting. Indian raids began when Army soldiers left to fight in the war. When the war was over in 1865, confederate war veterans and cattle raisers began to settle in the frontier town. They returned to abandoned homes and shops, a small half-completed courthouse and a population of no more than 250. Soon, Fort Worth became a stopping place on the Chisholm Cattle Trail, and began to experience growth again.

PHOTO: St. Patrick's Church in 1905. The crowd had gathered to welcome President Theodore Roosevelt, who visited Fort Worth that year. Photo courtesy of Amon Carter Museum. From St. Patrick's: The First 100 Years. By William R. Hoover. 1988 by St. Patrick Cathedral Fort Worth, Texas. First Edition.

The spiritual needs of Fort Worth Catholics were met by missionary priests who visited the town from time to time in the later 1860’s as part of a circuit route that took them on horseback from Galveston through points throughout Texas, passing through Fort Worth. The missionary priests would say Mass in the courthouse, an available hall, or a private home. Between 1866 and 1876 the population of Fort Worth grew to 2,000. In 1870 a more systematic arrangement developed to ministry Fort Worth Catholics when Father Mathurin J. Pairier, a member of the French religious order the Society of Mary, began visiting Fort Worth twice a year, in spring and in the fall, from his base in San Angelo. In 1875, by arrangement with Galveston Bishop Dubuis, the visits by Father Pairier were increased to once a month, augmented by periodic visits from Father Claude Martiniere, who came from his post at Wylie in Dallas County. Between 1876 and 1877, Fort Worth’s population increase was fourfold, to 8,645. The rapid growth was spurred by the coming of the railroads. Many of the railroad workers, as well as the immigrants who followed the rails west, were Catholics – Irish mostly.

Their arrival made an immediate changes impact on the Fort Worth Catholic Church. In 1876, Bishop Dubuis assigned Father Thomas Loughrey to Fort Worth as its first resident pastor, and within three months the first Fort Worth Catholic church was built-- St. Stanislaus Kostka. In 1884 Father Loughrey was replaced by Father Jean Marie Guyot, who immediately began planning a new, larger and more ornate church. The cornerstone for the new church was blessed and laid by the new Galveston Bishop Nicholas A. Gallagher on October 14, 1888. Bishop Dubuis retired to France in 1881 for health reasons. By vote of the majority in the parish who members now were primarily of Irish decent, the new church was named after St. Patrick. On July 10, 1892, Bishop Thomas F. Brennan, the first bishop of the newly established Diocese of Dallas, dedicated the new church. The Diocese of Dallas included the area which 79 years later would become the Diocese of Fort Worth and which included seven parishes: Fort Worth, Cleburne, Gainesville, Henrietta, Hillsboro, Muenster, and Weatherford. The priests serving in the area came from many parts of the country and the world, who were good and zealous men who endured hardship, poverty, and impaired health. They were true missionaries and heroes, and were examples of faith that laid the foundation for Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth of today.

The Sisters of St. Mary of Namur arrived in 1885 to establish St. Ignatius Academy. In 1888, the same year that the cornerstone was laid for St. Patrick church, the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur began construction on a new large building to accommodate the increasing enrollment at the Academy. The Sisters concurrently opened other Catholic academies in North Texas. By 1896 Catholic schools were in Gainesville, Pilot Point and Cleburne operated by other communities of women religious. Like the priest who served the area, the sisters were great examples of faith and heroic lives. In 1910, the Sisters of St. Mary marked a milestone by establishing the first Catholic college, Our Lady of Victory in Fort Worth.

As the City of Fort Worth grew, so did the Catholic population in Fort Worth and the area. Under the episcopate of Bishop Joseph Dunne, the second bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, All Saints parish was formed in 1902, Holy Name parish in 1907, and St. Mary of the Assumption in 1908. St. Rita’s parish in Handley (now a part of Fort Worth) was established in 1909. By 1910 the present area of the Fort Worth Diocese had twenty-six parishes many of which were created in the rural areas where German and Czech immigrants settled.

During the term of the third Bishop of Dallas, Bishop Joseph Lynch (1911-1954), the present area of the Fort Worth Diocese continued to grow in the number of parishes, and there were many native vocations to the priesthood. When Thomas K. Gorman was named co-adjutor bishop of Dallas in 1952, the Dallas Diocese had grown from 26 parishes in 1910 had to 53 parishes. Bishop Gorman recognized the importance of Fort Worth and renamed the diocese as the Dallas/Fort Worth Diocese with St. Patrick church elevated to co-cathedral status. When Bishop Gorman retired in 1969, he recommended the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth be split into two entities. Pope Paul VI accepted the recommendation and on August 9, 1969 he created the Diocese of Fort Worth which encompassed 23,950 square miles and 28 North Texas counties from Hill County to the south to Cookie County on the north and Hardeman County to the far northwest. When it was established the Fort Worth Diocese had 86 priests, 53 diocesan priests and 33 religious priests.

 

The Most Reverend John H. Cassata

First Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth
October 1969 - September 1980

Bishop John J. Cassata
Bishop John J. Cassata

On October 21, 1969, Dallas Auxiliary Bishop John H. Cassata, a native of Galveston, was installed as the first Bishop of the Fort Worth. Born November 8, 1908, Bishop Cassata was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston on December 8, 1932 and served as associate pastor and pastor of Holy Name Parish in Houston for 35 years, and as diocesan vicar general. He was appointed by Pope Paul VI as Auxiliary Bishop the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth on March 12, 1968, and ordained a bishop at St. Michael Church in Houston on June 5, 1968. He also served as pastor of St. Patrick Co-Cathedral for one year until his installation as bishop. During his 13 years of Episcopal ministry Bishop Cassata brought financial stability to the new diocese and established 12 new parishes. When Bishop Cassata arrived, there were 67,000 Catholics in the new Fort Worth Diocese. When he retired 13 years later, the Catholic population had grown to 120,000. He retired in September 1980, and died September 8, 1989.

View historic video footage

 

The Most Reverend Joseph P. Delaney

Second Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth
September 1981 - July 2005

Bishop Joseph P. Delaney
Bishop Joseph P. Delaney

The Most Reverend Joseph P. Delaney was ordained as the Second Bishop of Fort Worth in the Tarrant County Convention Center on September 13, 1981. Bishop Delaney, born August 29, 1934, in Fall River, Massachusetts, studied for the priesthood in seminaries in Boston, Washington and Rome, and was ordained a priest December 18, 1960, for the Diocese of Fall River. He came to Fort Worth from Brownsville, Texas. He had received permission from his bishop to serve in the Brownville Diocese. While at the South Texas diocese, he was the pastor of two parishes, superintendent of schools, editor of the diocesan newspaper, judicial vicar, and co-chancellor. Under Bishop Delaney the Diocese of Fort Worth continued to grow. His leadership spanned 24 prosperous years, and under his guidance the diocese continued to underscore the principles of the Second Vatican Council, especially a commitment to the poor, to ecumenism, and to an increased role of the laity in the Church. He also consolidated the diocesan offices and ministries of the Diocese with the opening of the Catholic Center. Bishop Delaney died on July 12, 2005.

 

The Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann

Third Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth
July 2005 - December 2012

Bishop Kevin W. Vann
Bishop Kevin W. Vann

The Third Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth was the Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, who was installed on July 13, 2006 at the Texas Christian University’s Daniel Myer Coliseum. Bishop Vann was born May 10, 1951, in Springfield, Illinois. He attended Immaculate Conception Diocesan Seminary in Springfield and Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. After his ordination on May 30, 1981, Bishop Vann was assigned to graduate studies in Canon Law at the Angelicum in Rome. Upon returning to the Diocese of Springfield, Bishop Vann was involved in the work of the Diocesan Tribunal and the Tribunal of Second Instance in Chicago. He taught Canon Law at Kenrick Seminary and before being named Bishop, he was pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield, Vicar for Priests, and the Diocesan Moderator of Hispanic Ministry. On November 15, 2011 he was Ecclesiastical Delegate of the Holy See for the Pastoral Provision. During the seven years of his episcopacy, he ordained 10 men to the priesthood and increased the number of seminarians to 30. Bishop Vann also led the Diocese through unprecedented growth of the Catholic Church in North Texas. He also created a diocesan Respect Life Office and the John Paul II Institute of Lay Ministry. He served until December 10, 2012 when he was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Orange, California.

 

The Most Reverend Michael F. Olson

Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth
January 2014 - Present

Bishop Michael F. Olson
Bishop Michael F. Olson

The Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth is Most Reverend Michael F. Olson, the first priest of the Diocese to become a bishop who was ordained and installed on January 29, 2014 at the Tarrant County Convention Center. Bishop Olson, a native of Illinois, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Fort Worth on June 3, 1994 by the late Bishop Joseph P. Delaney at St. Patrick Cathedral. His first assignment was as the parochial vicar—an associate pastor—of St. Michael Parish in Bedford where he served from July 1994 through June 1997.

Bishop Olson was recipient of the Basselin Scholarship at the Catholic University of America where he earned his bachelor and master degrees in philosophy in 1988 and 1989, respectively. In 1997, he entered St. Louis University Center for Health Care Ethics for doctoral studies and continued his studies there through June 2001. From July 2001 to May 2006, he served as formation adviser at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston. In July 2006, he became pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Fort Worth where he served until June 2008. Concurrently, he served as the Vicar General in the administration of Bishop Vann. In July 2008, he was assigned as the rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving. While rector Bishop Olson earned his doctorate in moral theology at Academia Alfonsiana in Rome. On May 6, 2010 Pope Benedict XVI granted him the Papal Honor of Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of “monsignor.” He has served as the community representative to the Houston-based University of Texas Medical Center’s Ethics Committee for Research Involving Human Subjects.

On December 11, 2012 Rev. Msgr. Stephen J. Berg was named by the College of Consultors, a group of 10 diocesan priest advisors, as the Diocesan Administrator until a new bishop was appointed. He served in this capacity for more than a year until Bishop Olson, was named by Pope Francis as the Fourth Bishop of the Diocese, and was ordained and installed. On January 15, 2014, Pope Francis named Msgr. Berg as the bishop of Pueblo, Colorado. Msgr. Berg became the second Fort Worth diocesan priest within two months to become a bishop.

More about Bishop Olson

 

40th Anniversary

On August 9, 2009, Bishop Vann began a year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Diocese with a special anniversary Mass at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The year-long celebration focused on spiritual renewal through "communio" which was reflected in the anniversary theme: One Lord, One Faith, One Hope.

A vast majority of the Diocese’s growth has occurred in the urbanized areas of the diocese, the Greater Fort Worth area, Denton and Wichita Falls which planning experts predict will continue to grow.

The Diocese of Fort Worth has grown from 60,000 Catholics in 1969 to 700,000 Catholics today. The Diocese has 50 diocesan priests as well as 55 religious order or priests from other dioceses as well as 109 permanent deacons and 22 Catholic schools.

All of the priests, religious, laity, and consultative bodies and diocesan staff are engaged in meeting the challenge of growth, which is, in fact, a blessing of the Lord. Fort Worth and its neighboring Diocese of Dallas enjoy the blessing of a close pastoral and working relationship in many ways.

 

Thanks to Kay Fialho, Historian and Archivist at St. Patrick Cathedral, for her research and assistance.

Found 76 results.


Contacts:

Most Rev. Michael F. Olson, STD, MA
Bishop of Fort Worth
817-945-9311

The Catholic Center; St. Patrick Cathedral

(1200)  [ Edit Contact ]

Rev. Msgr. E. James Hart
Chancellor and Moderator of the Curia
817-945-9315
The Catholic Center

(1150)  [ Edit Contact ]

Rev. Msgr. Juan Rivero
Vicar General
N/A

The Catholic Center

(1140)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Don Wagner
Chief Financial Officer
817-945-9400

The Catholic Center

(1130)  [ Edit Contact ]

Rev. Thomas J. Craig
Director of Propagation of the Faith
Chairman of Diocesan Mission Council
817-945-9365

The Catholic Center

(1120)  [ Edit Contact ]

 James Suter
General Counsel
817-945-9311

The Catholic Center

(1120)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Marlon De La Torre, MA MEd.
Department Director of Evangelization and Catechesis
817-945-9350

The Catholic Center

(1032)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Jason Whitehead
Assistant Director of Evangelization and Catechesis
817-945-9364

The Catholic Center

(1031)  [ Edit Contact ]

Dcn. Don Warner
Director of Liturgy & Worship
Director of Deacons
Director of Chaplaincy
817-945-9380

The Catholic Center; St. Patrick Cathedral, Fort Worth

(1010)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Juan Rendon
Director of the Permanent Deacon Formation
817-945-9480

The Catholic Center

(1005)  [ Edit Contact ]

Dcn. Rigoberto Leyva
Coordinator of Pastoral Formation
817-945-9481

The Catholic Center; Our Lady of Lourdes, Mineral Wells

(1000)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Gary Patton
Director of Human Resources
817-945-9330

The Catholic Center

(0925)  [ Edit Contact ]

Very Rev. Anh Q. Tran, JCL
Judicial Vicar
Priest in Residence
817-945-9430

Tribunal Offices, St. Patrick Cathedral

(0920)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Jennifer R. Pelletier
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
817-945-9370

The Catholic Center

(0915)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Pat Svacina
Director of Communications
817-945-9420, 817-996-9609 (cell)

The Catholic Center

(0910)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Paula K. Parrish, CFRE
Executive Director of Advancement Foundation
817-945-9440

The Catholic Center

(0905)  [ Edit Contact ]

Sr. Yolanda Cruz, SSMN
Delegate for Women Religious

The Catholic Center

(0900)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Kevin O'Brien
Assistant Director for Parish / School Services
Director of Cemeteries / Columbaria
Director of Information Technologies
817-945-9405

The Catholic Center

(0795)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Carolyn Jones
Assistant Director for Fiscal Management
817-945-9401

The Catholic Center

(0790)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Paola Quintero-Araújo, MA
Director of St. Junipero Serra Institute
Director of Faith Formation
817-945-9353

The Catholic Center

(0775)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Francisco Joel Rodriguez
Director of Hispanic Ministry
817-945-9366

The Catholic Center

(0773)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Chris Vaughan
Director of Marriage and Family Life
817-945-9351

The Catholic Center

(0770)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Jeff Hedglen
Director of Young Adult & Campus Ministry
UTA Campus Minister
817-460-1155

The Catholic Center, UTA Arlington Catholic Campus Ministry

(0760)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Stephen Becht
Director of Property Management & Construction
817-945-9402

The Catholic Center

(0755)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Jason Spoolstra
Director of Youth Ministry
817-945-9355

The Catholic Center

(0755)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Jay DeLeon
Assistant Property Manager & Construction
817-945-9409

The Catholic Center

(0754)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Amy McGuire
HR Generalist - Benefits Specialist
817-945-9333

The Catholic Center

(0750)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Chris Kastner
Website Coordinator
817-945-9421

The Catholic Center

(0740)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Ambil V. Palatty
Assistant Website Coordinator
817-945-9423

The Catholic Center

(0739)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Juan Guajardo
Editor, North Texas Catholic
817-945-9425

The Catholic Center

(0735)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Renée Underwood
Associate Director of the Advancement Foundation
817-945-9441

The Catholic Center

(0730)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Diana Liska
Director of Stewardship
817-945-9444

The Catholic Center

(0725)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Laura Tatum, PHR
HR Generalist
817-945-9332

The Catholic Center

(0715)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Elizabeth A. Becker
Advancement Associate
817-945-9443

The Catholic Center

(0650)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Richard Mathews
Director of Safe Environment
817-945-9334

The Catholic Center

(0550)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Jorge Montenegro
Controller
817-945-9404

The Catholic Center

(0550)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Nancy Mitchell
Safe Environment Analyst
817-945-9341

The Catholic Center

(0540)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Christina Ybarra
Internal Auditor
817-945-9412

The Catholic Center

(0540)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Melissa Button
Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools
817-945-9374

The Catholic Center

(0525)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Erin Vader
Coordinator for Schools Advancement & Alumni Relations
817-945-9377

The Catholic Center

(0520)  [ Edit Contact ]

Rev. Cruz Manuel Holguin
Vocations Liaison
Pastor
817-945-9321

St. Peter the Apostle, Fort Worth

(0500)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Trudy Miller
Diocesan Business Manager for Schools
817-945-9373

The Catholic Center

(0500)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Theresa Schauf
Respect Life Coordinator
817-945-9359

The Catholic Center

(0500)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Anna Marie Chamblee, JCL
Judge / Assessor
817-945-9432

Tribunal Offices

(0485)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Linda McKinney
Case Manager
817-945-9434

Tribunal Offices

(0480)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Patricia Aragon
Ecclesiastical Notary
817-945-9435

Tribunal Offices

(0475)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Ana Ash
Ecclesiastical Notary
817-945-9433

Tribunal Offices

(0470)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Linda Collins
Ecclesiastical Notary
817-945-9437

Tribunal Offices

(0460)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Nancy Eder, RN
Diocesan School Nurse Consultant
817-945-9372

The Catholic Center

(0445)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Robert Molyet
Diocesan Athletic Director
817-938-5375

(0440)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Tony Abadie
Natural Family Planning Coordinator
972-746-5085 (cell)

The Catholic Center

(0435)  [ Edit Contact ]

Sr. Diana Rodríguez, HCG
Director of the Diocesan Formation Center
817-624-9411

Diocesan Formation Center, Fort Worth

(0430)  [ Edit Contact ]

Dcn. Bruce Corbett
Hospital Chaplain Coordinator
Prison Chaplain Coordinator
817-880-5479

St. Vincent de Paul, Arlington

(0425)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Connie Martin
Coordinator of Deaf Ministry and Special Needs Services
817-945-9381

The Catholic Center

(0415)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Susan Moses
Associate Editor, North Texas Catholic
817-945-9422

The Catholic Center

(0410)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Tom Centarri
TCU Campus Minister
Administrative Assistant

TCU Catholic Campus Ministry, Diocesan Formation Center, Fort Worth

(0408)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Jacqueline Burkepile
TWU Campus Minister
940-566-0004

TWU Catholic Campus Ministry

(0406)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Bailey Gonzalez
UNT Campus Minister
940-566-0004

UNT Catholic Campus Ministry

(0400)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Debra Neely
MSU Campus Minister
817-692-9778

MSU Catholic Campus Ministry

(0390)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Robert Campbell
Service Center / Facility Support
817-945-9407

The Catholic Center

(0370)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Harley Hartman
Service Center
817-945-9407

The Catholic Center

(0369)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Maria Gonzalez
Receptionist
817-560-3300

The Catholic Center

(0368)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Maria Miller
Risk Assistant
817-945-9488

The Catholic Center

(0300)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Cynthia Sturns
Executive Assistant to the Bishop
817-945-9311

The Catholic Center

(0050)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Sheila Haase
Executive Assistant to the Vicar General and Chancellor/Moderator of the Curia
817-945-9315

The Catholic Center

(0049)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Timothy Walker
Executive Assistant to the CFO
817-945-9406

The Catholic Center

(0048)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Sarah J. Penuela
Administrative Assistant for Vocations
817-945-9321

The Catholic Center

(0047)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Josie Castillo
Administrative Associate
817-945-9314

The Catholic Center

(0046)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Theresa Schabow
Administrative Assistant
817-945-9408

The Catholic Center

(0045)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Letisia Perez
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
817-945-9371

The Catholic Center

(0044)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Rosa Rosales
Administrative Assistant
817-945-9424

The Catholic Center

(0043)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Melissa Loza
Administrative Assistant
817-945-9356

The Catholic Center

(0042)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Veronica Esquivel
TCU Administrative Assistant

TCU Campus Ministry

(0041)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Irma Jimenez
Administrative Assistant
817-945-9354

The Catholic Center

(0041)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Lucia Romo Sanchez
Administrative Assistant
817-945-9358

The Catholic Center

(0040)  [ Edit Contact ]

 Monica Rolling
Administrative Assistant
817-945-9357

The Catholic Center

(0015)  [ Edit Contact ]

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