The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange was established on March 30, 1976, by Pope Paul VI. Today, it has more than 1.3 million members and nearly 20,000 students enrolled in its educational system.
Throughout the decades, beginning with its earliest roots in the mission system more than 200 years ago, the Catholic Church in the region has played a significant role in shaping the cultural and community landscape in the county.
When established as a Diocese in 1976, it was comprised of 44 parishes and more than 300,000 Catholics. Its first Bishop, William Johnson, said upon accepting his appointment: “The very name ‘Orange,’ suggests a golden treasure and the new diocese is all that in its physical characteristics, its people and its traditions. The area is small enough to be unified as a true community and large enough to encompass a substantial number of generous-hearted people.”
For the past 40 years, the Diocese has developed into one of the most diverse communities in the world, integrating Asian, Hispanic and Caucasian ethnicities, while still respecting their cultures.
The acquisition of the Crystal Cathedral, a historic center of protestant worship, provides the Diocese with a physical and spiritual center for a diverse and dispersed Catholic community. Now Christ Cathedral, it has become the most visible center of Catholicism on the West Coast.
At the helm as the fourth Bishop to lead to Diocese, The Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann was installed December 2012. He was welcomed into the Diocese at a very special time of growth, renewed commitment to salvation, mission evangelization and transformation.
The Diocese of Orange has evolved as Orange County has, and remains strong and spiritually rich. It is poised to continue its spiritual, as well as physical growth, in the coming decades.