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Backgrounder

prepared by
Department of Communications
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street NE ∙ Washington, DC 20017
202-541-3200 ∙ 202-541-3173 fax ∙ www.usccb.org/comm

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

(Sources: The 2007 Official Catholic Directory and the archdiocesan website.)

Geography:
The city and county of Philadelphia and the counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery.

Statistics:
Number of Catholics: 1,458,642
Catholics as Percentage of Population: 37%
Number of Parishes: 279
Number of Priests: 989
Number of Schools:
Elementary: 207
Secondary: 35
Colleges and Universities: 11

Cathedral: Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Succession of (Arch)Bishops:
Bishop Michael Francis Egan, O.F.M. 1810-1814
Bishop Henry Conwell 1820-1842
Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick 1830-1851
Bishop Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R. 1852-1860
Archbishop James Frederic Wood 1860-1883 (became archbishop 1875)
Archbishop Patrick John Ryan 1884-1911
Archbishop Edmund Francis Prendergast 1911-1918
Cardinal Dennis Dougherty 1918-1951
Cardinal John O’Hara, C.S.C. 1951-1952-1960
Cardinal John Krol 1961-1988
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua 1988-2003
Cardinal Justin Rigali 2003-present

Key Historical Dates:
1733: Old Saint Joseph’s is established as the first Catholic church in Philadelphia.
July 4, 1779: Members of the Continental Congress commemorate the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence at Old Saint Mary’s Church.
1789: Holy Trinity Church is established to serve German-speaking Catholics. It is the first national parish in the United States.
1808: The Diocese of Philadelphia is established.
1832: The diocesan seminary of Saint Charles Borromeo is established.
1875: Philadelphia is established as an archdiocese.
1890: The archdiocese established the first free central Catholic high school in the United States. Attendance is limited to boys. A free central girls’ high school is completed in 1912.
1967: Twelve high school students from the archdiocese found Operation Santa Claus which supplies toys to poor children in the region.
1979: Pope John Paul II visits Philadelphia.
2000: Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia native, is canonized by Pope John Paul II.