Diocese of Little Rock

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock was established in 1843, and spans all of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The first known missionary activity of the present diocese occurred with the visit of Bishop Dubourg to the Osage Indians in 1820. The visit was repeated by Father Croix some time later. Bishop Rosati and the Lazarists in Barrens, Missouri, also visited the area at intervals from 1824 to 1830. The Reverend Richard Bole created St. Mary's Mission near Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in the 1830s. In 1838 the first Catholic school opened at the mission, staffed by five Sisters of Loretto. The first Catholic Church was erected in 1841.

The mission received its first bishop, the Irishman Andrew Byrne, on March 10, 1844. Byre called thirteen members of the Sisters of Mercy from Naas, Ireland, to establish St. Mary's Academy in Little Rock in 1850. Byrne died in June 1862 as the Civil War raged.

The diocese received its next bishop, Edward Fitzgerald, in February 1867. The diocese at the time held four parishes, five priests, and 1,600 Catholics. The Indian Territory ceased to be part of the diocese in 1891. Notably, Fitzgerald created the first "colored" Catholic church in the state in May 1894 at Pine Bluff.

Fitzgerald was succeeded by Tennessean John B. Morris in 1906. By this time the Catholic population had grown to 20,000, with forty-one parishes. Morris established Little Rock College in 1908 and St. Joseph's Orphanage.

Catholic population:

  • 1886 - 8,200


  • 1886 - 24


  • 1886 - 26


External links