A Brief History of The Diocese of San Diego



California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was established by St. Junipero Serra. It was moved to its current location in 1774.


The Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles was formed, which included the San Diego region. That Diocese was divided in 1922, with the southern portion named the Los Angeles-San Diego Diocese.


The Diocese of San Diego is formed from the former Los Angeles – San Diego Diocese. It includes 87 parishes in Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties.


Bishop Charles Francis Buddy is installed as the first Bishop of San Diego.
The Southern Cross becomes the official newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego.


The first Diocesan Synod convened.


Land overlooking San Diego and Mission Bay is purchased for the development of the University of San Diego and Chancery offices.


Bishop Richard H. Ackerman is appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.


Bishop Francis J. Furey is installed as Bishop of San Diego.


Bishop John R. Quinn is appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.


Bishop Leo Thomas Maher becomes 3rd Bishop of San Diego.


The second Diocesan Synod convened to review and renew statutes and guidelines of the Diocese in keeping with the Directives of Vatican II.


Bishop Gilbert E. Chavez is appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, the second Mexican American priest to be elevated to this office in the United States.


The First Diocesan Pastoral Council formed as a direct result of the Second Synod


Two northern counties of Riverside and San Bernardino are separated to form the Diocese of San Bernardino. The Diocese of San Diego now encompasses Imperial and San Diego counties, with 88 parishes.


Bishop Robert H. Brom, appointed a year earlier as Coadjutor, becomes 4th Bishop of San Diego.


Chancery offices move to new Diocesan Pastoral Center in Clairemont, formerly the Convent of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.


Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.


Bishop Cirilo Flores, appointed the year before as Coadjutor, becomes the 5th Bishop of San Diego.


Bishop Robert McElroy is appointed and installed as the 6th Bishop of San Diego.


The third Diocesan Synod convened to enhance the promotion of marriage and family life in today’s world.


Bishop John Dolan is appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.


The fourth Diocesan Synod convened to consult young adults on how the local Church can better engage and serve their community.


Bishop Ramón Bejarano is appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.


The fifth Diocesan Synod convened, a multi-year effort, to promote a culture in the local Church where all members walk forward in communion to pursue a common mission through participation of all.


Bishop Robert W. McElroy is elected to College of Cardinals.


Bishops Michael Pham and Felipe Pulido are appointed Auxiliary Bishops of San Diego.

Census Information

Established: July 11,1936
Encompassing: Imperial and San Diego Counties
Square Miles: 8,852
Total Population: 3,465,920
Catholic Population: 1,386,368

Parishes: 96
Missions: 14

Preschools: 33
Elementary Schools: 42
High Schools: 7
Higher Education: 3

Priests of the Diocese of San Diego

Active: 104
Retired: 47

Priests from other Dioceses:

Active: 26
Retired: 13

Religious Order Priests:

Active: 74
Retired: 19

Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of San Diego

Active in the Diocese: 116
Active outside the Diocese: 12
Retired: 29

Permanent Deacons from other Dioceses

Active in the Diocese: 6

Religious Order Permanent Deacons:

Retired: 1

Religious Sisters: 163
Religious Brothers: 29

Diocesan Coat of Arms

The diocesan coat of arms uses symbols which describe San Diego (in Latin, St. Didacus), the diocesan patron saint.

Diego was born to poor Spanish parents shortly before the year 1400. His love for poverty never left him. As a Franciscan brother, he was a selfless servant of the poor and was known to heal the sick with the Sign of the Cross, the centerpiece of the diocesan coat of arms.

The Spanish stew pot in the upper left corner indicates Diego’s boundless charity and tireless efforts to feed the hungry.

San Diego had a special devotion to the Lord in his Passion, symbolized by the three nails in the other corners of the crest.

Diego died on Nov. 12, 1463, at the Franciscan monastery in Alcalá, Spain, pressing a crucifix to his heart and repeating the words of the Good Friday chant: “Dulce lignum, dulce ferrum, dulce pondus sustinet.” (Precious the wood, precious the nails, precious the weight they bear.)