Fort Worth, Catholic Diocese of

By: Patrick Foley

Type: General Entry

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: August 2, 2020

The Catholic diocese of Fort Worth comprises twenty-eight counties of north central Texas-Archer, Baylor, Bosque, Clay, Comanche, Cooke, Denton, Eastland, Erath, Foard, Hardeman, Hill, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Knox, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Shackelford, Stephens, Somervell, Tarrant, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Wise, and Young-an episcopal region embracing 23,900 square miles. On August 22, 1969, Pope Paul VI separated this area from the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and established it as the Diocese of Fort Worth. Two months later, on October 21, Bishop John J. Cassata, a native of Galveston, was installed in St. Patrick Cathedral as Fort Worth's first ordinary.

In 1890 the Catholic population of the area of the Brazos and Trinity rivers had grown large enough that Pope Leo XIII established the Diocese of Dallas. As early as 1870 Claude Marie Dubuis, the second bishop of Galveston (which diocese encompassed all of Texas at that time), had begun sending Father Vincent Perrier twice a year to visit Fort Worth. At that time several Catholic families were meeting in the Carrico home. Fort Worth's first parish church was a frame structure built at 1212 Throckmorton Street and called St. Stanislaus Church. It stood until 1907. The cornerstone of St. Patrick's Church, which eventually became St. Patrick Cathedral, was laid in 1888; the church was built just north of St. Stanislaus Church and dedicated in 1892. When Dallas was made a diocese the region that eventually became the Diocese of Fort Worth had seven parishes-in Fort Worth, Cleburne, Gainesville, Henrietta, Hillsboro, Muenster, and Weatherford. The decade of the 1870s witnessed the earliest Catholic education in the area. In 1879 Father Thomas Loughrey, pastor of St. Stanislaus Church, opened a boys' school that operated in the church until 1907. In 1885 the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur established Saint Ignatius Academy in Fort Worth and Xavier Academy in Denison. In 1910 the same order of nuns founded Fort Worth's first Catholic college, Our Lady of Victory College. Other Catholic schools opened in Denton (1874), Weatherford (1880), Muenster (1890 and 1895), Gainesville (1892), Pilot Point (1893), and Cleburne (1896). St. Joseph's Infirmary (now St. Joseph Hospital) opened in 1885 in Fort Worth. In 1953 Pope Pius XII changed the name of the Diocese of Dallas to Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth, and Saint Patrick's Church in Fort Worth was elevated to the status of a cocathedral. In 1985 St. Patrick Cathedral, St. Ignatius Church, and the St. Ignatius rectory were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

From 1969, when the Diocese of Fort Worth was established, to 1986 the Catholic population increased from 67,000 to 120,000. Meanwhile, in 1981 Bishop Cassata retired, and Pope John Paul II named as his successor a native of Massachusetts who had previously worked in Brownsville, Bishop Joseph P. Delaney. Under this well-liked prelate the diocese continued to mature. In 1986 it had fourteen primary schools, three secondary schools, the Cassata Learning Center (dedicated in 1975 as an institution offering nontraditional, personalized instruction to the underprivileged of Fort Worth), and a new Catholic Center. The center, a 20,000-square-foot edifice, brought together under one roof all of the pastoral and administrative offices of the diocese. Guided by Bishop Delaney, 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 in the church for the laity.

Sister Joseph A. Dederichs and Sister Rose Mary Cousins, Catholic Schools: Dawn of Education in Texas (Beaumont: Beaumont Printing and Lithographing, 1986). William R. Hoover, St. Patrick's: The First 100 Years (Fort Worth: St. Patrick Cathedral, 1988).

  • Religion
  • Catholic
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Patrick Foley, “Fort Worth, Catholic Diocese of,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
August 2, 2020

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