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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
(Sources: The 2007 Official Catholic Directory and the archdiocesan website.)
The counties of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Plymouth (except the towns of Marion, Mattapoisett, and Wareham)
Number of Catholics: 1,871,667
Catholics as Percentage of Population: 49%
Number of Parishes: 295
Number of Priests: 1,358
Number of Schools:
Colleges and Universities: 7
Cathedral: Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
Succession of (Arch)Bishops:
Cardinal John Lefevre 1808-1823
Bishop Benedict J. Fenwick, S.J. 1825-1846
Bishop John Bernard Fitzpatrick 1846-1866
Archbishop John Joseph Williams 1866-1907 (named archbishop in 1875)
Cardinal William Henry O'Connell 1907-1944
Cardinal Richard James Cushing 1944-1970
Cardinal Humberto Sousa Medeiros 1970-1983
Cardinal Bernard Francis Law 1984-2002
Cardinal Se�n Patrick O'Malley. O.F.M. Cap. 2003-present
Key Historical Dates:
1780: Freedom to worship as a Catholic is codified in the Massachusetts constitution.
1788: The first public Mass is celebrated in Boston.
1808: Boston is established as a diocese covering the New England states.
1829: Bishop Fenwick establishes a diocesan newspaper. Under several different names (currently The Pilot), this newspaper is the oldest continuous Catholic publication in the United States.
1834: Anti-Catholic rioters burn Mount Benedict convent in Charlestown. The mid-nineteenth century is marked by significant anti-Catholic violence and discrimination in Boston, possibly related to the growing Catholic population as a result of Irish immigration.
1875: Boston is established as an archdiocese.
1875: The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is completed and dedicated.
1958: Cardinal Cushing founds the St. James Society of diocesan priests who serve as missionaries in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
2006: Cardinal O'Malley launches a blog.
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