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The Diocese of Fort Wayne Established

Today marks the establishment of the Diocese of Fort Wayne. Like it’s “Mother” diocese, of Vincennes, the Diocese of Fort Wayne has seen a number of changes in it’s borders, all of these changes showing the growth of Catholicism in Indiana.

The Diocese of Vincennes began with the entire State of Indiana and the eastern half of the State of Illinois. This changed within the first ten years as the Diocese of Chicago was formed in 1843. By decree of Pope Pius IX, on January 8, 1857, the northern half of the state became the Diocese of Fort Wayne, the boundaries being that part of the state north of the south boundaries of Fountain, Montgomery, Boone, Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Randolph, and Warren counties. The remaining southern half of the state remained the Diocese of Vincennes, embracing 50 counties. It covered an area of 18,479 square miles extending from the north boundaries of Marion and contiguous counties to the Ohio River and from Illinois on the west to Ohio on the east. Of course, the see remained in Vincennes. Bishop Hailandière, the second bishop of Vincennes, was permitted by apostolic brief to establish his residence at Vincennes, Madison, Lafayette, or Indianapolis; Vincennes was, however, to remain the see city. This permission, with the subtraction of Lafayette, was renewed to the fourth bishop, Bishop St. Palais.

In 1944, when the Metropolitan See of Indianapolis was established, the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana was formed. This took a large chunk out of the Diocese of Fort Wayne. In 1956 the Diocese of Gary was formed. In May of 1960, the name of the Diocese was changed to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to obviously include the city of South Bend (and the University of Notre Dame).


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