A Brief History of The Diocese of San Diego

  • 1936 The Diocese of San Diego is formed from the former Los Angeles – San Diego Diocese.
    Bishop Charles Francis Buddy is installed as the first Bishop of San Diego. It includes 87 parishes in Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties.
  • 1943 The first Diocesan Synod convened.
  • 1949 Land overlooking San Diego and Mission Bay is purchased for the development of the University of San Diego and Chancery offices.
  • 1956 Bishop Richard H. Ackerman appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.
  • 1966 Bishop Francis J. Furey installed as Bishop of San Diego.
  • 1967 Bishop John R. Quinn appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.
  • 1969 Bishop Leo Thomas Maher becomes 3rd Bishop of San Diego.
  • 1974 Bishop Gilbert E. Chavez appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, the second Mexican American priest to be elevated to this office in the United States.
  • 1973 – 1976 The second Diocesan Synod convened to review and renew statutes and guidelines of the Diocese in keeping with the Directives of Vatican II.
  • 1976 The First Diocesan Pastoral Council formed as a direct result of the Second Synod.
  • 1978 Two northern counties of Riverside and San Bernardino are separated to form the Diocese of San Bernardino. Diocese of San Diego now encompasses Imperial and San Diego counties, with 88 parishes.
  • 1990 Bishop Robert H. Brom, appointed a year earlier as Coadjutor, becomes 4th Bishop of San Diego
  • 1994 Chancery offices move to new Diocesan Pastoral Center in Clairemont, formerly the Convent of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.
  • 2002 Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.
  • 2013 Bishop Cirilo Flores, appointed the year before as Coadjutor, becomes 5th Bishop of San Diego
  • 2015 Bishop Robert McElroy is appointed and installed as the 6th Bishop of San Diego.
  • 2017 Bishop John Dolan appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.
  • 2020 Bishop Ramón Bejarano appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.
  • 2022 Bishop Robert W. McElroy elected to College of Cardinals.
  • 2023 Bishops Michael Pham and Felipe Pulido 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.)