The Diocese of Orange is a Latin Church ecclesiastical area or diocese of the Catholic Church including the entire county of Orange in the United States. To prevent confusion with the historical Diocese of Orange in Orange, France, which was disbanded in 1801, it is often referred to as the Diocese of Orange in California.
The Diocese of Orange is a suffragan diocese in the metropolitan Archdiocese of Los Angeles, from whose territory it was established in 1976. Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove is the diocesan cathedral. Kevin Vann, the current diocesan bishop, was officially installed on December 10, 2012. The diocesan offices are located on the property of Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, Orange County, California.
In addition to its 56 parish churches, the diocese is responsible for 41 schools, three general hospitals, one crippled ministry center, and five ethnic ministry centers. In collaboration with other local groups, it also sponsors a variety of events and activities.
Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Andrew Dng-Lc are the diocese patron saints.
The Catholic presence in Orange County stretches back to 1776, when Father Junipero Serra and the Franciscan order established Mission San Juan Capistrano, a Spanish mission. At the time, the territory was part of New Spain’s Las Californias province. When Las Californias was split in two in 1804, present-day Orange County became part of Alta California; Alta California subsequently became part of Mexico when the latter gained independence from Spain in 1821. From the mission, the missionary priests went out to convert the native population to Catholicism; between 1776 and 1847, almost 4,000 people were converted.
The Holy See established the Diocese of the Two Californias in 1840 to mark the expansion of the provinces of Alta California and Baja California. This diocese covered all Mexican territory west of the Colorado River and the Gulf of California, with its episcopal see in Monterey (the modern U.S. states of California and Nevada, and parts of Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, as well as the modern Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur).
The Mexican government objected to an American bishop having jurisdiction over churches in Mexican Baja California after Mexico surrendered Alta California to the United States in 1848, following the Mexican-American War. The diocese was divided between American and Mexican halves by the Holy See, and the American section was renamed the Diocese of Monterey. The diocese was renamed the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles in 1859 to reflect the city’s expansion; the see was transferred to Los Angeles in 1876. The diocese separated again in 1922, with Orange County joining the newly formed Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego, which became the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1936.
Until March 24, 1976, Orange County was part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, when Pope Paul VI established the Diocese of Orange. William Robert Johnson, an auxiliary bishop from Los Angeles, was named the first Bishop of Orange, and the existing Holy Family Church in Orange was selected as the new diocese’s cathedral. The diocese grew fast as the local population surged with Catholic immigration from Vietnam, the Philippines, and Latin America, and reported a Catholic population of more than 1.2 million in 2010.
Bishop Tod David Brown retired on September 21, 2012, at the necessary retirement age. Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Fort Worth was selected to succeed him by the Holy See.
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