The nine regions of the diocese cover more than 25,000 square miles which includes 39 counties in southern Missouri. Within the regions, 66 parishes, 18 missions, and four chapels serve the 66,000 Catholics who comprise the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. The diocese has two cathedrals: St. Mary of the Annunciation Cathedral, Cape Girardeau, MO, and Cathedral of St. Agnes in Springfield, MO.
How we came to be the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
More than a half century after Marquette and Joliet sighted the present state of Missouri, rich lead deposits prompted the first permanent settlement at Ste. Genevieve. Three decades later, Pierre Laclede Liguest founded a trading post, St. Louis (1764). After 1804 when formal transfer of the Upper Louisiana Territory was made at St. Louis to the U.S., the population grew rapidly and the area became Americanized. Present Missouri was part of the Diocese of Louisiana until the See of St. Louis was established (1826). At first its territory was ill-defined, but by 1850 it was restricted to the present state boundaries.
The Diocese of St. Joseph was established in 1868, followed by that of Kansas City in 1880. Except for the assignment of 11 northeastern Missouri counties to St. Joseph in 1911, the ecclesiastical division of Missouri remained the same for 76 years.
In 1956, a third See was added and the territory completely realigned. The Archdiocese of St. Louis now included the city itself and nine surrounding counties. The three suffragen dioceses became Jefferson City, Kansas City-St. Joseph, and Springfield-Cape Girardeau.
Although all of the southern section and more than one-third of the state’s land mass is within the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, scarcely more than five percent are Catholics.
The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau was founded in 1956 and continues to grow in many ways. The diverse heritage and culture continue to bind the faith community and provide the strength for future growth. A copy of the recent diocesan CARA report provides a more in-depth look at the faithful of our diocese.
- Established: August 24, 1956
Patron Saints: St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, The Lady of Mercy. Feast Day: November 18
St. Pope Pius X, Pope of the Blessed Sacrament. Feast Day: August 21
Past and Present Bishops:
- The Most Rev. Charles H. Helmsing, DD–Aug. 24, 1956-Jan. 27, 1962
- The Most Rev. Ignatius J. Strecker, DD, STD–April 7, 1962-Sept. 10, 1969
- His Eminence William Cardinal Baum, STD–Feb. 18, 1970-May 9, 1973
- His Eminence Bernard Cardinal Law, DD–Oct. 22, 1973-Jan. 23, 1984
- The Most Rev. John J. Leibrecht, DD, PhD–Oct. 23, 1984-Jan. 24, 2008
- Current: The Most Rev. James Vann Johnston, Jr., JCL–Jan. 24, 2008-
Territory: 25,719 square miles – 39 counties
Population (2010): 1,353,859. Catholic Population (2001, approx.): 67,015.
School System: 23 elementary schools, 3 high schools
Oldest Parish: Immaculate Conception Parish in New Madrid – est. 1789
Newest Parish: St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Nixa – est. 2004
The Catholic Center, home of the chancery, is located at 601 S. Jefferson Avenue in Springfield, Missouri. Formerly the home of Springfield Catholic High School, the building was renovated in 1989 to accommodate the ministry work of the bishop. Collaboration is made possible on the diocesan and parish level in Administration, Education, Ministry, and Worship.