Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Diocese of Galveston

Established in 1847 in Texas

Click to enlarge

Galveston, Diocese of (GALVESTONIENSIS).—It was established in 1847 and comprises that part of the State of Texas, U.S.A., between the Sabine River on the east, the Colorado River on the west, the Gulf of Mexico on the south, and the northern line of the counties of Lampasas, Coryell, McLennan, Limestone, Freestone, Anderson, Cherokee, Nacogdoches, and Shelly on the north, an area of 43,000 square miles. French Recollects with La Salle attempted in 1685 to found the first missions among the Indians in Texas, and they were followed by Spanish Franciscans from Mexico sent in 1689 to build a barrier to French occupation. These efforts met with reverses, but early in the eighteenth century the missionary zeal of the Franciscans reestablished many of the old missions and extended them in numerous new directions. They remained in a flourishing state until 1812 when they were suppressed by the Spanish Government. The colonization of Texas from the United States and the declaration of its independence as a republic in 1836 checked any further efforts to reopen the missions for several years, and then the Rev. John Timon, afterwards Bishop of Buffalo (q.v.), and the Rev. John M. Odin, two Lazarists from the community in Missouri, visited the state and aroused the long-neglected religious sentiments of the people. Measures were taken for the promotion of Catholic immigration and the public officials of the new republic gave every encouragement to their work. In 1841 Father Odin was named Coadjutor Bishop of Detroit, but refused the Bulls. Texas was then made a vicariate Apostolic and Father Odin was consecrated titular Bishop of Claudiopolis, March 6, 1842. There were then only four priests in Texas. Bishop Odin set to work vigorously to build up his charge. The Texan Congress returned several of the ancient churches to their original uses, schools were opened, and the Ursuline nuns, the first religious community in Texas, were introduced to care for them. In 1847 the pope erected the state into a bishopric with Galveston as its episcopal see and Bishop Odin was transferred to its charge. In addition to the Ursulines he secured the services of communities of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, the Brothers of Mary, and the Oblates, to the latter of whom he gave charge, in November, 1854, of the College of the Immaculate Conception. He visited Europe twice to secure priests and material help for his diocese. On the death of Archbishop Blanc of New Orleans, Bishop Odin was promoted, February 15, 1861, to be his successor. During his incumbency of the See of Galveston he increased the number of priests to forty-two and the churches to fifty, and left the diocese with a college, four academies for girls and five schools for boys. He was born at Ambierle, France, February 25, 1801, and died there, May 25, 1870.

Claude Mary Dubuis, C.S.C., an indefatigable missionary, who had served long and unselfishly for the Church in Texas, was his successor. He was born March 10, 1817, at Coutouvre, Loire, France, and ordained priest at Lyons, June 1, 1844, where he was also consecrated bishop, November 23, 1862. After years of hardships in Texas he resigned, July 12, 1881, but kept the title of Bishop of Galveston, and retired to France. Here he lived at Vernaison in the Diocese of Lyons, receiving in 1894 promotion to the titular Archbishopric of Area. He assisted the ordinary of Lyons in episcopal work until his death, which took place May 22, 1895. Peter Dufal, C.S.C., had been named coadjutor to Bishop Dubuis with the right of succession on May 14, 1878. He was then Vicar Apostolic of Eastern Bengal and titular Bishop of Delcus, having been consecrated at Le Mans, France, November 25, 1860. He was born November 8, 1822, at Lamure, Puy-de-Dome, France, and ordained priest in the Diocese of Blois, September 8, 1852. On translation to Galveston he retained his titular see; he resigned the Texas diocese on account of ill health, April 18, 1880, and retired to the house of his Congregation of the Holy Cross at Neuilly, near Paris, France, where he died in 1889. Nicholas Aloysius Gallagher, fourth bishop, was appointed administrator of Galveston in the absence of Bishop Dufal, having been consecrated at Galveston, April 30, 1882, titular of Canopus. In 1894 he succeeded to the title of Galveston. He also acted as administrator of Columbus, Ohio, on the death of Bishop Rosecrans in 1878. Born February 19, 1846, at Temperanceville, Belmont County, Ohio, he was ordained priest, December 25, 1868, at Columbus, Ohio.

The religious communities of men represented in the diocese are: the Jesuits who have charge of St. Mary’s University, Galveston; the Basilians (from Canada) managing St. Thomas’s College, Houston, St. Mary’s Seminary, La Porte, and St. Basil’s College, Waco; the Fathers of the Congregation of the Holy Cross at Austin; the Paulist Fathers at Austin.

The religious communities of women are: Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word; Sisters of Charity (Emmitsburg) Sisters of St. Mary; Sisters of the Holy Cross; Sisters of Divine Providence; Ursuline Sisters; Sisters of the Holy Family. Statistics (1909): Priests 82 (53 seculars, 29 religious); churches 82 (missions with churches 35); stations 35; chapels 16; brothers 6; women religious 375; ecclesiastical students 12; colleges for boys 4, students 375; academies for girls 9; parochial schools 32; pupils in academies and parish schools 5000; hospitals 7; Catholic population 56,000.


Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!