New Archbishop's Life and Legacy
Historic timeline for Archdiocese of Washington
May 15, 2019
1634 – English colonists land in Maryland at St. Clement’s Island, and Jesuit Father Andrew White celebrates the first Catholic Mass in the English-speaking colonies.
1731 – St. Francis Xavier Church built in Newtowne, Md., and it stands today as the oldest Catholic church in continuous use from the original 13 colonies.
1789 – Bishop John Carroll is elected as the first Catholic bishop of the new United States, headingthe Diocese of Baltimore, which encompasses all 13 original states.
1789 – Bishop Carroll founds Georgetown College (later University) in Washington, the nation’s first Catholic institution of higher learning.
1794 – St. Patrick Parish established in Washington, the first Catholic parish in the new federal city.
1858 – St. Augustine Parish, the mother church for African-American Catholics in the nation’s capital, is founded by free men and women of color, including former slaves.
1860 – St. Ann’s Infant Asylum is established by the Daughters of Charity.
1861 – At the invitation of President Abraham Lincoln, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul found Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C.
1887 – The Catholic University of America, the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States, is founded in Washington.
1897 – Trinity College founded in Washington by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, becoming one of the nation’s first Catholic liberal arts colleges for women.
1922 – Catholic Charities of Washington is formed as a collaboration between the St. Vincent de Paul Society and a group of Catholic laymen.
1939 – Pope Pius XII establishes the Archdiocese of Washington, which is led by Archbishop Michael J. Curley and includes only the city of Washington.
1947 – The Archdiocese of Washington expands to include St. Mary’s, Charles, Calvert, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland.
1948 – New Washington Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle begins working to integrate all the Catholic schools and parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington.
1951 – Archbishop Carroll High School opens for young men, becoming one of the first integrated schools in the nation’s capital.
1959 – The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – the largest Catholic church in North America – is dedicated in Washington.
1963 – Archbishop O’Boyle offers the invocation at the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
1963 – The nation mourns after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the United States’ first Catholic president. His Requiem Mass is held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew.
1963 – The Sisters of the Holy Cross found Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, which will become one of Maryland’s largest hospitals.
1973 –Cardinal O’Boyle retires, and he is succeeded as archbishop of Washington by Archbishop William Baum.
1979 – During a pastoral visit to Washington, Pope John Paul II celebrates a Mass for an estimated 175,000 people on the National Mall. He also becomes the first pope to be welcomed at the White House.
1980 – Cardinal Baum is named to lead the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, and Cleveland Bishop James Hickey is named the archbishop of Washington.
1986 – The Archdiocese of Washington adopts its Child Protection Policy, one of the first in the nation.
1986 – Archbishop Hickey dedicates the Gift of Peace convent in Washington, where Mother Teresa’sMissionaries of Charity sisters care for people with AIDS.
1997 – Cardinal James Hickey establishes the Center City Consortium of Catholic schools, as part of a broader “Faith in the City” program.
2000 – To mark the Great Jubilee Year, more than 20,000 local Catholics attend Eucharistic Congress 2000 at the MCI Center in Washington.
2001 – Archbishop Theodore McCarrick is installed in January as the new archbishop of Washington,succeeding Cardinal Hickey.
2001 – Cardinal McCarrick names Jane Belford as the Archdiocese of Washington’s first lay chancellor and the first woman to hold that post.
2006 – Pope Benedict XVI appoints Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh as the new archbishop of Washington, succeeding Cardinal McCarrick.
2007 – Archbishop Wuerl convenes a Convocation on Education, beginning a widespread consultative process to strengthen and sustain Catholic schools for the future.
2008 – Pope Benedict XVI’s pastoral visit to Washington includes a Papal Mass for more than 50,000 people at the new Nationals Park.
2011 – Cardinal Wuerl blesses and dedicates the Archdiocese of Washington’s new Blessed John Paul II Seminary, the first seminary in the United States to be named after Pope John Paul II. Its name is changed to the Saint John Paul II Seminary when, that pope was canonized in 2014.
2014 – To mark the Archdiocese of Washington’s 75th anniversary, Cardinal Wuerl convokes the first Archdiocesan Synod, which charts a course for future outreach in the key areas of worship, education, community, service, stewardship and administration.
2015 – Pope Francis makes a pastoral visit to Washington, which includes the first-ever papal address to a joint meeting of Congress, and a visit to Catholic Charities, where the pope met with the homeless and with staff and volunteers who serve them. In a Mass outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis canonized St. Junipéro Serra, the 18th century Franciscan missionary to California, which marked the first canonization ever held on U.S. soil.
2017 – Cardinal Wuerl ordains four new priests for the Archdiocese of Washington, including three men who were among the first seminarians to study at Saint John Paul II Seminary and represented its first ordination class.
2018 – Pope Francis accepts Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation as archbishop of Washington, which following Church law, he had submitted after turning 75 in 2015, and appoints him to serve as apostolic administrator until the next archbishop is installed.
2019 – On Feb. 16, Pope Francis confirmed that Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, had been removed from the priesthood after the Vatican found him guilty of “sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.” McCarrick, 88, had resigned from the College of Cardinals in July 2018 after being accused of sexual abuse and misconduct. A review of the Archdiocese of Washington’s records found that no claim had been made against him during his time in Washington.
2019 – On April 4, Pope Francis named Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory as the new archbishop of Washington. Archbishop Gregory – who will become the seventh archbishop of Washington and the first African-American prelate to serve in that role – earlier served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops when the nation’s bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Archbishop Gregory’s installation as archbishop of Washington is scheduled for May 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The latest local and global Catholic news delivered to your inbox.