CHRONOLOGY: 175 years for the Archdiocese of Portland


1846 – The Pacific Northwest Catholic Church is elevated to the Archdiocese of Oregon City, the second archdiocese of the United States.

A brick church is built in Saint-Paul.


1847 – Bishop Blanchet ordains JF Jayol to the priesthood at Saint-Paul, the first ordination in the new archdiocese.

In an anti-Catholic ruse, the deaths of Protestant missionaries near Walla Walla are falsely linked to Catholic missionaries, leaving the new archdiocese on the defensive for decades.


1851 – Portland’s first Catholic Church, St. Mary, was built in the woods at what would later become Northwest Fifth and Couch. In three years, he would be moved to Southwest Third and Stark.


1853 – A building in Salem has been rented and used as a church for over a decade.

Sent by Archbishop Blanchet, Father James Croke rides and walks hundreds of miles from the seashore to the mountains of southern Oregon, with 303 Catholics, most of them “lukewarm”.


1858 – Jacksonville-area miners donate for a 23-by-36-foot church, which Archbishop Blanchet dedicates on November 1. Father Croke made it his Catholic center, in the hope of inspiring fervor. Built without nails, it still stands.


1859 – In Portland, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary founded St. Mary’s Academy for Girls, Oregon’s oldest Catholic high school.


1862 – Bishop Blanchet settles in Portland.


1864 – A wooden church of 300 worshipers is established in Salem.


1868 – Creation of the Apostolic Vicariate of Idaho and Montana, narrowing the territory of the Archdiocese of Oregon City.


1869 – The first meeting of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul on the Pacific Coast takes place at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Portland.

The Holy Names Sisters gain the admiration of the area by caring for patients during a smallpox epidemic in Jacksonville.


1870 – The Catholic Sentinel is founded by lay Catholics.

Catholic women in Jacksonville pose in the 1870s (Sentinel Archives)


1874 – The parish of St. Mary Star of the Sea is established in Astoria. The Irish-American soldiers at Fort Stevens collected, pulled up stumps, cut thickets and leveled the slope. The church still stands on the hilly site.


1875 – Mother Joseph and the Sisters of Providence founded St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, the city’s first hospital.


1882 – Foundation of Mount Angel Abbey; five years later, Mount Angel College was founded. It will become Mount Angel Seminary.


1885 – A flamboyant new Gothic cathedral in Portland makes a statement: Catholics cannot be marginalized.


1887 – St. Mary is established as the first Catholic parish in the Eugene area. Masses are celebrated in a church bought from the Methodists.


1888 – St. Monica Parish was founded in Marshfield, later to be called Coos Bay.


1889 – The parish priests of St. Mary in Corvallis had walked the muddy roads of Newport for years when Father PJ Lynch decided that the small Catholic community of Newport needed his own church and built it.

St. Mary’s Parish School is founded in Eugene. Almost 90 years later, the school will be renamed in honor of Archbishop Edwin O’Hara (ordained in 1905).

Gold played in Jacksonville. Four years earlier, the railroad had chosen a route that the city missed, and it began to fade. Father Precious Blood AM Grusi visits and is stricken by poverty. He notices a hungry cow eating old posters on a pole.


1890 – Archbishop Gross approves fundraising for a church in Tillamook, which has been served for 30 years by priests from the Grand Ronde mission. Indigenous peoples live in the area, as do Irish settlers and later Germans, who saw advertisements published in a German Catholic newspaper.

Following the dedication of the new church in Ashland, Archbishop Gross gives a two hour lecture on “The True Church of Christ”. The Archbishop also consecrates St. Michael, Medford’s first Catholic Church.


1896 – Workers are finishing St. Ann’s Church in Grants Pass, but there is no money for a rectory. The priest sleeps in the sacristy.


1901 – Archbishop Christie purchases the land and buildings (with help from the Congregation of the Holy Cross) that will become the University of Portland.

A small Catholic chapel is established in Seaside with the famous stained glass by Povey.


1903 – The Diocese of Baker is created, further narrowing the territory of the Archdiocese.


1906 – Mercy Hospital in Marshfield (Coos Bay) opens, with local pastor Father Edward Donnelly as founder, architect and builder. The Sisters of Mercy endow him.


1908 – The Holy Names Sisters move St. Mary’s Academy in southern Oregon from Jacksonville to Medford.


1909 – The first chapel railroad car arrives in Portland. Pullman-style cars, complete with benches, an altar, and a confessional, bring priests and sacraments to outlying areas of Oregon. “Wherever it goes, the chapel car inspires people to desire their own churches where there is none,” writes Father Hugh McDevitt.


1913 – To prevent Catholic children from attending Protestant Sunday School, Genevieve Ryan of Newport holds a Sunday school class when a priest cannot come for mass.

1915 – Oregon’s first Newman Club is established at the University of Oregon. In the 1920s, the city’s Ku Klux Klan gained 4,000 members by opposing the club.


1922 – The Oregon Compulsory Education Act is passed by the voters of Oregon. This would force all children to attend public schools. The Holy Names Sisters and the Hill Military Academy are suing the governor, and within three years the Supreme Court ruled the act unconstitutional.

The Catholic Truth Society is founded. It will become Oregon Catholic Press.


1924 – Brookings’ first Catholic Church, built just a year earlier, is destroyed by fire but immediately rebuilt, showing the positive attitude of South Coast Catholics.


1926 – A new Romanesque cathedral is dedicated to Northwest 18th and Couch in Portland.


1928 – The Archdiocese of Oregon City officially changes its name to become the Archdiocese of Portland.

A new Church of the Sacred Heart in Medford is built to accommodate 600 worshipers. It is still in use and has thousands of registered families.


1933 – Archbishop Howard creates Catholic Charities of Oregon to serve as the umbrella organization for the growing number of ministries coming from the Catholic community in response to the Great Depression.


1936 – Benedictine Father Vincent Carey speaks to 100 young people in Tillamook on the difficulties, dangers and spiritual problems of modernity, including intermarriage, alcoholism and immorality. The priest of Newport works in the moonlight as a fisherman and diver to support himself during the Great Depression.


1937 – Father Francis Leipzig begins a monthly trip to offer mass to a large group of Catholic boys at the Civil Conservation Corps camp south of Florence. Local Catholics attend. Florence would have her own parish within three decades.

1939 – Archbishop Howard founds Central Catholic High School, a school supported by the entire Archdiocese.


1948 – Archbishop Howard consecrates Springfield’s first church – St. Alice. The chapel was obtained from Medford, where parishioners dismantled and transported it.


1950 – Newport Catholics come on summer evenings with their axes, shovels and saws to prepare the site for their new church.

Father James Mosely is ordained in Mississippi; he will be the first African-American priest of the Archdiocese of Portland.


1952 – To help families and those in need in Lane County, Msgr. Edmund Murnane organizes Lane County Catholic Charities as Eugene’s branch of Oregon Catholic Charities.

Archbishop Howard dedicates All Souls Church in Myrtle Creek. Parishioners not only donated the money, but did much of the construction themselves.


1957 – Half a dozen Carmelite sisters from the Los Angeles area found the Carmel of Maria Regina in Eugene. The plan for a new monastery includes a turnstile through which the house can receive parcels and food from outside.


1959 – An explosion in Roseburg seriously damages the Sisters of Mercy Hospital, but the women roll up their sleeves, find partners, and rebuild.


1971 – The Parish of the Sacred Heart of Medford announces that it cannot afford to continue its secondary education. A lay group continues to operate as an independent business.


1974 – Archbishop Dwyer confers the permanent diaconate on Loris Buccola, principal of Mount Angel High School, making him the first ordained married deacon in the Archdiocese. The permanent diaconate was reestablished in 1967.


1977 РClosure of Sacr̩-Coeur high school in Tillamook. Primary school will follow in three years.


nineteen eighty one – Archbishop Power establishes the Southeast Asian Vicariate on the former Holy Child Academy campus in northeast Portland.


1982 – The Ukrainian Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God is founded in Springfield. Many of the original members are Ukrainians who immigrated to the United States after WWII.


1987 – In Seaside, Our Lady of Victory Parish’s First Sunday Dinner for the Poor serves 19 people. In five years, he would feed around 150.


1988 – Father Bob Krueger, who supports the labor movement, is a pastor in Medford. “Our hope for the community is that we become truly concerned about the issues of love, justice and peace in our world,” he said.


1990 – Members of the All Souls Parish of Myrtle Creek begin a conference in St. Vincent de Paul to help a growing number of families affected by the collapsing lumber economy.


1996 – Father Martin King is the first African American to be ordained in the Archdiocese of Portland.


2004 – The Archdiocese of Portland is the first Catholic diocese to declare bankruptcy after a string of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. The bankruptcy would extend until 2007.


2018 – The residents of Grants Pass complete a new church. “The hope is that this will inspire our Catholic confreres who did not attend Mass that it is a beautiful faith,” said parishioner Kathy Nelson.


2020 – All Masses in the Archdiocese of Portland suspended for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of faithful is decreasing.


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