While our local Catholic Church certainly has an institutional face – seen in our many charitable organizations, parishes, schools, hospitals, and other good works – it is first and foremost a 450,000-member family of believers.
Our shared mission is to facilitate and cultivate an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ and His Church. Through our works of charity, preaching the Gospel, standing up for human dignity, prayer, and worship, we share His presence with our neighbors today.
“Where others are drawn by gold, you must carry the cross.”
—Pope Pius IX to Most Rev. Joseph Alemany, first Archbishop of San Francisco (1853-1884)
The story of the Catholic Church in San Francisco is our story. It began with Franciscan missionaries from Spain. In a fitting paradox, this Gold Rush boomtown was placed under the patronage of the poverello from Assisi who set aside earthly power and riches in order to radically embody the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Date of Canonical Establishment: July 29, 1853, by Pope Pius IX
Counties: 3 (San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin)
Territory Area: 2,325 sq mi
Catholic Population: 441,736
Patron Saints: St. Francis of Assisi; St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland; St. Joseph, Foster Father of Jesus
Suffragen Dioceses of the San Francisco Metropolis: Honolulu (Hawaii), Las Vegas (Nevada), Reno (Nevada), Salt Lake City (Utah), Oakland (California), San Jose (California), Santa Rosa (California), Sacramento (California), and Stockton (California).
Archdiocesan Facts & Figures
Retreat Houses: 3
Preschools: 54 serving 2,391
Elementary Schools (Diocesan): 47 serving 13,031
Elementary Schools (Private): 7 serving 2,046
High Schools (Diocesan): 4 serving 3,582
High Schools (Private): 8 serving 4,291
Seminary: 1 Diocesan
Catholic Hospitals: 1
Care for the Elderly: 11
Child welfare center, and center for the protection of families: 13
Centers for Social Assistance and Education: 23
The Consecration of the Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Blithedale Romance,” the protagonist and narrator Miles Coverdale says: “I have always envied the Catholics their faith in that sweet, sacred Mother Virgin, who stands between them and the Deity, intercepting somewhat of his awful splendor, but permitting his love to stream upon the worshipper more intelligibly to human comprehension through the medium of a woman’s tenderness.”
God’s majesty and transcendence, his awesome omniscience and omnipotence, his infinity and sovereignty, are all brought intimately home to us through Jesus Christ our Lord who was born of the Virgin Mary. Mary brought God to become one with us in Christ the Emmanuel. It is to this tender Mother that we owe our eternal gratitude for bringing the savior into the world, on account of which we have life, love and light forever. It is through Mary our powerful advocate that we desire to draw closer to Christ her Son who is our way to the Father. The image of the Madonna and the Divine Child, a favorite theme in the world of art, religion, and culture, has the power to move hearts across religions and nations to make God seem almost tangible. It is to this gentle Madonna who offers Christ to the world that we consecrated the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Oct. 7, 2017, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. It was a significant spiritual milestone in the history of the Archdiocese. (Fr. Charles Puthota)
Protecting Children and the Vulnerable
Our Church today is suffering, having been wounded not from outside, but from within. There are reliable reports of ministers violating their vows, betraying their vocations, and victimizing others. There are plausible charges that some in authority have ignored crimes, abetted deceptions, and failed in their duty to protect the most vulnerable.
Our hearts cry out for truth and for justice. Jesus said, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” We can pray that this season of suffering will become a time of truth and of clarity, so that new light will break into our darkness, and we can find a path toward healing for all members of the Body of Christ.
You’re invited to take part in the Church’s story today. Under the banner of Catholic SF, our archdiocesan communications team covers breaking news and current events digitally and delivers a glossy magazine 6-8 times a year with inspiring stories and educational content to nourish your faith.
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