Saturday, August 15, 2009

Name those dioceses

Over the last several months I have been acquiring old editions of The Official Catholic Directory. So far I have about a dozen covering many of the years from 1977 to 2007.

These, along with online U.S. Census data, will serve as the source material for a "data mining" project that will allow me to compare the performance of the Diocese of Rochester with any other diocese in the country.

"Performance in what respect?" one might ask. Well, each edition of the OCD contains a wealth of information for each U.S. diocese. Included are such data as the numbers of ordinations, seminarians, parishes, Catholic elementary and secondary schools, students in those schools, baptisms, marriages, and deaths - and that only scratches the surface.

A typical summary entry looks like this ...

This one happens to be the 1977 statistical summary for DOR. Later summaries include additional data, such as the number of full receptions into the Church, the number of first communions and the number of confirmations.

An example - and a challenge

To give a feeling for what is possible I have used the OCD data from 3 dioceses to calculate the number of infant baptisms per 1,000 Catholics for each diocese over a number of years.

The result, in graphical format, looks like this ...

Two of these dioceses are considered to be fairly orthodox, while the third is considered fairly liberal.

Would anyone care to hazard a guess as to the identities of Dioceses A, B and C? If so, feel free to use the comment box.

In another day or two I'll post an update identifying each diocese.

Update: It's been a couple of days and so, as promised ...

Diocese A: Kansas City - St. Joseph

Diocese B: Rochester

Diocese C: Wichita


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

62 seminarians?! I can't even imagine such a thing. That's surprisingly high for 1977.

Now to the guesses:
A- Lincoln
B- Rochester
C- Scranton

St. Louis and Denver could also be possible for A and C.

In the choir loft said...

I saw a retired archbishop, I wonder who that was.

The two orthodox dioceses are probably Lincoln and Arlington. The liberal diocese could be many place, probably Rochester or Saginaw?

Mike said...


Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He left as bishop of DOR in 1966, was subsequently named an archbishop and died in 1979.

So, in 1977, he was a retired archbishop.

In the choir loft said...

Thanks Mike...The only archbishop I could think of was Mooney. He became an Archbishop before he was named to Rochester (he never used the title of archbishop while in Rochester). I checked (a good source, btw) and it claims Bishop Sheen was appointed Oct. 21, 1966 and resigned Oct. 6, 1969. He referred to his appointment in Rochester as his 1,000 days of Calvary.

Mike said...

Fulton Sheen was Bishop of Rochester during my nearly 30 year hiatus from the Church, so I don't recall many of the details of his tenure here.

I remember reading somewhere - perhaps the Time article here - that he antagonized many of the laity and felt increasingly unwelcome. The Calvary reference seems to have come from one of his friends.

Rich Leonardi said...

Mike et al,

Thomas Reeves' masterful biography of Fulton Sheen, America's Bishop, contains an entire chapter on Rochester called "Exile." His time there appears to have been difficult for nearly everyone. In a nutshell, he was a terrible administrator, would refuse to listen to any negative feedback (he even told his secretary to screen critical letters and throw them away), and embraced the radical elements of the immediate post-Vatican II era.

Anonymous said...
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In the choir loft said...

There was a longstanding feud between Sheen and Cardinal Spellman. Spellman on no uncertain terms wanted Sheen OUT of Manhattan. The Vatican intercede on behalf of Spellman (after all, Spellman was the financier extraordinaire of the College of Cardinals). The Vatican sent Bishop Lawrence Casey, Rochester's coadjutor at the time to Paterson, NJ and within months sent Sheen to Rochester.

Spellman stayed around long enough in Rochester to install Sheen and then immediately left back to NYC.
What Rich wrote is correct especially the radical elements of Vatican II...So in total Rochester has had a succession of three very wonky bishops...Sheen, Hogan and Clark. About 43 years worth of bovine residue.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

What are the dioceses?

In the choir loft said...

Excellent question Dr. K. I'll have to ask around some of the old priests and see what they think. I know he was well liked by many of the priests. That can be good and bad too.