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About Our Diocese

About the Diocese of Harrisburg

Established on March 3, 1868
Map of all Dioceses in PA

Mission Statement: 

To proclaim the goodness of God and to make truly present and active the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ to all people through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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The Diocese of Harrisburg was established on March 3, 1868 by Pope Pius IX. Bishop Jeremiah F. Shanahan, a 34 year-old Priest and seminary rector from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was named to lead this new diocese.

Nineteen counties composed the Diocese of Harrisburg at that time. That changed in later years to fifteen counties comprised of 7,660 square miles today. They include: Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York.

The Diocese is blessed with one Cathedral and 2 Basilicas. Saint Patrick Cathedral, Harrisburg, is the mother church of the Diocese. Sacred Heart Basilica, Conewago, is the oldest stone church in use in the United States. The Basilica of Saints Cyril and Methodius is located in Danville, PA.

Since its founding, eleven Bishops have led the Diocese of Harrisburg. The current Bishop, the Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer, was appointed Bishop of Harrisburg by his Holiness Pope Francis on January 24, 2014. He was installed as Bishop of Harrisburg on March 19, 2014.

The Diocesan Administration Center, located in suburban Harrisburg, serves as the administrative offices to the Bishop and his staff.

Our neighbors are the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Dioceses of Allentown to the east, Scranton to the north, Altoona-Johnstown to the west, and the Archdiocese of Baltimore to the south. Harrisburg is the capital of the Commonwealth, and within our boundaries are to be found historic Gettysburg and Conewago Chapel, Hanover, famous for its shoes and horses, and the sweetest town on earth, Hershey. The beautiful Susquehanna runs through the Diocese and some of the richest farmland in the world is found in Pennsylvania Dutch country in Lancaster County.

  • Established March 3,1868
  • 15 Counties
    (Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York.)
  • 7,660 Square Miles
  • 89 Parishes
  • 7 Missions
  • 246,495 Total Catholic Population
  • 92 Diocesan Priests
  • 38 Retired Diocesan Priests
  • 34 Religious Order Priests
  • 67 Permanent Deacons
  • 1 Religious Brother
  • 274 Women Religious
  • 33 Seminarians
  • 5 Secondary Schools
  • 2 K-12 Schools
  • 32 Elementary Schools
  • 1 Catholic Hospital
DIOCESAN-COAT-OF-ARMS

The coat of arms of the Diocese of Harrisburg is based on the arms of the Penn family and the Harris family for whom the city of Harrisburg is named. The shield, divided by a Latin cross a symbol of the Catholic Faith, bears a shamrock to honor Saint Patrick, the patron Saint of the Diocese and of the Cathedral Church.

The black chief (upper partition) displays two silver roundels derived from the arms of William Penn, the English Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania. William Penn bore as arms a silver shield, thereon a black fess (horizontal band) charged with three silver roundels. The crescent from the arms of one of the branches of the Harris family represents John Harris, who migrated to America from Yorkshire, England, and in 1712 settled Harris’ Ferry, now known as Harrisburg. The crescent is also the revered lunar symbol of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, a title for Our Lady entrusted to the Church in America naming her Protectress of our nation.

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