History of our Diocese

The well-organized system of rural parishes, particularly in Cole, Osage, Adair, Ralls, and Monroe counties were the result of Jesuit missionary activity and primarily German, Italian and Irish immigration. The oldest active parish in the diocese is St. Stephen in Indian Creek, founded in 1833.


The Diocese of Jefferson City is a suffragan, or subordinate, of the Metropolitan See of St. Louis. Pope Pius XII established the Diocese on November 27, 1956 from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Diocese of Kansas City and the former Diocese of St. Joseph.


Bishop Marling served nationally as the President of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and was one of the founding members of the Missouri Catholic Conference in 1967.


The First Bishop was the Most Reverend Joseph M. Marling, CPPS, who established the foundations of the young Diocese. He served until his resignation in 1969.

The Second Bishop was the Most Reverend Michael F. McAuliffe, S.T.D., who was ordained and installed in 1969. He further implemented the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Bishop McAuliffe served nationally as the Episcopal Moderator to the Catholic Scouts and as chairman for the Role of Women in the Church committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference.


Reverend Michael F. McAuliffe, S.T.D. retired.

The current bishop, the Most Reverend John R. Gaydos, was ordained and installed as third Bishop of Jefferson City in the Cathedral in 1997.


By 2013, Catholics in the Diocese numbered 79,867 out of a population of 914,936. There are 95 parishes and 15 missions served by 68 active and retired diocesan priests, 14 priests from other dioceses and 6 religious priests as well as 65 permanent deacons. The Diocese currently has 13 seminarians.

In 2013, the number of Catholics per priest ratio is one priest for 898 Catholics. One Christian brother, one Dominican brother and 45 Sisters also work in the Diocese, which has three high schools, 37 elementary schools and one Catholic hospital. Religious communities of men include the Precious Blood and Dominican Fathers. Among the community of women religious are the Carmelite, Dominican, Incarnate Word, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Franciscan, Precious Blood and Mercy sisters.