Before 1981


January 12: Mission Santa Clara de Asís was founded in 1777 by Spanish Franciscan Missionaries during the era of the Provincias Internas of New Spain. It is the namesake of both the city and county of Santa Clara, as well as of Santa Clara University, which was built around the mission.


St. Joseph’s Church was built on the site of the current basilica and was the first non-mission pueblo parish built in California for the benefit of Spanish settlers. It was constructed of adobe and wood. Earthquakes and fires destroyed three church buildings.


Originally a part of the Diocese of Sonora in Mexico, in 1840 San Jose and the rest of the Californias became part of the Diocese of Alta and Baja California, headquartered in Santa Barbara.


The Diocese of Alta and Baja California was split between the American and Mexican territories, and San Jose became a part of the Diocese of Monterey.


The northern half of the county became part of the newly established Archdiocese of San Francisco, while the areas around Gilroy and Morgan Hill remained in the Diocese of Monterey.


March 19: The cornerstone for the fifth and present Saint Joseph church building was laid. It was opened and dedicated on April 22, 1877, the two-year anniversary of the fire that destroyed the previous church on this site.


The United States Catholic Church decided to use county boundaries for dioceses and the southern half of the county was transferred to the Archdiocese of San Francisco.




  • January 27: Pope John Paul II creates the Diocese of San José from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, naming Bishop Pierre DuMaine , then auxiliary bishop of San Francisco, as Diocesan Bishop of San José. The new Diocese comprises all of Santa Clara County.
  • Saint Patrick Church is elevated to the status of Cathedral.
  • Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco and Bishop DuMaine allow priests then assigned in the four counties of the archdiocese to move to either side of the Menlo Park/Palo Alto boundary between dioceses, before the inaugural Mass on March 18. Though most of the priests in Santa Clara County decide to remain, 13 move north to the Archdiocese, while 11 transfer south to the new Diocese. 
  • March 18: The Diocese of San José is established with a Mass at Center for the Performing Arts, where Archbishop John R. Quinn seats Bishop Pierre DuMaine in the Bishop’s Chair. The Diocese begins with 49 parishes and 2 missions; 28 elementary schools and six high schools; 128 Diocesan priests and 175 religious priests; 20 deacons; 45 religious brothers; and 538 religious sisters.
  • Saint Joseph College Seminary becomes the site of the first Diocesan Chancery, with Monsingor Michael J. Mitchell as the first Diocesan employee and Maureen Ariente and Donna Rehder as the first lay employees.
  • With the Diocese of San José having been established during the midpoint of San Francisco’s Archdiocesan Annual Appeal, the goal for the churches in Santa Clara Couty is set at $1,292,000, to fund an initial budget of $1.6 million.


  • The first Annual Diocesan Appeal begins, with a goal of $1,679,000.
  • Bishop DuMaine celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
  • Saint Anthony Mission is elevated to the status of Parish.


  • January 14: Robert Passalacqua is the first priest ordained for the Diocese of San José at Saint Patrick Cathedral.
  • Bishop DuMaine establishes an Archives department, hiring Frank Greiner as the first archivist.
  • October 7: Bishop DuMaine dedicates the statue and Shrine of Our Lady of Peace to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 7, Feast of the Holy Rosary. Father Patrick Peyton of the Rosary Crusade is present.
  • December 3: Father Anthony Mancuso and Father Gary Thomas become the 2nd and 3rd priests ordained for the Diocese of San José, at Saint Patrick Cathedral.
  • Bishop DuMaine announces that Education, Youth Ministry and Hispanic Ministry as two priorities of the Diocese.


  • The Diocese establishes a Finance Council, before Finance Councils were mandated.
  • Our Lady Star of the Sea Mission is elevated to the status of Parish.


  • The Holy See approves Saint Joseph Church as the Diocesan Cathedral, pending restoration and conformation to modern liturgical norms.
  • June 18: Saint Teresa of Calcutta visits San José, calling on people to experience “the joy of loving.”
  • Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs Vietnamese Mission is established.


  • Saint Brother Albert Chmielowski Polish Mission is established.


  • March 18, 1987: Saint Joseph Church in downtown San José, now designated as a Cathedral, closes for restoration.
  • The first Mass for Divorced and Separated Catholics is held at Holy Family Parish, with Bishop DuMaine presiding.
  • May: Cardinal Jamie Sin visits the Diocese of San José and celebrates Mass at Saint Patrick Cathedral.
  • The five parishes in Palo Alto (Saint Albert the Great, Our Lady of the Rosary, Saint Ann Chapel, Saint Aloysius, and Saint Thomas Aquinas) are consolidated into one, under the patronage of Saint Thomas Aquinas.


  • The Diocesan Chancery relocates its offices to 841 Lenzen Avenue in San José.


  • October 17: Loma Prieta 7.1 Earthquake destroys Saint Joseph College Seminary, toppling the bell tower and killing Curtis Lee Currin, who had been installing cell phone equipment in it. The quake also damages several churches, including Sacred Heart of Jesus in San Jose, Saint Mary in Gilroy, and Saint Mary in Los Gatos. Saint Joseph Cathedral comes through unscathed, thanks to its extensive restoration.
  • Saint Joseph College Seminary temporarily relocates classes to Saint Patrick Seminary and University in Menlo Park.
  • The Diocesan Pastoral Resource Committee for Ministry to Gay and Lesbian Catholics is established. The Diocese of San José is the second diocese in the country to do so, after the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


  • November 4: After extensive renovation, Saint Joseph Church is dedicated as the new Cathedral of the Diocese of San Jose, and Saint Patrick’s becomes the Diocesan Proto-Cathedral.
1991 -2000


  • Saint Joseph College Seminary closes permanently, a victim of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.
  • Saint Joseph Cathedral hosts an Evening Prayer in observance of 500 years of evangelization of the Americas and National Migration Week.


  • First Confirmation of Adults is held on Pentecost Sunday.


  • The Diocesan Chancery moves to 900 Lafayette Street in Santa Clara.
  • Memorial Mass at Saint Joseph Cathedral for César Chávez (a son of San José), who died April 29 of that year. Symbols include the cross carried from Delano, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the United Farm Workers flag, and the short-handled hoe.


  • Saint Pope John Paul II designates the Cathedral of Saint Joseph as a Minor Basilica; it becomes the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph.
  • Saint Francis of Assisi Mission is established.


  • The Institute for Leadership in Ministry begins with 75 students.
  • The Diocese of San José launches a three-year Renew International program in all its parishes as an opportunity for the faithful to grow in their faith in Jesus Christ and advance the Kingdom of God as we reach the third millennium. Hundreds of small faith-sharing groups develop throughout Santa Clara County.


  • Evening Prayer at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, San Jose, celebrates Father Ricardo García, a son of San José appointed as auxiliary bishop of Sacramento.
  • September 17: Mass of Welcome for Bishop Patrick J. McGrath as coadjutor bishop of San José.
  • The Catholic Community at Stanford, a University Parish under the Patronage of Saint Dominic, is established.


  • July 1: Saint Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish becomes the personal parish for the Vietnamese Catholics in the Diocese, while also remaining as a territorial parish for the Spanish and English-speaking communities that surround it.
  • Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs Vietnamese Mission is joined with and becomes Saint Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish, Territorial and Vietnamese Personal Parish.
  • November 27: Evening Prayer is offered to mark the official retirement of Bishop DuMaine and his succession by Bishop McGrath as the second Bishop of San José.


  • 3,000 young people and their families attend a Diocesan Confirmation Mass, celebrated by Bishop McGrath at the HP Pavilion (now SAP Center) for young people from every parish.
2001 - 2010


  • The Deacon and Advanced Lay Leadership Formation begins under the guidance of Father Jack Bonsor and Anne Grycz and in collaboration with Santa Clara University. The first deacon class is ordained in 2005.
  • Bishop McGrath initiates the process leading to the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. The process involves consultation with members of every parish in the Diocese as well as with parish and Diocesan staffs. The mission statement of the plan calls the Diocese “a church that is not afraid to dream, where all are welcome, that answers real questions that real people are asking.


  • Bishop McGrath establishes the Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults and appoints Bernard V. Nojadera as director, in response to the national clergy sex abuse crisis.
  • Bishop McGrath joins with other bishops from the United States in Dallas, Texas, to adopt the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.


  • Monsignor Michael Mitchell, first employee of the Diocese, retires.


  • The Catholic Community Foundation is established in conjunction with the capital campaign,Rooted in Faith ~ Embracing Our Future.


  • March 18: A Jubilee Mass celebrates the 25thAnniversary of the Diocese of San José, with Bishop McGrath as principal celebrant and Bishop Emeritus DuMaine as homilist. Representatives of every parish are present, along with many of the “founders” of the Diocese, a majority of Diocesan clergy, and 15 visiting bishops.
  • Bishop McGrath makes a Jubilee Visit to each of the Diocese’s parishes and missions. During this visit, atessera, or tile, engraved with the name of the parish or mission, is transferred from the parish Jubilee Cross and becomes part of the Diocesan Jubilee Processional Cross. The Cross memorializes the 52 parishes and missions in existence at the time of the Jubilee.
  • The Council of Lay Ecclesial Ministers is established.
  • After taking place in San Francisco in 2004 and 2005, the annual Faith Formation Conference (a collaboration with the Archdiocese of San Francisco and other Bay Area dioceses) moves to San José from 2006 – 2014. In 2015, the conference becomes known as the California Catholic Ministry Conference and continues until 2020, when it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • The Oratory of the Chapel of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is established.


  • The Chancery moves to 1150 North First Street in San Jose, to be in the See City of San José.
2011 - 2020


  • In response to a request from Bishop McGrath for additional assistance, Pope Benedict XVI appoints Father Thomas A. Daly of the Archdiocese of San Francisco as appointed (first) Auxiliary Bishop of San José. He becomes Bishop of Spokane in 2015.
  • Deacon Bernard V. Nojadera, director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in San José, is named as Director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection.


  • Our Lady of Refuge Parish, a product of the 2006 Capital Campaign and the first parish established in the Diocese in over a decade, is established.
  • The Chinese Catholic Community is elevated to the status of Mission, becoming the San Jose Chinese Catholic Mission.
  • August 30: a three-alarm fire devastates Saint Patrick Proto-Cathedral, destroying its sacred worship space and rendering it unusable.


  • Bishop McGrath signs a decree renaming Saint Patrick Parish, now under the patronage of Our Lady of La Vang, to reflect the church’s status as a personal parish for Vietnamese Catholics.
  • The Oratory of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is suppressed, replaced by the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.


  • November 16: following Mass, a four-alarm fire destroys most of Holy Cross Church, sparing its historic altar cross.


  • Bishop Daly is appointed as Bishop of the Diocese of Spokane in Washington.


  • After nearly four years of reconstruction, the new church for Holy Cross Parish is dedicated by Bishop McGrath.
  • Saint Nicholas Parish and Saint William Parish in Los Altos merge, becoming Saint Nicholas and Saint William Parish.
  • July 11: Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, is appointed Coadjutor Bishop of San Jose on July 11.


  • May 1: Bishop McGrath retires and is succeeded by his Coadjutor, Bishop Oscar Cantú
    Bishop Cantú celebrates the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
  • June 13: The Most Reverend Pierre DuMaine, first Bishop of San Jose, dies at age 87.


  • March: The COVID-19 pandemic closes churches and schools, prompting the clergy and the faithful to find new creative ways to worship and celebrate the Sacraments, including virtual Masses, outdoor Masses, and parking lot Masses; and drive-through Confessions.
  • March: Catholic Schools begin distance learning, with teachers teaching to students via videoconferencing.
  • Bishop Emeritus McGrath celebrates the 50th year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
  • August: Catholic Schools move to a hybrid of in-person learning in which parents can choose to send their children to school in person or continue to learn virtually from home.


  • January 27: Bishop Cantú presides at the Opening Mass of the Diocesan 40th Anniversary Jubilee at Our Lady of Peace Parish, with Bishop Emeritus Patrick J. McGrath and Bishop Carlos Sevilla, Bishop Emeritus of Yakima as concelebrants and Monsignor Michael J. Mitchell (the last surviving founder of Diocese) as homilist. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mass takes place outdoors and is limited to 100 participants. The auspicious date marks 40 years since Saint John Paul II’s creation of the Diocese.
  • March 19: Bishop Cantú celebrates the 40th anniversary Mass of the Diocese of San José at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph. The Diocese of today numbers The Diocese celebrates 40 years of ministry to the people of God, reflecting on the lessons of our past, rejoicing in the realities of our present, and looking forward to our future, journeying together in hope. 
Connections With The Universal Church
  • Father Eugene Boyle marched with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union and left a legacy of commitment to social justice.
  • Kenneth Wang from the Chinese Community and Olga Islas from Our Lady of Guadalupe served on the U.S. Bishops’ Lay Advisory Committee in the 80’s.
  • Terrie Iacino served on the Bishops’ CHD Committee in the late 80’s
  • 1989-1997: Father Steve Brown served as a missionary with Maryknoll in Tanzania
  • Marcos Herrera from St. Francis of Assisi (and an Institute graduate) was elected to the National Board of Catholic Charities (1994)
  • Father Dick Hilliard served on the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (1986-1989).
  • Linda Bearie served as President of the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators (early 90’s)
  • 1993-1996: Father Tim Kidney taught in the Sulpician seminary in Zambia
  • Anne Grycz served on the Board of Directors of the national Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (1994-1998; served as Vice-Chair 1996-1998)
  • Anne Grycz served on the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (1996-1999) and the Commission on Certification and Accreditation (2000-2006).
  • Elizabeth Lilly was a presenter for Forum, the national group on the Catechumenate. In the late 80’s she contributed to Breaking Open the Word of God, Cycle A, B, and C.
  • In 2007 the Bishop of Montego Bay, Bishop Charles Dafour, asked our Bishop McGrath for a priest to serve as a missionary in his diocese. Father Tim Kidney with Father Leo Shea, MM established the Diocese of Montego Bay’s Evangelization Team. In addition, they established a deacon formation program for the diocese.
  • In 2009 Father Robert Brocato succeeded Father Kidney; with the Evangelization Team the Institute for Servant Ministry was established. The ISM is patterned on the Diocese of San Jose’s Institute for Leadership in Ministry.
  • 2010 – 2012: Several educators from the Diocese of San Jose taught weekend courses in the Institute for Servant Leadership.
  • 2011: Father Engelberto Gammad was the first president of the National Association of Filipino Priests serving in the USA, which held the first national assembly of Filipino priests, Novbember 8-11, 2011 in Los Angeles.
  • 2013: the first class graduated from the Diocese of Montego Bay Institute for Servant Leadership; Anne Grycz, Director Emerita of the Institute for Leadership in Ministry and Father Robert Brocato represented the Diocese of San Jose at the graduation.
  • Linda Cunha-Ricchio served on the Board of the National Association of Lay Ministers (2013; served as Vice-Chair 2016-2017). The 2016 National Meeting of NALM featured Diana Macalintal as the keynote speaker.
  • John Olivier composed the Hymn of the Oils, Mass of St. Joseph, and Vespersin honor of St. Joseph.
  • Bishop DuMaine composed “O Lord, You Are My Portion and My Cup” based on Psalm 16. Sang by the priests as they renew their promises during Chrism Mass.
  • Diana Macalintal, Office for Worship, wrote The Work of Your Handspublished by Liturgical Press in 2014. Lupita Vital, Office of Hispanic Ministry wrote 2016 Un Año Lleno de Gracia, published by Loyola Press.
  • The Diocese of San Jose had an active and effective Liturgical Commission which served as an advisory body to the Bishop. Among its accomplishments: liturgical policies, the Committee on Art and Environment, the Committee on the Catechumenate, and the Music Committee. The Commission also sponsored the Benedictus Award given to outstanding contributors to the liturgical life of the Church of San Jose in the areas of liturgical education, liturgical arts, and liturgical music. Among the recipients:
    • Terry Davis, SND – liturgical arts
    • Sister Disciples of the Divine Master – liturgical arts
    • John Olivier, PSS – liturgical education and liturgical music
    • Martin of Tours Parish for liturgical arts and liturgical education
    • Richard Hilliard – liturgical arts, education, and music
    • Tony Eiras – liturgical music
    • Bishop Pierre DuMaine – liturgical education