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Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison

Coordinates: 43°03′04″N 89°31′06″W / 43.05111°N 89.51833°W / 43.05111; -89.51833
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Diocese of Madison

Diœcesis Madisonensis
Holy Name Seminary
Coat of arms
Country United States
TerritoryCounties of Columbia, Dane, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jefferson, Lafayette, Marquette, Rock and Sauk, Wisconsin
Ecclesiastical provinceMilwaukee
Area8,070 sq mi (20,900 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2020)
166,923 (16%)
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedJanuary 9, 1946 (78 years ago)
CathedralSaint Raphael's Cathedral (1946 - 2005 St. Bernard Catholic Church (2025)
Current leadership
BishopDonald J. Hying
Metropolitan ArchbishopJerome Listecki

The Diocese of Madison (Latin: Diœcesis Madisonensis) is a Latin Church diocese in the southwestern part of Wisconsin in the United States. The diocese has approximately 167,000 Catholics in 102 parishes[3] with 98 priests in active ministry.[4]

The bishop of Madison is Donald J. Hying. The diocese currently has no cathedral. Its previous cathedral, Saint Raphael's, was destroyed by fire in 2005.



The Diocese of Madison comprises Columbia, Dane, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jefferson, Lafayette, Marquette, Rock, and Sauk counties. The area of the diocese is approximately 8,070 square miles (20,900 km2).



Early history


In the 16th and early 17th century, the Wisconsin area was part of the French colony of New France. During this time, the French bishops in Quebec, which became a diocese in 1674, had jurisdiction over Canada and North America east of the Mississippi River.

When the British took control of New France in 1763, the bishops in Quebec continued to have jurisdiction in the region. In 1791, soon after the conclusion of the American Revolution, Pope Pius VI erected the Diocese of Baltimore. It covered all the American states and the Northwest Territory, which included part of present-day Wisconsin.[5] The rest of Wisconsin became part of the territory after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

In 1843, Pope Leo XIII erected the Diocese of Milwaukee, which included all of present-day Wisconsin. Wisconsin achieved statehood in 1848. Pope Pius IX established the Diocese of Lacrosse and the Diocese of Green Bay in 1868.[5] The Madison region would remain part of these three dioceses for the next 78 years.

During the 19th century, Reverend Samuel Mazzuchelli established 25 parishes in Wisconsin, 11 of which are in the Madison area.

1946 to 2003


The Diocese of Madison was established on January 9, 1946, by Pope Pius XII. The diocese was created out of territory from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Dioceses of La Crosse and Green Bay.[6] The pope selected Bishop William Patrick O'Connor from the Diocese of Superior as the first bishop of Madison.[7]

During O'Connor's tenure, the diocese went from having 135 priests serving 82,000 Catholics to having 290 priests serving a Catholic population of 180,640.[8] In his first year as bishop, O'Connor established the Blessed Martin Guild to promote racial understanding and convert more minorities to Catholicism.[9] He also founded Holy Name Seminary in Madison in 1965. As part of the Second Vatican Council's reforms, he established a diocesan priest senate in 1966.[10] O'Connor resigned in 1967.

In 1967, Pope Paul VI appointed Auxiliary Bishop Cletus F. O'Donnell from the Archdiocese of Chicago as the second bishop of Madison.[11][12] He established ministries for the deaf and the developmentally disabled. He also encouraged adult education and created a religious education consultants program to help individual parishes.[13]

After O'Donnell retired in 1992, Pope John Paul II named Bishop William Bullock of the Diocese of Des Moines to replace him.[14] The pope declared Reverend Mazzuchelli, a pioneer priest from the 19th century, as venerable in 1993. In 1995, Bullock closed Holy Name Seminary, a private boys high school in Madison.[15] Bullock retired in 2003.

2003 to present


Bishop Robert C. Morlino from the Diocese of Helena was named the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Madison in 2003 by John Paul II.[16] Morlino supported the application of Summorum Pontificum, an apostolic letter issued by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 on the use of the Tridentine Mass. Morlino celebrated the Tridentine Mass in several parishes. He ordered all the parishes to move the tabernacles in their churches to central places of prominence. Morlino encouraged parishioners to receive communion on the tongue while kneeling, and he encouraged pastors to enlist exclusively male altar servers.

One of Morlino's main objectives was to increase the ordination of priests in the diocese. He helped raise $44 million for the endowment fund "Priests for Our Future". The number of seminarians grew from six to 30 during his episcopate, one of the largest increases in the United States.[17] Catholics in his diocese had divided opinions of him.[18]

In May 2009, Morlino announced that due to budget cuts, he was closing the Catholic Multicultural Center, which provided food and other support for residents on Madison's south side.[19] A handoff to local parish administration and fundraising drive was announced one week later.[20]

In March 2009, Morlino dismissed Ruth Kolpack from her post as a pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Beloit, citing breaches of orthodoxy. In a brief meeting with Kolpack, he asked her to take an oath of loyalty and to denounce her 2003 thesis, which advocated women's ordination in the Church and inclusive language relating to God. Morlino fired Kolpack after she refused to denounce her thesis.[21] Morlino died in 2018.

The current bishop of the Diocese of Madison is Donald J. Hying, formerly bishop of the Diocese of Gary. He was appointed by Pope Francis in 2018. In 2023, Hying announced the grouping of all the parishes into 30 pastorates to be run by multiple priests. This reorganization was meant to relieve some of the administrative duties of the diocesan priests.[22]

Cathedral fire

St. Raphael's Cathedral, Madison just after the 2005 fire.

In March 2005, St. Raphael's Cathedral was heavily damaged in an arson attack. William J. Connell was arrested and charged with arson and other crimes, but was deemed incompetent to stand trial due to paranoid schizophrenia.[23] After being deemed competent, he was tried and convicted. In June 2007, Connell was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 15 years of close supervision.

In April 2007, Bishop Morlino released plans to erect a new cathedral on the existing site. However, the plans were never realized. In March 2023, Bishop Donald Hying announced that he had petitioned the Vatican to designate St. Bernard's Church in Madison as the new cathedral.[22] In January 2024, it was announced that St. Bernard's would be elevated to cathedral.

Reports of sex abuse


In September 2003, at a legislative hearing in Madison, a woman from Sun Prairie accused Reverend Gerald Vosen, pastor of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Baraboo, of sexually assaulting her brother when he was age 14 in the 1970s. Vosen, who denied the accusations, was put on leave by the diocese.[24] The diocesan review board reviewed three allegations against Vosen and in February 2003 recommended the permanent suspension of ministry.[25] In May 2004, Vosen unsuccessfully sued one of his accusers.[26] Appeals of the review board decision were declined in 2007 and 2015 by the Vatican.

An Eau Claire man sued the diocese in February 1994, claiming that he had been sexually assaulted by Reverend Michael Trainor in the summer of 1982. The crime allegedly happened in the rectory of St. Thomas Aquinas Church. Trainor left Wisconsin in 1994 after several parents brought accusations to Bishop Bullock.[27] By February 1995, seven other men had joined the lawsuit, claiming abuse by Trainor.[28] The plaintiffs claimed that Bishop O'Donnell was aware of Trainor's abuse of children and transferred him from one parish to another without reporting him to the police or parishioners.[29] A separate suit by nine other men against the diocese regarding Trainor was filed in September 1995.[30] The lawsuits were dismissed in 1995. New allegations of abuse against Trainor were brought to the diocese in 2002 and 2003.[31]

In May 2018, Reverend William Nolan, a retired priest, was charged with six counts of sexual assault.[32] He was acquitted in September 2019 of five of these counts,[33] with the presiding judge dropping the remaining count.[34] The diocese also investigated Nolan and later cleared him from the title of "credibly accused" priest in March 2020 as well.[35]

In June 2019, the diocese agreed to present a list of credibly accused clergy who served in the diocese and hired detectives to assist in this investigation.[32] In March 2020, Bishop Hying announced that investigators had found two sexual abuse allegations against Patrick Doherty, a retired priest from the diocese, to be credible. Hying had already placed restrictions on Doherty.[36][37]



Bishops of Madison

  1. William Patrick O'Connor (1946–1967), his resignation.
  2. Cletus F. O'Donnell (1967–1992), his resignation.
  3. William H. Bullock (1993–2003), his resignation.
  4. Robert C. Morlino (2003–2018), his death.
  5. Donald J. Hying (2019–present).

Auxiliary bishops


Diocesan priests who became bishops


Paul J. Swain, appointed Bishop of Sioux Falls (2006-2019).





Resurrection Cemetery – Madison



High schools


Grade schools

  • St. Joseph's Catholic School in Baraboo is a parochial school. The current school building, designed by the Wisconsin Rapids company Billmeyer and Sons and with a cost of over $500,000, has 11 classrooms. The basement has a cafeteria and a combination auditorium/gymnasium. The second building for the school opened on a filled-in ravine in 1912, northeast of its associated church. The building had three floors and a basement. The first and second floors each had three classrooms, and the second floor also housed the chapel and the library. The third floor had a 600-seat auditorium while the basement had a large banquet hall/gymnasium. The second building became overcrowded due to the post-World War II baby boom, so the third school building, north of the second building, opened in 1958.[38]

See also



  1. ^ "Our Parishes". Diocese of Madison.
  2. ^ "Schools". Diocese of Madison.
  3. ^ "Our Parishes". Diocese of Madison.
  4. ^ "All Priests in the Diocese". Diocese of Madison.
  5. ^ a b Our Journey Through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior. Booklink. pp. 11–15.
  6. ^ "Diocese of Madison". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Bishop William Patrick O'Connor". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
  8. ^ "A look back: Diocese of Madison experiences growth under Bishop O'Connor". Catholic Herald.
  9. ^ "A timeline of key events in the Diocese of Madison's 75-year history". Catholic Herald.
  10. ^ "Second Vatican Council had a profound impact on Bishop O'Donnell". Catholic Herald.
  11. ^ "Cletus O'Donnell Named Bishop of Madison Diocese". Chicago Tribune. February 23, 1967. p. 8. Retrieved October 21, 2019 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  12. ^ "Bishop O'Donnell Has Heart Attack". Wisconsin State Journal. August 31, 1992. p. 2. Retrieved October 23, 2019 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  13. ^ "Bishop O'Donnell accomplished much in over 25 years as Bishop of Madison". Madison Catholic Herald. 2021-06-01. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  14. ^ "Bishop William Henry Bullock [Catholic-Hierarchy]". www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  15. ^ "Obituary. Bishop William Bullock, 83". Wisconsin State Journal. April 5, 2001. p. 1. Retrieved October 14, 2019 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  16. ^ "Morlino's Controversial Tenure". Wisconsin State Journal. November 26, 2018. p. A9. Retrieved October 18, 2019 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  17. ^ Hanneman, Joseph M. (November 24, 2018). "Bishop Robert C. Morlino dead at age 71 (Updated)". The Catholic World Report. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  18. ^ Rickert, Chris; Schultz, Rob (November 26, 2018). "Catholics express mixed feelings as they mourn Bishop Robert Morlino". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  19. ^ Erickson, Doug. "Center that Serves Poor Closing its Doors Today, Budget Cuts Hit Catholic Diocese, and the People it Serves SERVES". madison.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  20. ^ Erickson, Doug. "A Lifeline for the Catholic Center Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish Gets Permission from Diocese to Lead a Fundraising Drive, But Reopening Could Take Monts". madison.com. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  21. ^ "Madison's Morlino noted for othodoxy, controversy". March 18, 2009.
  22. ^ a b Molesky, Colton. "Madison diocese reveals new cathedral and parish plans". www.nbc15.com. Retrieved 2023-04-04.
  23. ^ "Judge: Arson Suspect Not Competent To Stand Trial". Archived from the original on December 6, 2005. Retrieved September 2, 2006.
  24. ^ "Priest on Leave after Allegations But Denies Any Sexual Misconduct, Capital Times, September 22, 2003". www.bishop-accountability.org. Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  25. ^ "Catholic Diocese Puts Baraboo Priest on Paid Leave First Edition Diocese Ends Baraboo Priest's Role As Pastor Second Edition, by William R. Wineke, Wisconsin State Journal, February 16, 2004". www.bishop-accountability.org. Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  26. ^ "Priest Files Suit against Accuser He Wants to Clear Name, Capital Times, May 14, 2004". www.bishop-accountability.org. Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  27. ^ "Man Alleges Sex Assault by Priest in '82, by Pat Schneider, Capital Times, February 18, 1994". www.bishop-accountability.org. Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  28. ^ "Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Grows Eight Now Accuse Diocesan Priest, by Phil Brinkman, Wisconsin State Journal, February 16, 1995". www.bishop-accountability.org. Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  29. ^ "Molestation Suit Targets Diocese, by Pat Schneider, Capital Times, February 15, 1995". www.bishop-accountability.org. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  30. ^ "9 Men Accuse Ex-City Priest of Sex Assault, by Mike Miller, Capital Times, October 14, 1995". www.bishop-accountability.org. Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  31. ^ "Ex-Priest Faces New Complaint Placed on Leave after Allegations, by Pat Schneider, Capital Times, December 31, 2002". www.bishop-accountability.org. Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  32. ^ a b Verburg, Steven. "Madison Catholic Diocese hires detectives to probe clergy sexual abuse". madison.com.
  33. ^ "Retired Catholic priest found not guilty of sexual assault". 14 September 2019.
  34. ^ Redman, Henry. "Nolan testifies as defense rests its case". Daily Jefferson County Union.
  35. ^ Schultz, Frank. "Priest accused of sex abuse cleared by Madison Diocese". GazetteXtra.
  36. ^ WKOW. "Madison Diocese determines 2nd credible sex abuse allegation against former priest". WKOW. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  37. ^ "Diocese of Madison determines sexual abuse allegations against former priest as credible". Channel3000.com. 2020-01-17. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  38. ^ Baraboo. Sauk County Historical Society. Arcadia Publishing. 2017-06-05. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-4396-6078-2.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)


Coat of arms of Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison
Arms was designed and adopted when the diocese was erected
The arms of the diocese are composed of a field that is wavy bars of silver (white) and blue on which a red cross with a fish is present
The arms of the diocese are composed of a field that is wavy bars of silver (white) and blue. This is the traditional heraldic representation for water and the field of "water" is divided by a red cross into four sections to remind us of the lakes of the region around Madison. On the red cross is a fish and this conjunction of symbols is a classic symbolic representation for Saint Raphael, the titular of the Cathedral Church of Madison. Raphael means "healer of God" and his ministrations to men make interesting reading in the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament. The fish recalls the episode where Raphael ordered Tobias to cook a fish to eat but removed the heart, liver and gall for future medicinal use. Later the liver was used by Tobias to drive out the devil, who had slain seven of the previous husbands of Sara, his wife, while the gall was used to restore sight to his blind father.

43°03′04″N 89°31′06″W / 43.05111°N 89.51833°W / 43.05111; -89.51833