The Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria

On July 24, 1846, the Diocese of Vancouver Island was established, including Vancouver Island, the adjacent islands, New Caledonia (i.e., the British Columbia Mainland), the Queen Charlotte Islands, and Alaska, with the bishop residing in Victoria.

The Diocese was raised to the status of an Archdiocese on June 19, 1903. The name was changed to Victoria on September 6, 1904. It was returned to the status of a Diocese on October 1, 1908.

The largest city in our Diocese is Victoria, located at the southern end of Vancouver Island. Almost 96,000 persons in our geographic area listed themselves as Roman Catholic in the 2011 civic census; nearly 13,000 families are registered with parishes in the Diocese and of that number, 68.8% are active in their parish community. The Diocese is blessed with a variety of cultures and provides Masses in English, French, Croatian, Hungarian, Korean, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Many of the Diocese’s Indigenous population are Roman Catholic. Within the Indigenous population, there are three distinct linguistic groups (the Nuu-chah-nulth, the Coast Salish, and the Kwakwaka’wakw) comprising fifty Nations, plus six Métis communities, each with a Chief and Council. Diocesan clergy, religious men and women and native lay leaders minister to Indigenous communities in Saanich, Duncan, Chemainus, Nanaimo, Ucluelet and Tofino, as well as to Indigenous communities in the Gulf Islands, islands off the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and communities in the north of Vancouver Island.

The current Bishop is the Most Reverend Gary Gordon.

Click on a name below to access information about one of our former Bishops.

 

FRANCIS NORBERT BLANCHET—FOUNDING  

On April 16, 1838, Father (Bishop) Blanchet received ‘Letters of Appointment’, designating him as ‘Vicar General’ of the Columbia Territory, all the lands and settlements between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

MODESTE DEMERS (1846-1871)  

Fr. (Bishop) Demers had a particular gift for languages, and arrived in his See knowing French, English, and Latin.  He then learned (and spoke fluently) seven Indigenous dialects, and had good word comprehension in eight others.

Bishop Demers is entombed at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Victoria, and there is a headstone in his honour located on the southeast lawn beside the Cathedral. 

CHARLES JOHN SEGHERS (1873 —1879 and 1883 — 1886)  

Archbishop Charles J. Seghers was the second and also fourth Bishop of Victoria.

From humble beginnings as pastor and choir director, to missionary known as the Apostle of Alaska, Archbishop Seghers lives on in history as personification of the quote by Tertullian…”Sanguis martyrum semen Christianorum – The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”

Archbishop Seghers sometimes found it difficult to balance his love of learning with his missionary zeal.  In his diaries, he writes that he lived on a diet of roasted crows, because he had packed so many books, it cut down on the amount of food he could carry.

Archbishop Sergers is entombed at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Victoria, and there is a headstone in his honour located on the southeast lawn beside the Cathedral. 

JEAN BAPTISTE BRONDEL (1879 — 1883)  

Bishop Brondel notes in his diaries that he was particularly delighted to be called upon to bless the bells at Our Lady of Assumption Churchon Saanich Peninsula.  He promptly named them: “Maria Rosa’.

JOHN NICHOLAS LEMMENS (1888 — 1897)  

The builder of St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Bishop Lemmens tragically perished while on a missionary trip to South America with the intent of raising funds to pay off the debt owed on the building.