History of the Diocese of Monterey

The Diocese of Monterey was generated by the seed of faith planted by Franciscan Friar, Blessed Junipero Serra, when he founded the Mission of San Carlos Borromeo on the shores of Monterey Bay June 3, 1770. At the same time Don Gaspar de Portola, leader of Mexico's military expedition, claimed Alta California (the present State of California), for Spain.

The mission, ultimately a part of a chain of twenty-one historic California Spanish missions stretching from San Diego to Sonoma, assumed primary importance. Spain decreed Monterey as the capital of California and established a presidio, or military outpost, for protection against encroachment from other national powers.

San Carlo Borromeo Mission, like the other missions, was a religious center established for the conversion and education of Native Americans. Friction between the mission and the presidio generated by Serra's dispute over military treatment of the indigenous people, resulted in Father Serra's relocation of the mission to a site near Carmel Bay August 24, 1771. There the Mission of San Carlos de Carmelo became the headquarters for the rest of his California missionary work.

Pope John Paul II beatified Father Serra in 1988. He is buried in the floor of the sanctuary of Carmel Mission Basilica.

The Holy See erected the Diocese of Both Californias on April 27, 1840, and named Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno as bishop. In 1849 the Diocese of Both Californias was renamed the Diocese of Monterey and Joseph Alemany was named bishop.

Later Baja California was separated from Monterey and the Diocese of Monterey was divided with a new province established in San Francisco. More changes followed as California grew. The Monterey-Los Angeles Diocese became the Monterey-Fresno Diocese in 1924. Finally the Diocese of Monterey was re-established in 1967 and encompasses four Central Coast counties of Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and San Luis Obispo.

Bishop Richard Garcia, the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Monterey, leads the people of the diocese in an ever deeper appreciation and activation of the "grace upon grace" that has always sustained the people of God of the Diocese of Monterey.