Although the Diocese of Tulsa was created in 1973, its parishes existed previously as part of an entity that was successively named a) the Apostolic Prefecture of the Indian Territory (1876-1891); b) the Apostolic Vicariate of the Indian Territory (1891-1905); c) the Diocese of Oklahoma (1905-1930); and d) the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa (1930-1973).
The oldest parish in Oklahoma, in fact, dates to 1872, when Irish railroad workers built a small church at Atoka while they were building the Kansas, Missouri, and Texas line (generally known today as The Katy) through the Indian Territory. Naturally, these sons of Erin named their church St. Patrick’s. Today the Katy railroad marks the path of U.S. Highway 69, a major north-south route through the eastern part of the state.
In Tulsa the first parish was Holy Family, opened in 1899. Holy Family, located at Eighth Street and Boulder Avenue, is now the cathedral parish of the Tulsa diocese. In addition to the cathedral, there are now in and around Tulsa nearly twenty more parishes (out of a current diocesan total of seventy-seven). Of a total population of over a million and a half in eastern Oklahoma, some 60,000 are known to be Catholic.
The eastern third of the state—thirty-one counties—was divided from the remainder by decree of Pope Paul VI on February 7, 1973. That day also saw the ordination of our first bishop, Bernard J. Ganter. Bishop Ganter served here for nearly five years before being called back to his home state of Texas in 1977.
Bishop Eusebius J. Beltran, from Atlanta, Georgia, was ordained at Holy Family Cathedral on April 20, 1978. In 1993 he became the third Archbishop of Oklahoma City, with the western two-thirds of Oklahoma as his pastoral responsibility. (Archbishop Emeritus Beltran was succeeded by the current Archbishop of Oklahoma City, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, on February 11, 2011.)
The Diocese of Tulsa was then led by Bishop Edward J. Slattery, a native of Chicago, who was ordained in Rome by Pope John Paul II on January 6, 1994 and was the third Bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa. Bishop Slattery is now retired and living in the Tulsa area.
Today, the Diocese of Tulsa is led by Bishop David Konderla, ordained the fourth Bishop of Tulsa and installed on June 29, 2016. Bishop Konderla’s office is located at Chancery Headquarters on East 91st St in Broken Arrow. From here are administered departments for diocesan activities such as worship, education, family life, vocations, service to youth and young adults, Hispanics, prisoners, the separated and divorced, and the bereaved. Here, too, are the offices of planned giving and of the diocesan newspaper, the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic. Elsewhere in Tulsa, and in various locations throughout the diocese, are the offices of Catholic Charities.