Dodge City, Diocese of

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Established May 19, 1951, as the fourth diocese in Kansas, the Diocese of Dodge City (Dodgepolis) comprises an area of 23,000 square miles in the southwestern part of the state. A suffragan of the Metropolitan See of Kansas City, approximately 20 percent of its total population is Catholic, distributed among 50 parishes.

The area was in turn under the jurisdiction of the Vicariate Apostolic of Kansas (185077) and the Dioceses of Leavenworth (187787) and Wichita (18871951). Philip Colleton, SJ, traveled from the Osage Native American Mission to minister to soldiers stationed at Fts. Larned and Dodge in 186869. Felix Swenberg, pastor in Wichita, was placed in charge of missions in the southwestern part of the state and was a prime promoter of Catholic colonization to the West; he served as president of St Dominic's Colonization Society, wrote articles for eastern publications, and worked assiduously for the Santa Fe Railroad to encourage Catholic colonies to locate in western Kansas. Irish, Germans, German-Russians populated the section in the 1870s and 1880s. The building of the Santa Fe and Rock Island railroads hastened settlement.

The first bishop of the See of Dodge City was John B. Franz, who was installed Sept. 12, 1951, and later transferred to the Diocese of Peoria, Aug. 8, 1959. The second bishop was Marion F. Forst, who was consecrated March 24, 1960, and installed April 5. He resigned from the see and was appointed auxiliary bishop of Kansas City in Kansas on Oct. 16, 1976. The third bishop was Eugene J. Gerber, who was appointed Bishop of Dodge City on Oct. 16, 1976, installed on Dec. 15, 1976, and later transferred to the Diocese of Wichita on Nov. 23, 1982. The fourth bishop was Stanley G. Schlarman, who was appointed Bishop of Dodge City in March of 1983, installed on May 4, 1983, and named Bishop Emeritus of Dodge City on May 11, 1998. The fifth bishop is Ronald M. Gilmore, who was appointed Bishop of Dodge City on May 11, 1998, and installed on July 16, 1998.

A new cathedral, named for the patroness of the diocese, Our Lady of Guadalupe, was dedicated on Dec. 9, 2001.

Bibliography: p. beckman, The Catholic Church on the Kansas Frontier, 18501877 (Washington 1943). r. j. bollig, History of Catholic Education in Kansas, 18361932 (Washington 1933). Kansas: The First Century, 4 v. (New York 1956) 2:300326, 327347. g. j. garraghan, Jesuits of the Middle United States, 3v. (New York 1938). m. e. thomas, Foot-prints on the Frontier (Westminster, Md. 1948). t. f. wenzl, A History of the Diocese of Dodge City (Newton, KS 2001).

[m. e. thomas/

b. moore]