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Garcia Diego y Moreno, Francisco


First bishop of the Californias; b. Lagos, Jalisco, Mexico, Sept. 17, 1785; d. Santa Barbara, Calif., April 30, 1846. He was the son of Francisco Diego and Ana Maria Moreno. After completing his studies at St. Joseph's Conciliar Seminary, Guadalajara, Mexico, he entered the Franciscan Order, taking his vows on Dec. 21, 1802. He then attended the Franciscan College of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Zacatecas, Mexico, and he was ordained on Nov. 14, 1808. In addition to doing missionary preaching and to writing a handbook for mission priests, Metodo de misionas, he held various posts at the Franciscan College, including those of prefect (182225) and vicar (1832). When the Mexican government decided to replace Spanish missionaries in California with native Mexicans, García Diego and ten friars from Zacatecas were sent to take charge of the missions of Upper California. The Zacatecans, with García Diego as prefect, arrived Jan. 15, 1833 and established their headquarters at Mission Santa Clara. They were preparing to take over eight missions north of Monterey, Calif., when the Mexican congress, on Aug. 17, 1833, enacted a bill converting the mission churches into parishes under secular clergy. Opposing this secularization of the missions, García Diego traveled to Mexico City, where he persuaded the government to suspend secularization until diocesan organization could be obtained. On April 27, 1840, Gregory XVI separated Upper and Lower California from the Diocese of Sonora, establishing them as a single suffragan diocese with San Diego, Calif., as the see city. Consecrated as first bishop of the new diocese on Oct. 4, 1840, García Diego hoped to secure financial assistance from the pious fund, but this was not forthcoming and the promise of financial support induced the bishop to move to Santa Barbara. García Diego was unable to check the steady decay that confronted his diocese, although he did succeed in founding a seminary at Santa Ines on May 4, 1844, and in ordaining his first three priests on Jan. 1, 1846, shortly before his death and the American conquest of California.

Bibliography: f. j. weber, A Biographical Sketch of Right Reverend Francisco García Diego y Moreno (Los Angeles 1961). z. engelhardt, The Missions and Missionaries of California, 4 v. (San Francisco 190815). a. r. bandini, "A Bishop Comes to California," American Ecclesiastical Review 103 (1940) 253267.

[m. j. guilfoyle]

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