Lexington, Diocese of

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The diocese of Lexington (Lexingtonensis ) was established Jan. 14, 1988, by Pope John Paul II. At its inception the diocese comprised fifty counties of central and eastern Kentucky that had formerly been part of the diocese of Covington and the archdiocese of Louisville. Eighty percent of the diocese is in the area of Kentucky designated by an act of Congress as "Appalachia."

The Most Reverend J. Kendrick Williams, a native of Athertonville, Kentucky, auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Covington, was installed March 2, 1988 as Lexington's first bishop, in the newly designated Cathedral of Christ the King. Bishop Williams took the lead in fostering good ecumenical relations. He served as an advisory committee member for the Bible Belt Study conducted by the Catholic University of America, as a member of the American Board of Catholic Missions, and as episcopal representative to the Southern Baptist/Roman Catholic Conversation and the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs.

The Lexington diocese with the support of the Extension Society and other agencies fosters a missionary outreach, especially in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, a region where historically Catholics are few and far between. The diocese supports a sizeable Catholic Center at the University of Kentucky in the see city and promotes the Newman apostolate in several other cities where there are colleges and universities. In 2000 the diocese had 59 parishes ministering to some 45,000 Catholics.

[m. k. seibert/

c. f. crews]