Tulsa, Diocese of

views updated


In 1973 when the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa was divided, Oklahoma City was made an archdiocese and the new Diocese of Tulsa, Tulsensis, one of the suffragan sees. The new diocese covers 36 counties in the eastern part of the state of Oklahoma. At the time it was established the area had a population of 1.1 million, 51,000 of whom were Catholic. In 2001, the total population was 1.5 million and the number of Catholics about 62,000.

The first bishop of the diocese of Tulsa was Monsignor Bernard J. Ganter, chancellor of the Galveston-Houston diocese. He would serve for four hectic years (19731977), creating the infrastructure of the new see, until he was transferred to Beaumont in his home state of Texas. A principal occurrence during his tenure was the arrival of thousands of Vietnamese refugees at nearby Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, following the end of the war in 1975. Bishop Ganter took the lead in resettling them and preparing them for life in the United States. Shortly before his departure, he ordained the first permanent deacons in Oklahoma. (Bishop Ganter died as Bishop of Beaumont, Texas, of cancer, on Oct. 9, 1993.)

Bishop Ganter's successor was Monsignor Eusebius J. Beltran, formerly vicar general of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia. His episcopal ordination took place in Tulsa on April 20, 1978. During the fifteen ensuing years, he brought to fruition many of the programs begun by his predecessor, especially in vocation recruitmenthe ordained 32 priests and 47 permanent deaconsand in the creation of new parishes. He also expanded the system of Catholic Charities in the diocese and worked to preserve the parish schools, in two instances bringing them directly under diocesan control until they recovered sufficiently to continue on their own. Upon the retirement of Archbishop Salatka in Oklahoma City late in 1992, Bishop Beltran was appointed to replace him.

Tulsa's third ordinary, Edward J. Slattery, a priest of the archdiocese of Chicago had been president of the Catholic Church Extension Society. Pope john paul ii ordained him a bishop in Rome on Jan. 6, 1994. Among his principal concerns have been expanding the Church's ministry among Hispanics and codifying diocesan policies. To the latter end he has announced a synod for May 2002.

Bibliography: j. d. white, This Far by Faith: 125 Years of Catholic Life in Oklahoma, 18752000 (Strasbourg, France 2001).

[j. d. white]