Although the Diocese of Las Vegas has only been in existence since 1995, the Roman Catholic Church has had a long and colorful history in the desert of Las Vegas. The first Mass that was celebrated in the territory that would eventually become Nevada took place on the Colorado River in 1775 and was offered by Father Garces, a Franciscan priest from Mexico.
Before the territory of Nevada became a part of the United States, Las Vegas was under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Mexico. From 1860 until 1931, the area that now encompasses the Diocese of Las Vegas was at one time or another under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Diocese of Sacramento and the Diocese of Salt Lake City.
Pope Pius XI established the Diocese of Reno in 1931, which encompassed all of the state of Nevada until 1976 when the diocese was renamed the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas, and then in 1995 when the Diocese of Las Vegas was established in recognition of the tremendous growth taking place in Southern Nevada.
Today the Diocese of Las Vegas consists of 27 parishes, one high school, seven elementary schools, three shrines and six missions and encompasses the counties of Clark, Nye, Esmeralda, Lincoln and White Pine. The total number of estimated Catholics in Southern Nevada is about 740,000 individuals. Encompassing one of the fastest growing communities in the nation, the Diocese of Las Vegas has great opportunities and faces unique challenges in fulfilling its mission to bring the gospel message of hope to all through evangelization, life-long formation and worship.
Under the guidance of its second bishop, the Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe, the diocese is able to bring the intimate encounter of Christ to people all across the valley through its parish communities, its schools, its various ministries and charitable organizations. Recognizing the diversity and growth of Southern Nevada, the diocese offers Mass in four languages and maintains Hispanic and Asian ministries.
Currently the diocese maintains a Diocesan Liturgical Commission, a Diocesan Youth Council and Diocesan Catechetical Ministries to train catechists, teachers and all of those who serve in parish ministries. Each parish within the diocese has developed strong outreach to their communities through various ministries.
The diocese has nearly 4,000 students that attend its eight K-12 schools throughout Southern Nevada. In addition, more than 12,000 students a year participate in religious education and activities offered and directed by the diocesan office of Catechetical Ministries.
The Diocese of Las Vegas actively participates in Catholic Relief Service programs, which provides volunteers and emergency funds for people who have found themselves victims of disasters locally, nationally and internationally.
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada is also an integral part of the diocesan mission in Southern Nevada. This agency provides assistance to a wide range of people, from infants to seniors, regardless of their race or religious affiliation. Catholic Charities consists of 25 programs, which include infant and child services, immigration services, migration and refugees services, residential services, senior services and social services.
For more information on the Diocese of Las Vegas, its individual parishes and its outreach organizations within your community, visit www.lasvegas-diocese.org. Links to the individual parishes will provide Mass times as well as information relating to event listings and contact information.