Established 1868, comprises the Counties of Dauphin, Lebanon, Lancaster, York, Adams, Franklin, Cumberland, Perry, Juniata, Mifflin, Snyder, Northumberland, Union, Montour, and Columbia, in the State of Pennsylvania , U.S.A. an area of 8000 square miles. Lycoming and Center Counties were also included within its original boundaries, but the two were taken from it in 1901, when the Diocese of Altoona was formed. In 1868 the boundaries of the Diocese of Philadelphia were curtailed for the third time by the creation of the Dioceses of Harrisburg, Scranton, and Wilmington. There were then within the Harrisburg limits a Catholic population estimated at 25,000, for whose care there were only a score or so of priests and about as many churches and chapels
As first bishop the Rev. Jeremiah F. Shanahan was consecrated 12 July, 1868. He was the head of the preparatory seminary at Philadelphia when he was selected to govern the new diocese ; he was born 13 July, 1834, at Silver Lake, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, and ordained priest 3 July, 1859. Progress was slow, as the people were poor. Bishop Shanahan died 24 Sept., 1886, at Harrisburg. Thomas McGovern, the second bishop, was born in 1832 at Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan, Ireland, and ordained priest 27 December, 1861, at Philadelphia. He was consecrated at Harrisburg, 11 March, 1888, and died there, 25 July, 1898. After his death an administrator had charge of the diocese for nearly a year. At that time the churches had increased to fifty and the priests to fifty-five. John Walter Shanahan, third bishop, and a brother of the first incumbent of the see, was consecrated 1 May, 1899. Born in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, in 1846, he was ordained, 2 January, 1869, and when appointed bishop was superintendent of schools at Philadelphia.
Religious in the diocese include Franciscans and Fathers of the Holy Ghost ; Sisters of Mercy, Sister-Servants of the Immaculate Heart, Sisters of St. Joseph, of the Blessed Sacrament, of Notre Dame, of the Holy Cross, of Charity ( Emmitsburg, Maryland ; and Mount-Saint-Vincent-on-the-Hudson ), of Christian Charity, of the Third Order of St. Francis, of St Francis, O.M.C., Felician Sisters, O.S.F., Priests number 86 (6 regulars), ecclesiastical students, 24: churches with resident priests, 63, missions, 15; parish schools, 36; pupils, 8000; orphan asylums,2, inmates 110; hospitals, 2: Catholic population 57,000. The mining regions have attracted Poles, Slavs, Austrians, Italians, Greeks, and Lithuanians, for whom separate congregations are provided with priests of their own nationalities.
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