The Diocese of Biloxi, which covers the southern tier of Mississippi counties along the Gulf Coast, was a mission diocese even before August 30, 2005. It was much more so after Hurricane Katrina ravaged 80 miles of coastline across the entire width of the diocese, destroying 16 churches and schools, and damaging 14 others. It will take years to recover from the physical devastation and to restore disrupted parish and diocesan pastoral services. Before the hurricane, the Hispanic population was growing rapidly, with families arriving every month in search of jobs. This trend will probably resume, creating more demands on a diocese whose resources are already stretched. Like other mission dioceses, Biloxi will soon be facing a serious shortage of priests. Moreover, southern Mississippi is home to a strong fundamentalist tradition, which can create an environment unfriendly to Catholics, especially in the rural counties inland from the coast. Even without hurricanes, living as a Catholic in mission territory requires a strong faith, and a strong determination to maintain one’s religious identity.
The Diocese of Biloxi has:
- 57,221 Catholics (8% of total population)
- 53 parishes and missions (14 without resident pastor)
- 41 active priests
Biloxi, MS 39533-1189
Did You Know?
Before Katrina, St. Joseph’s in Bay St. Louis was a white clapboard structure, a classic small-town mission church. A photo now shows the front steps of St. Joseph’s leading—nowhere. The building is not just damaged; it’s gone, taken by wind and water. Despite the devastation, Bishop Thomas Rodi says: “Jesus is still with us…. Mississippi will rise again.”