The small Catholic population of Cleveland, in the early 19th century, was served by visiting Redemptorists and Fathers of the Most Precious Blood, the first resident secular priest being Reverend John Dillon, in 1835-1836.
A church, Saint Mary's on the "Flats," was built, 1838, and dedicated, 1840, by Right Reverend Forbin Janson, Bishop of Toul and Nancy, who accompanied Bishop Purcell from the Fourth Provincial Council of Baltimore.
It remained the only church until the accession of Bishop Rappe as incumbent of the newly erected see, 1847.
The Catholics numbered 4,000, and work was immediately begun on a temporary church and school for the German population.
The following year a diocesan seminary was opened in a stable, financial assistance from Europe making it possible to move it to more worthy quarters, 1850.
Under the bishop's active administration the city made rapid strides; the cathedral, begun in 1848, was completed in 1852; the Ursuline Nuns opened an academy and two orphanages, 1851; Saint John's College was founded, 1854, but closed a few years later for lack of patronage; Charity Hospital was opened, 1865; the Jesuits were introduced, and the House of the Good Shepherd established, 1869; and in 1870 a home for the aged poor was opened.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph, of Notre Dame, and other religious orders took up their work here; the present episcopal residence was commenced, 1874, and the following year the bishop was forced to bring a suit of restraint against the taxation of Catholic school property; this was won in the superior court.
An auxiliary bishop with special jurisdiction over the foreign population, was appointed, 1907, the first appointment of the kind made ln the United States.
Today Cleveland has 90 parish churches and 86 parochial schools with 47,623 pupils.
Approximately 50 per cent of the population is Catholic.
New Catholic Dictionary