Our Parish History

The St. Joseph Cathedral Parish community, founded in 1874, is blessed to have a rich history in the heart of downtown San Diego, California. The Cathedral will celebrate 150 years in the year 2024.

1874 — St. Joseph Parish was founded by Fr. Antonio Ubach

1875 — On January 31, 1875, a frame of St. Joseph’s Church, at Third and Beech, was dedicated by Bishop Francis Mora on land contributed by Alonzo Horton. It was described then as a fine structure, “on the mesa west of town.” Next to the church was his adobe house where he later lived permanently. Tales are told that the church was so poor the priests had no beds and slept on the floor.  Read more

1894 — The new brick church was completed and dedicated. It is a commodious and imposing structure. Read more

1903 — Cathedral Fire — See a photo

1907— March 27, 1907, Fr. Ubach dies at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

1925—St. Joseph’s Grammar School was begun under the direction of Sister M. Estelle Hanley.

1936 — Became a Cathedral when the Holy See established the Diocese of San Diego apart from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

1936 — A Commercial School was opened at St. Joseph’s.

1937 — Bishop Charles F. Buddy, formerly chancellor of the Diocese of Saint Joseph, Missouri, was installed as Bishop of the San Diego Catholic Diocese on February 3, 1937, at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Read more

The Cathedral was partially destroyed by fire. A larger cathedral was built to on the site of the former church to accommodate the rapid growth of the city of San Diego (doubled the capacity of the former church) 1

1937—A ninth grade was added to St. Joseph’s Grammar School

1939 —Cathedral Girls’ High School was established, the first graduating class receiving their diplomas in 1943. For nine years, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange taught with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, but in 1948 the former withdrew, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet moved into the convent on Fourth and Cedar and completely staffed Cathedral Girls’ High School under the direction of Sister M. Adrienne. Eventually the Commercial School became incorporated with the high school. (Reference article for these dates are found in this article.

1940 — Federal Housing Building is used as Cathedral of San Diego Catholic Diocese while St. Joseph’s Cathedral is under reconstruction. (May 16, 1940, San Diego Union, A-3:5)

1941 — The reconstructed Cathedral is dedicated by Bishop Buddy on January 26, 1941. See the newspaper article

1970 — Cathedral Girl’s High School merged with the boy’s University High School (founded by Bishop Buddy in 1957). The merged school became known as University of San Diego High School.

2005 —University of San Diego High School closed and reopened in Carmel Valley as Cathedral Catholic High School

2011 — Cathedral renovation and restoration began.

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