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The Catholic Church in America In 1493 12 priests accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage of exploration Once they reached the new world they started several mission comunities The missionaries who preached to the natives of the southeastern and southwestern portions of what is now the United States were mainly Spanish Franciscans Dominicans and Jesuits Between the middle of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century they established many communities in what are now the states of Florida Texas New Mexico and California At the same time French missionaries were preaching on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River in areas that are now Maine and northern New York Before 1789 Catholics living in the colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania were under the jurisdiction of the vicar apostolic of London but the American priest John Carroll was consecrated its first bishop in Baltimore on August 15 1790 During the 19th century the mass growth of immigrants from Ireland Germany Italy and elsewhere crowed the ranks of the Roman Catholic comunity In the early 1990s the estimated Roman Catholic population in the United States had reached a figure of about 59858000 The total number of Roman Catholic parishes was 19787 And educational institutions under Roman Catholic sponsorship was up to 7292 elementary schools 1360 high schools and 232 colleges and universities the total number of students enrolled in these institutions was about 3336000
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