Diocese of Oudtshoorn
Bisdom Oudtshoorn

Patron: The Immaculate Heart of Mary
Patroon: Die Onbevlekte Hart van Maria

Suffragan Diocese of the Province of Cape Town Republic of South Africa
Suffragane Bisdom van die Provinsie Kaapstad Republiek van Suid-Afrika


Definition of a Diocese

Geographical chart of the Diocese of Oudtshoorn

The Catholic Church throughout the world is divided into administrative units called Dioceses. Each Diocese is headed by a bishop. In some cases (as in South Africa) those Dioceses which are of greater political importance are called Archdioceses and are headed by an Archbishop. In South Africa there are five such Archdioceses, one of which is Cape Town.

Each Diocesan bishop in the world (ecclesiastically called an ordinary to distinguish him from other bishops who work in an administrative capacity) is responsible directly to the Pope. In order to facilitate and co-ordinate various matters of national interest such as seminaries, the bishops of South Africa are associated into the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC). This conference is affiliated to two other such conferences: IMBISA (the Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa) and SECAM (the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar).

A representative of the Pope was appointed in 1922 as the Apostolic Delegate. In 1994 the Holy See (the Diocese of Rome and the Papal administration) and South Africa established diplomatic relations, setting up an Apostolic Nunciature for the Holy See in Pretoria and a South African Embassy in the Vatican.

The Diocese of Oudtshoorn is a suffragan Diocese of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cape Town, the city which is the seat of parliament and the legislative capital of South Africa. The Diocese of Oudtshoorn, together with the other suffragan Dioceses of Aliwal, De Aar, Port Elizabeth and Queenstown rely to some extent on the Archdiocese of Cape Town for ecclesiastical support, although they are in no way subordinate to Cape Town.

To help him administer the Diocese of Oudtshoorn, the Bishop appoints a vicar general. A chancellor is appointed in each Diocese, whose task it is to act as a notary or someone who authenticates any official document which the Bishop might issue. In Oudtshoorn, the chancellor also acts as the archivist.

To help in the ministry of the various departments of the Diocese of Oudtshoorn, a number of priests or lay people have been appointed as vicars or heads of those departments. All the priests and deacons serving in Oudtshoorn constitute the presbyteral council, and it is from this body that the Bishop chooses his consulters or advisors in order to co-ordinate the pastoral function of the various parishes in the Diocese of Oudtshoorn.

The geographical area of Oudtshoorn is divided up into autonomous areas called parishes. Each parish is obliged to have its own pastoral council as well as a finance council. Representatives from these parish councils - as well as of other bodies - together form the Diocesan Pastoral Council whose task it is to advise the Bishop in certain matters.

In total the Diocese covers an area of 113 343 square kilometres with a total population of 856 975 people, of whom 28 159 are Catholics.  The administrative centre of the Diocese is called a chancery and is located at 42 St. Saviour Street in Oudtshoorn while the Bishop's cathedra (seat of episcopal authority) can be found in St. Saviours' Cathedral in Oudtshoorn.

The Diocese of Oudtshoorn was first established as the Central Prefecture by decree of the Holy See on 24 May 1872. Till then, It had been part of the Western Vicariate. On 13 July 1874 its care was entrusted to the "Missionaries for African Missions of Lyons". When the Fathers of Lyons left the Central Prefecture in 1882, the Western part of the Prefecture was given to the Oblates of St. Francis of Sales and a new Prefecture was erected in 1884. The Eastern part again came under the jurisdiction of the Vicar Apostolic of the Western Vicariate as the Central Prefecture until 1922, when it was separated from the Western Vicariate and entrusted to the Pious Society of Missions, now called the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine Fathers).

On 13 June 1939, the Central Prefecture became the Prefecture of Oudtshoorn which in turn was raised to the status of Vicariate on 9 December 1948. The Diocese of Oudtshoorn was constituted on the establishment of the Catholic Hierarchy of Southern Africa on 11 January 1951. The Diocese has for its boundaries on the West, the eastern boundaries of Bredasdorp, Caledon, Paarl, Malmesbury, Clanwilliam, Van Rhynsdorp and Namaqualand districts; on the North, the southern boundaries of Kenhardt and Prieska districts; on the East, the western boundaries of Britstown, Richmond, Murraysburg, Aberdeen, Jansenville and Humandsdorp districts; and on the South the Indian Ocean and the northern boundaries of Caledon and Bredasdorp districts. By decree of the Holy See the districts of Calvinia and Williston were separated from the Diocese of Oudtshoorn in 1979 and now fall under the jurisdiction of the Ordinary of the Diocese of Keimoes-Upington.


Rev. Fr. Davenoille, Prefect Apostolic 1874;

Rev. Fr. Gaudeul, Prefect Apostolic 1882; The Vicars Apostolic of Cape Town, 1882-1922;

Rt. Rev. Bishop F. Hennemann, SAC, Titular Bishop of Coptus, Prefect Apostolic 1922-33;

Rt. Rev. Mgr T. Koenig, SAC, Prefect Apostolic 1934-48;

Rt. Rev. B. Hippel, SAC, Titular Bishop of Abora, Vicar Apostolic of Oudtshoorn, 1948-51 became Bishop of Oudtshoorn with the establishment of the Hierarchy on 11 January 1951. He retired 29 September 1968 and died 7 November 1970;

Rev. Fr. J. Rosner, SAC, was Apostolic Administrator 1968 to June 1969;

Rt. Rev. Bishop M. Gottschalk, SAC, was consecrated bishop, 11 June 1969 and died 20 April 1982;

Rt. Rev. Bishop E. R. Adams, was consecrated bishop, 16 July 1983 and resigned 28 May 2010.

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Physical address: 42 St. Saviour Street, OUDTSHOORN, 6625
Straatadres: St. Saviourstraat 42, OUDTSHOORN, 6625

Postal address: P. O. Box 97, OUDTSHOORN, 6620
Posadres: Posbus 97, OUDTSHOORN, 6620

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Telephone: +27 44 2725054 (office) - Facsimile: +27 44 2728908
Telefoon: +27 44 2725054 (kantoor) - Faksimilee: +27 44 2728908