The Beginning of a Parish and Ascent to a Cathedral

The most Reverend Daniel J. Gercke, Bishop of Tucson, established Ss Simon of Jude Parish in 1953. The founding Pastor, Father Paul Smith, was a native of Ireland. With Father Smith arrived the Loreto Sisters, (Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary), who to this day, staff the parish school. As the parish grew in the 1950’s and early 1960’s the need for a larger parish also grew. On December 2, 1969, His Holiness Pope Paul VI raised Ss Simon & Jude to the status of Cathedral as the new Diocese of Phoenix was established. The current Rector is the Very Reverend John Lankeit and the cathedral is overseen by the Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. The Auxiliary Bishop is Bishop Eduardo Alanis Nevares.

What is a Cathedral?

The word Cathedral derives from the Greek word, kathedra, meaning “chair”. The chair of the Diocesan Bishop is the seat from which he guides the life of the church in his Diocese. The chair is his symbol of his authority to teach, sanctify and govern the people of Christ. The church in which this chair is housed is consequently known as a Cathedral Church, the Bishop’s own Parish Church.

The Cathedral Has Hosted Historic Visitors

Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul II) visited the cathedral on September 14, 1987 and celebrated mass at the altar of the Cathedral. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (now St. Mother Teresa) visited the cathedral in May of 1989.

Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral Today

Each Sunday and Holy Day, Bishop Olmsted or his designee celebrates mass. Masses are televised for those who cannot attend in person. Ss. Simon and Jude also has a school on the grounds of the cathedral. The school has been operated by the Loretto Sisters of the Institute of Blessed Virgin Mary since 1954. The current principal is Sister Raphael Quinn, and the Sisters continue to serve Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral School.

Create Future Leaders

Students of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral School receive scholarships through Catholic Education Arizona to assist families with the sacrifice of school tuition.

Catholic schools boast:

  • 99% graduation rate
  • 97% matriculate to higher education or military service
  • 1000s of hours of community service annually

Catholic Education Arizona is the largest provider of scholarships to underserved families attending private schools. Last year $16.4 million in tax credit contributions was made to assist nearly half of the Diocese of Phoenix’s Catholic school students. Since 1998, over $268 million in tuition scholarships has been raised providing over 138,000 scholarships. Learn more about how CEA is Changing Lives One Scholarship at a Time at or call 602-218-6542.