Local Jurisdictions

The Catholic Church is modeled after the Church in the Bible, which means that it's organized according to cities and territories. As we read in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul addressed his letters to the churches at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Phillipi, Colossi and Thessalonica. These were cities around the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Now, cities can be big places, and churches may not be able to meet all in one place at the same time. Large gatherings attract a lot of attention, and this was not practical during times of persecution. Therefore, Christians of one church often met together in separate locations. A bishop oversaw the whole city-church, while he employed presbyters (elders or priests) to oversee small congregations in various locations throughout the city. When the Apostle Paul wrote to a city-church, it was addressed to the bishop, who read it first and then shared it with the presbyters, who then read it to their small congregations.

This is how the Catholic Church is arranged today, more or less, throughout the world. Here in the Ozarks, there are not many Catholics. So our city-churches tend to span large swaths of territory to cover the Catholics spread out therein. There are three Catholic dioceses in the Ozarks and two personal ordinariates. A diocese is a fancy word for the kind of city-church we read about in the Bible. The word "diocese" comes from the Greek word dioikesis (διοίκησις) which means "administration." A "personal ordinariate" is the name of a special jurisdiction for Catholics who (for various reasons) don't fit into the normal diocesan structure. All Catholics are in full-communion with each other, regardless of jurisdiction. A jurisdiction simply determines who your bishop is.

Diocese of Springfield - Cape Girardeau

Southern Missouri

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Diocese of Jefferson City

Middle Missouri

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Diocese of Little Rock

Arkansas

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Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter

North America
Personal Ordinariate for Catholics of English Patrimony

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Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

United States
Military Ordinariate for Catholics in the Armed Services

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