The Diocese of Greensburg covers 3,334 square miles and encompasses Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland counties in the southwestern corner of the state of Pennsylvania. Bordering the western slopes of the Allegheny Mountains, the diocese is part of the region known as the "Gateway to the West." Westmoreland County, home to the county seat and see city of Greensburg, is primarily urban, while the other three counties are more rural.
The early settlers in our diocesan area came from a rich array of ethnic backgrounds. Beginning in colonial days, people from all parts of Europe migrated to this region. Waves of Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia settled here. At the turn of the century, many Italians came to this area of Pennsylvania. Even today, an estimated half of the ethnic composition of the diocese is Italian. Next are the Irish and Eastern Europeans, mostly Catholic and representing all of the middle European countries. The diocesan population reflects this rich ethnic heritage. In recent years, the region's large blue-collar base has been joined by a growing number of professional and white collar workers, adding to the diverse human texture of the Diocese of Greensburg.
The diocese sits atop one of the richest deposits of bituminous coal in the world, some of which is yet to be mined. The Allegheny and Monongehela rivers, which traverse the northern and southern sections of the diocese, carry barges that bring coal, river sand and gravel to the Midwest and south.
Economically, much of the diocese has been strongly affected by the decline of the coal and steel industries. Fayette County, for example, has experienced many decades of economic depression from the depletion of its coal supply. Indiana County still mines coal, used primarily as a source of electric power. The northern counties, Armstrong and Indiana, are largely agricultural and have experienced the decline of small family farms. In Westmoreland County, much of the labor force was employed in the production of steel and as suppliers to steel companies. The closing of many smaller steel mills has compounded the region's unemployment problems.
The economic realities of the region have also affected the population of our parishes. Some towns and cities have lost significant population due to the decline of key industries. The diocese has responded to these demographic shifts by making necessary changes in parish structure, including consolidating or partnering parishes in some areas.