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As the geographic and spiritual center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Utah is not often considered Catholic country. Nevertheless, Catholicism has a long history in the state, and, in fact, the first non-Native Americans to explore Utah were a group of Franciscan missionaries from New Mexico, the Dominguez and Escalante expedition, which entered Utah Valley in 1776.

Brought by trappers, traders, miners, and merchants, Catholicism remained a part of Utah in the years that followed. The faith grew as the territory grew, and in 1891 Salt Lake City became the center of a Catholic diocese. The official diocesan newspaper, the Intermountain Catholic, was first published on October 7, 1899, under the guidance of Father Denis Kiely. The newspaper covered six Intermountain states—Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Montana—the names of which were included in the masthead along with the motto: “A Catholic paper for the Catholic home.”

The first edition of the Intermountain Catholic included a front-page “Mormon Greeting” to Utah’s Catholics from the editors of the Deseret Evening News, the LDS newspaper and the most popular periodical in the state. That issue of the Intermountain Catholic, which debuted as a weekly publication, also carried an item about a new apostolic delegation to the Philippines and an article responding to the Dreyfus Affair, a notorious scandal of the turn of the century that exposed anti-Semitism in the French Army. The story, “The Jesuits and the Jews,” restated the friendship between Catholics and Jews.

One week later, the newspaper carried a front-page feature detailing the history of the Catholic Church in Utah, along with an article introducing “a noted divine,” the Archbishop John Joseph Keene. Similar stories would make up the bulk of the Intermountain Catholic's reporting over the next several decades, as the paper focused on issues of interest to members of the faith. For instance, in 1904 when the Catholic Church opened the Judge Memorial seminary in Salt Lake City, the Intermountain Catholic featured a front-page story, with a picture and the caption “The Institution in Which Students from All Nations Are Prepared to Carry the Gospel to the Whole World.”

The Intermountain Catholic was published every week for 21 straight years, but was suspended following the October 16, 1920 issue, in part because of an economic downturn that accompanied the end of World War I. For the next six years, the official diocesan newspaper for Utah was published in San Francisco, but in 1926 the Intermountain Catholic returned to Salt Lake City for another decade. In 1937 the paper moved again. The most recent incarnation of the Intermountain Catholic, established in 1981 in the Diocese’s Pastoral Center in Salt Lake City, was still being published in the early 21st century, and included an online edition.

Provided by: University of Utah, Marriott Library