The Diocese of Lexington was established in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. The diocese was formed from parts of the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Diocese of Covington, covering almost 16,400 square miles and representing 50 counties in Central and Eastern Kentucky.
The Diocese of Lexington serves the Horse Capital of the World, with its lavish horse-farms as well as central Appalachia. The 40 Appalachian counties of Lexington are the "other America," where 74 percent of children live below the federal poverty line.
The Catholic population of the diocese, at 3% of the total, is very small. In addition, an estimated 60% of the total population within the bounds of the diocese does not belong to any church or denomination, although most of the residents would identify themselves as Christian.
The city of Lexington and the surrounding counties are a center of commerce, transportation and education; within this generally prosperous area, however, there are many people in need. The majority of the counties within the diocese are rural and mountain areas, facing the challenges of high rates of unemployment, high rates of poverty, and the problems that affect communities when so many lack basic necessities. Thus, the Diocese of Lexington is designated as a mission diocese within the United States: the geographic, demographic and economic characteristics indicate an acute need to evangelize Gospel values and to provide outreach services elevating human dignity and eliminating human suffering.