John F. Kennedy, the country's first Roman Catholic president, was in the White House, and precepts arising from the Second Vatican Council where being rolled out when the announcement was made.

The news in October 1962 was that, in California, three new dioceses -- Stockton, Santa Rosa, and Oakland -- where being created from what had formerly been the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

This year, the Diocese of Oakland marks its 50th year with a series of events and celebrations.

A symposium to explore the history of the diocese, open to all, is scheduled Sept. 9 at the Cathedral of Christ, at 2121 Harrison St. in Oakland.

The Cathedral of Christ the Light has been the headquarters for the diocese since its dedication in September 2008.

The first cathedral for the new diocese in 1962 was St. Francis de Sales Church, a Gothic Revival-style edifice that had stood on San Pablo Avenue since the early 1890s. Bishop Floyd Begin was appointed the first bishop. St. Francis de Sales Cathedral became the first cathedral in the country to be remodeled to reflect the Vatican Council's new directives for how sanctuary space should be used for liturgical activities.

Music during services started playing a greater role, and de Sales soon developed a reputation for the Sunday concerts and musical offerings.

The century-old building was severely damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and could not be saved. In 1993, St. Francis de Sales and a second parish church, Sacred Heart in North Oakland and also earthquake-damaged, were torn down.

As workers carefully deconstructed the building, the cathedral's beautiful stained glass windows were carefully saved, and the pipe organ was crated and transported to Our Lady of Lourdes Church, near Lake Merritt.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Spanish Colonial Revival in style, was built in 1961, and is one year older than the diocese. It features a distinctive 110-foot bell tower and monumental entry. A plaque on the building commemorates what historians believe is where the first Roman Catholic Mass in the area was performed by Padre Juan Crespi in 1772. Crespi was a Franciscan priest who accompanied the Spanish expeditionary party led by Don Pedro Fages, who was exploring the San Francisco Bay Area during that period.

The windows from de Sales where reinstalled in the mausoleum level of the new cathedral complex, where they can be seen during daily free tours.

The moderator for the Sept. 9 symposium, titled, "Born from the Second Vatican Council," will be Bishop Emeritus John S. Cummins. The public is invited. For more information visit the website, www.ctlcathedral.org. To reserve a space, call 510-267-8350.