The establishment of Ethiopian Catholic University has its roots from the State Visit of His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, to the Vatican in April 1997. He articulated his desire to His Holiness Pope John Paul II of setting up a Catholic University in his country, a dream which was taken up by many minds and hearts, principal of whom were the former Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to Ethiopia, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) and of course, the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Consequently, the CBCE in collaboration with Holy See, represented by the Vatican Ambassador to Ethiopia, undertook the necessary steps and preliminary studies to launch this highly anticipated University project. So that the FDRE and the CBCE signed an agreement for the establishment of an international-standard Catholic University in Addis Ababa. The agreement was signed by the Minister of Education, and the President of the CBCE witnessed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Apostolic Nuncio to Ethiopia. With great ambition, the Ethiopian Catholic University was founded on 12 September 2005.

In 2006, the Catholic University was renamed ECUSTA (Ethiopian Catholic University of St. Thomas Aquinas) and a proposal was prepared defining the implementation of the proposed project and the running of the university during the initial period.

In September of 2017 the De La Salle Christian Brothers began to take on the responsibility for the administration of the University. The University is a member of the International Association of Lasallian Universities which represents all 65 institutions of higher education administer by the De La Salle Christian Brothers. The University’s is to be renamed the Ethiopian Catholic University – La Salle.