The present Ahmedabad Diocese covers the entire area of the three civil districts of Ahmedabad, Anand and Nadiad. Areawise, Ahmedabad is the smallest of the four dioceses in Gujarat but with 63,962 Catholics Ahmedabad is the biggest diocese! Ahmedabad is also the oldest diocese in the state.
Historically too the Ahmedabad diocese has great significance. The freedom struggle was directed from the Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad which was the headquarters of Gandhiji for meeting the leaders of the freedom movement and the British officials till he started the Dandi March on March 12, 1930. Karamsad in Anand District which comes within the boundaries of the Ahmedabad diocese was also the birth place of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the iron man of India.
The Ahmedabad Diocese has a long history. There are indications of Christians living at Khambhat and Ahmedabad from the beginning of the sixteenth century when the Portuguese arrived in Goa in 1510. All through the 19th century Catholics from outside the states have come and settled in several towns of Gujarat. Ahmedabad city had a church from 1842 at Sabarmati.
But the beginning of local Christians is traced to the baptism of 18 people at Mogri on December 11, 1893 by Fr Manuel Xavier Gomes, a diocesan priest from the Archdiocese of Bombay. A team of German and Swiss Jesuits followed Fr Gomes. Then came more diocesan priests followed by the Spanish Jesuits in 1922.
In 1934 the entire area of Gujarat State north of the Mahi river including Kathiawad and Kutch became the independent Ahmedabad mission separated from Bombay Archdiocese, with an Ecclesiastical Superior in the person of Fr Joaquin Villallonga, SJ. There were only five mission stations in 1934 : Anand established in 1895, Vadtal in 1897, Karamsad in 1907, Nadiad in 1911 and Amod in 1914.
The Daughters of the Cross (FC) were the first congregation of nuns to start work in Gujarat from 1898. Then came the Sisters of The Apostolic Carmel (AC) to work in Gujarat in January 1923. They opened their first school at Ahmedabad in 1929. In 1936 a local congregation of the Little Daughters of St Francis Xavier (LD) was founded by a Jesuit Priest, Fr Carlos Suria in collaboration with Sr Xavier.
The steady growth of the Ahmedabad mission resulted in the establishment of the Ahmedabad Diocese on May 5, 1949 covering the entire Gujarat area north of the river Mahi much before the present Gujarat state was carved out of the Bombay state on May 1, 1960.
The tenure of the first Bishop of Ahmedabad, Bishop Edwin Pinto, SJ (1949-73) was a period of consolidation of the Christian community and also the beginning of the expansion of the Church to north and south Gujarat.
Meanwhile a second diocese in Gujarat was established on September 29, 1966 as Baroda diocese with the six districts in South Gujarat, south of Mahi river curved out of Bombay Archdiocese with Bishop Ignatius D'Souza as its first bishop.
In Ahmedabad diocese Bishop Charles Gomes, SJ succeeded Bishop Pinto in 1974 and he saw to the expansion of the Church of north and central Gujarat as well as to the growth of Church personnel especially diocesan priests and religious sisters.
A new development took place in 1977 with the formation of the Rajkot Diocese under Bishop Jonas Thaliath, CMI as its first bishop. The new diocese was separated from the Ahmedabad Diocese, covering the entire area of Saurashtra and Kutch-Bhuj.
Then, in 1990 Bishop Stanislaus Fernandes, SJ took up the reins from Bishop Gomes in Ahmedabad Diocese and saw to the further consolidation of the Christian communities in the north and central Gujarat. The steady growth of the Church then saw the establishment of the new Archdiocese of Gandhinagar headed by Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, SJ. The new archdiocese was separated from the Ahmedabad Diocese in November 2002.
Bishop Thomas Ignas Macwan became the first local Catholic Bishop Ahmedabad Diocese in January 2003 indicating the coming of age of the Church in Gujarat.
Mission & Vision
We, the Christians in the Ahmedabad Diocese, like the Christians in all the dioceses around the world, strive to walk in the footsteps of our leader Jesus Christ and to proclaim to all people of good will his message of love and forgiveness as well as universal brotherhood and sisterhood. Jesus Christ went about doing good to all especially the poor, the neglected and the abandoned like the dalits, lepers, tax collectors and public sinners.
We uphold the freedom guaranteed by our Constitution to profess, proclaim and propagate our Christian religion while stoutly defending the rights and freedom of all people to profess and practise the religion of their choice. With the universal church we abhors forced conversions and the use of foul means to convert or reconvert people from one religion to another. We believe in the religion of love founded by Christ.
Education for Social Change
The Ahmedabad Diocese believes and strives to prepare men and women for others through its formal and informal educational efforts. While striving for the all round progress of children through our education we aim to form our children into useful citizens for themselves and for others in this great country and beyond.
With this goal in mind we run a college, six higher secondary schools and 22 high schools and many more primary and middle schools.
Our non-formal educational programmes include balwadies, remedial classes for weaker students, literacy programmes, adult education and villages libraries.
We also run a number of vocational training centres like industrial training centres, type-writing and computer programmes, tailoring and embroidery, etc.
Mentally challenged children and handicapped people too find appropriate integrated educational programmes run by our religious personnel in the diocese.
The Diocese carries out pastoral ministries through its own diocesan priests as well as through men and women belonging to different religious congregations.
A religious congregation is a body within the Catholic Church working with a specific Charism of it's founder embodied in the Constitution of the Congregation with the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The Diocese has 76 diocesan priests and about 31 more young men in various stages of their eight-year long priestly formation. They work mostly in parishes, mission stations and schools.
The diocese has 4 congregations of men : They are, 1. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits - SJ), 2. The Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), 3. The Society of St Francis Xavier (Pilars Fathers-SFX) and 4. Missionary Brothers of St Francis of Assisi (CMSF). These religious Priests and Brothers are engaged in all sorts of services like education, pastoral ministry, social service and vocational training, etc.
There are about 26 Religious congregations of women working in the diocese. They run schools like Mount Carmel School in Ahmedabad by the Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel or St Xavier's High School at Vatva by the Sisters known as the Little Daughters of St Francis Xavier. St Mary's Mahila Shikshan Kendra and Social Service Centre at Gomtipur managed by the Dominican Missionaries of the Holy Rosary (O.P.) Most of the sisters work in small towns and villages running dispensaries, boardings for girls and mahila mandals, etc.
Medical Services : Health for All
With the aim of proving medical services especially for the poor and needy, the Catholic Church runs a number of dispensaries in villages and small towns. The Diocese also runs two hospitals at Nadiad and Ahmedabad which cater specially to the people from the lower strata of the society. Besides, the Diocese also manages the Narol Leprosy Hospital which is hailed as a model leprosy hospital in Gujarat and beyond.
The Diocese through the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa also runs two Mobile Dispensaries in slum areas offering medical services to the poorest of the poor in Ahmedabad city.
The St Mary's Nursing Home at Gomtipur, the mill area of Ahmedabad city is known as the cheapest and safest "delivery home" for the poor in the city.
Most of our dispensaries function in villages where no other medical services are available to the poor and backward people. These dispensaries and mobile clinics reach out to all people irrespective of their castes and creeds.
Following the example of their founder Jesus Christ who went about doing good to all, the Christians in Ahmedabad Diocese extend services to all peoples irrespective of their caste and religion but especially the poor and the needy.
The Diocesan Social Service Centre headquartered at Hansol, Ahmedabad, Behavioural Science Centre (BSC) and St Xavier's Social Service Society, both run by the Jesuits, are three of the best known social service organizations in the Diocese. They are also the three biggest centres in terms of their services extending far and wide in the Diocese and beyond. But we have also social service wings which are part and parcel of many of our parishes and schools and through which we reach out to the most needy people of the locality.
Our social service centres engage in social, economic, medical, vocational and educational activities such as conducting balwadies for poor children, remedial classes for children of some municipal schools, tuition classes for students weak in studies. The social centres have also helped poor people to build their homes, farmers are helped with seeds and to dig wells and young boys and girls with vocational courses like computer training, tailoring embroidery, etc.
During natural calamities like floods, drought and the killer earthquake of January 26, 2001, our social service centres were at the vanguard with relief and rehabilitation works. Some of our institutions have also done wonderful works in water-harvesting and building check-dams.
Publications, Printing Press & Publishing House
DOOT is a Jesuit run integral family magazine primarily meant for the Gujarati Christians.
THE AHMEDABAD MISSIONARY (TAM) is a monthly magazine in English for the friends and benefactors of the Ahmedabad Diocese.
THE CATHOLIC SAMACHAR is a Gujarati monthly newspaper which voices the concerns of the Gujarati Catholic Samaj.
THE AHMEDABAD DIOCESAN CHRONICLE is a newsletter, and in-house publication for diocesan personnel.
ANAND PRESS is our Xavier Edu-Technical Training Centre (XETC) and printing press at Anand which produces a lot of quality literature for Christians and for others.
GUJARAT SAHITYA PRAKASH (GSP) at Anand publishes books in English and Gujarati about Bible, Liturgy, Spirituality, Theology, etc.
PRASHANT is our justice and peace centre working for human rights, social justice, human developments, etc.
RISHTA is Jesuit Writers' Cell based at Ahmedabad. Rishta conducts workshops in journalism and creative writing.
INFORMATION CENTRE - Catholic Information Service Society (CISS) provides information about the Church in Gujarat in general and Ahmedabad Diocese in particular. CISS also conducts value education and correspondence courses on Jesus Christ and the Bible, etc. CISS also publishes literature on bible and value education.
The Diocese of Silchar was made up of the district of Cachar, Hailkandi and Karimkanj of Assam State, the entire states of Tripura and Mizoram.
The Diocese was bounded on the west by Bangladesh while the Northern extremity wedges into the segment of a circle which touches from the east khasi Hills of Meghalaya to the Northern Cachar State, on the Southern section the Chn Hills of Myanmar; on the South, the northern extremity of Arakan district of Myanmar.
This eccelsiastical unit was established as the Perfecture Apostolic of Haflong by an Apostolic Brief 'Fit Numquam', dated January 17, 1952, and entrusted to the Holy Cross Fathers of the Canadian Province.
By an Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI 'Omniumm Solicitudo' dated June 26, 1969, the Prefecture of Haflong was raised to the status of as Diocese with the Episcopal See at Silchar.
In December 1983, the northern Cachar Hills district was detached from the Diocese of Silchar and joined to the new Diocese of Diphu.
On 7th February 1996, the entire state of Tripura was cut off from the Diocese of Silchar thereby forming the new diocese of Agartala, in which Rev Fr Lumen Monteiro csc was appointed as its first bishop. His Episcopal Ordination and Installation took place at Agartala on May 26, 1996.
The remaining portion of Silchar Diocese comprises at present the districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Kaimkanj of Assam and the entire state of Mizoram. By the division of Silchar Diocese on Feb. 7, 1996 the see of Silchar was transferred to Aizawl.
On May 26, 2000, Apostolic See, by Decree No. 2520/00, suspended Bishop Denzil's canonical faculties because of ill health, and appointed Bishop Lumen Monteiro csc, the Bishop of Agartala as Apostolic Administrator sede plena et ad nutum Sancte Sedis.
On November 7, 2001, the Holy See appointed Very Rev Fr Stephen Rotluanga csc, as Bishop of Aizawl; and his Episcopal Ordination took place on February 2, 2002. His is the first Mizo to be raised to the dignity of Episcopal.
The diocese of Ajmer comprises of twelve districts namely Ajmer, Jodhpur, Kota, Barmer, Bundi, Jalore, Jhalwar, Pali, Sirohi, Tonk, Jaisalmer and Baran in the State of Rajasthan.
In July 1890 the Holy See detached a very large portion of the Archdiocese of Agra to make a new unit, the Rajasthan Mission, entrusting it to the Capuchin Fathers of the Paris Province who were to work under the supervision of the Archbishop.
In March 1892, the new mission became the Prefecture Apostolic of Rajputana, and in 1913, the then Prefect Rt. Rev. Fortunatus Henry Caumont, ofm. cap. was appointed the first Bishop of Ajmer. On March 11, 1935 parts of the Dioceses which were in the present state of Madhya Pradesh, were detached to become part of the newly erected Prefecture Apostolic of Indore.
The Diocese was handed over to the Diocesan clergy on May 9, 1949. By the decree of the Holy See dated June 21, 1951. Bandikui with its sub-station Alwar was transferred for geographical and administrative reasons from Agra Archdiocese to Ajmer Diocese. However the Agra Archdiocese retained the jurisdiction over the districts of Bharatpur and Dholpur.
By another decree of the Holy See dated May 13, 1955 the name of the diocese was changed to Ajmer-Jaipur. By decree of the Sacred Congregation for Evangelisation of People (Prot.no.1332/81 dated March 11th 1981) the civil district of Mandasaur was transferred from the jurisdiction of the diocese of Ajmer-Jaipur to that of the Diocese of Indore.
On December 29, 1984 the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, with a decree, divided the Diocese of Ajmer-Jaipur, forming a new diocese named the Catholic Diocese of Udaipur consisting of the districts of Bhilwara, Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Dungarpur, Banswara and Thandla tehsil. The Holy Father through the same decree appointed Rt. Rev. Joseph Pathalil as it's first Bishop.
Through a mutual agreement between the diocesan bishop and the Superior General of the Little Flower Congregation, Cochin dated April 25, 1986 the districts of Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Churu, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jhunjhunu, Karoli and Sikar were entrusted to the Little Flower Congregation to carry out the work of Evangelisation, pastoral ministry and development on a permanent basis.
On July 20, 2005, the Holy Father Benedict XVI, with a decree bifurcated the Diocese of Ajmer-Jaipur forming a new Diocese - The Catholic Diocese of Jaipur consisting of the District of Jaipur, Alwar, Bikaner, Churu, Dausa, Sikar and Sri Ganganagar and appointed Most Rev. Oswald Lewis as the bishop of the New Diocese, while the name of the mother Diocese was changed to the Diocese of Ajmer.
Already in the time of the great pioneer, Fr Constant Lievens, sj, (approx. 1890) delegates from Surguja went 200 kms on foot to Ranchi and begged to be instructed, catechized and begged to get catechists and to be visited by a Priest regularly. But the feudal rulers persecuted those who had been instructed and neither catechists nor a Priest could be sent.
In the beginning of 1948 the feudal states merged into India and the few Catholics who had settled in Surguja were joined by many who came from Jashpur and Barway in search of land, jobs and livelihood. Missionaries came to visit these settlers. From Kanjia in Bihar, Jodhpur was started in 1947. Four other mission stations: Ambika, Banea, Ratasili and Shantipara (Basen) were established in 1952. As the Independence dawned Christianity saw the light brighter and brighter.
The Diocese of Ambikapur was erected on December 14, 1977 by dismemberment form Raigarh-Ambikapur diocese. The diocese is co-extensive with the present civil districts of Surguja and Korea in the northern part of the State of Chhattisgarh.
The evangelisation work in this area began in the year 1870 by the Jesuit fathers of Calcutta, formerly known as the 'Bengal Jesuit Mission'. On May1, 1994 Burdwan-Bhirbum districts were formed into a vicariate by Archbishop Henry D'Souza of Calcutta and the Auxiliary Bishop Cyprian Monis of Calcutta was appointed as the Episcopal Vicar. By the apostolic bull dated October 24, 1977, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, adding Bankura district to the mentioned vicariate created the Diocese of Asansol.
The Diocese of Asansol, thus consists of Burdwan district, nine blocks of Bankura district and 10 blocks of Birbhum district. Asansol is a sub-divisional headquarters within Burdwan district. It is an industrial town, 225 km north west of Calcutta. The diocese lies completely within the state of West-Bengal. As a matter of fact, the entire area of this diocese and more, from 1875 A.D. to 1964 A.D. formed a single parish, Sacred Heart Church, Asansol Bishop Cyprian Monis was appointed as the first Bishop of the diocese of Asansol on December 3,1997.
The Diocese of Aurangabad was erected by the Decree 'Qui Arcano' (No. 1139/78) dated December 1997. It comprises of seven civil districts, Aurangabad, Jalna, Parbhani and Nanded are taken from the Diocese of Amravati and Latur. Bhir and Osmanabad are taken from the Archdiocese of Hyderabad. This entire region constitutes a political unit named MARATHWADA in Maharashtra.
In the early part of the twentieth century, when the tea gardens in the foothills of Darjeeling required labourers, many Adivasis from Chotanagpur migrated to the Terai Plains and gradually settled down there.
The Jesuit Fathers from St. Mary's College, Kurseong, looked after the spiritual needs of the Adivasi Catholics, quite regularly. The first Station was established in Gayaganga in 1933 by Fr A. Bossaerts, sj
The area called 'Terai' was established in 1962. As the number of Catholics and local vocations increased, and for better care of the Faithful, Pope John Paul II decided to divide the Diocese of Darjeeling, and thus this Diocese of Bagdogra was created on January 25 1998, with Bishop Thomas D'Souza as its First Bishop.
The four districts of Orissa, i.e, Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar, were under the Archdiocese of Calcutta till 1968. Christianity began in Balasore probably during the years 1859 -1865 when church activities were started by Fr Chrysanthus Depart in Midnapur - Balasore area. He settled down at Balasore in 1865. From 1865 till 1936 the Jesuit Fathers residing at Balasore and Krishnachandrapur looked after the Church in Balasore. From 1936 onwards till 1938 there were no residential priests in Balasore and the two church work stations were looked after by the Jesuits of Balasore. Due to an earthquake the church was damaged and later completely dismantled. The Fathers left for Malta and gradually many Christians left Balasore. In 1948 Fathers Vizjak, a Jesuit Priest, resided at Krishnachandrapur and Balasore alternatively and cared for the needs of the little community which stayed back. From 1964 till 1968 Diocesan Priests from the Diocese of Cuttack rendered their services in Balasore, Krishnachandrapur and in Barbil at the request of the Archbishop of Calcutta.
On June 8, 1968, the Holy See separated the above mentioned three districts from the Archdiocese of Calcutta and formed them into one unit named "Prefecture of Balasore", annexing it to the ecclesiastical Province of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. The new Prefecture is entrusted to "Congregation of the Mission". (Vincentians).
On June 14, 1968, Bp Jacob Vadakeveetil, cm, of the Congregation of the Mission was appointed the first Apostolic Administrator and took charge on November 18, 1968. On January 13, 1990 the Prefecture Apostolic was raised to the status of a diocese and Bp Thomas Thiruthalil, cm, was appointed its First Bishop.
The word Baroda is the Anglicised version of "Vadodara". For all practical purposes this Indianised version "Vadodara" has come to stay ever since the Central Government replaced the names of many of the big cities in India given by the British with Indigenous names and made it mandatory in all correspondence. In a way, "Vadodara" is more appropriate and meaningful. 'Vad' means a banyan tree. Legend has it that there was a banyan tree whose overhanging roots spread so far and wide that it was later difficult to identify the mother tree.
Very much like the Baroda Diocese. Only an appendix to the Archdiocese of Bombay till 1965, it was established as an independent diocese in 1966 by Pope Paul VI.
In matter of just three and half decades, the diocese has swelled to 38 Parish Centres of which 23 are located in rural areas. There are a total of 117 Institutes and 22 Women Religious Congregations, 5 Men Religious Orders, a veritable growth and our incessant efforts to spread the Kingdom of God to the far corners of Gujarat continue unabated.
We are engaged in multifarious activities covering a vast spectrum-spiritual, educational, social, economical, cultural, agricultural and ecological. In short everything that pertains to human development and the upliftment of the poor, needy, marginalized, the downtrodden has been our deep concern.
Whilst much, no doubt has been done, the diocese has a healthy restlessness to find ways to identify itself more with the tribal community since the mission of Gujarat is predominantly tribal.
Some five decades ago our tribal community lived a relative peace and harmony, in spite of having the bare minimum to subsist on. They were a happy lot. Thick jungles, evergreen forests, water in rivers and springs, deer and peasants, panthers and tigers were plenty, The trees provided them with a home and tool for survival. The fish and the wild fowl were their food. A small plot of land provided cereals as food and cotton to weave their minimal loincloth. The tribal chief ensured that peace prevailed, a sufficient and simple world.
Not for long, however, with the passage of time technological progress has set in. Roads, doubtless provide facilities but they also mean invasion. Forests are denuded, the hills are eroded, the rivers dried, and the flora and fauna disappeared. Outsiders opened shops, started money lending, exploitation and gradually governed the economy. The tribal world started disintegrating. Their idyllic world was shattered. The Sphinx-like dictum now is "struggle or be devoured". Of late, to cap it, the peaceful atmosphere has been further disrupted and vitiated by certain hard core religious fundamentalist groups who are hell-bent on stirring up trouble.
The cry of the tribals cannot be ignored be it an economical cry for survival or a socio-political cry or a cultural cry that the Church in Gujarat reaches out and responds to the tribal community.
It is to this cry of the tribals that the Death-Resurrection Mystery of Christ invites us to share and break bread by being with them. In short it is faith that gives us a vision and the sustenance to create a just society, a process in which we grow as much as they in the struggle for liberation.
However we are also aware of by our limitations. We cater to only a small section of the tribal belt in Gujarat. There are disturbing question we face and have to be addressed. How best can we serve the interests of the tribals? Are we capable of really feeling the pulse of the tribals - their aspirations and hopes, their worldview, their psychological profile? Where is the delicate line between a ruthless exposure and a stifling insulation? How best to walk the tight rope between relief measures and development? Between avoiding dependency and creating self-reliance and organizing self-direction? How do we create a relevant local Church? And yet we believe that as in the Exodus experience, the process of the traveler, the pilgrim Church is in God's hands. He is aware of our needs, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not more clothe you, Oh men of little faith."
The Belgaum Diocese was erected on September 19, 1953 by the Papal Bull "Summa illa Sollicitudo" of Pope Pius XII. Two civil districts of Belgaum and North Kanara were separated from the Archdiocese of Goa and two other civil districts of Dharwad and Bijapur were taken from the Diocese of Pune in forming the Diocese of Belgaum.
The most Rev. Dr. Michael Rodrigues was appointed the first Bishop. By a the Papal Bull "Christi Missium" of Paul VI, the North Kanara District was separated from the Belgaum Diocese to form the Karwar Diocese on January 24, 1976.
It now consists of the civil districts of Belgaum, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Dharwad, Gadag and Haveri in Karnataka State and the Chandgad taluka in Kolhapur District of Maharashtra State.
The word of God that was preached and lived by the Franciscan fathers in the 16th Century did accomplish its task in its own way. The Diocese of Bellary owes its faith and growth to the Franciscan fathers. Thanks to the efforts of the pioneering father such as Bishop John Forest Hogan. In 1928, the Holy See detached the two districts of Raichur and Gulbarga from the Diocese of Hyderabad and the district of Bellary from the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore and formed the new Mission "Sui Juris" of Bellary. It was entrusted to the pastoral care of the Order of Friars Minor of the English Province. In the course of twenty years, its development was considered sufficient to be constituted as a Diocese. This took place in 1949 with Rt. Rev. John Forest Hogan, ofm, as the first Bishop. The Diocese of Bellary now consists of the five districts of Bellary, Raichur, Gulbarga, Koppal and Davanagere all in Karnataka state.
The Third Order Regular (TOR) Franciscan Fathers of the province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Loretto, Pennyslvania, USA came to the Diocese of Patna to assist the Jesuits in 1939. They were then assigned to the Church Station of Bhagalpur, Gokhla, Poreyahat and Godda.
In 1956 Bhagalpur was cut off from the Diocese of Patna and Prefecture Apostolic was established by the Holy See. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Urban McGarry, tor, was appointed its first Prefect Apostolic on August 7, 1956.
The Diocese of Bhagalpur was erected and its First Bishop, Rt. Rev. Urban McGarry, tor, was appointed on January 25, 1965. The present diocese is formed out the south-eastern portion of the Patna diocese and it comprises the district of Bhagalpur, Godda district of the Santhal Pargans Divisions, Deoghar and Sarawan thanas of the Santhal Parganas Division.
Within a short time of their arrival, the TOR Fathers recruited local vocations and a novitiate was started. A further step forward was taken when a Franciscan Monastery (clericate) at Ranchi was established to further the training of Religious Clerics. A Minor Seminary (now Regional Seminary) was opened in 1959 at Bhagalpur where the Franciscan and Diocesan candidates were being trained in the seminary.
Twenty religious congregations of Sisters share a great burden in the apostolic educational and medical activities of the diocese.
On October 8, 1970 the Revenue Thana of Chakai, Dt. Monghyr (now Jaumui District) embracing Mariampahari and Jhajha, formerly of Patna diocese was annexed to the Diocese by the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of the peoples, in virtue of the faculty granted by Pope Paul VI. Shortly after the part of the Giridih district, formerly of Ranchi Archdiocese, was likewise annexed to the Diocese of Bhagalpur. In 1984, the parishes of Sokho and Kharagpur, formerly of Patna diocese were handed over to the Bhagalpur diocese.
The history of the Catholic Church in Bhopal goes back to 1785, when Salvador Bourbon, a descendant of the French Royal Catholic Family of Bourbons, came to Bhopal to work for the reigning Begum Mamola at Bhopal. In 1829 Bhopal was officially a part of Agra Vicariate. It was Bp Hartmann ofm. Cap, who is in a very real sense the founder of the Church of Bhopal. In 1873 he acquired a plot of land from the Muslim ruler of Bhopal and built the first little church, which, in 1964 became the Cathedral of the newly erected Archdiocese of Bhopal.
In 1886 the Diocese of Allahabad was formed and Bhopal was then attached to this new diocese. On March 11, 1935, when the Mission Territory of Indore was elevated to Prefecture to Indore. In 1958 the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh was shifted from Nagpur to Bhopal and this necessitated the creation of the new Archdiocese of Bhopal.
Bp Eugene D'Souza was transferred from Nagpur to Bhopal to be its First Archbishop. After steering the life of the Church in Madhya Pradesh for 30 years through the Archdiocese of Bhopal, Archbishop Eugene laid down his office and handed over to Bp Pascal Topno, sj, of Ambikapur, who was promoted as Archbishop of Bhopal on May 20, 1994.
This Ecclesiastical Unit was created as an Apostolic Exarchate on March 23, 1972 by the Papal Bull 'Beatorum Apostolorum' and entrusted to the Sacred Heart Province of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. The area comprising the diocese was culled out from the Diocese of Meerut. It consists of the district of Bijnor, except Dhampur division, and the five hill districts of Pauri-Garhwal, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and a portion of the district of Haridwar.
Bp Gratian Muddadan, cmi, was nominated as its first Apostolic Exarch.
On February 26, 1977 the Papal Bull 'Quae cum Romano Pontificatu' of Pope Paul VI raised the Apostolic Exarchate to a diocese, Msgr Gratian Mundadan, cmi, was appointed its First Bishop.
During 1500 - 1600 many churches of the diocese were established: 7 churches (in Bassein), 20 churches (in Salsette), 3 churches (in Bombay) and 2 churches (in Karanja and Chaul). Among the Fathers of this period, two names stand out: Fr Antonio do Porto (Franciscan) who built churches in Bassein, Salsette, Karanja and Chaul, and Fr Manoel Gomes (Jesuit) who was known as the "Apostle of Salsette."
The year 1637 marks the establishment of the Sacred Congregation for the Propogation of the Faith by Pope Gregory XV, under which the Church work energies of various Religious Congregations of nationalities other than Portugal and Spain could be harnessed for evangelization in those parts of the world where Portuguese (in the East) and Spanish (in the West) Fathers were, for one reason or another, unable to reach. From 1622, different Congregations were enlisted and sent to India, Malacca, Siam, China, etc. under the leadership of Vicars-Apostolic, i.e. Titular Bishops who received directly from the Holy See jurisdiction to work in certain regions assigned to them within the somewhat indeterminate boundaries of existing "Padroado" dioceses.
The Vicariate Apostolic of Bijapur was established by the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (hence forth, "Propaganda") in 1637. The Vicariate of Bijapur increased rapidly in size, absorbing Golconda, and extended from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal, from Madras-Mylapore to Calcutta. It finally came to comprise the whole of the Moghul Empire at least on paper; hence it was also referred to as the Vicariate of the Great Moghul. From the end of the 17th century, this Vicariate was served by the Carmelite Fathers, whose head quarter was at Surat, north of Bombay. It was probably in 1692 that the Jesuit care-taker of the Parel property was expelled from Bombay. That ended the Jesuit presence on the island - till 1848 - a full one and a half centuries later.
The Decree expelling the Portuguese Franciscans from the Bombay Island was issued on May 24, 1720. On the other hand they did not want to openly break the solemn promise they had made when they took over Bombay from the Portuguese: namely that they would not interfere with the religious beliefs or practices of the Catholic inhabitants of the island. So the British approached the Vicar-Apostolic of the Great Moghul, the Italian Carmelite Bishop Fra Mauritius, to take charge of the Catholic Community in Bombay. Since the British were determined on getting rid of the Portuguese Franciscans, Rome approved the entry of the Carmelites into Bombay. Thus the Franciscans left Bombay and Bishop Mauritius with four or five Carmelites came to Bombay. The churches taken over by the Carmelites were four in number: Our Lady of Hope (Esperanca), Our Lady of Salvation ( Salvacao), Our Lady of Glory ( Gloria) and St Michaels.
In 1828, civil war broke out in Portugal between King Dom Miguel and the party of Queen Maria da Gloria. Dom Miguel, to whom the Religious Orders lent moral and financial support, was defeated, and the new government not only suppressed all Religious Orders in Portugal but also broke off diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1833. Pope Gregory XVI issued the Brief `Multa Praeclare', on April 24, 1838, in which he confirmed the Vicars-Apostolic in their office, extended their field of work and deprived the Padroado clergy of all jurisdiction within the established Vicariates. The authorities in Goa rejected the Papal Brief: though Portugal had broken off diplomatic relations with Rome, they claimed that since the Brief had not received the ``regium placet'', it was null and void.
Archbishop Dom Jose Maria da Silva Torres landed in Bombay on his way to Goa in January 1844. The Padroado party, clergy and laity, escorted him to Gloria Church in a triumphant procession. In Gloria Church and in other parishes, Archbishop Torres administered the sacraments, began a series of visitations and generally acted as if ``Multa Praeclare'' and The Salsette Decree had never been written. The Archbishop's behaviour threw the whole of Bombay into a ferment.
When Bishop Hartmann came to Bombay in 1850, the one Catholic newspaper for those under the Vicar-Aposltolic's Jurisdiction was the Bombay Catholic Layman, run by two Irish laymen, who used the paper to oppose the first Bishop Whelan and then Bishop Hartmann. Rather than cross swords with them, Bishop Hartmann encouraged the starting of the Bombay Catholic Standard, under the editorship of another Irishman. Soon, disappointed with that paper as well, the Bishop approached a certain Mr Borges, a son of the soil, who in July 1850 had, on his own initiative, started a monthly publication, The Examiner. Three months later in September 1850, with Mr Borges' consent The Examiner became the ecclesiastical organ of the Vicariate under the Bishop's control and management, but another title, The Bombay Catholic Examiner. By 1852, the other two publications folded up while The Bombay Catholic Examiner kept on going. In April 1905, its title was shortened once again to The Examiner.
Hardly had Bishop Hartmann come from Patna to Bombay than he found himself in the middle of the bitter Padroado-Propaganda conflict. The Vicar of the Church set into motion a series of events which ended in June 1851 with Salvacao Church transferring itself to the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Goa. Then came the Bishop of Macao, Jeronimo da Matta in February 1853, on his way to Goa. He stopped at Bombay and officiated in the churches of Gloria and Cavel, then he passed on to Salsette where he said Mass and conferred the sacraments at Kurla, Thane and Bandra. Sharing in the rebellious conduct of the Bishop were four Bombay priests: Antonio Mariano Soares (Vicar Genreal of the North and Vicar of Gloria Church), Braz Fernandes (Vicar of Salvacao Church), Joseph de Mello and Gabriel de Silva (Vicar and Assistant respectively of St Michael's Church). The Papal Brief of May 9, 1853, Probe Nostis, completely vindicated the rights of Bishop Hartmann and confirmed his claim to the exclusive exercise of jurisdiction in the islands of Bombay and Salsette. It also condemned unreservedly the behaviour of Bishop da Matta and the four Bombay priests. In point of fact, however, his jurisdiction continued to be ignored by the adherents of Padroado: witness the series of events at St Michael's Church in 1853 which culminated with the transfer of that parish together with the Sion chapel to the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Goa in June 1854.
The year 1853 is also noteworthy in that it marks the success of Bishop Hartmann's efforts towards founding a Catholic College in the Vicariate. Aware of what he called "the complete want of educational institutions for youth'', he first invited in 1850, the Sisters of Jesus and Mary to take over the education of girls in Bombay. This was the very first Religious Congregation for Women to really begin work in the Vicariate. Bishop Hartmann then turned his attention to a College which he considered would be the foundation stone of the social, intellectual and moral renewal of the Bombay Catholic Community. He laboured heart and soul to bring the Jesuits to Bombay for this purpose; his labours were rewarded when, by the end of 1853, there were four Jesuits in the Vicariate of Bombay (among them Fr Walter Steins and Fr James Peniston).
On December 12, 1853 the Carmelite General informed Propaganda that the Carmelite Fathers had decided to give up the administration of the Bombay Mission. The Holy See accepted their resignation and thus ended, after a period of 133 years (1720-1853), the Carmelite administration of the Vicariate of Bombay. On February 16, 1854 Propaganda officially divided the Bombay Vicariate into the northern Vicariate of Bombay (comprising the islands of Bombay and Colaba, and Aurangabad, Khandesh, Malwa, Gujrat and Sind as far as Cabul and the Punjab) and the southern Vicariate of Poona ( comprising the islands of Salsette and Bassein, and the regions of the Konkan and Deccan or Bijapur). Further Propaganda entrusted the Bombay Vicariate to the Capuchin Fathers and the Poona Vicariate to the Jesuit Fathers. Bishop Hartmann was appointed Vicar-Apostolic of Bombay and Administrator of Poona.
On August 13, 1857 Propaganda reversed the 1854 arrangement: the Bombay Vicariate was now given to the Jesuits and the Poona Vicariate to the Capuchins. When squabbles arose between the Jesuits and the Capuchins over the comparatively small financial resources of the erstwhile Vicariate of Bombay, the Superior General of the Capuchin Order decided to clear the foul air by completely withdrawing the Capuchin Fathers from the Bombay and Poona Missions. Thus on August 13, 1858 the Bombay-Poona Vicariate came entirely into the hands of the Society of Jesus.
The creation of the new Diocese of Buxar was announced on Monday, 12th December 2005, to be bifurcated from the western part of Patna Archdiocese in the state of Bihar. The Diocese was officially inaugurated on March 25, 2006, with the ordination and installation of Rev. William D'Souza, a Jesuit of the Patna Province, as its first Bishop.
The parish church of Buxar is the Cathedral of the new Diocese and 'Mary Mother of Perpetual Help', the Diocesan Patron
Consequent to the transfer of Bishop William D’Souza to Patna as its Archbishop in 2007, Rev. Father Sebastian Kallupura of Patna Archdiocese was nominated as the second Bishop of Buxar Diocese on April 7, 2009. He was ordained and installed as bishop of Buxar on June 21, 2009.
The Archdiocese of Calcutta covers the greater part of West Bengal. The First Christian settlements in Bengal appear at the end of the 16th century round the Church of Bandel on the Hooghly. At Calcutta the first Catholic Chapel is dated from 1700. In 1834, at the petition of Calcutta Catholics, the Holy See erected the Vicariate Apostolic of Calcutta and entrusted it to the English Province of the Society of Jesus, and at the end of 1838 to the Diocesan Clergy.
On February 17, 1845, the Holy See divided the Vicariate of Bengal into the Vicariate Apostolic of Calcutta and the Vicariate of Chittagong, the latter to be administered by its own Ordinary under the direction of the Vicar Apostolic of Calcutta. On February 15, 1850, the two Vicariates of Calcutta and Chittagong were constituted as independent Ecclesiastical units to be called West Bengal and East Bengal.
In 1856, at the request of Msgr. Oliffe, the then Vicar Apostolic of West Bengal, the S. Cong. de Propaganda Fide handed over the Vicariate to the Belgian Jesuits with the appointment on August 22, 1874, of Msgr A. Van Heule, sj, as its Vicar Apostolic of West Bengal. In 1886, the Vicariate Apostolic became the Archdiocese of Calcutta.
Calicut diocese came into existence on 12th June 1923. Established by Holy Father Pope Pius XI of happy memory separating Malabar from the Diocese of Mangalore and Wayanad from the Diocese of Mysore, it was spread out into the six Districts of North Kerala extending from Shoranur to Kasargod. People of different culture, language and heredity, the descendants of Europeans, Portuguese, Dutch, French and British, Anglo- Indians, Konkani speaking settlers from Goa and Mangalore, Tamilians who came in seeking job opportunities, Tribals who were converted to Christianity, Dalit Christians, natives of the place, orthodox Christians who were accepted into the Catholic fold, Marthomites, Protestants and Latin Catholics who came from other dioceses belonged to this diocese. The period from 1926 saw the immigration of Syrian Catholics from Travancore and they settled down along the high ranges of the western ghats and its vallies along the Malabar area. They were welcomed and looked after by the Diocese of Calicut till the formation of the Diocese of Tellicherry in the year 1954. The Diocesan priests and the Jesuit fathers in Calicut Diocese rendered valuable and whole hearted support to these Syrian Catholics to acquire land at low costs and saw to their all around development in spiritual, social, educational, cultural and financial conditions. Health care and free medical facilities were made available to these people who were attacked by malaria and other contagious diseases. In the fields of education, culture, social commitment and inter-religious dialogue Calicut Diocese holds high influence in the city of Calicut, the cultural centre and capital of North Kerala.
The Apostolic Church of St. Thomas Christians has its origin from St. Thomas, the Apostle who arrived on the Kerala coast in A.D. 52. The Metropolitan of "The See of St. Thomas" was "Metropolitan and Gate of all India". In the course of history this Church entered into hierarchical relationship with the East Syrian Church and became an autonomous Metropolitan See under the East Syrian Patriarch in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome. The " Archdeacon of all India" did the administration.
The Portuguese Fathers who arrived in the 15th century could not tolerate the liturgical traditions and the mode of governance of this church. They latinized the ancient liturgical texts. A section of the community broke away from the Western supremacy in 1653. They constitute the present Malankara Orthodox Churches. We are the descendants of those who stayed back, maintaining loyalty to the Apostolic See of Rome.
The Archdiocese of Changanacherry is one of the first two Vicariates and the second Metropolitan Archdiocese of the Syro - Malabar Church, after the establishment of the Syro - Malabar hierarchy, which was the prelude to the restoration of the identity of our Church in 1992 as Sui Juris Church, thanks to the untiring efforts of our forefathers.
Pope Leo XIII of happy memory by his Bull "Quod Jam Pridem" dated May 20, 1887 established two Vicariates Apostolic, viz, Kottayam and Thrissur exclusively for the Syro - Malabarians and Dr Charles Lavigne and Dr Adolph Medlycott respectively were appointed Vicars Apostolic.
The same Pope reorganized the existing Vicariates by the Bull "Quae Rei Sacrae" dated July 28, 1896 establishing a new vicariate, Ernakulam, with territories carved out from the two existing Vicariates (Pallippuram, Edappaly and Arakuzha divisions from Kottayam Vicariate).
The Vicariate of Kottayam was renamed Changanacherry, since this town had been the centre of Catholic activity, for e.g. the convocation of the Changanacherry Synod in 1888 and hence its headquarters had been shifted to Changanacherry.
Indigenous bishops were appointed Vicars Apostolic to the new Sees. They were Mar Mathew Makil for Changanacherry, Mar Louis Pazheparambil (from Changanacherry Vicariate) for Ernakulam and Mar John Menacherry for Thrissur.
A new Vicariate of Kottayam was constituted in 1911 exclusively for the Suddists and Mar Mathew Makil was tansferred to Kottayam as the Vicar. Apostolic of Suddists and Mar Thomas Kurialacherry was appointed the Vicar Apostolic of Changanacherry.
With the establishment of the Syro - Malabar Hierarchy on December 21, 1923 by the Bull "Romani Pontifices" of Pope Pius XI, the Diocese of Thrissur, Changanacherry and kottayam became Suffragans of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam thereby constituting the first Syro - Malabar Province.
On July 25, 1950 the Diocese of Changanacherry was bifurcated by the Bull "Quo Ecclesiarum" of Pope Pius XII and the new Diocese of Palai was created.
The Holy See being very much pleased with the wonderful progress achieved by the Syro - Malabarians, extended the hitherto held boundaries of Changanacherry to the areas south of river Pumba, upto (including) Kanyakumari, by the Bull "Multorum Fidelium" of Pope Pius XII, dated April 29,1955.
Changanacherry was raised to the status of an Archdiocese on July 26, 1956 by Pope Pius XII constituting the second province in the Syro - Malabar Church and Kottayam and Pala became its suffragans. The Apostolic Constitution 'Regnum Coelorum' of November 26, 1959 of Pope John XXIII gave effect to this decision.
The Archdiocese was again divided on February 26, 1977 by the Bull "Nos Beati Petri" of Pope Paul VI and the new Diocese of Kanjirapally was set up comprising parts of the civil districts of Kottayam, Idukki and Kollam.
The Archdiocese was divided a fifth time when its Kanyakumari Mission was elevated to the status of a new diocese by the Bull "Apud Indorum Gentes" of John Paul II, dated December 18, 1996. The formal inauguration of the new diocese of Thuckalay and the Episcopal Ordination of Mar George Alenchery as its first Bishop took place on February 2, 1997.
In 1975 the Church work of five civil districts of the Archdiocese of Agra in the State of Uttar Pradesh was taken up completely by the Archdiocese of Changanacherry.
The Diocese of Chikmagalur, comprising the three districts of Chikmagalur, Shimoga and Hassan was erected on November 16, 1963, by Pope Paul VI by the Apostolic Constitution "Indicae Regionis", dismembering it from the Diocese of Mysore. It is entrusted to the Diocesan Clergy. The first Bishop of the Diocese was Bp Alphonsus Mathias.
The district of Shimoga was detached from the Diocese of Chikmagalur in January, 1989, to form part of the newly erected Diocese of Shimoga.
The Diocese of Cuddapah was erected by the Papal Bull "Quoriam ad recte universum" dated October 28, 1976 of Pope Paul VI. It comprises the civil districts of Cuddapah and Chittoor which hitherto were part of the Diocese of Nellore.
Bp Aruliah Somavarapa was appointed the First Bishop of Cuddapah. Bishop Moses Doraboina Prakasam took charge on Aug. 28, 2002 and he was transferred to Nellore diocese on Dec. 07, 2006.
The Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar comprises the civil districts of Cuttack - Bhubaneshwar, Phulbani (Kandhamal) and Puri in the state of Orissa.
The Diocese of Cuttack - Bhubaneshwar was part of the Diocese of Visakhapatnam since 1845. In 1922, the Spanish Vincentian Fathers came to Orissa. In 1928, Pope Pius XI declared the mission of Cuttack - Bhubaneshwar "sui juris".
In 1937 the mission was created into a Diocese and was made suffragan of Ranchi. On January 24, 1974, it became a Metropolitan See and Most Rev. Henry D'Souza was appointed the first Archbishop of Cuttack - Bhubaneshwar. A part of the former Cuttack - Bhubaneshwar diocese was erected into the Diocese of Berhampur. In April 1985 Archbishop Henry D'Souza was transferred to the Archdiocese of Calcutta. On August 11, 1985, Bp Raphael Cheenath, svd, of the Diocese of Sambalpur succeeded him as Archbishop.
The Diocese of Daltonganj was formerly part of the Ranchi Archdiocese. It was constituted as a separate diocese in 1971, and comprises the civil districts of Hazaribagh, Palamau, Garhwa, Bokaro, Chatra and Koderma. At the time of erection into a diocese, Rt. Rev. George V. Sauipn, sj. was the First Bishop. For the better pastoral care of the faithful, on May 12, 1995 the Diocese of Hazaribagh was established with the territory taken from the Daltonganj diocese. At present the Diocese of Daltonganj comprises of the civil districts of Palamau and Garhwa.
The Diocese of Darjeeling was erected on August 8th, 1962, and was formed by separating Darjeeling District from the Church of Calcutta, and joining it to the Prefecture Apostolic of Sikkim. In November 1997 the church in the sub-division of Siliguri was separated from Darjeeling Diocese to form the new diocese of Bagdogra. The present Darjeeling Diocese consists of the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, the State of Sikkim and the Kingdom of Bhutan.
The Church first came to Darjeeling with the Irish Loreto Sisters in 1846, soon after the opening of the hill station of Darjeeling. The area was then under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Bishop Hartman of Patna diocese and was staffed by Capuchins, who were mostly Italians. In 1886, when the hierarchy was established in India, the area comprising the present sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Siliguri and the State of Sikkim was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Calcutta and came under the care of the Jesuits from Belgium.
In 1889, a theologate for the Society of Jesus called St. Mary's College was started at Kurseong. Up to the end of 1971, when it was transferred to Delhi, the College contributed much to the expansion work in the district. Memkorable among the missionaries of that time are Father M. Wéry who worked in Kurseong from 1932 to 1957, and is known today as the 'Apostle of the Nepalese', and Father A. Bossaerts who started the first station in the terai at Gayaganga in 1933 where he died in 1945, after years of service to the tribal laboureres brought from Chota Nagpur to work on the tea gardens in the plains.
In 1946, the English-speaking Jesuits of the Upper Canada Province came to the assistance of the Belgian Jesuits. They gradually took over the administration of the area, and in 1956 the Darjeeling Region of the Calcutta Province was created, and this became a province of the Society of Jesus in 1997.
Kalimpong & Sikkim
In the Kalimpong area, work started in 1883, when the Fathers of the Foreign Missions of Paris settled down in Pedong with the hope of getting into Tibet via the Chumbi Valley. The Kalimpong sub-division, which was then known as 'British Bhutan', was attached to the Vicariate Apostolic of Lhasa and named 'Southern Tibet Mission'. Prominent among the French Missionaries and a pioneer and scholar in Tibetan, was Fr A. Desgodins, who founded Pedong.
In 1929, the territory was separated from Tibet to form an Independent Mission within the ecclesiastical province of Calcutta. In 1931, Sikkim was added to it and thus the 'Prefecture Apostolic of Kalimpong-Sikkim' came into existence, with Msgr Jules Douhanel as its first Prefect Apostolic.
In 1935, the French Fathers handed the files over to the Canons Regular of Swiss Congregation of St Maurice of Agaune ("CR's"), and in 1937, Msgr Aurelio Gianora was appointed its new Prefect Apostolic. Twenty five years later, in 1962, he handed the territory over to Bishop Eric Benjamin, the First Bishop of the newly erected diocese.
The Kingdom of Bhutan was separated from the Diocese of Tezpur and included in the Diocese of Darjeeling in 1975 by a Decree of the S.C. for the Evangelization of Peoples ('Qua Facilius' No. 217/75, 20.1.1975)
The History of the new Dharmapuri diocese is closely connected with that of Salem from where the diocese was bifurcated in 1997. In the year 1623, Christianity came into existence in the Diocese of Salem through the famous Jesuit Fr Robert De Nobili, his successors and later on through the Portugese Jesuits of Madurai Missions. In 1654 the Italian Jesuits of Mysore had their residence at Dharmapuri and began to preach the Gospel in the region as far as Tirupattur in North Arcot district. In 1674, St. John De Britto, visited Dharmapuri on his way to Kolei. He stayed at Dharmapuri with his Confreres, being accompanied by Fr Antony Ribero. In 1687, the Mysore Church work began to spread and preach the Gospel in the present districts of Salem and Dharmapuri. Inspite of the Pombal decree, suppressing the Jesuits, they carried on working under the jurisdiction of Cranganore. In 1711, Fr De. Cunha, a Father was killed by the local people as he was on his horse back towards the Church work place, near Hosur.
In 1776, the Holy Father handed the Madurai Missions and the Malabar Missions to the care of the M.E.P. Fathers. In 1785, Msgr Chapenois, mep. Superior of Malabar Mission was given the responsibility by Rome to look after the entire Mysore Mission, of which the old Diocese of Salem formed a part. In 1794, he was the first Bishop to visit the Diocese of Salem and left there Abbe Dubois, mep who tried to bring up the Church work. This region continued to depend on Coramandal Missions, and later, on the Apostolic Vicariate of Pondicherry, which became an Archdiocese in 1886. This set up continued till 1930 except for Hosur Taluk, which had been entrusted from 1861 to the care of the Mysore Missions. On August 3, 1930, the Diocese of Salem was erected.
Because of the vastness of the Diocese of Salem, the district of Dharmapuri was separated and declared a diocese by the Holy Father Pope John Paul II on January 24, 1997. Msgr Joseph Antony Irudayaraj, sdb, a Salesian was appointed as its First Bishop. This diocese is the 15th diocese of the Tamil Nadu region.
The first Catholic priests ever to come to Assam were Fr Cacella, sj, and Fr Cabral, sj. They were on their way to Tibet, in the year 1626. After 1826 when Assam became part of the British Empire, the growth of Tea plantations brought in Catholic immigrants from Bihar and Bengal. In 1850 Assam was united to Lhasa and Fr Krick of the Foreign Church work of Paris was the first Catholic Father to set foot in Dibrugarh on September 7, 1851. Frs Krick and Bourry were killed in February in 1854 in Arunachal Pradesh as they were on their way to Tibet. In 1860 Fr Mercier is said to have visited Dibrugarh.
In 1870 Assam became part of the Prefecture Apostolic of Krishnagar. Fr Jacob Broy of the Foreign Church work of Milan was the first resident priest of Assam with headquarters at Guwahati and he looked after Dibrugarh. In 1889 the Prefecture Apostolic of Assam was created with headquarters in Shillong and Fr Rudolf Fontaine, a Germany Salvatorian, opened the Dibrugarh Church work in 1908. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the German Salvatorians were forced to return to their country and the Jesuits of Calcutta looked after Assam. In 1921 the Prefecture of Assam was entrusted to the Salesians of Don Bosco. It was Fr Leo Piasecki, sdb, who reopened Dibrugarh Church work at the request of Msgr. Louis Mathias, sdb, on February 8, 1931. From 1934 to 1951 Dibrugarh formed part of the Diocese of Shillong with Msgr. Louis Mathias, sdb, and Msgr. Stephen Ferrando as its pastors.
The Diocese of Dibrugarh was carved out from the Diocese of Shillong on July 12, 1951 with Rt. Rev. Orestes Marengo, sdb, as its First Bishop. In 1964 Bp Orestes Marengo, sdb, was transferred to the newly erected Diocese of Tezpur. On July 6, 1964 Rt. Rev. Hubert D' Rosario, sdb, was appointed the second Bishop of Dibrugarh. On his transfer to Shillong - Guwahati in 1969 Rt. Rev. Robert Kerketta, sdb, succeeded him on May 31, 1970 as the third pastor of Dibrugarh. When Rt. Rev Robert Kerketta, sdb, was transferred to Tezpur in December 1980, Rev Fr Joseph Variathukala, sdb, was elected as the Vicar Capitular. On July 13, 1981 Pope John Paul II appointed Rt. Rev. Thomas Menamparampil, sdb, as the fourth pastor of Dibrugarh. In 1992 when the Holy See erected the Diocese of Guwahati with Rt. Rev Thomas Menamparampil, sdb, as its bishop, once again Dibrugarh became vacant and Rev. Fr Sebastian Karotemprel was elected as the Diocesan Administrator. Bp Joseph Aind sdb, the first priest of Dibrugarh, was appointed the fifth Bishop of Dibrugarh on the December 23, 1994.
Until 1964 the Diocese of Dibrugarh comprised the present-day Lakhimpur, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Golaghat districts of Assam and Tirap, Changlang, Lohit and Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh as well as the two states of Nagaland and Manipur. In 1964 when the Diocese of Tezpur was erected, Lakhimpur became part of that diocese. In 1973 the Diocese of Kohima - Imphal was erected with the states of Nagaland and Manipur. With all the eastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh, the diocese of Miao was erected on 7th December 2005.
The Diocese of Dibrugarh now comprises of the five civil districts of Assam, namely, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Golaghat.
The Diocese of Dumka was established by Pope John XXIII, by the Apostolic Bull "Exulted Sancta Mater Ecclesia" of August 8, 1962. The Diocese was formed by fusing together the area of the Santal Mission, till then part of Calcutta Archdiocese, and the then Prefecture Apostolic of Malda. The diocese then comprised the undivided districts of Santal Praganas (except Godda sub-division and Deoghar and Sarwan thana of Deoghar sub division) and of purnea in Bihar state, as well as the districts of Malda and West Dinajpur with Rampuhat sub-division of Birbhum district in West Bengal state.
The Catholic Fathers made various attempts to establish a mission among the Santals, by far the most numerous aboriginal tribe in India. From 1826, a Capuchin, and from 1887 a Jesuit Priest ministered to the European and Anglo-Indian inhabitants of Purnea district and town, then famous for its indigo plantations, where a church was built and blessed in 1849 by Bishop Hartmann. The Catholic population was about 250. The resident priest at Purnea also visited Santal Parganas district to offer Mass in the Railway colonies at Sahibganj, Rampurhat and Nalhati and at Dumka, the district headquarters. A Belgian Jesuit made two exploratory tours to Santal Parganas district to offer Mass in the Railway colonies at Sahibganj, Rampurhat and Nalhati and at Dumka, the district headquarters. A Belgian Jesuit made two exploratory tours to Santal Parganas district in 1879 and 1887. The Jesuit Fathers from Asansol visited the Catholic families along the Chord Railway line and in 1908 a Church was built at Madhupur in the south-western part of Santal Parganas district.
The real history of the Santal Mission began in 1924. At the invitation of their Fr General the Jesuits of the Sicilian province, then including the Island of Malta, arrived in Calcutta to help their Belgian confreres and take up the evangelization of the Santal tribe. The following year the first Churh work station was opened for the Santals centered around the village of Majlispur (now part of Raiganj Diocese), some miles north east of Purnea town. The evangelization of Santal Parganas district, where the majority of Santals resided began in January, 1930, with the arrival of Fr Benjamin Cauchi, sj, from Majlispur. With the regular arrival of fathers from Malta and Sicily, parishes were established and schools were opened.
In August, 1962 when Dumka diocese was formed the Catholics in Purnea district had risen to 5,295, while the Catholics in Santal Parganas district had, since 1930, increased to 19,676. The credit for this wonderful development goes to the Archbishop of Calcutta Dr F. Perier sj who gave generous help to the Fathers to establish the Church in Santal Parganas district. The Foreign Missionaries of Milan (PIME) developed Malda Prefecture and at the time of its integration with Dumka Diocese there were 6,065 Catholics.
On November 10, 1978 the new Diocese of Raiganj was established, detaching from Dumka diocese the two civil districts of West Dinajpur and Malda in West Bengal State. Bishop Leo Tigga, sj, the First Bishop of Dumka, was transferred to Raiganj as the First Bishop of the new diocese.
In 1974 the districts of Purnea was bifurcated to create the new district of Katihar. In January 1990 Purnea district was further divided and the new district of Araria and Kishanganj were formed and Purnea became the Divisional Headquarters.
The former district of santal Parganas was elevated into a Division in May, 1983 and was divided into four districts, namely Dumka, Deoghar, Godda and Sahibganj. Sahibganj district was divided into two in 1995, namely Sahibganj and Pakur. Of these, Dumka, Sahibganj and Pakur districts and Madhupur sub-division of Deoghar district form part of Dumka diocese. Thus today Dumka diocese comprises the civil districts of Dimka, Dahibganj, Pakur, Deoghar (Part), Purnea, Katihar, Araria and Kishanganj in Bihar, Rampurhat sub-division of Birbhum district in West Bengal.
The Diocese of Eluru comprises the whole of West Godavari district and the Mandals of Amalapuram, Kothapeta, Rajole and Mummidivaram of East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh. This territory was bifurcated from the Diocese of Vijayawada and erected into a Diocese by the Papal Bull 'Dubitantes' of Pope Paul VI dated December 9, 1976.
From 1829 to 1901, Deesa was a British military Cantonment with a resident Catholic Chaplain and a Chapel. There were many times when the Catholic (mainly Irish) military personnel were as many as 500, necessitating the services of the Catholic Chaplain. With the shifting of the Cantonment, the Chapel was in disuse and allowed to disintegrate. The statue of Our Lady Queen of the World found refuge in Khambholaj where for many years she was honoured as Our Lady of Khambholaj : Anathoni Mata. When the statue of Mother of the Forsaken from Valencia (Spain) was enthroned in the new Church of Khambholaj, Our Lady Queen of the World was returned around 1980 to the newly founded mission of Deesa.
From 1936 from Rajkot, Fr E. Gadea, sj began visiting Deesa, Radhanpur, Mehsana, Palanpur, celebrating Holy Mass for the dispersed Catholics of the Railways and other government establishments or in the service of the Nawabs. With India becoming independent in 1947, many refugees from Pakistan entered the northern regions of Gujarat. Among these were the Majirana tribals, some of whom were baptized Catholics of the Nawabshah mission in Sind. In new surroundings and with no immediate presence of the Church, they lost contact with the Church. In the late sixties, a chance encounter of one of these Catholics with a Catholic Railway official led to the discovery of this community of Catholics who were spread out in villages of Radhanpur and Deesa Talukas. By this time, Kalol mission was in existence.
Ahmedabad Diocese and the Gujarat Jesuits under the inspiration of Bishop Edwin Pinto, sj and Fr. Charles Gomes, sj respectively sent Jesuit Priests to begin missions in North Gujarat and Sabarkantha. Fr M. Diaz Garriz, sj in Kalol (established 1964) and Swamy Dindayanad (Fr. Luis Espasa, sj) in Mankroda-Bhiloda, (established 1964) began mission work in their respective areas. The next Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Francis Braganza, sj (later Bishop of Baroda) and successive Provincials supported these initiatives, and the missions grew over the years : Nana Kantharia, Vijayanagar, Meghraj in Sabarkantha, and Kadi (Unteshwari), Mehsana, Deesa, Radhanpur in North Gujarat.
In 1960, Gujarat was established as a separate state and Gandhinagar was developed as the state capital. Jesuit Fathers and Sisters of Apostolic Carmel were invited to open their respective schools and the Parish was established in 1970. In 1974, the visionary missionary Fr. Charles Gomes, sj was appointed Bishop of Ahmedabad. Besides giving a fresh impetus to the missions already established, he planned for Parish Centers and Institutions in important towns and district headquarters of the hitherto little attended North Gujarat. He dreamed of a new Diocese in North Gujarat. Parishes and Schools, Centers for Legal Aid and other Institutions were planned for Modasa and Himmatnagar, Patan and Palanpur, laying the foundation for a new Diocese. His successor Bishop Stanislaus Fernandes, sj brought the dream to reality.
On 11 November 2002, Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, was established as an Archiepiscopal See and Bishop Stanislaus Fernandes, sj was named Archbishop. The territory of the new Archdiocese comprises the districts of Gandhinagar, Mehsana, Patan, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha. The newly appointed Archbishop took formal possession of the Archdiocese on 22 December 2002, in Gandhinagar, in the presence of representatives of all the new Catholic communities of North Gujarat.
The Archdiocese of Gandhinagar is a young Church with most of the Catholics entering the second generation. The Archbishop called an Assembly of the Priests and Religious of the Archdiocese on 12 February 2003 to prepare a Vision Statement for the Archdiocese. There were further meetings in local groups in preparation for a second Assembly on 12 August 2003 to which Major Superiors were also invited. The generous participation of so many Superiors was an encouragement to the young mission that the Archdiocese is in reality. With the inspiration of the Major Superiors a Mission Statement was discussed and accepted, and the stage set for opening new missions. With a few senior and younger Diocesan Priests of Ahmedabad joining the small band of Gandhinagar missionaries, the Archdiocese has initiated steps for the establishment of new missions in Mehsana and Banaskantha districts. Besides the presence of Gujarat Jesuits and other women Religious Congregations in the Archdiocese, the support of other Religious groups has been sought to bring to fruition the Vision and the Mission of the Archdiocese.
Brief History of the Diocese: Gulbarga diocese consisting of the civil districts Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur in North Karnataka was erected by the Pope Benedict XVI on 24th June 2005. He also appointed Mons Robert M Miranda, the pioneer missionary of ‘Bidar Mission’ of Mangalore diocese, as the first bishop of the new diocese. Subsequently, Gulbarga district was bifurcated by the State Government and the new district of Yadgir came into existence on 10th April 2010. Thus, today we have four civil districts northern Karnataka, namely Bidar , Gulbarga, Yadgir and Bijapur under the jurisdiction of Gulbarga diocese covering an area of 32157 sq. km with a population of around 6.5 million(2011) . The Government of Karnataka has renamed Gulbarga as Kalaburagi, and Bijapur as Vijayapura in 2014.
Prior to the formation of the new diocese, Bidar district, juridically under the care of Hyderabad arch diocese, was under the care of Mangalore diocese that adopted the district for its social and pastoral care (1982), and it was popularly known as the Bidar mission. Kalaburagi district was a part of Bellary diocese. Vijayapura under Belgaum diocese was adopted by Karnataka Jesuits in 1992. The new diocese had its birth pangs as it was a difficult task to put together people, priests and sisters from three dioceses under the reality of the one new diocese. As the Word of God says ‘Everything is possible for God’ LK. 1:37, the Holy Spirit brought the people of God in the new diocese from all the 4 districts together to accept the mission of the Lord, to be evangelized and to evangelize others in the region.
Pastoral Plan 2006: Putting their hearts and minds together, studying the spiritual, social, economic and educational realities of the place and discerning God’s will, they prepared the first Diocesan Pastoral Plan (DPP) in June 2006. Ever since, the people, priests and religious have been working hard implementing the DPP trying to build vibrant Christian communities in all the parishes and missions, earnestly seeking evangelization of all people around. The catholic community has come to understand and accept all the pastoral and social dimensions of faith, served by various commissions under the DPP. The Commission Secretaries in spite of several constraints such as multiple responsibilities, lack of finances, formation and expertise have come to function with tangible results.
Growth of the Diocese 2005-15: The basic structures, such as Pastoral Councils at the Parish/Mission Centers, Deanery, Diocesan, Council of Priests have been established and have started functioning. The diocese also made remarkable progress in the first decade of its formation establishing its basic infrastructures, such as, Bishop’s House, Curia, the Pastoral Centre, Cathedral, Minor Seminary, a hospital etc.
A number of new mission centre’s, religious houses, educational institutions and hostels have also been started in these years in order to have an evangelizing presence in this vast diocese where the catholic population is just minimal. The diocese has reached out to thousands of people irrespective of caste or creed, particularly among the poor and the marginalized through social, educational and health services. Thanks to the self-less and tireless work of the missionaries ! The Good News is proclaimed in Word and Deed to all people.
Decennial Evaluation: As the diocese completed a decade of fruitful service, the Bishop, Clergy and the Superiors of the religious communities decided for a General Evaluation at the meeting on 6th December 2014. It was decided to have the Evaluation at 6 different levels, namely, Group Interviews of Pastoral Council Members(10 zones), Personal Interviews(150), Survey and evaluation of all catholic families(1436), Self assessment by the Clergy, Evaluation and Assessment by the Religious, Evaluation of all the Commissions and Evaluation by an External Agency.
18 -19th August 2015 was a momentous time for us in this diocese. It was a day to celebrate God’s blessings on us in the past 10 years of service in the new diocese that came into existence on the same day back in 2005. It was indeed a unique celebration of the church in Gulbarga with an assembly of the laity, religious and priests of the diocese coming together to listen to all the reports of decennial evaluation, know ourselves as we are, our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as expressed by our people and experts from outside, and take a step forward and plan for another phase of the mission Gulbarga 2015-2025.
Gulbarga Diocese 2025: The assembly of selected representatives that included priests, superiors of the religious communities and near equal number of prominent Lay representatives accepted the Report, with an open mind, wasted no time in identifying the major concerns that need to be addressed. They felt the need to formulate anew the Vision and Mission Statements of the diocese and also set the Goals to be achieved in the next 10 years. With major concerns identified, Vision, Mission statements formulated anew, the Goals set for the next 10 years by the assembly, the Secretaries along with the Core Group prepared the objectives and plans for their respective commission. The new Pastoral Plan - Gulbarga Diocese 2025 is the outcome of this long, tedious but immensely fruitful exercise.
The Diocese of Gumla was erected on May 28, 1993 by Pope John Paul II with territory taken from the Archdiocese of Ranchi. The Catholic Diocese of Gumla consists of the civil sub-division of Gumla.
The Catholic population of this diocese comprises of scheduled tribes, chiefly Kharias, Mundas, Oraons and Baraiks.
Most Rev. Michael Minj SJ, was appointed the first Bishop of Gumla.
Till 1940, Guntur formed a part of the Diocese of Nellore. On February 23, 1940, the civil district of Guntur was detached from the Diocese of Nellore and constituted into the new Diocese of Guntur with Msgr Thomas Pothacamury as its First Bishop.
The Telugu Catholics date as far back as 1699. During the Carnatic Mission founded by the French Jesuits, there was a large number of Catholics in the Telugu region. With the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773, the Paris Mission Society stepped in the field and great progress was made during the time of Bp Bonnand. Later in 1834, the Telugu districts were attached to the Vicariate of Madras which was first manned by the Irish Priests from Maynooth and All Hallows and next by the Mill Hill Fathers till the constitution of the diocese in 1940, when it was entrusted to the indigenous Diocesan Clergy.
The Diocese of Guntur originally corresponded to the civil district of Guntur. In 1970, when Prakasam district was formed some taluks of Guntur district were taken over in the new district. Hence in 1977, by a decree of "Propoganda Fide" all the taluks in Prakasam district were handed over to the Diocese of Nellore except Addanki Taluk, which belongs to the Diocese of Guntur.
The Eparchy of St. John Chrysostom of Gurgaon of the Syro-Malankaras extends over the entire territory of North India, comprising 22 of the 29 States of the Country. The southern border of the circumscription includes the four central States: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. Besides in these States, the faithful are diffusely present especially in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
The See of the Eparchy is Gurgaon, near Delhi, because the faithful are mainly concentrated in Delhi metropolitan area, distributed in nine parishes. In the region there are two Colleges and ten schools run by the Syro-Malankara Church. 15 priests, eparchial and regular, and about 30 women religious offer their services in the pastoral, educational and charity works. The first Eparchial Bishop will have his residence and chancery atMar Ivanios Bhavan, Neb Sarai, New Delhi, where the Church of St. Mary is also situated and which will be the Cathedral.
The Diocese of Hazaribagh was erected by Pope John Paul II, by bifurcating the Diocese of Daltonganj. The new diocese comprises the civil districts of Chatra, Hazaribag, Koderma and Bokaro excluding, however, the Chandankyari block of Bokaro district together with that portion of Chas block which lies to the east of National Highway 32.
The Catholic population of the diocese comprises scheduled tribes (Chiefly Oraons, Mundas, Santals and Kharias) Scheduled Castes and mixed groups of Catholics migrated from various parts of India.
The diocese of Hyderabad was established on September 1, 1886. Msgr. Peter Caprotti, PIME, became the first Bishop of Hyderabad. It was raised to the status of an Archdiocese on September 19, 1953. Bishop Mark Gopu became the first Archbishop.
Over the years many new dioceses were created from the original territory of the Archdiocese. In 1928 districts of Raichur and Gulbarga were detached to form the diocese of Bellary. Krishna and West Godavari districts were detached in 1937 for the erection of the diocese of Vijayawada. Diocese of Warangal was established in 1952 with the districts of Warangal, Khammam, Nalgonda and Karimnagar. In 1976 the new diocese of Nalgonda was formed with Mahabubnagar district of Hyderabad Archdiocese and Nalgonda district of Warangal diocese.
Marathi speaking areas of the Archdiocese were detached in 1978 to form the diocese of Aurangabad. Khammam was made a new diocese in February, 1988. On June 18, 1982 the district of Bidar was entrusted to the pastoral care of Mangalore diocese.
The Archdiocese with an area of 30,814 sq. kms. and with a total population of around 12.37 million, has about 87,541 Catholics. It has 107 diocesan and 116 Religious priests, 37 Brothers and 729 Religious Sisters are active in 72 parishes, including one parish of Malankara rite.
At present the Archdiocese has four districts of Andhra Pradesh - Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medak and Nizamabad.
The Archdiocese of Imphal covers the entire State of Manipur which is bounded by Nagaland in the North, Mizoram in the South, Upper Myanmar in the East and Cachar district of Assam in the West.
The American Baptists began a successful mission in Manipur in 1908 among the hill tribes of Manipur and the missionaries had no permission from the Maharajah of Manipur to work among the Meiteis. One of the outstanding pioneer missionary was William Pettigrew. The first Catholic priest, Rev. Fr Angsgar Koenigsbaver, sds, a German Salvatorian missionary looking after Assam Mission, came to Manipur in the year 1912. He found 19 Catholics, 17 of whom belong to the band of the regiment which was stationed here. The Maharajah of Manipur told Fr. Angsgar that he had no objection to the opening of a Catholic Mission in Imphal, the capital of the princely State. Due to the limited resources and personnel the opportunity to evangelize Manipur could not be realized.
Thirty six years later, two Salesian missionaries, Fr O. Marengo, sdb, and Fr. Attilio Colussi, sdb, who were working in Guwahati, Assam, visited Imphal. On meeting the Maharajah they were told: "You (missionaries) are welcome to Manipur. I am a former pupil of St. Edmund’s School, Shillong.” He gave them permission to enter Manipur and operate their mission in the hills of Manipur. This implied that they were not to work in the Valley, which had been dominated by the Hindu Vaishnavites and some pockets of Muslims. The Missionaries visited Ukhrul, a hill station in the east, on that occasion.
The organized work of evangelization in Manipur actually began with the erection of the Diocese of Dibrugarh in 1951, with Bishop O. Marengo, sdb, as Manipur was drawn within his ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Every year Bishop Marengo visited Manipur and pushed the work ahead with the co-operation of the burning zeal of the laity.
The Catholic faith among the Tangkhuls, one of the first hill tribes to accept the faith, was brought by Mr. Dominic Shomi, former pupil if St. Anthony’s School, Shillong, and Mr. George Hongrei, former student of Don Bosco School, Guwahati. In 1952, Fr Marocchino, chaplain of the Kohima Hospital, was invited to Hundung, a village near Ukhrul. Mr. Shomi had prepared 350 persons ready to embrace the faith. Fr. Marocchino gave them more instructions and received them into the Church.
The best way to promote the work of evangelization, as Bishop Marengo saw it, was to have resident priests in the area. Losing no time, he sent Fr A. Ravalico, sdb, and Fr Peter Bianchi, sdb, as the first resident priests who reached Imphal on March 5, 1956. Initially, they lived in a rented house in Imphal. The following year, on May 7, 1957, they acquired a new house (the present site of the “Nirmalabas”) in the heart of the town. Towards the end of that year, Fr Felix, sdb, and Fr Venturoli, sdb, joined them in the mission. The Church in Manipur began to take its roots gradually and firmly.
The vastness of the Lord's vineyard demanded more workers to the harvest. In 1958, Fr Joseph Kachiramattam, the first diocesan priest to step into Manipur soil, arrived in Imphal and joined the community of the Salesian missionaries. Later, two other diocesan priests, Fr Mathew Planthottam and Fr Mani Parenkulangara reached Manipur in 1959 and 1961 respectively. Since then, more priests and religious have strengthened the promotion of the evangelization work in Manipur. Among the pioneering Women Religious Congregations, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA), the Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC), Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) and Sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (SABS) are also worth mentioning.
The Diocese of Kohima - Imphal which included the two states of Nagaland and Manipur was erected on January 29, 1973 by Pope Paul VI, with Rt. Rev. Abraham Alangimattathil, sdb, as its first Bishop.
Bifurcating the Diocese of Kohima - Imphal, the Diocese of Imphal comprising of the entire State of Manipur was erected by Pope John Paul II on April 21, 1980 with Rt. Rev. Joseph Mittathany, then bishop of Tezpur, as its first Bishop. Later, on August 1, 1995 His Holiness, John Paul II, raised the Diocese to the status of an Archdiocese with Most Rev Joseph Mittathany as the Archbishop.
The Holy Father appointed Very Rev. Fr Dominic Lumon as Coadjutor Archbishop of Imphal on January 18, 2002 and he was ordained a Coadjutor Archbishop of Imphal by Most Rev. Joseph Mittathany on April 7, 2002.
The diocese is situated in Madhya Pradesh, and comprises the following districts: Jabalpur, Damoh, Mandla, Shahdol, Narsinghpur and the Tahsil of Lakhnadon in Seoni district.
Erected by the Brief "De Romoanorum Pontificum" dated July 18, 1932, the Prefecture Apostolic of Jabalpur, came into existence by dismembering from the Diocese of Nagpur the districts of Jabalpur, Mandla, Narsinghpur and the tahsil of Laknadon, from the Diocese of Allahabad, the districts of Sagar, Damoh, Rewa, Siddhi, Shahdol, Satna, Panna, Chattarpur and Tikamgarh.
The Prefecture Apostolic was raised to a diocese by the Papal Bull "Wui Genus Humanum" dated July 5, 1954 and Bp C. Dubbleman O. Praem, was appointed First Bishop of Jabalpur.
When the Archdiocese of Bhopal was created, the district of Sagar was dismembered from the Diocese of Jabalpur. And when the Exarchate of Satna was created, the districts of Rewa, Siddhi, Satna, Panna, Chattarpur, Tikamgarh were dismembered from the Diocese of Jabalpur.
The new diocese comprises of 12 districts in Rajasthan, all until now in the Diocese of Ajmer-Jaipur: Jaipur, Karauli, Sawai Madhopur, Dausa, Alwar, Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Bikaner, Nagaur, Churu, Hanumangarh and Sri Ganganagar, covering an area of 129,060 sq. kms. with a population of about 2,58,28,271 out of which about 4,096 Catholics. Jaipur is also the Capital of the State of Rajasthan. There are currently 32 Priests and 117 Religious Sisters working in the territory of the new Diocese.
The first Bishop of Jaipur, Most Rev. Oswald Lewis, was born on July 30, 1944, ordained priest on December 30, 1972 for the Diocese of Lucknow and was appointed as the Co-adjutor Bishop Meerut on April 16, 1998. Bishop Oswald, during his long priestly ministry in Lucknow, held varied and important assignments in pastoral, educational and administrative areas. He was the Parish Priest of the Cathedral, Principal of Schools, Vicar General and Administrator of the Diocese of Lucknow. He was for over 12 years Secretary of the Association of Catholic Education Institutions in U.P. (1985-1997) at the end of which he was given the “Bharat Jyoti” Award for ‘Best Educationist’ by the Governor of U.P.
The Catholic presence in the area of this diocese of Jalpaiguri goes back to around the year 1911 and is linked from from its beginning with the present area of the diocese of Dinajpur, which is now in Bangladesh. There is a short narration of a certain Gabriel Toppo from the area of Ranchi in the present Jharkhand, who brought the news of the adibasi tribals of the Jharkhand area obtaining new life on their social and religious front, thanks to the arrival of Catholic Fathers there from Belgium. Some people were taken up with the news and were looking for such Fathers but nothing happened till around the year 1911 when Fr Joseph Antony Limana, a PIME Father, came from Italy and found some shelter close to a railway station Mal and started contacting people. He was offered some place in one of the tea estates where there were some twenty Catholics working as tea garden labourers, also from the land of Jharkhand. He was happy to come and work there. He very soon won their love and admiration.
Later, in the year 1923, another PIME priest, Father Lazzaroni by name, got as his residence the bungalow of a tea garden manager in Nagrakata. This became the first parish house of this area. All this was still under the Diocese of Dinajpur, where also Church work was being done by the Fathers of the same Pontifical Milan Missionary Society, more know as the PIME Fathers.
The Diocese of Jalpaiguri came into being long after the partition of India which took place in the year 1952, with one of the veteran PIME Fathers from Italy, Fr. Ambrose Galibati, as its First Bishop. Msgr Galbiati was then the parish priest of Damanpur embracing a very vast area on the east of river Torsa in the district of Jalpaiguri. While on the western vast area of this same river Torsa worked another Father of the same Church Work institute, Fr Amatore Artico, residing in PIME Regional center and parish at Nagrakata. Bishop Galbiati was much loved, but had to go back to Italy, sick in the year 1965. In 1968 Msgr Francis Ekka was appointed Bishop of Jalpaiguri, and took up the reign of the diocese, serving it till the year 1971, when he was transferred to the Diocese of Raigarh Ambikapur. He entrusted the Episcopal responsibility on the shoulders of the new appointee Msgr James A. Toppo.
Fr Ambrose Galbiati was the founding parish priest of Damanpur, and decided to stay there even as Bishop, close to the Sub divisional town of Alipurduar. Damanpur became the center of the diocesan administration. This was continued by Mgr Francis Ekka for the duration of his service. After three years of his stay at Damanpur, Msgr. James A. Toppo moved the Episcopal seat to Jalpaiguri, the district center of the civil administration. Jalpaiguri is also the divisional center of the five districts lying north of the River Ganges in West Bengal, also known as North Bengal.
The Christians are mainly from the adibasi tribal groups of people and in the State of West Bengal their language has stayed close to the tribal languages, in the form of the lingua franca, Sadri, a much rural form of Hindi. The total number of Catholics now come to some 1,10,000. The apostolate consists mainly in spiritual animation of the people and their social uplift through education and medical service through some 56 Priests, 23 Brothers and around 180 Religious Sisters helped by catechists and the other lay participants.
The diocesan Jurisdiction extend over entire districts of Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar, forming the thin link strip of the State of West Bengal to the States extreme east of India.
1. A Brief History of the Diocese
1.1. Brief History of the Catholic Church in Jammu and Kashmir
The Catholic Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar has been rendering yeomen service to the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and India at large in different fields such as Education, Health care and Social Action. The services of the Diocese and the Christian Missionaries have been acknowledged many times, by the successive Chief Ministers and the state machinery at various levels. Yet there is little information readily available on the Catholic Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar and its History.
The Christian presence in Jammu and Kashmir goes back by many centuries. Christianity came to the northern part of India especially Tibet by the medium of the European travelers and missionaries who came in search of a “Christian Nation” which seemed to have existed somewhere in central Asia. Christianity existed under the Nestorian mission and even flourished in the Central Asia, possibly also in Ladakh from the sixth to eleventh century but it died leaving behind no trace for posterity. Today, three Crosses are seen in Tangtse, in eastern Leh. On the top of the Cross is a Sogdian inscription which reads as “In the eight-hundredth year of the death of our Lord Jesus, the Nestorian Christians of Syria have arrived this place from Samarkand”. Samarkand at that time was the principal city of Sogdiana, known today as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. With this there are other documents which confirm the existence of Nestorian and Armenian missions in Mongolia, Chinese Turkistan, Afghanistan and Tibet.
During the Mughal reign, especially during the reign of Emperor Akbar there were Jesuit priests who were part of his Court. Some of them have even visited Kashmir with the Emperor. It is well documented that two Jesuits namely Fr. Jerome Xavier and Br. Goes accompanied the Emperor Akbar to Kashmir in 1597. Possibly, Fr. Jerome Xavier even stayed in Kashmir for over three months. In the later years, other Jesuit priests such as Joseph de Castro in 1627 with Emperor Jahangir and Manoel Freyre and Ippolito Desideri in 1715, would traverse this land in their efforts to reach Tibet.
The Catholic presence in Jammu and Kashmir in the modern era is linked to the arrival of the Mill Hill Missionaries from London. In January 1879, the Vatican requested Bishop Herbert Vaughan, founder of the Mill Hill Missionaries, to send chaplains to minister to the British army personnel in the Punjab. The Mill Hill Missionaries arrived in North India in 1879 and commenced their mission with Fr. Brouwer as its first Superior.
On 6th July, 1887, Pope Leo XIII erected the Apostolic Prefecture of Kashmir and Kafirstan, whose territories extended from Kashmir to Kabul, and entrusted it to the Mill Hill Missionaries. Msgr. Ignatius Brouwer was appointed the first Prefect of the Apostolic Prefecture and was based at Rawalpindi. Initially the presence of the missionaries in Kashmir was severely limited due to administrative reasons. In 1888 Fr. Daniel Kilty MHM laid the foundations of the Leh mission. His first priority was to learn the local language. He stayed there till his death due to illness in November of the same year. His work was carried on by Frs. Hanlon, Donson and Simons who stayed there till the closure of the Leh mission in 1898. It would later be re-opened by the first Indian Prefect Apostolic Msgr. Hippolytus Kunnunkal. Later in 1892 Frs. Winkley and Cunningham constructed the first church at Baramulla, the cradle of the Catholic mission in Jammu and Kashmir! The Catholic mission in Srinagar was opened in 1894 by Rev. Frs. Cunningham and Donsen, MHM. The church was built by Franklin Winkley in about 1900. The territory of Jammu and Kashmir was ecclesiastically divided into two parts before the Independence. The Kashmir region was under the Prefecture of Kashmir and Kafirstan and later became part of the diocese of Rawalpindi while the Jammu region was looked after by the Belgium Capuchins from Sialkot and was part of Lahore Diocese.
Prefecture of Jammu and Kashmir
In the independent India, when Kashmir came under the Indian Union, Kashmir could no longer be looked after from Rawalpindi as there were lot of restrictions on both the sides owing to the political realities. Travel and communication were difficult and the priests found it hard to frequent Kashmir from the diocese of Rawalpindi for pastoral care. This impasse was solved by the active intervention of the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the Vatican Internuncio, Rev. Leo Kierkels. On 17 January 1952 the Prefecture Apostolic of Kashmir and Jammu was erected by the Holy See. In June 1952, Msgr. George Shanks was appointed the first Prefect Apostolic of Kashmir and Jammu. In September 1952 he arrived in Kashmir and made Srinagar as his headquarters. The new Prefecture was comprised of the districts of Kashmir valley and Ladakh (taken from Rawalpindi Diocese) and the districts of Jammu province (taken from Lahore Diocese). Soon the Jammu mission was opened. Before this Jammu had been an out-station of Sialkot.
On May 4, 1968, at the request of the then Prefect Apostolic Msgr. John Boercamp, to correspond with the official name of the Indian State in which the Apostolic Prefecture is found», the ecclesiastical territory was reconstituted and renamed as the Prefecture Apostolic of Jammu and Kashmir. The Mill Hill Missionaries worked in the Prefecture in a zealous manner till 1978 and laid a strong foundation for the emergence of the Catholic community. With the advent of the Indo-Pak war of 1971, the issue of geo-strategic sensitivity of the Kashmir region once again raised the stake for the foreign missionaries operating in this rather volatile region. Hence, in 1978 the Mill Hills decided to hand over the reins of the mission to the Indian Capuchins of St Joseph’s Province, Kerala and Msgr. Hippolytus Kunnunkal was appointed the first Indian Prefect Apostolic on November 11, 1978.
Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar
In the course of Msgr. Hyppolytus’ tenure of prefectureship, many more mission stations, schools and social action centers were established enhancing the growth of the mission. In 1986, the Holy See decided to raise the Prefecture to the rank of a diocese. Msgr. Hippolytus Kunnunkal OFM Cap., was consecrated as its first bishop on June 29, 1986 in Rome and was installed as bishop on September 07, 1986 in the newly consecrated St. Mary’s Cathedral, Jammu. The Curia, which was in Srinagar since 1952, was shifted to Jammu on December 23, 1986. Bishop Hippolytus a great missionary contributed to the growth of the Diocese and its various missionary endeavor. These included mission stations with educational, health care and social service. The highlight of his commitments is the reopening of the mission at Leh in the Ladakh region.
After the retirement of Bishop Hippolytus Kunnunkal, Rev. Fr. Peter Celestine was ordained the Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar Diocese on September 6, 1998. The priorities of the new administration under the leadership of Bishop Peter Celestine was to open mission stations, schools, and health care centers in remote places. New mission stations were opened in Batote and Kargil, which symbolically unite the whole of the diocese from Kathua to Leh, a stretch of more than 800 kilometers! The Diocese presently is comprised of all the three Regions of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, namely, Jammu Region with 10 districts, Kashmir Region with 10 districts and Ladakh Region with 2 districts.
After shepherding the Jammu-Srinagar Mission for 35 years, the Capuchin missionaries have handed over the mission to a young and an energetic diocesan clergy, Rev. Fr. Ivan Pereira who was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of Diocese on 3rd December 2014 has been consecrated and installed as Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar Diocese on 21st February 2015. Bishop Ivan brings in a new perspective to his Episcopate with his stated motto “Pax Nuntiata Est”. It calls for a new dimension for the mission work: peace in families, peace between communities and Peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
1.2. Prefects Apostolicof Kafristan and Kashmir
1887 - Msgr. Ignatius Brouwer MHM, Prefect of Kafristan & Kashmir
1894 - Msgr. Reyndes MHM, Prefect Of Kafristan & Kashmir
1899 - Msgr. Wagener MHM, Prefect Of Kafristan & Kshmir
1914 - Msgr. Winkley MHM, Prefect Of Kafristan & Kashmir
1933 - Msgr. O’ Donhoe MHM, Prefect of Kafristan & Kashmir
1943 - Msgr. Mayer MHM, Pro-Prefect Of Kafristan & Kashmir
1.3. Prefects Apostolic of Kashmir and Jammu
1952 - Msgr. George shanks MHM, Prefect Apostolic of Kashmir & Jammu
1962 - Msgr. Boerkamp MHM, Prefect Apostolic of Kashmir & Jammu
1978 - Msgr. Hippolytus Kunnunkal OFM Cap. Prefect Apostolic of Kashmir & Jammu
1.4. Former Bishops
1986 – 1998 - Most Rev. Hippolytus, Kunnunkal OFM Cap.
1998 – 2014 - Most Rev. Peter Celestine OFM Cap.
1.5. Present Bishop
2015 - Most Rev. Ivan Albert Pereira
The Diocese of Jamshedpur was erected on July 2, 1962 in Jharkhand state. It comprises the district of East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum (excluding the parish of Bandgoan), Saraikela - Kharswan, Dhanbad, a portion of Bokaro district (namely the Chandankiayari Block and the Chas Block which lie East of National Highway no.32) and in West Bengal it covers the District of Purulia.
The Districts of West Singhbhum and Saraikera - Kharswan were formerly part of the Archdiocese of Ranchi. The district of East Singhbhum, Bokaro, Dhanbad and Purulia were part of the Archdiocese of Calcutta.
Most Rev. Lawrence T. Picachy, sj, (1962 - 1969) and Most Rev. Joseph R. Rodericks, sj, (1971 -1996) were the former prelates. Most Rev. Felix Toppo, sj, was consecrated on September 27,1997 as its third Bishop.
The Work of the Church in Chotanagpur was initiated by the Belgian Jesuits of Calcutta province at Chaibasa in the year 1868. Manbhum (now Purulia, Dhanbad and Bokaro districts) and Singhbhum (now East and West Singhbhum and Saraikela - Kharswan) were entrusted in the year 1947 to the care of American Jesuits of Maryland Province.
In the year 1962, at the time of the erection of the diocese only 8 parishes were existing. In the year 1964, among these 8 parishes, the parishes of Bandgoan and Anandpur were transferred to the Archdiocese of Ranchi. At the re-organization of the Archdiocese of Ranchi, the parish of Anandpur was once again transferred back to Jamshedpur in the year 1997.
The majority of the people in the diocese are living in villages which belong to the Hos, Mundas and Santhal tribes. The cosmopolitan towns of Jamshedpur, Purulia and Dhanbad have a floating population which comes for work from all the states of India. The languages of liturgical celebrations in the towns are Hindi and English. In the villages - Ho, Mundari and Santhali are used.
The evangelization work among these villages has been making a steady progress. In the year 1962 there were only 8 parishes. Now the number of parishes in the diocese are 29. There are approximately 60,000 Catholics in the diocese. Over the years, Religious Congregations of men (5) and women (21) have come to the diocese. There are 146 priests and 318 Religious Sisters working in the diocese. The main thrust of the diocese along with the proclamation of the Gospel is the apostolates of education, health and Justice & peace".
The Diocese of Jhansi comprises the civil districts of Banda, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Jalaun, Jhansi and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh and the civil districts of Datia, Shivpuri, Morena, Bhind and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.
In 1929, the four districts of U.P. (Lalitpur was a part of Jhansi and Mohoba was a part of Hamirpur) were entrusted as a Mission to the Capuchins of the Maltese Province, who had been working in the Diocese of Allahabad alongside the confreres, the Bolongnese Fathers since 1929.
By a decree of Pope Pius XII, "Ad Evangelicam Veritatem", dated January 12, 1940, this mission was detached from the Allahabad diocese and erected into a Prefecture. On account of the Second World War, it remained orphaned of its Prefect till January 21, 1946.
On July 5, 1954, the Prefecture was raised to the status of a diocese by the Decree "In Prefectura Apostolica", and Msgr F. X. Fenech ofm cap, then Prefect Apostolic, became the First Bishop of Jhansi. In 1963 Msgr Baptist Mudartha was nominated as Bishop Auxiliary to Bp Fenech and in August 1967 Bp Mudartha was installed as the First Indian Bishop of Jhansi.
The history of the Diocese of Kalyan is very much intertwined with the history of the Syro - Malabar Church itself in India. Having its roots in the Apostolic Ministry of St. Thomas the Apostle himself who established seven communities of the Christian Church in Kerala in the first century itself. These Christians migrated to different parts of India. They concentrated mainly in the big cities of India. In Bombay, Pune and Nasik regions, they are found in large numbers. The spiritual care of these regions are assisted by lay association like Kerala Catholic Association (Bombay). St. Thomas Christians of India (Pune), etc.
On September 8, 1978 Pope John Paul II appointed His Eminence Antony Cardinal Padiyara, the then Archbishop of Changanacherry as the Apostolic Visitor to study the situation. The visit of Pope John Paul II to India in 1986 gave him a first hand experience of the living faith of the Syro - Malabar Christians of India. A Pontifical Commission was appointed and on the basis of its report came the all-important letter of the Pope to the Bishops of India observing that the present situation in Bombay - Pune region is mature for the Churches to take necessary steps in this regard. Finally on May 19, 1988 His Holiness Pope John Paul II made the announcement of the establishment of a new diocese for the Syro - Malabar Christians of Bombay - Pune - Nasik regions, the Diocese of Kalyan, and the designation of Mgr. Paul Chittilapilly as its first Bishop. The Bull, however, was signed by the Pope as on April 30, 1988. Thus the birth of the diocese and the appointment of the first Bishop took effect from April 30,1988. The Episcopal Ordination and the official inauguration of the diocese took place on August 24, 1988 at the Don Bosco Grounds, Matunga, Bombay.
After nine years of dedicated and pioneering work in the newly born diocese, Bishop Paul Chittilappilly was transferred to the diocese of Thamarassery in Kerala on December18, 1996 and took charge on February 13, 1997. His successor and the second bishop of Kalyan Diocese was Mar Thomas Elavanal, whose consecration was on February 8, 1997 at Kannamwar Nagar, Vikhroli, Mumbai.
The Diocese of Kanjirapally was erected by His Holiness Pope Paul VI of illustrious memory, through the Bull "Nos Beati Petri Successores" on February 26, 1977 as a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Changancherry. On May 12, 1977, Archbishop Mar Antony Padiyara officially published the Papal Bull at St. Dominic's Cathedral, Kanjirapally and Mar Joseph Powathil, the then Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry was installed the First Bishop of Kanjirapally. Mar Joseph Powathil laid the foundation of the multifarious development activities - both spiritual and secular - in the diocese. When Mar Joseph Powathil was installed as the Archbishop of Changancherry in 1986, Mar Mathew Vattakkuzhy became the Episcopal torchbearer. Under his patronage the diocese witnessed spiritual renewal and acceleration in multi - faceted growth. In the event of his retirement in January 2001, Mar Mathew Arackal was appointed Bishop of Kanjirapally to pilot the diocese in the new millennium.
The diocese consists of 8 Deaneries within which there are 123 Parish churches and 38 Stations and Chapels for a Catholic population of 1,88,000. It mainly comprises the rural and the mountainous regions in the civil districts of Kottayam, Idduki and Pathanamthitta in the state of Kerala covering an area of 1980 sq. kms. This Catholic diocese forms part of the Syro - Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church. Nilackal, one of the seven churches founded by St. Thomas, the Apostle in 52 A.D. is located in the eastern part of this diocese. The high ranges of this diocese are mostly covered with forests. The temperature in this region is comparatively low considering other parts of Kerala. The misty meadows and the green topography of this virgin forest create an atmosphere of serenity and a halo of sacredness. Most of the people who settled in high ranges are migrants from other parts of Kerala, who rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Ever since its inception the diocese has been engaged in the social and economic development of the people, together with its spiritual work. Accordingly the diocese implemented many schemes for these purposes and as a result, we have been able to provide a network of institutions to the people. Motivated by love, the diocese is striving day in and day out to bring the abundance of life to every one within her reach. By the Grace of God, the diocese had done commendable works to the spectrum of spiritual renewal and social and educational development of this region following the footsteps of the supreme shepherd Jesus Christ. Standing on the threshold of the Silver Jubilee year, the diocese of Kanjirapally is looking forward to an era of Grace in which she hopes to take giant strides in social, economic and spiritual amelioration.
The Diocese, comprising the whole civil district of Uttara Kannada, was carved out from Belgaum diocese and erected as the Diocese of Karwar by the Decree 'Christi Missum" of Pope Paul VI dated January 24, 1976.
Bp William Leonard D'Mello was appointed First Bishop of Karwar by an Apostolic Bull dated January 24, 1976. He was ordained and installed as the First Bishop of Karwar on April 29, 1977. He served the diocese of Karwar for 30 year with great pastoral care.
The Exarchate of St. Ephrem of Khadki, Pune, of the Syro-Malankaras extends over the entire southern part of India where till now there was no Syro-Malankara ecclesial circumscription, namely, the entire States of Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, together with parts of Karnataka and Tamilnadu. The Mission of the Syro-Malankara Church outside the proper territory began in 1955 with the foundation of Bethany Ashram, in Poona, for the pastoral care of immigrants. Today the Syro-Malankara presence in the region of the Exarchate consists of 27 parishes or missions. There are 21 priests dedicated to the pastoral care, 13 convents of women religious and about ten schools, including a College for higher studies. The majority of the faithful is found near Mumbai and Poona, in the western part of the State of Maharashtra. The first Exarch will have his residence and chancery in the city of Khadki, Pune, in the complex which includes St. Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church, which will serve as the new cathedral.
The history of the advent of mission activities in Khandwa region began with the coming of the Missionaries of St. Francis De Sales to Asirgarh Fort in 1866. They operated in those days from Nagpur. The first of them was Rev. Fr. Amedeys Delalex who as a military chaplain of Jabalpur, had to visit periodically the Asirgarh Fort, which was not very far from Khandwa. In 1870 Rev. Fr. J. Thevenet built a small chapel at Khandwa and in 1880 he built a Church in Gothic style, which was solemnly blessed by Dr. Meurin, Vicar Apostolic of Bombay, in the presence of Bishop Tissot of Vishakpatanam. Rev. Fr. Souchon was the first resident parish priest from 1880 to 1888. Gradually Khandwa became the headquarters of mission work. The Franciscan missionaries contributed a major share to this cause especially in places like Khandwa, Aulia, Sirpur, etc. It was in 1932 that the SVD missionaries came to India and this area was then entrusted to their care. Then onwards the Divine Word Missionaries active in both East and West Nimar were instrumental in spreading the Word of God and establishing the local church. Khandwa was part of Indore Diocese.
The Diocese of Khandwa was erected on February 3, 1977 by the Papal Bull "Apostolico Officio" of Pope Paul VI. It comprises of the four civil districts of Khandwa, Bhurhanpur, Barwani and Khargone, also called East and West Nimar districts, separated from Indore diocese. Bp Abraham Viruthakulangara was appointed the First Bishop of Khandwa. In 1997 he was Transferred and appointed as the Archbishop of Nagapur.
The eparchy of Kothamangalam was erected by Pope Pius XII through the Papal Bull 'Quiin beati Petri Cathedra' of July 29, 1956 separating theprotopresbyterates of Arakuzha, Kothamangalam and Mailacombu, of the thenArchieparchy of Ernakulam- Angamaly. Mar Matthew Pothanamuzhi was ordained as the first bishop of the eparchy in Rome onNovember 18, 1956. The inauguration of the eparchy and the installation of thenew bishop took place on January 10, 1957, at Kothamangalam. Mar MatthewPothanamuzhi, who guided the eparchy with paternal care and succeeded in curingthe teething troubles of the eparchy, retired after two decades of memorablepastoral ministry.
Mar George Punnakottil succeeded Mar Matthew Pothanamuzhi. He was ordained andinstalled in office on April 24, 1977. The developmental programmes in theeparchy got a new vigour and verve and there were new initiatives to augmentthis process.
On January 10, 2013, the 56th anniversary of the inauguration ofthe Eparchy of Kothamangalam, the people of God heard the announcement 'We havea new Bishop'. Bishop Mar GeorgeMadathikandathil wasenthroned on February 9, 2013 as the third bishop of the Eparchy ofKothamangalam. At present, the Eparchy is constituted of 119 parishes.
Situated in the centre of Kerala, the Eparchy of Kothamangalamlies extended in the revenue districts of Ernakulam and Idukki, surrounded bythe Archieparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, and the eparchies of Irinjalakuda, Idukki and Pala.
North : River Chalakudy and northern boundary of Devikulam Taluk.
East : Uzhavathadam River, Cheeyapara Waterfalls,Karimanal Power House, Kulamavu Dam ( & the Eastern boundaries ofPazhampillichal, Neendapara, Rajagiri and Uppukunnu parishes).
West : Eastern boundaries of Thripunithura and Vallam Foranes ofErnakulam-Angamaly Archieparchy.
South : Southern boundaries of Ramamangalam, Memuri, Marady &Arakuzha Villages of Marika Kara and Purapuzha and Karimkunnam Villages,Vazhipuzha River / Kinginithodu, eastern boundary of Velliamattam and southernboundary of Thodupuzha Taluk
The Augustinians and the Jesuits were he first missionaries to look for the souls for Christ in the beginning of 17th century. Around 1620 they established a catholic centre at Berhampur in Murshidabad district.
Fr. Thomas Zubiburu, a Protuguese Carmelite came to Krishnagar in May 1845 from Chitagong and formed the first catholic community at Krishnagar. In 1846 he built a chapel which was dedicated to 'Our Lady of Carmel'. The catholic Mission in Krishnagar was closed when, due to illness, Fr. Thomas was forced to withdraw. The municipality took over the chapel and converted into a dispensary.
The Milan Fathers (MIME) arrived in 1855 to work in central Bengal Mission, consisting of the whole of Assam, part of present Bangladesh, and present Krishnagar diocese. Fr. Luigi Limana claimed the chapel from municipality, and again the catholic community began to group up.
On 19th July 1870 the Holy See erected Krishnagar into a prefecture Apostolic and Fr. Antony Marietti was appointed its first Prefect Apostolic.
Krishnagar was erected a diocese on 1st September 1886 and Mongr. Francis Pozzi was appointed its first Bishop. He built the Cathedral at the sight of old chapel which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1897. He rebuilt a new cathedral at the present site on 29 March 1899, and dedicated to Jesus, the Most Holy Redeemer.
When the diocese of Dinajpur was bifurcated on 20th June 1928 the Milan Fathers opted to work for Dinjapur and handed over Krishnagar to the Salesians of Don Bosco.
On 24 May, 2001, the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, the Salesians of Don Bosco have handed over the Bishop's House to the diocesan clergy.
The Krishnagar diocese is comprised of two civil districts of Naida and Murshidabad in West Bengal, India.
The Lucknow diocese erected on January 12, 1940, was part of the Diocese of Allahabad and when detached from it, comprised 10 districts of the Allahabad diocese (Lucknow, Unnao, Barabanki, Gonda, Bahraich, Sitapur, Kheri, Nainital and Almora), and two districts detached from the Archdiocese of Agra (Shahjahanpur and Pilibhit). The district of Bareilly was detached from Agra and joined to Lucknow diocese on Nov. 8, 1951, though it had already been cared for by Lucknow from September 1948, by common agreement between the Archbishop of Agra and the Bishop of lucknow. The district of Almora has been divided into two districts by Government Decree, dated February 24, 1960, the name of the other district being Pithoragarh.
At the time of erection of this diocese, Bp Angelo Poli, ofm cap, Bishop of Allahabad, was appointed Administrator of the new diocese.
Due to the war, the first Bishop of Lucknow was appointed only on December 12, 1946, and took possession of the diocese on Feb. 16, 1947.
Pope John Paul II, on February 4, 1989 erected the new Diocese of Bareilly, comprising the civil districts of Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Pilibhit, Nainital, Almora and Pithoragarh, detaching from the territory of the Diocese of Lucknow.
At present the Diocese of Lucknow is comprised of eight civil districts of Uttar Pradesh: Lucknow, Unnao, Barabanki, Gonda, Bahraich, Sitapur, Hardoi and Kheri.
The presentArchdiocese of Madurai in its inception was nurtured by the French JesuitMissionaries of Madura Mission of thethen Malabar Province. Robert De Nobili ( 1577-1656), St. John De Britto(1647-1693), Constantine Beschi, known as Veeramamunivar (1680-1747), James DeRossi (1700) are the valiant missionaries who with zeal created and developedthe Old Madura mission. Missionariessuch as Rev. J.B. Trincal, Rev. Clement Montaud, Rev. Leveille, Rev. Causanneland Rev. Sr. Rose SJL are the ones who worked in the new Madura mission whichbecame the present Archdiocese. St. John De Britto, who was martyred for thefaith on 4th Feb. 1693 at Oriyur, is the Patron Saint of theArchdiocese.
The present territory of the Archdiocese of Madurai comprises of the whole of Madurai civil district, Theni District and Virudunagar district and Taluks of Batlagundu, Kodaikanal and Nilakkottai of Dindigul district.
The Diocese of Madurai, bifurcated from the Diocese of Trichinopally (Trichy) was created on 8th January 1938 by the bull “Si inter infidels” It included six out of the eight Taluks of former Madurai District, the whole of former Ramanathapuram District and five Taluks of former Trinelveli District.
By the Apostolic Constitution “Mutant Res” dated September 19, 1953 the Diocese of Madurai was raised to an Archdiocese with Trichirapalli, Tuticorin and Kottar as suffragans to Madurai.
In 1963, the Diocese of Kottar, having been detached from the Metropolitan of Verapoly was attached as a Suffragan to the Archdiocese of Madurai.
On September 9, 1973, the Taluks of Ambasamudram, Kovilpatti, Sankarankoil, Tenkasi and Trinelveli were separated from the Archdiocese of Madurai and the diocese of Palayamkottai was created as a Suffragan to Madurai.
On August 30, 1987, the Archdiocese of Madurai gave birth to one more Suffragan Diocese, i.e., the Diocese of Sivaganga.
On November 10, 2003 a part ofArchdiocese was given to the newly born Dindigul diocese.
On 24th February 2015, the newly erected Diocese Kuzhithurai became the suffragan of Madurai Province.
At present the Suffragan Dioceses of Madurai are the following: Trichirappalli, Turicorin, Kottar, Palayamkottai, Sivagangai, Dindigul and Kuzhithurai. The Syro Malabar diocese of Thukkalay and Diocese of Marthandam of Syro Malankara Church have jurisdiction in the Archdiocese as well.
Former Prelates: Most Rev. Peter Leonard SJ (1938-1967); Most Rev. Justin Diraviam (1967 – 1985); Most Rev. Casimir Gnanadickam SJ (1985 – 1987); Most Rev. Marianus Arockiasamy (1987 – 2003); Most Rev. Peter Fernando (2003 - 2014 ); Most Rev. Antony Pappusamy ( 2014 - )
Former Prelates: Most Rev. Peter Leonard SJ (1938-1967); Most Rev. Justin Diraviam (1967 – 1985); Most Rev. Casimir Gnanadickam SJ (1985 – 1987); Most Rev. Marianus Arockiasamy (1987 – 2003); Most Rev. Peter Fernando (2003 - 2014 ); Most Rev. Antony Pappusamy ( 2014 - )
His Holiness Pope Paul VI by the Bull "Quanta Gloria" of March 1, 1973 bifurcated the vast diocese of Tellicherry and erected the diocese of Mananthavady. The diocese comprised of the civil districts of Wayanad in Kerala, the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu and the districts of Shimoga, Chikmangalore, Hassan, Mandya and Mysore in Karnataka. Mar Jacob Thoomkuzhy was consecrated as the first Bishop of Mananthavady on May 1, 1973.
On December 31, 1975, by a decree of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, dated December 4, 1975, ten parishes of the diocese of Tellicherry in the civil districts of Kannur and Kozhikode (at present Malappuram) in Kerala were added to the diocese.
Mananthavady has an area of approximately 48,250 sq. kms. and a population of 1,64,823 Syrian Catholics. On June 7, 1995 Mar Jacob Thoomkuzhy was transferred as the bishop Thamarassery. And the then Proto-Synchellus Msgr. Joseph Kaniamattamwas appointed as the Administrator of the diocese on July 27, 1995. On January 26, 1997 Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Pothanamuzhy was consecrated as the second bishop of the diocese.
On 18 January 2010, the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, by his decree (Prot. No. 55/2010) dated 18 January 2010 erected a new eparchy by name Mandya, bifurcating the eparchy of Mananthavady. The new eparchy comprises the four civil districts of Karnataka, namely, Mandya, Hassan, Mysore and Chamarajnagar and has its See in the city of Mandya in the civil district of Mandya. Before the erection of the eparchy of Mandya, the District of Mandya was entrusted to the pastoral care of the Missionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle (MST) and the District of Hassan, to the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI). The Districts of Mysore and Chamrajnagar were under the direct pastoral care of the eparchy of Mananthavady. Considering the great distance from the eparchial headquarters of Mananthavady, the geographical, linguistic and cultural differences and the differences in the nature of the apostolates undertaken, there were repeated request by the Local Ordinaries to form a separate eparchy in the region of Mandya.
The XVII Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church held in August 2008 consented to the proposal and having obtained the assent of the Holy Father in accordance with CCEO c. 85 §1, the new eparchy of Mandya was erected on 18 January 2010. By another decree of the Major Archbishop, Prot. No. 56/2010 with the same date, Mgr. George Njaralakatt, a priest of the eparchy of Mananthavady and who was at that time working as the Vicar General of the eparchy of Bhadravathi was appointed the first bishop of the new eparchy of Mandya. The new eparchy is a suffragan eparchy of the Archeparchy of Tellicherry. Infant Jesus Church, Henkel is the cathedral of the new eparchy and the Episcopal residence is at Kalenahalli, 6 kms away from the city of Mandya.
The Episcopal Ordination of the Bishop and the Enthronement took place on 7 April 2010 at Henkal along with the official inauguration of the Eparchy. The newly erected diocese of Mandya has an area of 17,460 sq. kms with a total population of 44,47,312 of which around 1300 are Catholics. There are 26 parishes and mission stations looked after by 38 priests belonging to the MST and CMI Congregation a few belonging to the eparchial clergy. There are 5 houses of men religious belonging to 4 religious congregations, 79 religious sisters belonging to 5 religious congregations in 20 convents doing ministry in various fields of the apostolate.
The diocese Mangalore comprises of the civil districts of South Kanara and Udupi in Karnataka, and Kasargod in Kerala. Since the beginning of the sixteenth century Mangalore which formed a part of Kanara passed several times successively under the jurisdiction of Goa, Verapoly and Pondicherry.
On September 27, 1879 Kanara was entrusted by the Holy See to the care of the Jesuit Province of Venice.
With the official proclamation of the establishment of the Indian hierarchy in a Council of the Bishops of Southern India at Bangalore on January 25, 1887, Mangalore (including the present diocese of Calicut) took it's place in the Indian hierarchy as the diocese of Mangalore.
By an Apostolic Brief "Cum Auctus Fidelium Grex" on June 22, 1923 the diocese of Mangalore was divided by separating from it the district of Malabar which forms the present diocese of Calicut. With this division the restricted diocese of Mangalore was entrusted to it's own clergy. By a decree of the Sacred Congregation for Propaganda Fide dated January 12, 1960 the Hosdrug Taluk was detached from this diocese and was attached to the diocese of Calicut.
It is firmly believed and traditionally accepted that St. Thomas, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ had come to India in 52 A. D. Out of the seven and a half churches established by St. Thomas, the District of Kanyakumari is having the privilege of having the half church at Thiruvithamcode. Though there was a Christian community in Kanyakumari right from the beginning of the 1st century, it could not grow to a sizeable Christian community.
In the 16th century, the Portuguese Church Workers arrived in the District of Kanyakumari and as the result of their work, the Christian community there began to grow. Later during the British regime in India, the Protestant Church Workers also started their work among the people in the district of Kanyakumari, which was in fact a part of the erstwhile State of Travancore.
On September 30, 1930 when Metropolitan Mar Ivanios together with a group of
four people (a Bishop, a priest, a deacon and a layman) reunited with the Catholic Church, the Malankara Church paved the way for regaining its Catholic communion. On June 11, 1932 by the Apostolic Constitution Christo Pastorum Principe, His Holiness Pope Pius XI established the Syro - Malankara Catholic Hierarchy comprising the Archdiocese of Trivandrum and the Diocese of Tiruvalla. Mar Ivanios, the pioneer of the Reunion Movement, extended his mission work to Kanyakumari district with Marthandam as its centre in 1934.
With the dedicated service of the priests and the religious from various dioceses and congregations, many parishes and stations of the Malankara Church could be established in the district of Kanyakumari. After the demise of Mar Ivanios, under the guidance of His Grace Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios of happy memory, the number of parishes and missions increased. Vocation to priesthood and the religious life from this region also increased. At the demise of His Grace Mar Gregorios, His Grace Most Rev Cyril Mar Baselios assumed the office of the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Metropolitan Eparchy of Trivandrum.
Considering the linguistic, social and cultural heritage of the people of this region and the vast area of the Metropolitan Eparchy of Trivandrum, at the request of His Grace Most Rev Cyril Mar Baselios, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, by an Apostolic Decree dated December 16, 1996, bifurcated the Metropolitan Eparchy and erected the Eparchy of Marthandam having its headquarters at Marthandam. Thus the fourth Diocese of the Malankara Catholic Church came into existence and His Excellency Most Rev Lawrence Mar Ephraem took charge as its first Bishop.
The installation of His Excellency Most Rev Lawrence Mar Ephraem as the Bishop of Marthandam took place on January 23, 1997 at the Christuraja Cathedral, Marthandam. His Grace Most Rev Cyril Mar Baselios, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum officiated the liturgical ceremony, and executed the Papal Bull of the erection of the new Eparchy of Marthandam.
After a prolonged illness, His Excellency Bishop Lawrence Mar Ephraem slept in the Lord on April 8, 1997.
On April 16, 1998 His Holiness Pope John Paul ll appointed Most Rev Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom as the second Bishop of the Eparchy of Marthandam. His Excellency was consecrated as Bishop on June 29, 1998 and was installed as the Bishop of Marthandam on July 1, 1998.
By the Apostolic Bull "Quandoquidem Christus" of February 20, 1956, the present civil district of Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Dehra Dun, Rampur, Moradabad, Bijnor, Garhwal, Tehri, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Ghaziabad, and Haridwar in west (U.P) were detached from the Archdiocese of Agra and formed into the Diocese of Meerut.
In May 1972, the new Diocese of Bijnor was formed the districts of Bijnor (excluding Dhampur Tehsil), Garhwal, Tehri, Uttarkashi and Chamoli, taken from Meerut Diocese.
The boundaries of Meerut Diocese are: north -Diocese of Bijnor: south-Agra Archdiocese; east-Lucknow and Bareilly dioceses west-Delhi Archdiocese and Simla-Chandigarh Diocese.
The Church of Our Lady of graces, Sardhana, was raised to the dignity of a minor Basilica by Pope John XIII on December, 13, 1961.
The diocese of Miao, bifurcated from Dibrugarh on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2005. It has an area of 31,445 sq. kms., with 59,000 Catholics, 12 mission stations, 6 diocesan priests, 54 religious priests, 1 religious brother and 21 religious sisters. The parish Church of Miao is the Cathedral of the new diocese and ‘Christ the Light’ the diocesan Patron.
The first bishop of Miao, bishop-elect George Palliparampil, a Salesian of Don Bosco, was director and principal of Don Bosco School in Dibrugarh at the time of his appointment. Bishop-elect George was born in 1954 and was ordained priest in 1982. He has a M. A. in Public Administration and a Doctorate in Sociology. He has been a missionary in Arunachal Pradesh and an educationist of repute.
The Mission of Mysore was separated from the Vicariate Apostolic of Pondicherry on March 16, 1845, to become first a pro-Vicariate, and then in 1850 a Vicariate Apostolic entrusted to Msgr Charbonnaux who was, till then, Co-adjutor to the Bishop of Pondicherry.
In 1886, the Vicariate of Mysore was elevated to a Diocese, and its Vicar Apostolic, Msgr Coadou became its First Bishop, residing, however, in Bangalore. Untill 1940, the Diocese of Mysore included the entire districts of Mysore, Coorg and Kollegal, but on February 13, 1940, by the Apostolic Letter "Felicius Increscente" of Pius XII, Bangalore was separated from Mysore and the Bishop of former Mysore Diocese Bp M.B. Despatures became the Bishop of Bangalore, comprising the districts of Bangalore, Kolar, Tumkur and Chitradurga.
The Diocese of Mysore (as distinct from Bangalore) was reconstituted in 1941 with the addition of the Nilgiris district and part of the Coimbatore district.
However 15 years later, on July 3, 1955, by the Apostolic Constitution "Nuntiatur in Psalmis" of Pope Pius XII, these districts of Nilgiris and Coimbatore were again separated from Mysore and erected into Diocese of Ootacamund (Ooty) in Tamil Nadu.
On November 16, 1963, by the Apostolic Constitution "Indicae Regionis Conditio" of Pope Paul VI, three most districts, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Shimoga, were separated from the Mysore Diocese to form the Diocese of Chikmagalur.
The present Diocese of Mysore comprises the four districts of Mysore, Mandya, Coorg & Chamarajanagara. It is surrounded by the Archdiocese of Bangalore, Diocese of Ooty, Calicut, Mangalore and Chikmagalur.
The Archdiocese of Nagpur is situated roughly in the middle of India. It now comprises the districts of Nagpur and Bhandara in Maharashtra state, and the districts of Betul, Chhindwara, Seoni (except the tehsil of Lakhnadon) and Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh. The diocese was originally formed by dismemberment of what was then known as the Central Provinces and Berar, from the Diocese of Visakhapatnam in 1887. It was entrusted to the care of Fathers of St. Francis de Sales.
On July 18, 1932 the Brief "De Romanorum Pontificum" erected the Prefecture of Jabalpur (now diocese) by separating from the Diocese of Visakhapatnam in 1887. It was entrusted to the care of Fathers of St. Francis de Sales.
Again on March 11, 1935, the Decree "Salutis Animarum" of the S.C. of the Propagation of Faith erected the Prefecture of Indore (now diocese) comprising parts of the Diocese of Ajmer, Allahabad and Nagpur, namely, the districts of Hoshangabad and Khandwa.
Further on May 8, 1935, the Decree "Cum Petierit" erected the Diocese of Amravati by taking away from the Nagpur Archdiocese the four districts of Berar (Amravati, Akola, Buldana and Yeotmal) and the three districts of Marathwada (Aurangabad and parts of Parbhani and Nanded. The other parts of Parbhani and Nanded belonged to the Archdiocese of Hyderabad).
On March 31, 1962, the Apostolic Decree "Ad Lucem Sancti Evangelii" erected the Exarchate of Chanda from the three districts of Wardha, Chanda and Adilabad, till then part of Nagpur Archdiocese. This was entrusted to the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, of the Syro-Malabar Rite. In 1976 Chanda Exarchate was made into a diocese.
On January 16, 1964 by the Bull "Religio Vera Christique Salus" the districts of Raipur, Durg and Bilaspur were further detached from the Nagpur Archdiocese to form the Prefecture of Raipur which was entrusted to the Pallottine Fathers and later given the status of diocese in March 1974.
In September 1953, Nagpur was raised to an Archbishopric, with Amravati and Chanda diocese as its Suffragans. Most Rev. Eugene D'Souza was the first Indian Bishop and later Archbishop of Nagpur.
The Diocese of Nalgonda was erected by the Papal Bull "Animarum Utiliati", dated May 31, 1976 of Pope Paul VI. It comprises the civil district of Nalgonda which was part of Warangal diocese and the civil district of Mahaboobnagar, which was part of the Archdiocese of Hyderabad
His Holiness Pope John Paul II erected the Catholic Diocese of Nashik consisting of the territory detached from the Diocese of Pune. The Catholic Diocese of Nashik consist of the civil revenue districts of Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nandurbar and Ahmednagar. All these five districts are in Maharashtra.
The First Fathers in the area were the Jesuits from Pondicherry in 1700. By 1736 many Telugus had joyfully accepted baptism. After the Jesuit withdrawal in 1773 the people were left without priests for 50 years until the priest of the Paris Foreign Missionary Society came. Though few in number these gallant Fathers kept the faith alive so that the northern area of the Carnatic Mission was erected into Vicariate Apostolic and entrusted to the secular Irish Fathers (Maynooth and All Hallows). To aid these fathers, priests of St. Joseph's Society Mill Hill, London came in 1875 and began working among the Telugus.
The Diocese of Nellore was erected by virtue of the Papal Bull "Ad majus religionis incrementum" dated July 3, 1928; however the communication was sent on November 15, 1928 mentioning that the decree of erection will take effect on November 26, 1928, comprising the civil districts of Nellore, Ananthapur, Chitoor, Cuddapah, Kurnool and Guntur, and Bp Bouter became the First Bishop of the new diocese.
In 1940 the civil district of Guntur became a Diocese entrusted to the secular clergy. In August 1959 the taluks of Allur and Adoni, formerly part of the Diocese of Bellary, were added to the Diocese of Nellore. In 1967, the Diocese of Kurnool was formed out of Nellore with the districts of Kurnool and Ananthapur. In 1976 the taluks of Chitoor and Palmaner from the Diocese of Vellore were added to the Diocese of Nellore. In 1977 the Diocese of Cuddapah was carved out of Nellore with the Districts of Cuddapah and Chitoor. At the time the taluks of Giddalur and Markapur of the Diocese of Kurnool and the taluks of Ongole and Chirala were added to the Diocese of Nellore. Today the Diocese of Nellore consists of the district of Nellore and the district of Prakasam except Adoni taluk.
The Latin Diocese of Neyyatinkara was erected by His Holiness Pope John Paul II by the Bull "Ad Aptius Provehendum" dated June 14, 1996. The origin of Christianity in this area dates back to 1600 A.D. The people who received baptism from St. Francis Xavier came and settled in Neyyatinkara, Amaravila and Parassala. In 1698 attempts were made to start Church work at Nemom. In 1707 Nemom Church work was started by a Jesuit Father, Fr Serveria Borgis. The first converts were from the Nair Community. The first church in this diocese was erected in 1755 at Amaravila.
Widespread Church work in the diocese began at the dawn of the present century. It was the saintly Abp Aloysius Maria Benziger ocd, the Co-adjutor Bishop of Quilon in 1900 and Bishop in 1905, who propagated Christian faith in the diocese. His saintly life, powerful leadership, missionary zeal and generous assistance to Fathers paved the way to the formation of several ecclesial communities and erection of many churches.
The erection of the new Diocese of Neyyatinkara and the appointment of Bp Vincent Samuel as its First Bishop were announced by Bp Soosa Pakiam at the Animation Centre, Vellayambalam, Thiruvananthapuram, on July 16, 1996. Bp Vincent Samuel, was ordained the Bishop of the new diocese by Cardinal Joseph Tomko on November 1, 1996 and he took charge of the diocese on November 5, 1996. The diocese consists of the taluks of Nedumangad and Neyyatinkara except the area that was erstwhile under the Padroado.
318,190The Holy Father John XXIII, by the Apostolic Bull, "Exultet Sancta Mater Ecclesia", established the Diocese of Dumka on August 8, 1962. 36 years later hence the Diocese of Purnea is born from Dumka through a declaration of Pope John Paul II on August 11, 1998.
The history of the Catholic diocese of Purnea can be traced back not just to these 36 years, but to almost 236 years. Records show that in 1773 Purnea district of that time was already forming part of the Vicariate of the Great Moghul, which was served by the Jesuits and later by the Carmelites. Subsequently, Rome attached Purnea to the neighbouring Prefecture of Tibet under the Capuchins, with Patna as its headquarters. In 1820 it became part of the Agra Vicariate. By then the Capuchin Fathers had been regularly visiting Purnea from different places. In January 1836 Mgr. Pezzoni visited Purnea accompanied by Fr Florian Toposkia, Polish Capuchin. The latter was appointed as the first resident priest of Purnea to serve the scattered community of European indigo planters who had started settling down in and around Purnea as soon as British rule was established in the district way before the 1770s.
When Patna Vicariate was created on February 7, 1845, Purnea became part of it under the Capuchins. On August 1, 1886 the Indian Hierarchy was established and the Patna Vicariate was suppressed and its territory joined to the Allahabad diocese. Then on June 7, 1887 Pope Leo XIII transferred Purnea district to Calcutta Archdiocese, mainly to provide a territorial link between Calcutta and Darjeeling. Fr Thomas McGonagall, sj, took over at Purnea on December 1, 1888 from Fr Heliodorus, ofm, cap. At this point the parish priest of Purnea was also in charge of the railway colonies from Sahibganj to Burdwan, and used to visit also Rampurhat, Nalhati and even Naya Dumka.
During this time the Loreto Sisters (IBVM) also came to Purnea. They arrived on December 15, 1882 and opened a school, working there till they left for Darjeeling on November 7, 1887.
In 1900 Fr L. Knockaert, sj, took charge in Purnea and worked in the region till 1921 except for a gap of three years. It was he who pioneered the work among the Santhals of the Purnea district. His work led to the opening of Majlispur (now in Raiganj diocese) which today is considered to be the cradle of the Jesuit Santhal Work, and was the launching pad for work among the Santhals of Santhal Parganas. The Jesuits continued their work in Purnea till 1978 to May 1981, Rev. Michael M. Minj, a diocesan priest was the parish priest of Purnea.
On May 3, 1981 the Salesians of Don Bosco began to administer the parish. Soon the Purnea mission witnessed rapid growth and development. Church Work was given priority and new parishes and stations were opened, most of them with their own pucca chapels . Besides these, hostels for boys and girls, schools, parish houses, community centers and other works in the service of the poor sprung up one after another. In this period of history, covering a span of 15 years, Fr. Jesus Gimenez, sdb, played a gigantic role in the development and progress of the Purnea deanery. Katihar, which had been an important part of Purnea, where a church had been in existence from 1940, became a quasi parish in 1980 and a parish on April 26, 1987. Katihar too underwent rapid development and expansion under the care of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and it has given birth to two more parishes; Gopalpur in 1994 and Baghela in 1997.
Kishanganj Station was established with a resident priest-in-charge in June 1983, and it became a parish in 1994. In 1991 Thakurganj was opened as a station under Kishanganj, and then subsequently made it to a parish in 1995, and is being administered by the T.O.R. Fathers.
Raniganj, 47 kms. north west of Purnea had become a station in 1986. It was bifurcated from Purnea to be made and independent parish in 1994. Satmi, 60 kms. west of Purnea too was a place regularly visited by priests from Purnea. A chapel had been built there in 1954. It too became a full-fledged parish in 1994. Banmankhi is another fast-developed Mission-station under Purnea with two resident priests.
Prior to 1849 only a timber, bamboo and straw chapel existed at Rambagh on the outskirts of Purnea. A brick chapel was built in its place and blessed by the Bishop Hartman, the Vicar Apostolic of Patna on August 19, 1849. In 1868 the construction of a brick chapel was started in Purnea itself. The incomplete chapel was used for the first time on Christmas 1871. An earthquake on July 14, 1885 damaged it considerably; but it was subsequently repaired. However another earthquake on January 15, 1953 destroyed it completely and a new church had to be built in the following year. It was enlarged in 1967.
On December 8, 1989, the foundation stone for a big and spacious church was blessed and laid adjacent to the old church. The church was solemnly blessed and dedicated on March 8, 1992 by Bishop S. M Tiru, and now it is the Cathedral of Purnea diocese.
According to the decree of Pope John Paul II the diocese of Purnea consists of the Northern portion of the diocese of Dumka, beyond the river Ganges, viz. the four civil districts of Purnea, Katihar, Kishanganj and Araria of Bihar state, covering an area of 15,733 sq. kms. The diocese has a population of over 63,00,000 people of whom about 21,000 are Catholics. The majority of the Catholic population consists of Santhals, Oraons and Mundas
Shimla-Chandigarh diocese has a long history. The Archdiocese of Shimla was created in 1910 when it was separated from the Archdiocese of Agra, the mother diocese of all North India. Very Rev. Fr Anselm E. J. Keneally, ofm cap., Superior General of the Friars minor Capuchins was appointed as the first Archbishop of this new Archdiocese, and he was consecrated in Rome on January 1, 1911. The church of St. Michael and St. Joseph in Shimla built in 1885 by Lord Ripon the Catholic Viceroy of India became the Cathedral of new Archdiocese. The century of history of this Archdiocese witnessed great changes and has been affected. by the changed political and ecclesiastical history of the country as a whole. The greatest of these was the partition and Independence of the country, which separated a large portion of the Vicariate of Punjab from our country to form the new diocese of Lahore in Pakistan. The realignment of the states, the creation of the new city of the Chandigarh and its Union Territory status have all influenced the history of the diocese and have had their effect in the structure and development of the diocese.
When the political capital of the country was shifted to Delhi the Catholic population was placed under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Shimla thus becoming the Delhi - Shimla Archdiocese and the See shifting to Delhi. Archbishop Sylvester P. Mulligan was the first Archbishop of Delhi - Shimla Archdiocese, which comprised of the present states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and the Union - Territory. Archbishop Sylvester P. Mulligan was succeeded by Archbishop Joseph Alexander Fernandes. In 1959 the Archdiocese of Delhi - Shimla was dismembered to form Shimla as an independent diocese and thus beginning the history of current diocese with Bishop John Burke as its pastor. In the year 1966 Bishop John Burke was succeeded by Bishop Alfred Fernandes the Vicar General of Archdiocese of Hyderabad. He was transferred to the See of Allahabad in 1970.
The foundation of the new city of Chandigarh gave rise to a new concept of urban Punjab and the political and social life of people began to shift and centre around the new city. Even though the bishop kept Shimla as headquarters of the diocese, he was forced to remain in Chandigarh to be closer to the people and their lives till finally Bishop Gilbert B. Rego shifted the residence to Chandigarh and the diocese came to be, known as Shimla - Chandigarh diocese.
The present Diocese of Shimla - Chandigarh has a total area of 83,560 sq. kms. and is spread in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. The Diocese of Shimla-Chandigarh consists .of the civil districts of Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti, Kullu, Mandi, Bilaspur, Shimla, Solan and Sirmour in Himachal Pradesh, Panchkula, Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Panipat, Kaithal, Jind, Hissar, Bhivani and Sirsa in Haryana state; Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa, Bhatinda, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ropar in Punjab state; and the Union Territory of Chandiqarh. This vast area accounts for a population of about 17,00,000 of which a mere 0.02% is Catholic that is about 13,500. There are pockets of other Christian denominations too. The area is the home of Sikhism and the other great religions of India. Hinduism and Islam still predominate the region making it a real mission land.
The Catholic community is itself a Kaleidoscopic picture of the variety of ethnic and cultural groups with independent linguistic identity, from different socio-economic background, yet united together in their faith in Christ around one pastor. Today the diocese has 30 parishes, 32 stations and the pastoral activities of these centers are taken care by 85 priests of the diocesan clergy and seven different religious congregations. The pastoral educational and social activities are shared by 22 other congregations of religious brothers and sisters spread in 39 communities.
With the appointment of Bishop Gerald John Mathias, the Diocese of Shimla -Chandigarh enters into a new phase of its history. May his leadership and guidance be blessed with abundance fruits in this far-flung vineyard of the Lord.
The Diocese of Tellicherry, erected by the Bull 'Ad Christi Ecclisiam Regendam' dated December 31, 1953 of His Holiness Pope Pius XII of happy memory, as a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam, is for the Catholics of the Syro - Malabar Church who migrated to Malabar region of the erstwhile Travancore and Cochin States. The boundaries of the new diocese were the same as those of the Latin Diocese of Calicut. But later, as Catholics of Syro - Malabar Church migrated even to the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the boundaries were extended to the present Latin Diocese of Mangalore, Chickmangalur, Mysore, Shimoga, and Ootacamund by a decree of the Holy See dated April 29, 1955.