Tracing advent of Christianity in the Northeast

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

North EastAssam, January 11, 2012: The advent of Christianity in northeast India can be traced back to the 17th century when two Portuguese Jesuit priests camped in Guwahati while on their way to Hooghly and Tibet.

Fr. Stephen Cacella and Fr John Cabral were the first Catholic priests to set foot in Assam on September 26, 1626.

In June 1850, three Fathers of the Institute of the Foreign Missions of Paris arrived in Guwahati.

However, their mission activities could not be traced.

In 1870, the Assam region was brought under the Prefecture Apostolic of Krishnagar (Kolkata).

Fr. Jacob Broy of the Foreign Missions of Milan with headquarters at Guwahati, looked after Dibrugarh Mission.

In 1872, Fr. Broy set up residence in Guwahati and looked after undivided Assam.

He built a brick Church in Guwahati in 1883. This Church is also said to be the first Catholic Church in Assam.

The Prefecture Apostolic of Assam was established at Shillong in 1889.

On April 1, 1889, Fr. Rudolf Fontaine, a German Salvatorian priest managed to get land for opening a Catholic mission at Dibrugarh.

He opened the first mission centre, in 1909. With the outbreak of First World War, the German Missionaries had to flee India within six months.

In 1922, the Salesians of Don Bosco arrived in the region.

Fr Leo Piasecki looked after the whole of Assam Valley from Guwahati from 1923.

In 1940, there were 150 communities and about 19,000 Catholics under Dibrugarh Mission.

The diocese of Dibrugarh was carved out from the diocese of Shillong on July 12, 1951 with Orestes Marengo as its first Bishop.

In 1964, he was transferred as Bishop to the newly erected diocese of Tezpur.

On July 6, 1964, Hubert D’Rosario was appointed Bishop of Dibrugarh. He along with Fr. Rubio renovated the Cathedral with frescoes and beautiful mosaics.

The diocese was once again further divided on December 7, 2005 and since then it comprises five districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Golaghat of Assam.

At present the diocese has 573 substations with about 1, 21000 Catholics.

There are 34 parishes and several residential centres and institutions with 127 priests and 457 nuns.

– the assam tribune

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