Explore the Oldest Dioceses in South Asia

Cardinal Cheong

The cathedral of the first diocese in India.

It is believed that Christianity was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle,
who is said to have reached the Malabar Coast of Kerala in 52 AD.

Christian communities developed and expanded further when
Portuguese missionaries arrived in the 13th and 14th centuries.

History of a few oldest dioceses in India as the cradle of Indian Christianity
can be dated back to the 15th century.

Find out which is the first diocese in India here.

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Diocese of Jaffna

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Bishop Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam
Bishop Gnanapragasam
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Bishop Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam
Bishop's House,
P.O. Box 2, Jaffna,
Sri Lanka

Phone: (021)222.85.18
Fax :222.99.53
Email: [email protected]

Pope Francis Oct. 13, 2105 appointed Monsignor Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam the new bishop of Jaffna.

He was Vicar General of the Jaffna diocese at the time of appointment..

He takes over from Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam, who has stepped down having reached the retirement ager of 75 two years ago.

Bishop Savundaranayagam who had been Bishop of Mannar since 1981, was transferred to Jaffna in 1992.

Born, May 13, 1948, in Karampon, Kayts, in the Diocse of Jaffna, Msgr. Gnanapragasam entered the minor seminary of Jaffna and continued his secondary school at St. Patrick’s ?College.

After his philosophy at the national seminary of Kandy and theology at the Papal Seminary of Poona, in India, he was ordained to the priesthood on April 24, 1974.

Currently he is director of the diocesan press and examiner of doctoral thesis at Jaffna University.

After his ordination he has served various capacities as assistant parish priest in Kilinochchi and Valaipadu, Uruthirapuram and S. Anna, Ilavalai

He Studied ecumenical theology at Hull University, UK in 1979-1980 and was parish priest for five years in Mareesankoodal and vice rector of St. Henry’s College, Jaffna.

In 1986 he left for UK to study science at Southampton, UK. When returned, he became director of a group of state schools and rector of St. Henry’s College, Jaffna.

He also served as Dean of the Ilavalai Deanary comprising 9 parishes of Jaffna and visiting Professor of the major seminary of Jaffna and Rector of St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna

Previous Ordinaries:

  • Bishop Emmanuel Thomas Savundranayagam (1992-2015)
  • Bishop Bastiampillai Deogupillai (1972-1992)
  • Bishop Jerome Emilianus Pillai, OMI (1950-1972)
  • Bishop John Alfred Guyomar, OMI (1924-1950)
  • Bishop Jules-Andrew Brault, OMI (1919-1923)
  • Bishop Henry Julain, OMI (1893-1919)
  • Bishop Theophilus Andrew Melizan, OMI (1886-1893)

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