The archdiocesan area of 26,788 sq. kilometres includes one of the country's eight divisions. It comprises the civil districts of Brahmanbaria, Chandpur, Comilla, Dhaka, Gazipur, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi and Narayanganj. Dhaka is the national capital of Bangladesh.
By the second half of the 16th century, Catholics lived in various parts of present day Bangladesh. These areas included Hoshenpur of Mymensingh district and Sripur near Sonargaon, the old capital of eastern Bengal. When Mylapore (Chennai, India) was made a diocese in 1606, the mission stations of Bengal were placed under its jurisdiction. Among the churches erected by the Augustinians at that time were those at Nagori in 1695, and Tejgaon in 1677.
In 1834, the Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal was created under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In 1850, this Vicariate was divided into two, the Apostolic Vicariates of Eastern and Western Bengal. In 1852, the Vicariate of Eastern Bengal, with its headquarters in Dhaka, was entrusted to the newly-founded Congregation of the Holy Cross, whose first missioners arrived in 1853. The congregation still serves in Bangladesh.
The first Vicar Apostolic of Eastern Bengal, Monsignor Thomas Oliffe, served during 1852-53. From 1855 to 1859, Father Louis Verite CSC served as Pro Vicar Apostolic. His successor Father Pierre Dufal CSC was named Vicar Apostolic in 1860 and was ordained a bishop in France. He returned to Dhaka in 1861 and served there until 1876.
From 1876 to 1889, when the Holy Cross missionaries were recalled by their superior to France, the vicariate was administered by Benedictine monks of the Anglo-Belgian province. Dom Cuthbert Downey served as Pro Vicar Apostolic and Dom Gregory de Groote as administrator.
In 1889, the Holy Cross missionaries returned, led by Father Michael Fallize. The Diocese of Dhaka had been canonically erected on September 1, 1886, its territory including that of the present day dioceses of Chittagong (Bangladesh), Silchar (Assam, India), and Prome (Myanmar). Chittagong was removed from the jurisdiction of Dhaka in 1927.
When it gained independence in 1947, Dhaka was still a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Calcutta in India. In July 1950, Dhaka was raised to an archdiocese, heading a new ecclesiastical province with Chittagong , Dinajpur and Jessore (present-day Khulna) dioceses as suffragans. Holy Cross Father Lawrence Leo Graner was appointed the first Archbishop of Dhaka.
In September 1960, Pope John XXlll gave Dhaka (and Bangladesh as a whole) its first Bengali bishop in the person of Auxiliary Bishop Theotonius A. Ganguly, CSC. In November 1967, Bishop Ganguly became the first Bengali Archbishop of Dhaka. Following his death in September 1977, Bishop Michael Rozario of Dinajpur was appointed the third Archbishop of Dhaka on December 17, 1977. He was installed on April 9, 1978.
In the meantime, Bangladesh had won its independence from Pakistan in December 1971, and the archdiocese, as the only metropolitan see for all of Bangladesh, grew in importance and received greater responsibility.
Bengali (Bangla) is widely spoken, while English is the second language, especially among the educated people. The Indian languages of Hindi and Telegu are also spoken, as well as the tribal languages of the Garo, Khasi, Santali and Oraon.
Buses and other road transport are the primary means of reaching the different parts of the archdiocese. Trains and boats serve some areas, and rickshaws and trishaws are still popular in remote villages.
Sub-districts and district towns have telecommunications services that are now extending to villages. Mobile phones are available even at the countryside. Bangladesh Television (BTV), situated in Dhaka, is the only TV broadcasting station there, and it covers the whole country.
There are also two or three state-run radio stations located in Dhaka, and one or two private FM radio stations that serve Dhaka city. Satellite and cable TV are available in towns and some villages.
Gonsalo Garcia was born on Feb. 5, 1556, to a Portuguese father and Indian mother of Konkani descent, at Agashi village at Bassein (now Vasai), near Mumbai city in western India. His father was a soldier stationed at Fort Bassein, a Portuguese fort. Gonsalo received his education under the Jesuits. While assisting at the Church of the Holy of Jesus at Bassein, he developed a friendship with Jesuit Father Sebastian Gonsalves, who eventually became his lifelong mentor and guide.
This Filipino layman martyr saint could be rightly called the patron of infant baptism because it was after the baptism of an infant through his instrumentality that on 2nd April 1672 Pedro was martyred along with his companion missionary Fr. Diego San Vitores who baptised the infant. This infant was of a mother who got converted to Catholicism.
Lorenzo Ruiz, also called Saint Lorenzo of Manila, is a Filipino saint venerated in the Catholic Church. A Chinese-Filipino, he became his country's protomartyr after his execution in Japan by the Tokugawa Shogunate during its persecution of Japanese Christians in the 17th century.
Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korea-born Catholic priest ordained by the French Bishop Jean-Joseph-Jean-Baptiste Ferréol at Shanghai in 1844.
On every first Friday of the month thousands of Catholics flock to Holy Cross Church of Cherpunkal in Kerala, India to revere Infant Jesus and St. Thomas, the founder of the church. The church stands on the southern bank of Meenachil River. This fabled church, also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross)Church, belongs to Catholic Diocese of Palai of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church.
St. Mary’s Cathedral Church in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, is the mother church in the tribal belt of eastern India, where Belgian Jesuits laid the foundation of Catholicism in 19th century. This brownish Church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary, stands on Dr. Camil Bulcke Path and nestles between St. Xavier’s College and St. Albert Major Seminary.
Basilica of Our Lady of Graces in Sardhana is a historic church that lives the memory of love and benevolence of the sole female Roman Catholic ruler in India. Our Lady of Graces Church of Sardhana stands at Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh of northern India. Consecrated in 1822, this 200-feet long church with a high central dome over the main altar, is one of the largest churches in northern India.
Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica at Mylapore is a monumental declaration on ancient root of Christianity in India. The church was built over the tomb of St. Thomas, the Apostle who is believed to have preached Christianity in India. The cathedral preserves 2000-year-old bones of the saint and the lance that pierced him to death. Popularly known as Santhome Church, the cathedral at Chennai (formerly Madras) in Tamil Nadu state was constructed during the Portuguese era in the 16th century. “San Thome” assumes its name from St. Thomas.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The Cathedral of Good Shepherd in Singapore is a historic National Monument, but it also holds first-class relics of a French saint who brought Catholicism on the shores of city-state two centuries ago. Built in 1847, the Good Shepherd Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Church and mother church of all Catholic churches in Singapore.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
St. Anthony Cathedral at Wahakotte in Kandy is a melting of cultures and religions in Sri Lanka. Wonder worker St. Anthony of Padua is a highly respected saint among Sri Lankans of all ethnicities and faiths. Thousands visit this pilgrimage site all the year round. On the feast of St. Anthony on June 13, this national Catholic shrine draws tens of thousands of faithful from all over the country.