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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 Bhagalpur

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Diocese of Bhagalpur
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In 1939, the Third Order Regular Franciscan Missionaries of the Province from their Most Sacred Heart of Jesus province in Loreto, Pennsylvania, USA, came to the Diocese of Patna (now an Archdiocese) to assist the Jesuits, who were already engaged in the evangelization work in the region. The newcomers were assigned to the Mission Stations of Bhagalpur, Gokla, Proeyahat and Godda.

In 1956, the Vatican separated Bhagalpur from Patna and made it an Apostolic Prefecture. Fr. Urban McGarry, TOR was appointed as its first Prefect on Aug. 7, 1956.

When the prefecture was elevated to the Diocese of Bhagalpur, Msgr. McGarry was appointed its first bishop. Today it covers the civil districts of Bhagalpur, Godda, Deoghar, Banka, Jamui, Giridih and parts of Sahebganj and Munger districts, with a land area of 26,000 square kilometers in what was formerly the southeastern part of Patna Diocese.

Population

The population of 8,256,600 people includes tribal communities.

Language

Hindi and the tribal Santhali and Oraon languages are spoken.

Political

Bhagalpur diocese straddles the states of Bihar and Jharkhand, the latter being created from the former in 2000. India is a federal republic with a multi-party democratic system in which people directly elect the national and state governemnts.

Districts are administered by district magistrates, appointed by the government, whose subordinates in blocks, or anchal, are called Development Officers, or anchal adhikari. They collect revenue and coordinate all developmental works. The latter form the base of the pyramid of administration. Now local governance under the Panchayat Raj system is introduced wherein elected representatives of the panchayat , or village council, monitor development works in a village.

However, all policy decisions at the state level are made by a Cabinet of ministers headed by the Chief Minister. Political parties play a significant role in the administration of a state.

Transportation

Road, rail and river are all used for transportation.

Economy

Agriculture is widely practiced in the diocesan area. The major industries are coal mining, textiles and silk.

Telecommunication

All India Radio Bhagalpur (AIR Bhagalpur / Akashvani Bhagalpur) broadcasts in the territory.

Education

45.08 percent literacy rate

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