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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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Archdiocese of Bhopal

Archbishop Leo Cornelio
Archbishop Leo Cornelio
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Archbishop Leo Cornelio
Archbishop's House 33, Ahmedabad Palace Road Bhopal - 462 001 Madhya Pradesh, India
+91 755 25 40 829, 4234903 (Mob) 09425609199
Fax :+91 755 2544737
[email protected], [email protected]

Archbishop Leo Cornelio SVD was born on March 14, 1945, in the coastal city of Udupi in Karnataka. After completing his primary schooling in his native place, he was recruited for the Divine Word Missionary (SVD) and was admitted to Rajeshwar Vidhyalaya, Mhow, in Madhya Pradesh. There he continued his studies from 1958 to 1962.

After completing two years study at Divine Word Society in Mhow, he joined the novitiate (1964-1966) for spiritual and religious formation. He graduated in philosophy and in theology at the Papal Athenaeum, Pune, in 1968 and 1972 respectively.

He was ordained priest in his native parish at Mount Rosary Church, Kallianpur, on Nov. 14, 1972. Soon after his ordination, he joined Gyan Ashram, Mumbai. Later he obtained a master's degree in English literature. In June 1983, he went to Rome for a spiritual and theological course. On his return to India in 1984, he was elected provincial superior of the SVD Central Indian province with its headquarters in Indore. Three years later in 1987, he was re-elected to the same position.

In June 1988, at the SVD general chapter held in Rome, he was elected general councillor.

Besides being well acquainted with several Indian languages he is also proficient in Italian, Spanish, French, German and Indonesian languages.

In 1998, Pope John Paul II appointed him as bishop of Khandwa diocese. In 2000, Pope John Paul II appointed him as a member of pontifical council for migrants and itinerant people; and in 2006 he was reappointed by Pope Benedict XVI for a second term. He is also the chairman of the CBCI Commission for Youth and chairperson of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement. Besides, he is a member of the CBCI Commission for Social Communications and also the financial administrator for the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Regional Major Seminaries at Bhopal and Ashta.

Pope Francis accepted his resignation on 4 October 2021.
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