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Salesian Contribution Lauded at Silver Jubilee celebrations of Diphu Diocese


By Fr. Tarcisius Toppo
The Archbishops and Bishops of the North East during the Cultural programme
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Dimapur, Feb. 22. Contribution made by the Salesians to the North East and especially in the diocese of Diphu was lauded during the Silver Jubilee celebrations on 22 February at Diphu, in the district of Karbi Anglong
Special mention was made of late Rt. Rev. Mathai Kochuparambil, SDB, DD, the first Bishop of Diphu. As a pastor of the diocese for eight years, it was he who set to work in the expansion of the church in that part of the North East. Being Provincial for six years in the Province of Guwahati, his knowledge of the region and people coupled with his pastoral zeal made the church vibrant. Mention was also made of late Fr. Balawan SDB, another stalwart missionary in the region.  

The Jubilee Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Rt. Rev. Thomas Menamparabil, Archbishop of Guwahati, with 100 priests and more 300 Sisters, and above 8000 faithful participating in the celebrations.

Archbishop Thomas Menaparambil, invited the faithful to thank God for the numerous marvels worked through the diocese as well as implore God's blessing on the present pastor, Bishop John Moolachira, priests, sisters, lay collaborators and the faithful of the diocese. He also recalled with gratitude the pioneers and great missionaries of the diocese, especially late Bishop Mathai Kochuparambil, the first Bishop of the diocese, who was called by God on 4 March 1992, late Fr. Balawan SDB,  Fr. John Marie and many other valiant missionaries.

Rt. Rev. Joseph Mittathany, archbishop emeritus of Imphal, while delivering his homily stressed on fulfilling the command of Christ in this part of region,  that of preaching and spreading of God's message of salvation. To do this he said that we need to be united with the Lord, with the Church, its leaders and with the people. He especially emphasized on the pastoral care of the people reminding of the difficulties and persecutions that the church is facing in other parts of the country. ''Care of the youth'' should be a special focus of the Church in the North east, he urged. He exhorted everyone to be convinced Christians and faith-filled people able to withstand the difficulties and persecutions

Other dignitaries present for the occasion, were Rt. Rev. Joseph Mittathany, Archbishop Emiritus of Imphal, Rt. Rev. Dominic Lumon, present Archbishop of Imphal, Rt. Rev. Dominic Jala, Archbishop of Shillong, Rt. Rev. Jose Mukala, of Kohima, Rt. Rev. Robert Kerketta, Bishop emeritus of Tezpur, Rt. Rev. Joseph Aind, of Dibrugarh, Rt. Rev. Stephen Rotluanga, of Aizwal, Rt. Rev. Thomas Pulloppillil, of Bongaigaon, Rt. Rev. Andrew Marak, of Tura, Rt. Rev. Vicent Kympat, of Jowai, Rt. Rev. Lumen Monteiro, of Agartala, Rt. Rev. Michael Akasius Toppo, of Tezpur, Rt. Rev. John Thomas, Bishop of Itanagar, Rt. Rev. John Moolachira, Fr. Joe Almeida, Salesian Provincial of Guwahati, Fr. James Poonthuruthil, Salesian Provincial of Dimapur, other provincial superiors, vicars

Expressing his joy and satisfaction at this juncture of the diocese, its present pastor Bishop John Moolachira, hoped and prayed for increase in the number of the faithful as well as the strengthening of the faith of the people of the diocese. He also released the Silver Jubilee Souvenir at the occasion.

The Eucharistic celebration was followed by a cultural extravaganza, in which Shri Birsensing Engti, Hon'ble Member of the Parliament was the Chief Guest, while Shri Joyram Engleng, Hon'ble Chief Executive Member, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, was the Guest of Honour.

Speaking at the occasion the Chief Guest appreciated and highlighted the contribution of the Church in the North east, especially to the districts of Karbi Anglong and North Kachar Hills. He lauded the sacrifices and dedication of the pioneers especially in the field of education. ''Education has brought light in this region'' he said. ''It can play an important role in unifying the cultures and the peoples of the region'', he further added. He however, pointed to the fact of the necessity of opening technical institutions and vocational training centres.

It may be noted that the diocese of Diphu is established on 5 December 1983 and is one of the 15 dioceses in the North East India. Its first Bishop, Rt. Rev. Mathai Kochuparambil, was installed as the first Bishop of the diocese on 4 March 1984. It comprises the districts of Karbi Anglong and the North Kachar Hills, spreading over 15 thousand square kilometers. The area of the diocese has almost 10 lakhs inhabitants and out of which 50 thousand are Catholics. Some of the tribes inhabiting the area are Karbi, Garo, Kuki, Pnar, Khasis, Assamese, Adivasi etc.

The apostolate and ministry of the diocese is spread out in almost 18 parishes and 12 subcentres, with almost 49 priests and 145 Religious Sisters carrying out the various ministries. Presently the diocese has ten local priests, 47 Religious Sisters and five Brothers.
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