कैथोलिक चर्च, पूर्णिया (Catholic Church) – Purnea

Roman Catholic Church of Purnea

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Purnea is a diocese located in the city of Purnea. 318,190 The Holy Father John XXIII, by the Apostolic Bull, “Exultet Sancta Mater Ecclesia”, established the Diocese of Dumka on August 8, 1962.

36 years later hence the Diocese of Purnea is born from Dumka through a declaration of Pope John Paul II on August 11, 1998. It is an Angelus Church.

The history of the Catholic diocese of Purnea can be traced back not just to these 36 years, but to almost 236 years. Records show that in 1773 Purnea district of that time was already forming part of the Vicariate of the Great Moghul, which was served by the Jesuits and later by the Carmelites. Subsequently, Rome attached Purnea to the neighbouring Prefecture of Tibet under the Capuchins, with Patna as its headquarters. In 1820 it became part of the Agra Vicariate. By then the Capuchin Fathers had been regularly visiting Purnea from different places. In January 1836 Mgr. Pezzoni visited Purnea accompanied by Fr Florian Toposkia, Polish Capuchin. The latter was appointed as the first resident priest of Purnea to serve the scattered community of European indigo planters who had started settling down in and around Purnea as soon as British rule was established in the district way before the 1770s.

Roman Catholic Church of Purnea

When Patna Vicariate was created on February 7, 1845, Purnea became part of it under the Capuchins. On August 1, 1886 the Indian Hierarchy was established and the Patna Vicariate was suppressed and its territory joined to the Allahabad diocese. Then on June 7, 1887 Pope Leo XIII transferred Purnea district to Calcutta Archdiocese, mainly to provide a territorial link between Calcutta and Darjeeling. Fr Thomas McGonagall, sj, took over at Purnea on December 1, 1888 from Fr Heliodorus, ofm, cap. At this point the parish priest of Purnea was also in charge of the railway colonies from Sahibganj to Burdwan, and used to visit also Rampurhat, Nalhati and even Naya Dumka.

During this time the Loreto Sisters (IBVM) also came to Purnea. They arrived on December 15, 1882 and opened a school, working there till they left for Darjeeling on November 7, 1887.

In 1900 Fr L. Knockaert, sj, took charge in Purnea and worked in the region till 1921 except for a gap of three years. It was he who pioneered the work among the Santhals of the Purnea district. His work led to the opening of Majlispur (now in Raiganj diocese) which today is considered to be the cradle of the Jesuit Santhal Work, and was the launching pad for work among the Santhals of Santhal Parganas. The Jesuits continued their work in Purnea till 1978 to May 1981, Rev. Michael M. Minj, a diocesan priest was the parish priest of Purnea.

Roman Catholic Church of Purnea

On May 3, 1981 the Salesians of Don Bosco began to administer the parish. Soon the Purnea mission witnessed rapid growth and development. Church Work was given priority and new parishes and stations were opened, most of them with their own pucca chapels . Besides these, hostels for boys and girls, schools, parish houses, community centers and other works in the service of the poor sprung up one after another. In this period of history, covering a span of 15 years, Fr. Jesus Gimenez, sdb, played a gigantic role in the development and progress of the Purnea deanery. Katihar, which had been an important part of Purnea, where a church had been in existence from 1940, became a quasi parish in 1980 and a parish on April 26, 1987. Katihar too underwent rapid development and expansion under the care of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and it has given birth to two more parishes; Gopalpur in 1994 and Baghela in 1997.

Kishanganj Station was established with a resident priest-in-charge in June 1983, and it became a parish in 1994. In 1991 Thakurganj was opened as a station under Kishanganj, and then subsequently made it to a parish in 1995, and is being administered by the T.O.R. Fathers.

Raniganj, 47 kms. north west of Purnea had become a station in 1986. It was bifurcated from Purnea to be made and independent parish in 1994. Satmi, 60 kms. west of Purnea too was a place regularly visited by priests from Purnea. A chapel had been built there in 1954. It too became a full-fledged parish in 1994. Banmankhi is another fast-developed Mission-station under Purnea with two resident priests.

Roman Catholic Church of Purnea

Prior to 1849 only a timber, bamboo and straw chapel existed at Rambagh on the outskirts of Purnea. A brick chapel was built in its place and blessed by the Bishop Hartman, the Vicar Apostolic of Patna on August 19, 1849. In 1868 the construction of a brick chapel was started in Purnea itself. The incomplete chapel was used for the first time on Christmas 1871. An earthquake on July 14, 1885 damaged it considerably; but it was subsequently repaired. However another earthquake on January 15, 1953 destroyed it completely and a new church had to be built in the following year. It was enlarged in 1967.

On December 8, 1989, the foundation stone for a big and spacious church was blessed and laid adjacent to the old church. The church was solemnly blessed and dedicated on March 8, 1992 by Bishop S. M Tiru, and now it is the Cathedral of Purnea diocese.

According to the decree of Pope John Paul II the diocese of Purnea consists of the Northern portion of the diocese of Dumka, beyond the river Ganges, viz. the four civil districts of Purnea, Katihar, Kishanganj and Araria of Bihar state, covering an area of 15,733 sq. kms. The diocese has a population of over 63,00,000 people of whom about 21,000 are Catholics. The majority of the Catholic population consists of Santhals, Oraons and Mundas

In 1820, it became part of the Agra vicariate. When Patna vicariate was created on Feb. 7, 1845, Purnea became part of it under the Capuchins.

Previous Bishops:

  • Bishop Angelus Kujur, S.J (20 Jan 2007 Appointed – 8 Dec 2021 Retired)
  • Bishop Vincent Barwa (1998-2004, Appointed, Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi)

Other Officials

Vicar General

Rev. Fr. Francis Tirkey

Social Service Centre
C/O Catholic Church, Purnea
Dist & P.O. Purnea
Bihar – 854301
India

Phone: 09431230787

Email: [email protected]

Chancellor

Rev. Fr. Francis Tirkey

Social Service Centre
C/O Catholic Church, Purnea
Dist & P.O. Purnea
Bihar – 854301
India

Phone: 09431230787

Email: [email protected]

Financial Administrator

Rev. Fr. Augustine C. Toppo

Bishop’s House
Maharaji Hatta
P.O. & Dist- Purnea
Bihar – 854301
India

Phone: 09431206890

Email: [email protected]

Judicial Vicar

Rev. Fr. Joachim Jacob

Chancery Office
Nawab Colony, P.B. No. 61,
Bhagalpur – 812001
Bihar, India

Phone: 09631946569

Email: [email protected]

Secretary to the Bishop

Rev. Fr. Roshan Surin

Bishop’s House
Maharaji Hatta
P.O. & Dist- Purnea
Bihar – 854301
India

Phone: 07765885047

Email: [email protected]