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.
The population of 8,256,600 people includes tribal communities.
Hindi and the tribal Santhali and Oraon languages are spoken.
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.
Road, rail and river are all used for transportation.
Agriculture is widely practiced in the diocesan area. The major industries are coal mining, textiles and silk.
All India Radio Bhagalpur (AIR Bhagalpur / Akashvani Bhagalpur) broadcasts in the territory.
45.08 percent literacy rate
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.
St. Joseph’s Church in Lahore is the oldest Catholic Church in Pakistan that has flourished since the 19th century despite deadly sectarian violence in recent years. The church at Sarfaraz Rafiqui Road in Lahore was established as a wooden structure during the British colonial era, on Oct. 31, 1842, to provide pastoral care to the British soldiers. It completed 180 years this year.
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.
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.
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.