Besides the Union Territory of Chandigarh, the diocese consists of eight civil districts in Himachal Pradesh, 12 civil districts of Haryana and six civil districts of Punjab, spread in an area of 83, 560 square kilometers.
Tribals and Dalits populate in many villages. Most of the people are engaged in farming. They cultivate rice, wheat, vegetables, apples, etc. Many industries and business centers are situated in urban areas. Many areas of the diocese are mountainous.
The diocese has many important national tourism centers like Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Mohali, Kurukshetra, Panipat, besides the new city of Chandigarh.
Simla - Chandigarh diocese has a long history. Dividing the area from Agra archdiocese, the mother of all dioceses in North India, Simla archdiocese was created in 1910, with Archbishop Anselm E.J. Keneally, OFM Cap, as its first archbishop.
When Delhi became the capital of the independent India, the See was shifted to Delhi and was known as Delhi-Simla archdiocese. Archbishop Sylvester P. Mulligan became its first archbishop.
In 1959 Delhi was dismembered and Simla became an independent diocese, with Bishop John Burke heading it.
With the formation of the new city of Chandigarh, the socio - political life of the people centered around this new city and so the bishop was forced to remain in Chandigarh, though Simla remained its headquarters. It was Bishop Gilbert Blaize Rego finally shifted the residence to Chandigarh and the diocese was known as Simla-Chandigarh diocese.
The Catholic community consists of various ethnic, linguistic, socio, economic and cultural groups. Besides the pastoral care of the Catholics, the Catholic Church is engaged in serving the people through various educational and social activities.
Most of the people are Hindus. Being the home of Sikhism, Sikhs form the second majority and the Muslims form the third. Other Christian denominations are also active in the area.
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.