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Diocese of Udaipur

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Diocese of Udaipur
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The earliest Catholic missionaries to visit Udaipur were two French Capuchin priests -- Fathers Jean and Pius -- who came here from Mhow on foot in 1891. But the first Christian missionary to settle down in the town was Dr. Shepherd, a Scottish Presbyterian. He came in 1877. Because of his medical skill and personal qualities he found favor with the royal household. The church near Chetak Circle, now called the Church of North India, is said to have been a gift from the Maharana to the British engineers who had helped build the Fateh Sagar Lake.

As far as Catholics are concerned, the mission work in the areas, which at present constitute the diocese of Udaipur, began towards the end of the 19th century. It was the French Capuchins of the Paris Province who were entrusted with the evangelization of a large part of the Central Provinces and Rajputana, as the area was then known. Capuchin Father Charles started work and settled at Thandla in Jhabua district in 1896. Through him and other valiant and pioneering missionaries, the work progressed and missions increased in number.

The mission stations of Palasdor, Mahuri, Ambapara, Amlipara, Jamburi and others in Kushalgarh were founded in those early years. In 1934 Fathers Charles and Bernard laid the foundations of the future diocese of Udaipur by setting up the two missions of Ambapara and Mahudi respectively. Later in the late 1940s Fathers Leopold, Agathange and Ignace were instrumental in establishing the missions of Amlipada, Jambudi and Dungarpur.

Originally, parts of the present states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and the whole of Rajasthan came under one prefecture. In 1913 this prefecture was made diocese of Ajmer, as it was then called, and Father Fartunatus Caumont was appointed its first bishop.

In 1935 the major part of the Central Province was separated from Ajmer diocese to form the new prefecture apostolic of Indore, which became a diocese in 1952. It was in 1949 that Father Leo D'Mello was appointed the first Indian bishop of Ajmer diocese. There was talk about splitting the Ajmer diocese further, as it was considered too large for close supervision from the point of view of evangelization as well as administration. But it was only in the time of Bishop lgnatius Menezes that the bifurcation came about. On Dec. 3, 1984, Ajmer diocese was further bifurcated into the diocese of Ajmer-Jaipur and the diocese of Udaipur.

On Feb. 14, 1985, Father Joseph Pathalil, who had worked in the tribal belt of Udaipur for over two decades, was ordained as the first bishop of the new diocese of Udaipur.

In 2002 the portions of Madhya Pradesh in Udaipur diocese was separated and joined to parts of the diocese of Indore to form the new diocese of Jhabua.

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