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New archbishop for Bhopal in central India

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Alangaram Arokia Sebastian Durairaj of Khandwa to the new role

New archbishop for Bhopal in central India

Bishop Alangaram Arokia Sebastian Durairaj has been a priest for 36 years. (Photo supplied)

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Alangaram Arokia Sebastian Durairaj of Khandwa as the new archbishop of Bhopal. The announcement was made in Rome on Oct. 4.

The appointment came after the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Archbishop Leo Cornelio, who in March last year reached the retirement age of 75.

Bishop Durairaj, 64, has been a priest for 36 years and a bishop for 12 years. Born on May 3, 1957, at Thirunagar in the Archdiocese of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, he attended elementary school in his hometown and in Madurai.

He joined St. Charles Seminary in Tiruchirapalli for the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) in 1971. He completed his pre-university course and made his final profession in the SVD in July 1984. He was ordained a priest on May 8, 1985, in Thirunagar.

After his priestly ordination, he ministered as parish vicar in Jhabua between 1985 and 1987. He then became procurator of SVD Vidhya Bhavan Philosophate in Bhopal, becoming its rector in 1996. 

He completed his doctorate in educational psychology in the US in 2004 and was made the provincial superior for the SVD’s central Indian province. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Khandwa Diocese on May 11, 2009, and he was ordained on July 16, 2009.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II appointed him a member of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People

Archbishop Cornelio, also a Divine Word missionary, was the metropolitan archbishop of Bhopal from 2007 to 2021 and the bishop of Khandwa from 1999 to 2007.

He was born on March 14, 1945, in Kukkunje, near the coastal city of Udupi in Karnataka. After completing his primary schooling in his native place, he moved to Rajeshwar Vidhyalaya, Mhow, in Madhya Pradesh, where he continued his studies.

He joined the novitiate for spiritual and religious formation from 1964-66. After his first profession, he graduated in philosophy and in theology at the Papal Athenaeum, Pune, in 1968 and 1972 respectively.

He was ordained a priest in his native parish at Mount Rosary Church, Kallianpur, on Nov. 14, 1972. In 2000, Pope John Paul II appointed him a member of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, and in 2006 he was reappointed by Pope Benedict XVI for a second term.

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He was the chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India Office for Youth. He was also the financial administrator for the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Regional Major Seminaries in Bhopal and Ashta.

Archbishop Cornelio has been a priest for 48 years and a bishop for 22 years.

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