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Our Diocese

 

The Diocese of Chikmagalur was erected on Nov. 16, 1963, by Pope Paul VI with territory taken from the Diocese of Mysore. Initially it covered the three districts of Chikmagalur, Hassan and Shimoga. Bishop Alphonsus Mathias served as the first Bishop of Chikmagalur. The district of Shimoga was detached in January, 1989, to form part of the newly erected Diocese of Shimoga.

Nestled at 3,400ft in the Sahyadri mountains, Chikmagalur is situated in the Western Ghats region, a major watershed in the southwestern part of Karnataka state. Typical of Ghat topography, the town offers vistas of mountains, streams, and coffee and pepper plantations. A number of rivers - the Bhadra, Hemavathi, Tunga, Netravathi, Vedavathi - originate in the hills surrounding the town. It was here that coffee was first cultivated in India, in 1670 by Baba Budan. The revered Muslim leader had brought coffee seeds from Yemen, and the Baba Budan mountain range to the north of the town is named after him. Later taken up by European planters, coffee production and trade has been Chikmagalur's main industry.


General Information

  • Type of Jurisdiction:
    Diocese

  • Erected:
    16 November 1963

  • Metropolitan:
    Archdiocese of Bangalore

  • Rite:
    Latin (or Roman)

  • Country:
    India

  • Square Kilometers:
    14,015 (5,413 Square Miles)

  • Mailing Address:
    Bishop's Office, Jyothinagar, Chikmagalur - 577102, Karnataka, India
    Telephone: (08262)20.389

 

Past and Present Ordinaries

  • Bp. Alphonsus Mathias
    (16 Nov 1963 Appointed - 12 Sep 1986 Appointed, Archbishop of Bangalore)

  • Bp. John Baptist Sequeira
    (26 Jan 1987 Appointed - 2 Dec 2006 Retired)

  • Bp. Anthony Swamy Thomasappa
    (2 Dec 2006 Appointed - )


HISTORY :

Estd. : 16-11-1963
Area : 14,015 Sq. Kms.
Total Population : 29,17,234
Catholics : 39,558

The Diocese of Chikmagalur, comprising of the three civil districts of Shimoga, Chikmagalur and Hassan was created by Pope Paul VI by the Apostolic Constitution, 'Indicae Regionis' dated 16th November 1963. Earlier this area was a part of the vast diocese of Mysore. It was Canonically erected by His Excellency Arch Bishop James Ronald Knox, the Apostolic internuncio on 4/02/1963 at St. Joseph's Cathedral Chikmagalur. The most Rev. Dr. Alphonsus Mathisas D.D. J.U.D was consecrated on 05/02/1964 as the first Bishop. In January 1989 the District of Shimoga along with the District of Chitradurga of Bangalore Arch Diocese, was formed into the Diocese of Shimoga.

Geographically the Diocese of Chikmagalur is situated in the Western Ghats and consists of hilly region where the main crop is coffee. Tea is grown in some places. Ragi, paddy, maize, sugar-cane, vegetables, pulses and coconut are grown in the plains. The greater part of the catholic population are the Konkanies, descendents of migrants from the South Canara District, who had come for work in coffee plantations and later on settled in the area of whom some are planters. The native Catholics are found in the plain of Hassan District, their ancestors had become Catholics in the beginning of the 18th century when the Jesuit missionaries evangelized the area. Later M.E.P Fathers continued this work of evangelization. After the errection of the Diocese only Indian Priests are working in the Diocese. Descendents of the settlers from Tamil Nadu can be found allover the Diocese. The early history of evangelization of Chikmagalur Diocese goes back to 16th century.

The Diocese of Chikmagalur begun with 19 parishes and 18 Diocesan Priests in the three districts has taken strides of Progress. Now there are 39 Parishes, 1 Shrine, 3 Independent stations with resident priests and 56 active Diocesan Priests. Besides there are a great number of religious priests and sisters. Educational institutions have increased and even first grade colleges have been started. The St. Joseph's Minor Seminary, Bridgetine convent and the Holy Cross Hospital at Chikmagalur, the Cloistered Carmel Convent, the Don Bosco Technical School and Seva Samsthe, the Diocesan Social Service Centre (C.M.S.S.S.) at Hassan are but a few of the many important institutions.

The noble stalwart of faith the late Bishop Rene Feuga of Mysore together with Late Monsignor Angelo Fernandes are the principle cause of Establishing Chikmagalur Diocese and are remembered with gratitude. Under the young energetic and talented Bishop Alphonsus Mathias the Diocese progressed steadily and was a pioneer in evangelization, Kannada music and writing. We are proud to say that the first Kannada Cassettes and religious books were published by the Diocese. Bishop J.B Sequeira, the Rector of St. Peter's Pontifical Seminary succeeded Bishop Alphonsus, who went as the Arch Bishop of Bangalore after serving the Diocese for 22 years. Bishop J.B. Sequeira was consecrated on 11/06/1987 as the Bishop of Chikmagalur and under him the present Minor Seminary was built. He retired after 18 years of active service. The Diocese is proude of giving 2 Bishops, Bishop Thomas Vazapilly, the present Bishop of
Mysore and Bishop P .V. George of Madagascar, the M.E.P Superior General Fr. Balthazar Castelino and Fr. Dorairaj, great Missionary and Rector in Madagascar.

Bihop Thomasappa Anthony Swamy D.D. succeeded Bishop J. B. Sequeira and was consecrated on 06/02/2007 as the third Bishop of Chikmagalur. He was the head of the Missiology Department at St. Peter's Pontifical Seminary in Bangalore before his Bishopric. Under his active leadership many new Churches and Presbyteries have been built. A new life and zeal has filled the Diocese which has made priests more active, zealous and enterprising.

18 Priests of the Diocese have gone to the Lord after their active ministry in the Diocese

OUR PATRON :

SAINT JOSEPH IS THE PATRON OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AS WELL AS OF CHILDREN, FAMILIES, VIRGINS, EXILES AND THE SUFFERING. HE IS ALSO INVOKED FOR A HAPPY AND HOLY DEATH AND FOR FINDING A GOOD HUSBAND

He is regarded as the Patron of the Catholic Church for the Church is the Holy Family extended in the course of the centuries. The Church is really Greater Nazareth, with Saint Joseph as its head. With the many problems being encountered by the Church today, it is an opportune time to call on its guardian and patron to protect it from its enemies.

Saint Joseph watches over children with a loving care as he guarded and cared for the Infant Saviour. He protects families because he was the head of the greatest family that ever existed. He also loves workers because even if he came from the royal house of David, he worked as a carpenter to support the Holy Family.

He protects virgins because he himself had a virginal heart, his wife was a Virgin and he stood nearest, after Mary, to the "Lamb without spot". He is also the patron of those who rejoice and suffer because his own heart experienced seven joys and seven sorrows. He is even the patron of exiles since he spent seven years with Jesus and Mary in a foreign land. He is invoked for a happy and holy death since he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary. He is likewise invoked by women who wish to find a good husband because he had all the God-given qualities as befitted the husband of Mary and the father of Jesus.

Devotion to Saint Joseph
Joseph was "a just man". This praise bestowed by the Holy Ghost, and the privilege of having been chosen by God to be the foster-father of Jesus and the spouse of the Virgin Mother, are the foundations of the honour paid to St. Joseph by the Church. So well-grounded are these foundations that it is not a little surprising that the cult of St. Joseph was so slow in winning recognition. Foremost among the causes of this is the fact that "during the first centuries of the Church's existence, it was only the martyrs who enjoyed veneration" (Kellner). Far from being ignored or passed over in silence during the early Christian ages, St. Joseph's prerogatives were occasionally descanted upon by the Fathers; even such eulogies as cannot be attributed to the writers among whose works they found admittance bear witness that the ideas and devotion therein expressed were familiar, not only to the theologians and preachers, and must have been readily welcomed by the people. The earliest traces of public recognition of the sanctity of St. Joseph are to be found in the East. His feast, if we may trust the assertions of Papebroch, was kept by the Copts as early as the beginning of the fourth century. Nicephorus Callistus tells likewise � on what authority we do not know � that in the great basilica erected at Bethlehem by St. Helena, there was a gorgeous oratory dedicated to the honour of our saint. Certain it is, at all events, that the feast of "Joseph the Carpenter" is entered, on 20 July, in one of the old Coptic Calendars in our possession, as also in a Synazarium of the eighth and nineth century published by Cardinal Mai (Script. Vet. Nova Coll., IV, 15 sqq.). Greek menologies of a later date at least mention St. Joseph on 25 or 26 December, and a twofold commemoration of him along with other saints was made on the two Sundays next before and after Christmas.

In the West the name of the foster-father of Our Lord (Nutritor Domini) appears in local martyrologies of the ninth and tenth centuries, and we find in 1129, for the first time, a church dedicated to his honour at Bologna. The devotion, then merely private, as it seems, gained a great impetus owing to the influence and zeal of such saintly persons as St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Gertrude (d. 1310), and St. Bridget of Sweden (d. 1373). According to Benedict XIV (De Serv. Dei beatif., I, iv, n. 11; xx, n. 17), "the general opinion of the learned is that the Fathers of Carmel were the first to import from the East into the West the laudable practice of giving the fullest cultus to St. Joseph". His feast, introduced towards the end shortly afterwards, into the Dominican Calendar, gradually gained a foothold in various dioceses of Western Europe. Among the most zealous promoters of the devotion at that epoch, St. Vincent Ferrer (d. 1419), Peter d'Ailly (d. 1420), St. Bernadine of Siena (d. 1444), and Jehan Charlier Gerson (d. 1429) deserve an especial mention. Gerson, who had, in 1400, composed an Office of the Espousals of Joseph particularly at the Council of Constance (1414), in promoting the public recognition of the cult of St. Joseph. Only under the pontificate of Sixtus IV (1471-84), were the efforts of these holy men rewarded by Roman Calendar (19 March). From that time the devotion acquired greater and greater popularity, the dignity of the feast keeping pace with this steady growth. At first only a festum simplex, it was soon elevated to a double rite by Innocent VIII (1484-92), declared by Gregory XV, in 1621, a festival of obligation, at the instance of the Emperors Ferdinand III and Leopold I and of King Charles II of Spain, and raised to the rank of a double of the second class by Clement XI (1700-21). Further, Benedict XIII, in 1726, inserted the name into the Litany of the Saints.

One festival in the year, however, was not deemed enough to satisfy the piety of the people. The feast of the Espousals of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, so strenuously advocated by Gerson, and permitted first by Paul III to the Franciscans, then to other religious orders and individual dioceses, was, in 1725, granted to all countries that solicited it, a proper Office, compiled by the Dominican Pierto Aurato, being assigned, and the day appointed being 23 January. Nor was this all, for the reformed Order of Carmelites, into which St. Teresa had infused her great devotion to the foster-father of Jesus, chose him, in 1621, for their patron, and in 1689, were allowed to celebrate the feast of his Patronage on the third Sunday after Easter. This feast, soon adopted throughout the Spanish Kingdom, was later on extended to all states and dioceses which asked for the privilege. No devotion, perhaps, has grown so universal, none seems to have appealed so forcibly to the heart of the Christian people, and particularly of the labouring classes, during the nineteenth century, as that of St. Joseph.

This wonderful and unprecedented increase of popularity called for a new lustre to be added to the cult of the saint. Accordingly, one of the first acts of the pontificate of Pius IX, himself singularly devoted to St. Joseph, was to extend to the whole Church the feast of the Patronage (1847), and in December, 1870, according to the wishes of the bishops and of all the faithful, he solemnly declared the Holy Patriarch Joseph, patron of the Catholic Church, and enjoined that his feast (19 March) should henceforth be celebrated as a double of the first class (but without octave, on account of Lent). Following the footsteps of their predecessor, Leo XIII and Pius X have shown an equal desire to add their own jewel to the crown of St. Joseph: the former, by permitting on certain days the reading of the votive Office of the saint; and the latter by approving, on 18 March, 1909, a litany in honour of him whose name he had received in baptism.

Historical Summary

Date

Event

From

To

16 November 1963

Erected

Diocese of Mysore

Diocese of Chikmagalur (erected)

14 November 1988

Territory Lost

Archdiocese of Bangalore 
Diocese of Chikmagalur

Diocese of Shimoga (erected)

Statistics

Year

Catholics

Total Population

Percent 
Catholicc

Diocesan 
Priests

Religious
Priests

Total 
Priests

Catholics 
Per Priest

Male 
Religious

Female Religious

Parishes

1969

33,000

3,034,000

1.1%

30

7

37

891

11

199

20

1980

49,500

3,410,000

1.5%

47

6

53

933

6

232

29

1990

35,153

2,268,783

1.5%

37

10

47

747

16

199

29

1999

38,873

2,627,691

1.5%

48

16

64

607

18

254

33

2000

38,185

2,632,625

1.5%

47

16

63

606

19

231

33

2001

39,631

2,685,277

1.5%

46

19

65

609

22

248

33

2002

39,431

2,860,423

1.4%

46

19

65

606

22

239

33

2003

39,159

2,860,423

1.4%

48

18

66

593

21

252

33

2004

36,306

2,901,428

1.3%

49

20

69

526

23

223

34

2006

36,819

3,014,000

1.2%

53

18

71

518

20

237

34

Note: Any changes in boundaries over time are not indicated in the above table.

 


 



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Rev. Dr. Thomasappa Anthony Swamy

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