Dioceses of India
Total: 1
Darjeeling

Diocese of Darjeeling

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Rite: Latin
Region : Bengal
Patron: Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary & St. Teresa of the Child Jesus
Founded: 8 August 1962
Province: Calcutta
Status: Diocese
Total area: 48,168 Sq. km
Total Population : 23,00,000
Catholics Total: 27,481
Diocesan Priests: 85
Religious Priests: 35
Religious Sisters: 0
Minor Seminarians: 0
Major Seminarians: 0

Bishop of the Diocese

Most Rev. Stephen Lepcha
BISHOP OF DARJEELING
Personal Details
Born:22-Dec-1952
Priestly Ordination:15-Dec-1982
Episcopal Ordination:8-Dec-1997
Period: 1997-

Tel(P): 9434049069, 9932772412
Email(P): bishoplepcha@gmail.com
Contact Details
Bishop’s House, 13, Dr. Yen Singh Road, Darjeeling - 734 101 (West Bengal)
Tel(O): 0354-22 54 025
Fax : 22 54 929
Email : bishopdj@sity.com

Diocese of Darjeeling at a Glance

Ecclesiastical Institutions

Parishes & Substations : 41Retreat Centres: 03
Major Seminaries : 0Diocesan Minor Seminaries: 0
Congregation Minor Seminaries: 0Religious Formation Houses : 0
Men Religious Houses: 0Women Religious Houses: 0

Charitable Institutions

Hospitals : 0Dispensaries / Clinics / Health Centres: 22
Orphanages : 03Homes for Aged & Destitute : 03
Schools for Physically Challenged: 01Homes for Physically Challenged : 0
Crèches: 0Boarding Houses : 0
Counselling Centres : 0De-addiction Centre: 0
Social Centres : 12HIV / AIDS Centre: 0

Educational Institutions

Professional Colleges : 03Degree Colleges: 02
Parallel Colleges : 0Vocational / Technical Training Centres : 06
Higher Secondary / Junior Colleges : 12High Schools : 12
Upper Primary Schools: 04Lower Primary Schools:31
Nurseries / Pre-Primary Schools :03Presses & Media Centres : 0

History

The Diocese of Darjeeling was erected on August 8th, 1962, and was formed by separating Darjeeling District from the Church of Calcutta, and joining it to the Prefecture Apostolic of Sikkim. In November 1997 the church in the sub-division of Siliguri was separated from Darjeeling Diocese to form the new diocese of Bagdogra. The present Darjeeling Diocese consists of the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, the State of Sikkim and the Kingdom of Bhutan.

The Church first came to Darjeeling with the Irish Loreto Sisters in 1846, soon after the opening of the hill station of Darjeeling. The area was then under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Bishop Hartman of Patna diocese and was staffed by Capuchins, who were mostly Italians. In 1886, when the hierarchy was established in India, the area comprising the present sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Siliguri and the State of Sikkim was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Calcutta and came under the care of the Jesuits from Belgium.

In 1889, a theologate for the Society of Jesus called St. Mary's College was started at Kurseong. Up to the end of 1971, when it was transferred to Delhi, the College contributed much to the expansion work in the district. Memkorable among the missionaries of that time are Father M. Wéry who worked in Kurseong from 1932 to 1957, and is known today as the 'Apostle of the Nepalese', and Father A. Bossaerts who started the first station in the terai at Gayaganga in 1933 where he died in 1945, after years of service to the tribal laboureres brought from Chota Nagpur to work on the tea gardens in the plains.

In 1946, the English-speaking Jesuits of the Upper Canada Province came to the assistance of the Belgian Jesuits. They gradually took over the administration of the area, and in 1956 the Darjeeling Region of the Calcutta Province was created, and this became a province of the Society of Jesus in 1997.

Kalimpong & Sikkim

In the Kalimpong area, work started in 1883, when the Fathers of the Foreign Missions of Paris settled down in Pedong with the hope of getting into Tibet via the Chumbi Valley. The Kalimpong sub-division, which was then known as 'British Bhutan', was attached to the Vicariate Apostolic of Lhasa and named 'Southern Tibet Mission'. Prominent among the French Missionaries and a pioneer and scholar in Tibetan, was Fr A. Desgodins, who founded Pedong.

In 1929, the territory was separated from Tibet to form an Independent Mission within the ecclesiastical province of Calcutta. In 1931, Sikkim was added to it and thus the 'Prefecture Apostolic of Kalimpong-Sikkim' came into existence, with Msgr Jules Douhanel as its first Prefect Apostolic.

In 1935, the French Fathers handed the files over to the Canons Regular of Swiss Congregation of St Maurice of Agaune ("CR's"), and in 1937, Msgr Aurelio Gianora was appointed its new Prefect Apostolic. Twenty five years later, in 1962, he handed the territory over to Bishop Eric Benjamin, the First Bishop of the newly erected diocese.

Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan was separated from the Diocese of Tezpur and included in the Diocese of Darjeeling in 1975 by a Decree of the S.C. for the Evangelization of Peoples ('Qua Facilius' No. 217/75, 20.1.1975)

Former Bishops

NameDesignationPeriod
Most Rev. Eric BenjaminBishop1962-1994