Dioceses of India
Total: 1
Jalpaiguri

Diocese of Jalpaiguri

Quick Links:      History
Rite: Latin
Region : Bengal
Patron: Christ the King
Founded: 17 January 1952
Province: Calcutta
Status: Diocese
Total area: 9,614 Sq.kms.
Total Population : 49,71,688
Catholics Total: 139,612
Diocesan Priests: 60
Religious Priests: 30
Religious Sisters: 216
Minor Seminarians: 15
Major Seminarians: 19

Bishop of the Diocese

Most Rev. Clement Tirkey
BISHOP OF JALPAIGURI
Personal Details
Born:12-Sep-1947
Priestly Ordination:21-Mar-1978
Episcopal Ordination:23-Apr-2006
Period: 2006-

Tel(P): 03561-257472, 255370
Email(P): bishjal@gmail.com
Contact Details
Bishop’s House Jalpaiguri,P. O. Mohit Nagar - 735 102 Dist. Jalpaiguri (West Bengal)
Tel(O): 03561-25 53 71
Fax : 25 53 70
Email : bishopjal@yahoo.com

Diocese of Jalpaiguri at a Glance

Ecclesiastical Institutions

Parishes & Substations : 142Retreat Centres: 01
Major Seminaries : 0Diocesan Minor Seminaries: 01
Congregation Minor Seminaries: 0Religious Formation Houses : 07
Men Religious Houses: 02Women Religious Houses: 37

Charitable Institutions

Hospitals : 02Dispensaries / Clinics / Health Centres: 11
Orphanages : 03Homes for Aged & Destitute : 0
Schools for Physically Challenged: 0Homes for Physically Challenged : 05
Crèches: 0Boarding Houses : 32
Counselling Centres : 0De-addiction Centre: 0
Social Centres : 0HIV / AIDS Centre: 0

Educational Institutions

Professional Colleges : 0Degree Colleges: 02
Parallel Colleges : 03Vocational / Technical Training Centres : 0
Higher Secondary / Junior Colleges : 16High Schools : 16
Upper Primary Schools: 14Lower Primary Schools:14
Nurseries / Pre-Primary Schools :0Presses & Media Centres : 0

History

The Catholic presence in the area of this diocese of Jalpaiguri goes back to around the year 1911 and is linked from from its beginning with the present area of the diocese of Dinajpur, which is now in Bangladesh. There is a short narration of a certain Gabriel Toppo from the area of Ranchi in the present Jharkhand, who brought the news of the adibasi tribals of the Jharkhand area obtaining new life on their social and religious front, thanks to the arrival of Catholic Fathers there from Belgium. Some people were taken up with the news and were looking for such Fathers but nothing happened till around the year 1911 when Fr Joseph Antony Limana, a PIME Father, came from Italy and found some shelter close to a railway station Mal and started contacting people. He was offered some place in one of the tea estates where there were some twenty Catholics working as tea garden labourers, also from the land of Jharkhand. He was happy to come and work there. He very soon won their love and admiration.

Later, in the year 1923, another PIME priest, Father Lazzaroni by name, got as his residence the bungalow of a tea garden manager in Nagrakata. This became the first parish house of this area. All this was still under the Diocese of Dinajpur, where also Church work was being done by the Fathers of the same Pontifical Milan Missionary Society, more know as the PIME Fathers.

The Diocese of Jalpaiguri came into being long after the partition of India which took place in the year 1952, with one of the veteran PIME Fathers from Italy, Fr. Ambrose Galibati, as its First Bishop. Msgr Galbiati was then the parish priest of Damanpur embracing a very vast area on the east of river Torsa in the district of Jalpaiguri. While on the western vast area of this same river Torsa worked another Father of the same Church Work institute, Fr Amatore Artico, residing in PIME Regional center and parish at Nagrakata. Bishop Galbiati was much loved, but had to go back to Italy, sick in the year 1965. In 1968 Msgr Francis Ekka was appointed Bishop of Jalpaiguri, and took up the reign of the diocese, serving it till the year 1971, when he was transferred to the Diocese of Raigarh Ambikapur. He entrusted the Episcopal responsibility on the shoulders of the new appointee Msgr James A. Toppo.

Fr Ambrose Galbiati was the founding parish priest of Damanpur, and decided to stay there even as Bishop, close to the Sub divisional town of Alipurduar. Damanpur became the center of the diocesan administration. This was continued by Mgr Francis Ekka for the duration of his service. After three years of his stay at Damanpur, Msgr. James A. Toppo moved the Episcopal seat to Jalpaiguri, the district center of the civil administration. Jalpaiguri is also the divisional center of the five districts lying north of the River Ganges in West Bengal, also known as North Bengal.

The Christians are mainly from the adibasi tribal groups of people and in the State of West Bengal their language has stayed close to the tribal languages, in the form of the lingua franca, Sadri, a much rural form of Hindi. The total number of Catholics now come to some 1,10,000. The apostolate consists mainly in spiritual animation of the people and their social uplift through education and medical service through some 56 Priests, 23 Brothers and around 180 Religious Sisters helped by catechists and the other lay participants.

The diocesan Jurisdiction extend over entire districts of Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar, forming the thin link strip of the State of West Bengal to the States extreme east of India.

Former Bishops

NameDesignationPeriod
Most Rev. Bishop James A. ToppoBishop1971-2004
Most Rev. Bishop Ambrose Galbiati (PIME) Bishop1952-1967