Dioceses of India
Total: 1

Diocese of Varanasi

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Rite: Latin
Region : Agra
Patron: Ss.John the Baptist, Fidelist Martyr
Founded: 11 July 1946
Province: Agra
Status: Diocese
Total area: 21,296 Sq. kms.
Total Population : 25,333,230
Catholics Total: 17,711
Diocesan Priests: 139
Religious Priests: 48
Religious Sisters: 0
Minor Seminarians: 0
Major Seminarians: 0

Diocese of Varanasi at a Glance

Ecclesiastical Institutions

Parishes & Substations : 44Retreat Centres: 06
Major Seminaries : 0Diocesan Minor Seminaries: 0
Congregation Minor Seminaries: 0Religious Formation Houses : 19
Men Religious Houses: 0Women Religious Houses: 0

Charitable Institutions

Hospitals : 06Dispensaries / Clinics / Health Centres: 28
Orphanages : 03Homes for Aged & Destitute : 01
Schools for Physically Challenged: 06Homes for Physically Challenged : 0
Crèches: 0Boarding Houses : 0
Counselling Centres : 0De-addiction Centre: 06
Social Centres : 11HIV / AIDS Centre: 0

Educational Institutions

Professional Colleges : 03Degree Colleges: 0
Parallel Colleges : 0Vocational / Technical Training Centres : 02
Higher Secondary / Junior Colleges : 20High Schools : 05
Upper Primary Schools: 12Lower Primary Schools:07
Nurseries / Pre-Primary Schools :0Presses & Media Centres : 03


Though a small diocese, Varanasi Diocese is in a significant way a picture of Mother India. The very name of this Holy City conjures up the apex of the spirit's endeavour in Hinduism. Sarnath reminds of Dharm Chakr Parivartan of the Buddha. To the West and to the East, Jaunpur and Ghazipur, evoke to mind a pair of twin and refined kingdoms of the Muslim era. To the Catholic eyes, this Diocese appears as the latest outcome of the Capuchin missionary endeavour to Tibet in the 1700's, an epic in the history of the Church.
Following the suppression of the Jesuits, Rome added (1784) the Mission of North Western India to the Prefecture of Golconda in-formally called Tibet Hindustan. The amalgamation put the Capuchins in charge of a territory extending from Sikkim to the Indus river and from Himalayas to the Narmada river, some three million square kilometers. The French Revolution and its 25 years of turmoil had dried up its very source, the flow of men and means; from 1817 to 1822, only three hapless priests manned half the sub-continent. British India monopolized the missionaries as military and railway chaplains, leaving but few for the direct apostolate. The wonder is that the work went ahead; in 1820 the Prefecture became a Vicariate Apostolic, with its see at Agra.
1845 marks the beginning of the long process of divisions and sub-divisions which, out of the Tibet Hindustan immensity, was to carve not less that thirty ecclesiastical units of Northern India. In this year, Rome effected the first partition: Vicariate Apostolic of Agra and the Vicariate Apostolic of Patna. The titular of the late, Bishop Hartmann, ofm, cap., a saintly individual, revealed himself an exceptional prelate. On the establishment of the Hierarchy in India (1886), Patna Vicariate became Diocese, with its centre shifted to Allahabad. It is the latest dismemberment of this Allahabad Diocese which heralded the coming of the Varanasi Diocese.
Prefecture Apostolic of Gorakhpur:

On July 11, 1946 Rome removed from the jurisdiction of Allahabad its Eastern Districts and erected them into the Prefecture Apostolic of Gorakhpur entrusted to the French Canadian Capuchins. The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Jerome Malenfant, ofm cap, assumed his duties as Prefect on August 6, 1947.
Actually, the work 'ad paganos' in this area had been launched by bold and zealous diocesan priests of Allahabad, the mother Church of this region, in the 1930's. Fr Pascal Sinha, from Azamgarh, opened Shahganj (1934); Fr Francis Pillai, from Gorakhpur, initiated the centre of Rasra (1936); Fr Charles Mascarenhas, from Ghazipur, started Hartmannpur Mission (1938).
Two Religious Congregations supported and extended this missionary apostolate. The Franciscan Brothers of Mount-Poinsur were the pioneers in most of its Stations. Such was their single mindedness that they had barred any of their members from the priesthood, with the specific purpose of keeping off the chaplaincies' snare, in order to plunge soul and body into evangelization. The Sisters of the Queen of the Apostles specialised in a single idea; doing everything anywhere, which can be called 'missionary'. During 23 years of this stage , they remained the only Sisters in the villages, the main-stay of the feminine apostolate, the only queenly touch in an otherwise rugged life.
As for the Canadian Capuchins, once they joined the ministry they set their hearts at deepening the furrows, intensifying the sowing, with a signature all their own, a marked stress on adaption Fr Edmond, one of the rare Catholic doctors in Hindusthani Music stands out as a typical illustration : his 'summer school of Hindusthani Music' prepared successfully clergy and laity from over 15 Indian dioceses , and some from Bangladesh and SriLanka, for the degrees of Prayag Sangeet Samiti. May not this have something to do with an obvious fact?. The Church of the North happened to be ready, at the close of Vatican Council, to apply the guidelines of inculturation, at once and without ado.
Diocese of Varanasi:

A few dates may complete this sketch. 1958 brought about a whiff of change: The Prefect took residence in this Holy City and the Prefecture accordingly got its name changed into "Banares-Gorakhpur". 1967 remains the year of the true relay. Five main stations passed into the hands of the diocesan clergy. Everything had been brought up to a logical readiness: the organizational development, 10,000 Catholics in 13 residential Stations, 20 diocesan priests already ordained. The dressers of the Lord's vineyard felt possessed by a swelling expectation.
The final change of the pioneering Prefecture occured in the middle of 1970 : on June 5, Rome raised the Prefecture in to a Diocese (Diocese of Varanasi), committed to the care of the diocesan clergy. As its first Bishop, Rome selected Fr. Patrick D'Souza, a priest of the diocese of Ajmer-Jaipur and Deputy Secretary General of the C.B.C.I. As for the Prefect, he lived hes 'Nunc Dimittis' in Varanasi, fondly watching the blossoming of the mustard seed he had showed till the lord enthroned him (1976) at His eternal Banquet.
The fulness of status of this local Church has brought in it a burst of life. The priest number 130, among them 86 diocesan ones; Religious Congregations are gone up to 26; seven of men and nineteen of women. The 13 parishes and mission stations with residential priests of 1970, have become 35 in 2001.
In October 1984, three districts above the Ghagra i.e. Deoria, Gorakhpur and Basti were separated and erected into the Diocese of Gorakhpur.

Former Bishops

Most Rev. Joseph Emil MalenfantBishop1947-1970