Archdiocese of Raipur in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh celebrated the golden jubilee of its formation on February 8 in the presence of the Nuncio, around 20 bishops from different Indian dioceses, along with priests, nuns and civil dignitaries from the various parishes of the archdiocese.
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to India, said, "I believe this celebration brings you renewed power to build the kingdom of God in Chhattisgarh," and "he also thanked everyone for their dedicated services to the diocese over the past 50 years."
He said, "You have developed spiritually over the years and have received the blessing of God's gifts."
"I experienced the people of Chhattisgarh to be very friendly and their culture is famous," he said.
Cardinal Anthony Poola, the archbishop of Hyderabad, said “the spirit of synodality is among you.”
The Congress chief minister of the state, Bhupesh Baghel, said, “Missionaries in the state are known for their services, especially in the field of education and health care and he appreciated the special services rendered to the lepers at Abhanpur and during the Covid-19 time.”
He praised the Christian community for opening schools and hostels and raising public awareness of the need for education in rural and forest areas when there were fewer educational institutions. Additionally, they have established hospitals and dispensaries in many places, including Abhanpur and Baitalpur, for leprosy patients.
There were Catholics, priests, nuns, bishops, civil dignitaries, and guests from the archdiocesan parishes and missions at the jubilee celebration.
On July 15, 2022, Archbishop Thakur in Raipur presented the jubilee logo 'Rooted in Christ for the life of the world' to the faithful during a Mass and hoisting the jubilee flag.
Missionaries were first sent to the region by French priests who halted at Raipur on their way from Visakhapatnam to Nagpur to serve the few Catholics who lived there.
Later missionaries from Nagpur served this region.
Three civil districts in Raipur, which were separated from Nagpur on June 27, 1950, were entrusted to the Pallottine Fathers of the South German Province of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate.
German Pallottine Father John Weidner was appointed the city's apostolic prefect on January 16, 1964, and it was raised to a diocese on July 5, 1973, and Monsignor Weidner, the apostolic administrator, was appointed on February 8, 1974.
After the death of Monsignor Weidner (56) on August 17, 1974, Father Francis Werner Hunold succeeded him on August 23, 1975. On his resignation in 1983, Jesuit Bishop Philip Ekka, transferred from Ambikapur, was installed as Raipur’s first bishop on January 6, 1985.
After the resignation of Bishop Philip Ekka, Msgr. Joseph Augustine was elected the Diocesan Administrator and continued as Administrator until he was appointed Bishop of Raipur on December 30, 1992.
After the new state of Chhattisgarh was born on November 1, 2000 and Raipur having been made the State Capital, on March 18, 2004, Raipur was raised as an archdiocese, with Raigarh, Ambikapur, Jashpur, and Jagadalpur as its suffragan dioceses.
Joseph Augustine was appointed the first Archbishop of Raipur on March 18, 2004. Archbishop Joseph Augustine retired on 6 June 2013 on completing the Canonical age and Archbishop Victor Henry Thakur succeeded him.
Riapur Archdiocese has 68 parishes, 92 diocesan clergy, and 81 religious priests and nuns belonging to 31 religious congregations and various institutions in its 60,814 square kilometres of territory, divided into 19 civil districts.
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