Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, blessed and consecrated the Annunciation Church, the Cathedral of Jhabua diocese on Saturday, March 25, on the 21st anniversary of the Jhabua Diocese and on the Feast of the Annunciation.
A. A. S. Durairaj SVD, the Archbishop of Bhopal, Leo Cornelio SVD, the Archbishop Emeritus of Bhopal, Chacko Thottumarickal SVD, the Bishop of Indore, Devprasad Ganawa SVD, the Bishop of Udaipur, James Athikalam, the Bishop of Sagar, Sebastian Vadakel MST, the Bishop of Ujjain, Father Joemon James, the Provincial Superior of SVDs, Sister Assuntha Tigga, the Superior General of St. Joseph’s of Sevikas Sisters, hundreds of priests, nuns and thousands of believers enthusiastically participated in the ceremony.
The church in Jhabua was built in the year 1926 and it was declared the Cathedral of Jhabua on March 25, 2002, on the feast of Annunciation. Since the Church was very old and small, it was not sufficient for the Parishioners. So, Bishop Bhuriya dreamt of building a new Cathedral which is large enough to contain all the faithful.
The Cathedral of the Annunciation is the biggest Church in Madhya Pradesh. The Bishop took utmost care in designing the Church which is very Catholic in its nature. It covers a 1200 sqft built-up area excluding the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was well-designed with wooden carvings. We also can witness the 12 Apostles beautifully depicted at the Sanctuary.
The passage of construction of the Cathedral of the Annunciation went through a tense and tough situation. Even though the work began in 2019, due to opposition of the Hindu fundamentalist groups, the work had to be put a hold for some time. “It was God’s blessing that the construction of the Church is complete” said Father Rocky Sha, the PRO of the Diocese.
The issue of conversion was also raised by Hindu organizations regularly. Keeping in mind the opposition of Hindu organizations, security was provided by the central and state governments.
Activists of right-wing Hindu organizations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, called for a Jhabua bandh on Friday, 24 March, and demonstrated at the Jhabua bus stand.
Activists of Hindu organizations protested Saturday's visit of the Apostolic Nuncio and the organization warned that if Saturday's program is not canceled and the Apostolic Nuncio goes ahead with the program, Hindu organizations will intensify their protest.
Rocky Shah, the spokesperson of the Catholic Diocese Jhabua, denied all the allegations as completely baseless and that church was completely legal.
The history of the presence of Catholics in Jhabua goes back to 1896. The first mission station was started in 1896 at Thandla by Fr. Charles OFM. Cap., the first missionary in Jhabua district. Catholic Diocese of Jhabua was erected on 25 March 2002 and came into existence on 7 of June 2002, bifurcating the Catholic Diocese of Indore and catholic diocese of Udaipur. Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal SVD served as its first Bishop. The diocese comprises of five civil districts of Jhabua, Alirajpur, Ratlam, Mandsaur, Neemuch and Sardarpur Tehsil of Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, bordering of Gujarat and Rajasthan states.
On 24th October 2008, Bishop Chacko T. J. SVD was transferred to the diocese of Indore and on the 11th May 2009, Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI appointed Father Devprasad Ganawa SVD as the Second Bishop of Catholic diocese of Jhabua. On 16th June 2009, he was ordained as Bishop of Jhabua diocese.
On 21st December 2012 Bishop Devprasad Ganawa SVD was transferred to the Diocese of Udaipur as its Local Ordinary. On the same day he was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of the Jhabua Diocese.
On 18th July 2015, Holy Father Pope Francis announced Father Basil Bhuriya SVD as the Third Bishop of Jhabua. Father Basil Bhuriya was consecrated as the bishop of Jhabua diocese on 10 October 2015. Since then, Bishop Basil Bhuriya, as a good shepherd, guided the diocese with great enthusiasm for six years. Bishop Bhuriya was succumbed to COVID on 5 March 2021 and died on 6 May 2021 at St. Francis Hospital, Indore.
The Consulters of Jhabua Diocese elected Father Peter Kharadi as the Diocesan Administrator of Catholic Diocese of Jhabua on 14 May 2021 and the diocese is continuing its activities in his administrative care.
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