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India: Pope names new bishop of Krishnagar

Bishop-elect Nirmol Vincent Gomes (Photo provided)

Pope Francis has appointed a Salesian priest as the bishop of Krishnagar, West Bengal, Eastern India.

This provision was made public in Rome on April 30, said a press release issued by Father Stephen Alathara, deputy secretary general, Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI).

The 53-year-old Father Nirmol Vincent Gomes is currently the assistant director of novices and vice vector of the Nazareth Bhawan Novitiate, Dhajea, a Himalayan village in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal.

He will be the eighth bishop of the diocese.

After Bishop Joseph Suren Gomes sdb retired on April 17, 2019, the diocese was vacant and Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator. 

Father Gomes was born on February 8, 1959, in Ranaghat, in the Diocese of Krishnagar. 

He studied at the Minor Seminary at the Don Bosco School in Bandel, West Bengal. He did his Philosophical studies at the Salesian College in Sonada and received his Theological formation at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. 

He did a Licentiate in Pedagogy at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome (1988-1991). He also holds a doctorate in Religious Education from the same Pontifical University (1997-2000).

On May 24, 1979, he made his religious profession as a Salesian, and on July 22, 1989, he was ordained priest in his native parish of Ranaghat. 

From 1991 to 1997, he served as the Dean of Studies at the Salesian College in Sonada. After doing his Doctorate in 2000, he became the Rector of the Salesian College, Sonada until 2006. 

He then went to Krishnagar in 2006 as a confessor in the Don Bosco School and later became its Rector from 2007 to 2009. 

From 2009 to 2010, he was the Parish Coadjutor in Bongaon. Afterward, he became the Vice Rector of the Salesian College in Siliguri from 2010 to 2013 and was made Rector of the same college from 2013 to 2014. 

In 2014, he was named the Provincial of the Salesian Province of Kolkata, holding this position until 2019. 

From 2020 to 2021, he became a confessor in the Nazareth Bhawan Novitiate in Dhajea. 

The Augustinians and the Jesuits were the first missionaries who ventured into new missions in what is today Krishnagar Diocese at the beginning of the 17th Century. Around 1620 they established a Catholic center at Berhampur in Murshidabad district to minister to the European Catholics. Their labour bore fruits. The statistics reveal that there were 125 Catholics in Berhampur by 1851.

Over time, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Milan (PIME, the Milan Fathers) arrived in the mission area in 1855. In 1860, the Sisters of Charity of Sts. Bartholomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa (Sisters of Maria Bambina) arrived in Krishnagar.

In 1870, the Holy See erected Krishnagar as a Prefecture Apostolic.

As the mission grew, the diocese of Krishnagar was erected in September 1886 and Francesco Pozzi, PIME was appointed its first bishop. 

In 1928, Salesians took over the mission from PIME Fathers.

As of 2020, the diocese has as many as 64,906 Catholics spread over 20 parishes. - With inputs from RVA Zou Laa and RVA Bengali 


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