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Let Christ be the King of every home, of Mizoram, Cardinal Gracias

Cardinal Gracias celebrating Eucharist at Platinum Jubilee of Mizoram Church in Aizawl Cathedral on November 20. (Photo credit: Christopher Lawlor)

The Catholic Church in Mizoram celebrated the Platinum jubilee in Aizawl from 18 - 20 November 2022, the capital of Mizoram, the North Eastern State of India. 

The occasion marks the platinum jubilee of the official presence of Priests in Mizoram, with the first Church of Christ the King, now the cathedral.

Cardinal Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, was the chief guest and concelebrated the thanksgiving Eucharist along with Bishops, Priests, religious and faithful on the final day.

“Let Christ be the real king of every home, king of Aizawl and King of Mizoram,” said Oswald Cardinal Gracias.

The Holy Cross Bishop Stephen Rotluanga, the bishop of Aizawl described the event as an ‘important historical milestone for the catholic church in Mizoram.’

Eucharistic Procession during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Mizoram Church

Three-day renewal program

The highlight of the Platinum jubilee was a three-day renewal program.

On the first day, a seminar, on the topic of the sacrament of marriage, was conducted in Mizo for the faithful at St. Lawrence Parish Hall, in Aizawl. Around 200 participants comprising Youth, Lay leaders, Catechists, Priests and religious participated in the seminar.

The charismatic retreat on the second day concluded with a Eucharistic celebration, followed by a public reception.

The final day started with concelebrated thanksgiving Eucharist presided over by Cardinal Gracias.

Cardinal Gracias praised the Mizo way of life, which he described as close to the values of Jesus: “I am so deeply touched by your core values such as solidarity, concern for the other, community’s feeling, the decision by consensus, kindness, casteless society, and no discrimination against anyone,” said the cardinal.

He said that the rest of India has much to learn from Mizo society.” With regards to the value formation of youth and equal rights of women.

The Cardinal appreciated their community spirit saying, “even before the Small Christian Communities were formed in the Church, you had the small Mizo communities; even before Pope Francis introduced us to Synodality, you lived and practised Synodality”.

He encouraged the laity, “to deepen their participation with leadership, and faith formation, and get into civil, political and social services actively.”

“Mizos are ‘people of God,’” the Cardinal said and urged them to pay attention to the ecumenism and collective work of transforming society in and through active civil society movements. He reminded that the church’s social teaching must be implemented to transform society.

In the afternoon the Cardinal and the local Bishop Stephen Rotluanga led the Eucharistic procession to the Cathedral, the first church where the priest was permanently housed 75 years back. Hundreds of faithful from various parishes participated.

Cardinal Gracias and Bishop Stephen Rotluanga of Aizawl with the priests at the concelebrated Eucharist. (Photo credit: Christopher Lawlor)

Dioceses of Silchar, Aizawl and the Mizoram Church

The Mizoram Church was officially founded with the arrival of Holy Cross Priests George Breen and Gilbert Boucher at Aizawl on 15 April 1947.

Rev. William Williams was the first missionary who set foot on the soil of Mizoram on 20 March 1891. He was a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Foreign Missionary later the mission was called Welsh Presbyterian Foreign Mission.

Professor Sangkima argues in his book, History of the Roman Catholic Church in Mizoram, that unofficially the Catholic church was formed on February 1, 1925, with a section of the people who lived at Tlangnuam, Aizawl.

During the time between 1925 and 1947 Priests visited Mizoram Catholics from Chittagong amid strong objections from the Provincial Government.

The Diocese of Aizawl was formerly known as the Diocese of Silchar. The Diocese of Silchar was made up of the districts of Cachar Hailakandi and Karimganj of Assam State, the entire Tripura and Mizoram States.

By an Apostolic constitution ‘Omnium Solicitudo’ of Pope Paul VI, dated June 26, 1969, the Prefecture of Haflong was raised to the status of a Diocese with the Episcopal See at Silchar.

Most Rev Denzil D’Souza became the first Bishop of the Diocese of Silchar.

In December 1983, the northern Cachar Hills district was detached from the Diocese of Silchar and joined to the new Diocese of Diphu.

On 7th February 1996 the entire State of Tripura was cut off from the Diocese of Silchar, forming the New Diocese of Agartala, of which Rev Fr Lumen Monteiro CSC was appointed as its first Bishop.

The remaining Silchar Diocese comprised the districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj (Barak Valley) of Assam State and the entire State of Mizoram. 

From the division of Silchar Diocese on 7th February 1996, it is called Aizawl Diocese, and its Episcopal See is transferred from Silchar to Aizawl.

On the resignation of Bishop Denzil due to ill-health, the Holy Cross prelate Lumen Monteiro was appointed the Apostolic Administrator of Aizawl Diocese for some time.

Bishop Denzil D’Souza went to eternal reward on the 25th Oct 2002. The Holy cross priest Stephen Rotluanga was ordained Bishop on 2 February 2002 a first Mizo Bishop. 

Today the church in Mizoram has attained a certain degree of maturity as an ecclesiastical unit comprising 24 Parishes with commendable feats in the field of education, evangelization, ecumenism, etc.        - Irudhaya Jothi SJ


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