History

HISTORY OF JAMMU-SRINAGAR DIOCESE

The beginning of Catholicism in Jammu and Kashmir dates back to 1887, though the history of the Christian presence in Kashmir goes back to the period of the great mughal Emperor Akbar the Great. The Apostolic Prefecture of Kafirstan and Kashmir was erected from the Diocese of Lahore in 1887, which earlier was created out of the Diocese of Agra. The new Prefecture, comprised of Rawalpindi, Kashmir and Ladakh was entrusted to the Mill Hill Missionary Society, London on July 06, 1887. Msgr. Ignatius Brouwer MHM was appointed as the first Prefect Apostolic with Rawalpindi as his headquarters. The Christians of Jammu region of the kingly State of Jammu and Kashmir were looked after by the Lashore-based Belgian Capuchins.

After the geographical partition of India and  Pakistan in 1947, the Mill Hill Fathers faced problems in travelling to different parts of the Prefecture for educational and pastoral care of the Christians. It was due to the growing geo-political hostility and tension that prevailed between India and Pakistan. Similarly the Lahore-based Capuchins, who were taking care of the Christians in Jammu Province, could no longer visit Jammu to take care of them. Hence they requested the Mill Hill Fathers to take care of the Jammu region too.

Vatican took notice of the new political situation and the continued tensions that prevailed between India and Pakistan. Hence it decided to setup a new ecclesiastical territory and eventually, the Apostolic prefecture of Kashmir and Jammu was created on January 17, 1952 and it came into existance in June of that year to enable the Missionaries to take care of the pastoral and educational needs of teh Christians and others in Kashmir and Jammu provinces. Msgr. George Shanks MHM was appointed as the Prefect Apostolic. Later, on May 4, 1968 the Prefecture was renamed as Apostolic Prefecture of Jammu and Kashmir comprising the districts of Kashmir and Ladakh regions( till then part of the Rawalpindi Diocese) and the districts of Jammu region (till then part of the Diocese of Lahore). The Mill Hill Fathers' missionary activities in Jammu region in collaboration in with the Presentation Sisters of Blessed Virgin Mary began to yield fruits gradually.

The Mill Hill Missionaries continued to serve the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the fields of Education and Medicare till 1978 when they decided to handover the Prefecture to the Indian Missionaries. The Prefecture was entrusted to the Capuchins of St. Joseph’s Province, Kerala in 1978. Rev. Fr. Hippolytus Kunnunkal OFM Cap., was appointed as the first Indian Prefect Apostolic. The Prefecture grew by leaps and bounds and was ready to be made into a Diocese. The Holy See decided to elevate the Apostolic Prefecture to the status of a full-fledged Diocese in 1986. Msgr. Hippolytus Kunnunkal OFM Cap., was consecrated as its first bishop on June 29, 1986 in Rome and was installed as bishop on September 07, 1986 in the newly consecrated St. Mary’s Cathedral, Jammu. The Curia, which was in Srinagar since 1952, was shifted to Jammu on December 23, 1986. Bishop Hippolytus a great missionary contributed to the growth of the Diocese and its various missionary endeavour. These included mission stations with educational, health care and social service. The highlight of his commitments is the reopening of the mission at Leh Ladakh.

When Rt. Rev. Hippolytus Kunnunkal retired as the Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar in 1997. Fr. Peter Celestine OFM Cap., one of the pioneering Capuchin missionaries in Jammu and Kashmir, was elected to succeed Rt. Rev. Hippolytus Kunnkunal OFM Cap. He was consecrated and installed as the Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar on September 06, 1998.

Under the leadership of Rt. Rev. Peter Celestine OFM Cap., the Diocese has seen a considerable growth and expansion of the Church. The Diocese presently is comprised of all the three Regions of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, namely, Jammu Region with 10 districts, Kashmir Region with 10 districts and Ladakh Region with 2 districts.

After shepherding the Jammu-Srinagar Mission for 35 years, the Capuchin missionaries have handed over the mission to a young and an energetic diocesan clergy, Rev. Fr. Ivan Pereira who was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of Diocese on 3rd December 2014 has been consecrated and installed as Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar Diocese on 21st February 2015.

FORMER PRELATES

1887

Msgr. Ignatius Brouwer MHM, Prefect of Kafristan & Kashmir

1894

Msgr. Reyndes MHM, Prefect Of Kafristan & Kashmir

1899

Msgr. Wagener MHM, Prefect Of Kafristan & Kshmir

1914

Msgr. Winkley MHM, Prefect Of Kafristan & Kashmir

1933

Msgr. O' Donhoe MHM, Prefect of Kafristan & Kashmir

1943

Msgr. Mayer MHM, Pro-Prefect Of Kafristan & Kashmir

1952

Msgr. George shanks MHM, Prefect Apostolic of Kashmir & Jammu

1962

 Msgr. Boerkamp MHM,  Prefect Apostolic of Kashmir & Jammu

1978

Msgr. Hippolytus Kunnankal OFM Ca. Prefect Apostolic of Kashmir & Jammu

FORMER BISHOPS

1986 - 1998

Most Rev. Hippolytus, Kunnunkal OFM Cap.

1998 – 2014

Most Rev. Peter Celestine OFM Cap.

 



 


 

 

 





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