After the Catholic Christian Dioceses of Bangalore Arch, Badravathi, Belgaum, Bellary, Belthangady, Chikmagalur, Gulbarga, Karwar, Mangalore, Mysore and Shimoga in the state of Karnataka, the 12th Catholic Diocese has been established by the Vatican on the 18th of January 2010. This has been announced in Vatican at 4.30 p.m.(IST) on that day. The Vicar General of the Diocese of Badravathi since 2008, Msgr George Njaralakatt has been appointed as the first Bishop of the said new Catholic Diocese of Syro-Malabar rite.
The new Diocese has been established for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Christians of the civil Districts of Mandya, Hasan, Mysore and Chamarajnagar. Till now these districts were part of the Mananthavady Diocese of Kerala state. Simultaneously the civil Districts of Coimbatore, Erode, Karur and Thirueur belonging to the Palghat Syro-Malabar Diocese of Tamilnadu were formed into a new Syro-Malabar Diocese of Ramanathapuram.
The Cathedral of the new Mandya Diocese would be in Infant Jesus Church at Hinkal which is geographically situated six kilometers away from Mysore. But the office and the residence of the Bishop of Mandya would be in Mandya, 40 kilometers away from Mysore. The total population of the new diocese is 44,47,312. But out of them only 5000 to 6000 are Syro-Malabar Catholic Christians. 44 priests of different religious Congregations give pastoral service in this Diocese. Out of them only 4 are diocesan priests of Mandya. 117 religious nuns belonging to different religious congregations of women serve in this missionary Diocese. There are 29 parishes and mission stations spread out in 17,460 square kilometers. Kannada, Malayalam and English are the major languages used by the Christians as well as the others in this territory. Being a missionary Diocese there are number of Self Help Groups actively participated by Christians as well as others.
Msgr George Njaralakatt : the first Bishop :
The Vicar General of the Diocese of Badravathi, Msgr George Njaralakatt has been appointed as the first Bishop of the said new Catholic Diocese of Syro-Malabar rite. He was born on 23.6.1946 in Muvathupuzha of the Ernakulam District in Kerala. After the completion of his primary studies in his hometown, his family migrated to Nadavayal in Wynad where he had his high school studies. After completing his SSLC in 1963 he joined the minor seminary of Tellicherry in June as the priestly candidate of Tellicherry Syro- Malabar Diocese. He had his philosophical and theological studies at St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Aluway. After being ordained as the priest of the Diocese of Tellicherry on 20.12.1971 he served in different capacities. When the new Syro-Malabar Diocese of Mananthavady was carved out on 1.5.1973, he became the member of the new Diocese. In 1983 he went to Rome to have Licentiate studies in Catechetics from Salesian University of Rome.
After his return from Rome he served as the Rector of Catechetics in Mananthavady Diocese till 1994. He served in Mananthavady as Procurator from 1994 to 1997, as Vicar General from 1997 to 2003 and 2004 to 2006, as Administrator of the Diocese from 2003 to 2004, as Parish Priest of Nelamboor from 2006 to 2008. From 1st of June 2008 he was serving as the Vicar General of the newly established Syro-Malabar Diocese of Badravathi. As Bishop he has chosen the pastoral motto :‘To Have Life and Life in Fullness’ from the Gospel of St John (10:10).
Report: Fr Francis Rodrigues, Raknno