The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta - India
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The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta at a glance

Archbishop Most. Rev. Thomas D'Souza
Patron of Archdiocese St. Francis Xavier
Area 29,858 Sq.Kms
Total Population 29,048,374
Catholics 1,41,726
Languages spoken Bengali, English, Hindi, Santali, Tamil, Nepali, Khasi & Malayalam
Parishes 37
Quasi Parishes 17
Priests in the Archdiocese Diocesan 73, Jesuits 57, Salesians 54, CSsR 3, CMF 4, SFX 6, SVD 2, OCD 2, TOR 1, OFM 3, MC 3, CM 2,CMI 2,SSCC 2, Others 10- Total 224
Religious Brothers & Sisters Religious Brothers: 125, Sisters: 950

History of the Archdiocese of Calcutta

The Archdiocese of Calcutta (Kolkata) covers the greater part of West Bengal. The first Christian settlements in Bengal appeared at the end of the sixteenth century around the Church of Bandel, on the banks of the river Hooghly. At Kolkata, the first Catholic Chapel was established in 1700. Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal, with Kolkata as its headquarters was established in 1834 by the Society of Jesus. Its jurisdiction extended far beyond the boundaries of the present Archdiocese of Kolkata.

This Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal, was entrusted to the English Province of the Society at its inception. However, at the end of 1838, it passed into the hands of the Diocesan Clergy. Twenty-six years later, in 1864, the Belgian Jesuits who had arrived at the end of November in 1859, took charge of this ecclesiastical area. It is interesting to note that the first Ordinary of the newly erected Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal, Mgr. Robert St. Leger, S.J., was never ordained bishop. He left Kolkata on December 20, 1838. He was succeeded by Mgr. Tabert of the Foreign Missions of Kolkata, who was in Kolkata, who had been expelled from his mission in China and was in Kolkata for the publication of a Kachin-Chinese dictionary. He died on July 31, 1840. Four months later, Rome appointed Rt. Rev. Patrick Carew, at that time Vicar Apostolic of Madras as the Ordinary.

The first dismemberment of the extensive Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal took place in 1845, with the erection of the Vicariate of Kolkata and the Vicariate of Chittagong, renamed in 1850 as the Vicariate of West Bengal and Vicariate Apostolic of East Bengal. Mgr. Carew died on November 2, 1855. His successor was Rt. Rev. Mgr. Oliffe, who, though in charge of the Vicariate of East Bengal, was his Coadjutor with the right of succession. On assuming his new office, Mgr. Oliffe planned the handing over of his Vicariate to the Society of Jesus and approached the Congregation of Propaganda and the Superior General of the Jesuits. He died at Naples on May 13, 1859 and six months later the Belgian Jesuits arrived in Kolkata, under the leadership of Fr. Depilchin.

At that time Rev, Fr. A. Goiran was the Pro-Vicar. He directed the vicariate till the appointment of Rt. Rev. Mgr. Auguste Van Heule S.J., on August 22, 1864. Barely four months after his arrival in Calcutta, Mgr. Van Heule died on June 9, 1865. The following month Rev. Fr. Honore Van der Stuyft S. J., was appointed Pro- Vicar, he remained in charge till the arrival of Rt. Rev. Mgr. Walter Steins S. J., who was transferred from the Vicariate Apostolic of Bombay to Kolkata on April 14, 1867. Ten years later, in October 1877, owing to ill-health, Mgr. Steins asked Rome to be relieved from office. His successor, Rt. Rev. Mgr. Paul Goethals S.J., was appointed on December 31, 1877. Five weeks later Mgr. Steins left Kolkata, and once again Rev. Fr. Van der Stuyft S.J., administered the Vicariate till the arrival of Mgr. Goethals on November 4, 1878.

With the establishment of the hierarchy in India, in 1886 the Vicariate Apostolic became the Archdiocese of Kolkata and His Grace, Mgr. Goethals, its first Archbishop. Prior to the appointment of Mgr. Goethals as the first Archbishop of Kolkata, apostolate in Midnapore and Balasore districts was launched in 1865, in the 24 Parganas in 1868, and in Chaibasa Region of chhota Nagpur in 1869. The latter mission field developed so fast that from 1870 the greater part of the missionary activities was absorbed by it, until it was erected into the independent Diocese of Ranchi in 1927.

After ruling for 25 years over the apostolic field entrusted to his zeal, Archbishop Goethals died on July 4, 1901. Till the appointment of his successor, Mgr. Brice Meuleman S.J., the Archdiocese was ruled by Rev. Fr. Marchal S.J, vicar capitular. His Grace, Mgr. Meuleman was ordained and installed on May 25, 1902. In 1912, he opened an Apostolic School in Ranchi and the following year the Diocesan Seminary, first at Bankuli, later transferred to Ranchi in 1916. His Grace, Mgr. Meuleman died on July 15, 1924.

On August 10, 1921, His Grace Mgr. Ferdinand Perier S.J., had been ordained Coadjutor with the right of succession to the Archbishop of Calcutta. When he took over in 1924, the Archdiocese comprised of the following Ecclesiastical units. Archdiocese of Ranchi, Dioceses of Raigarh-Ambikapur, Jamshedpur, Darjeeling. Dumka, Daltonganj and the prefecture Apostolic of Balasore. The division of the Archdiocese began in 1972, when by a decree of the Holy See, dated February 28, 1927 the various districts of the Ranchi Mission were detached from the Archdiocese of Kolkata and erected into a separate diocese, which in 1953 became the Metropolitan See of Ranchi.

Kolkata also lost its diocesan seminary. Fortunately under the leadership of Archbishop Perier, new missionary developments were launched in the 24 Parganas, Midnapore District, Terai, Darjeeling District and especially in the Santal Parganas, so that the number of Catholics nearly trebled since the division of the Archdiocese. In August 1960, Archbishop Perier resigned at the age of 85 years, and handed over the direction of the Archdiocese to His Grace, Archbishop Vivian Dyer of the Bombay diocesan Clergy, who had been ordained by him as his Coadjutor one year earlier. The term of office of Archbishop Dyer lasted only 18 months. He died on February 8, 1962. He had to prepare and realize the second division of the Archdiocese, which resulted in the erection of three new dioceses: Jamshedpur (including a portion of the Archdiocese of Ranchi), Darjeeling (including the former Prefecture Apostolic of Sikkim), and Dumka (including the former Prefecture Apostolic of Malda).

After the death of Archbishop Dyer, Rt. Rev. Mgr. H. Eric Barber, Vicar Capitular, administered the Archdiocese till the installation of His Grace, Mgr. Albert V. D’ Souza, as the Archbishop of Kolkata on December 10, 1962. At the time of his appointment, Mgr. D’ Souza was Auxiliary Bishop of Mysore. He remained only seven years in Kolkata. But during this time he established two important institutions in the Archdiocese: Morning Star College and Boy’s Town. Morning Star College, the Seminary of Kolkata has now developed in the Regional Seminary of Bengal In November 1968, three districts of Orissa, i.e. Balasore, Keonjahar and Mayurbhanj, which were under the Archdiocese of Kolkata, were erected into the Prefecture Apostolic of Balasore and entrusted to the congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) of the Province of Madrid.

Due to ill-health, Archbishop Albert V. D’ Souza resigned in 1969 on August 10, 1969. His Grace Archbishop Lawrence Trevor Picachy SJ, took up the responsibility of the Archdiocese who had been transferred from Jamshedpur to Kolkata. On May 24, 1976, His Holiness Pope Paul VI, in Rome appointed Archbishop Picachy as a Cardinal. The Archdiocese was further divided on August 18, 1977, the Diocese of Baruipur was erected separating it from the Archdiocese of Kolkata. Its territory comprises of the southern and central part of the 24 Parganas, (Presently South 24 Parganas district). Rev. Fr. Alan Basil de Lastic was nominated Auxiliary Bishop of Kolkata. He was consecrated on April 9, 1979 and later was transferred as the Bishop of Lucknow on July 2, 1984. On April 13, 1985, Most Rev. Archbishop Henry D’ Souza of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar was nominated as the Coadjutor to His Eminence Lawrence Cardinal Picachy sj. Due to ill health His Eminence, Lawrence Cardinal Picacy sj resigned and Archbishop Henry D’ Souza took charge of the Archdiocese on May 1, 1986.

Rev. Fr. Cyprian Monis was nominated Auxiliary Bishop of Kolkata on May 10, 1994. He was consecrated on August 4, 1994. the Santal apostolate was growing in the meantime and need arose for a further division of the Archdiocese. The coal belt of Asansol and the Santal mission got impetus in 1997. In 1997 the Diocese of Asansol was created out of the districts of Burdwan, Birbhum and a part of Bankura, Bishop Cyprian Monis was appointed its first bishop and took charge of the Diocese on March 12, 1998.

Bishop Lucas Sirkar sdb, Bishop of Krishnagar, was nominated on April 20, 2000 as the Coadjutor to Most Rev. Henry D’ Souza. Archbishop Henry resigned and retired from the Archdiocese on March 31, 2002 and on April 2, 2002 Archbishop Lucas Sirkar sdb, was installed as the eighth Archbishop of Kolkata. He retired in February 2012.

On 12 March, 2011, Bishop Thomas D’Souza of Bagdogra, was appointed Co-adjuctor Archbishop of Calcutta. And then, on 23 February, 2012, he was appointed Archbishop of Calcutta. He currently holds this office.

Mgr. Paul Goethals
(11 November 1832 – 4 July 1901)
Belgian Jesuit priest, missionary and First Archbishop of Calcutta.

Early Prelates: (Vicars Apostolic) 1. Robert St. Leger SJ. (1834 – 1838) 2. Tabert (1838 – 1840)
3. Patrick Carew (1840 – 1855) 4. A. Goiran (Administrator) (1858 – 1964) 5. Auguste Van Heule SJ
1864 – 1865) 6. Honore Van Der Stuyft (Administrator) ( 1865 – 1867) 7. Walter Steins SJ (1867 – 1878)
8. Paul Goethals SJ (1878 – 1886)