Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sabarmati.

The Ahmedabad Diocese has a long history. There are indications of Christians living at Khambhat and Ahmedabad from the beginning of the sixteenth century when the Portuguese arrived in Goa in 1510. All through the 19th century Catholics from outside the states have come and settled in several towns of Gujarat. Ahmedabad city had a church from 1842 at Sabarmati.

But the beginning of local Christians is traced to the baptism of 18 people at Mogri on December 11, 1893 by Fr Manuel Xavier Gomes, a diocesan priest from the Archdiocese of Bombay. A team of German and Swiss Jesuits followed Fr Gomes. Then came more diocesan priests followed by the Spanish Jesuits in 1922.
In 1934 the entire area of Gujarat State north of the Mahi river including Kathiawad and Kutch became the independent Ahmedabad mission separated from Bombay Archdiocese, with an Ecclesiastical Superior in the person of Fr Joaquin Villallonga, SJ. There were only five mission stations in 1934 : Anand established in 1895, Vadtal in 1897, Karamsad in 1907, Nadiad in 1911 and Amod in 1914.




The Daughters of the Cross (FC) were the first congregation of nuns to start work in Gujarat from 1898. Then came the Sisters of The Apostolic Carmel (AC) to work in Gujarat in January 1923. They opened their first school at Ahmedabad in 1929. In 1936 a local congregation of the Little Daughters of St Francis Xavier (LD) was founded by a Jesuit Priest, Fr Carlos Suria in collaboration with Sr Xavier.

The steady growth of the Ahmedabad mission resulted in the establishment of the Ahmedabad Diocese on May 5, 1949 covering the entire Gujarat area north of the river Mahi much before the present Gujarat state was carved out of the Bombay state on May 1, 1960.

The tenure of the first Bishop of Ahmedabad, Bishop Edwin Pinto, SJ (1949-73) was a period of consolidation of the Christian community and also the beginning of the expansion of the Church to north and south Gujarat.

Meanwhile a second diocese in Gujarat was established on September 29, 1966 as Baroda diocese with the six districts in South Gujarat, south of Mahi river curved out of Bombay Archdiocese with Bishop Ignatius D'Souza as its first bishop.

In Ahmedabad diocese Bishop Charles Gomes, SJ succeeded Bishop Pinto in 1974 and he saw to the expansion of the Church of north and central Gujarat as well as to the growth of Church personnel especially diocesan priests and religious sisters.

A new development took place in 1977 with the formation of the Rajkot Diocese under Bishop Jonas Thaliath, CMI as its first bishop. The new diocese was separated from the Ahmedabad Diocese, covering the entire area of Saurashtra and Kutch-Bhuj.

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