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History of Catholic Missions among the Garo of Mymensing

History of Catholic Missions among the Garo of Mymensing

Ruel C. Sangma

In 1909, the five Garo leaders named Ujir Ruram, Jiring Hajong, Thuding Hajong, Thiman Dango, and Sindhu Ruga from the foothill of the Garo Hills a remote village of Thausalpara made a long trip down to Dhaka to ask the Catholic Bishop Peter Joseph Hart to send a priest. The Garo representatives made a three-time journey to meet Bishop for establishing a Catholic Church in the Thausalpara. Then Bishop gave them only assurance and some books on religion.

First Garo Catholic Ranikhong Mission
First Catholic Mission: Ranikhong

In 1910, Bishop Peter Joseph Hart left Dhaka but he told the matters to Bishop Francis Fredrich CSC and allotted some money for making Church in Thausalpara.

In the same year, the Bishop sent Father Jean Mary Fleury CSC, and Brother Eugene CSC, to study the situation and feasibility of establishing a mission in Thausalpara. They stayed ten days and accommodated in Ujir Ruram house. They visited many Garo villages and returned to Dhaka. Father submitted the report on the matters satisfactorily. On the basis of a satisfactory report, Bishop decided to establish a mission in Thausalpara.

 In late 1910 and early 1911, Bishop sent Father Adolphe Fransis CSC to begin the work in Thausalpara near Ranikhong.

On March 19, 1911, Father Fransis reaped the first fruits with 21 Catholic baptisms at Thausalpara. The first church among the Garos was built at Thausalpara in 1912, and in 1913, Father Francis began to permanent living there.

In 1915, the mission moved to Ranikhong Hill where the present Mission is now situated. Until 1918, Father Fransis was practically alone, tramping the Garo country from east to west, covering the 90-mile strip of the territory. In the following twenty-five years, a total of six parishes were established.

When Mymensingh Diocese was created in 1987 (comprising of the Civil Districts of Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Kishoreganj, Netrakona, Sherpur, and Tangail), eight parishes existed: six of them close to Meghalaya border (from east to west):

  • Ranikhong (1912),
  • Bhalukapara (1926),
  • Mymensingh Town (1927),
  • Biroidakuni (1928),
  • Baluchara (1930),
  • Mariamnagar (1937),
  • Baromari (1942),
  • Jalchatra (1960),

Three additional parishes (11 parishes in total) have been erected since 1987 at Boruakona (1989, with territory taken from the eastern part of Baluchara Parish), Pirgacha (1993, with territory taken from the northern part of Jalchatra Parish), and Joljolia (2006, with territory taken from the western part of Biroidakuni Parish).
On May 15, 1987, Pope John Paul II erected the Diocese of Mymensingh and named as its first Bishop, Father Francis Anthony Gomes, who was then studying in Rome. On September 8, 1987, the new Diocese was officially erected, and the new Bishop was ordained in Mymensingh. On Christmas Day 2003, Father Ponen Paul Kubi CSC (the then Director of the Pobitra Krush Sadhana Griha, Rampura, Dhaka) was appointed the Auxiliary Bishop of Mymensingh and ordained in Mymensingh on February 13, 2004. On July 15, 2006, Bishop Ponen Paul Kubi CSC was appointed the second Bishop of Mymensingh by Pope Benedict XVI. The installation ceremony was held on September 1, 2006. By the end of 2006, the Catholic population of Mymensingh Diocese grew significantly.

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