CATHOLIC CHURCH IN NAGALAND

…A Historical Overview…

 

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION

Kohima Diocese is situated in the Northeast of India, sharing the international border with Myanmar (Burma). Geographically it covers the entire Indian state of Nagaland. It is named after its capital – Kohima. Nagaland is inhabited by16 major tribes of Mongoloid race, who are collectively called the Nagas, each with its own dialect, customs and cultures. The Naga culture is rich in social values, like communitarian living, hospitality, openness, hard work, equality, sincerity, etc.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DIOCESE OF KOHIMA

The Diocese of Kohima comprises the State of Nagaland covering an area of 16,579 sq. kms. with a total population of 1,990,036 The literacy rate is 67%. The Catholic population is 58,252 spread over 35 parishes and 10 mission centres. There are 14 major tribes speaking as many languages. Today there are Catholic communities practically in all the major tribes. The Angami and Lotha tribes have the largest communities.

 
     

The attempt to preach the good news of Jesus Christ in Nagaland by the Catholic Church goes back to 1908 when Fr. Marcellinus Molz reached Tamlu in Mokochung District. But this first visit of a Catholic missionary to Nagaland could not bear the desired fruit. Nagaland had to wait another 40 years more before the next opportunity arrived. That was in December 1948 when a group of Spanish Sisters – Sr. Margarita and Sr. Gaudalupe of Sisters of Christ Jesus - and a Catholic priest, Msgr. Bars, SDB., arrived in Kohima to offer their services to the newly established Naga Hospital of Kohima at the request of Mr. Akbar Hydari, the then Governor of Assam. They were strictly forbidden to do any evangelizing activities.

When the sisters had to leave the hospital in 1952, Fr. Marocchino, SDB., who by then had replaced Msgr Bars, was allowed to continue his stay in Kohima, but he had to quit the hospital premises. After much wandering about he was able to build a hut of his own in a corner of the Kohima Village and he paved the way for the growth of the Catholic Church in the Angami area.

In the meantime, the Catholic faith began to take root in another part of Nagaland, among the Lotha tribe, who were close to Assam. In 1950, some Lotha Baptists from Lakhuti village contacted the catholic priests at Golaghat and received Baptism in April 1951. Soon it led to the establishment of a catholic community in Lakhuti village in spite of stiff opposition from the Baptists.

The Diocese of Kohima was part of the Diocese of Dibrugarh until 1973 when the states of Nagaland and Manipur were separated from the Diocese of Dibrugarh and made into the Diocese of Kohima-Imphal. Late Bishop Abraham Alangimattathil, SDB., the then Vicar General of the Diocese of Dibrugarh, was appointed as its first Bishop.

On June 29, 1980 the Diocese of Kohima-Imphal was bifurcated and the Diocese of Imphal was carved out of it comprising the State of Manipur. Bishop Abraham Alangimattathil, SDB, continued to be the Bishop of the Diocese of Kohima comprising only the state of Nagaland until his resignation on 11th July 1996 due to ill health.

Fr. Jose Mukala, the then Vicar General of the diocese was elected as the Administrator of the Diocese by the diocesan consultors. Bishop Abraham after a commendable and untiring service of nearly 23 years to the diocese succumbed to death on 18th Novemeber 1997 due to a sudden Cardiac arrest. On December, 9, 1997 Rome announced the name of Fr. Jose Mukala as the Bishop-Elect of the Diocese of Kohima. Bishop Jose Mukala served   the Diocese of Kohima for twelve years until his resignation on 30 Oct. 2009.

Then the diocese was placed under the care of the Apostolic Administrator in the person of Archbishop Dominic Lumon until a new Bishop was appointed. The Vatican made the announcement of the election of Fr. James Thoppil, the then Rector, Oriens Theological College, Shillong, as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Kohima on 16 June 2011. Fr. James Thoppil was ordained a bishop on 8th September 2011 at the Cathedral Church, Kohima by His Grace Most Rev. Salvatore Pennacchio, the Apostolic Nuncio of India, in the presence of other bishops of the Region and he took charge of the diocese on the same day.

 
ST. JOSEPH PARISH – CHUMUKEDIMA
(A Brief History and Information)

Beginnings ……

God’s ways are mysterious indeed. Unlike the other parishes, the origin of St. Joseph Parish, Chumukedima cannot trace its origin in the preaching and visit of the missionaries. It all started with the purchase of the present parish land on 04 March 1985 by Bishop Abraham Alangimattathil of happy memory, the first Bishop of Nagaland. The seemingly futile purchase of the land proved to be fertile land for the sowing of the seed in a strange sense. Since then, year after year, the Catholic presence was felt in and around Chumukedima. Initially, the territory that now makes up St. Joseph Parish, Chumukedima was part of the Holy Cross Parish, Dimapur. In keeping with the long cherished need of the Church, St. Joseph Parish, Chumukedima was established on 20th July 1997 by Rev. Fr. Jose Mukala, then Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Kohima, who became the second Bishop of Nagaland.

Rev. Fr. Matthew Keemattam was installed as the first Parish Priest of the parish at a function held at St. Antony Church, Tenyiphe on 20th July 1997. Rev. Fr. P. J. Thomas was the first Asst. priest of the parish. He was appointed on 16 August 1998 and became the second Parish Priest on 7 March 1999. Rev. Fr. Antony Kalathil was installed as the third Parish Priest on 13 July 2003. He was assisted by Rev. Fr. James Thsipongkiu, the second Asst. Priest of the parish. Rev. Fr. Sabu Chenackal was appointed as the fourth Parish Priest on 06 August 2006. With his innovative spirit Rev. Fr. Sabu Chenackal brought many new endeavors for the growth of the parish as well for the schools entrusted to his care. He was assisted in the past by Fr. James Thsipongkiu, Rev. Fr. Johny Padinjareporiyath and Rev. Fr. Loyola Antony, and now he is assisted by Rev. Fr. Kokto Kurian.

The Parish is blessed with eleven (11) Sub Stations, which has a total of 2600 Catholics. They are namely;

St. Antony’s Church, Tenyiphe;
Holy Family Church, Nagaland Police Catholic Church;
Carmel Church, Carmel Centre;
St. Paul Church, Diphupar A (Rongmei);
St. Stephen’s Church, Diphupar B (Rongmei);
St. Peter’s Church, Diphupar (Angami);
Christ King Church, Naga United;
Infant Jesus Church, 5th Mile (Lotha);
Infant Jesus Church, Seithekema;
St. Paul Church, Razaphe; and
Holy Spirit Church, Vidima.

Education Ministry

The Parish is entrusted with the day to day management of two schools, namely; St. Joseph School, Chumukedima and St. Antony School, Tenyiphe. St. Joseph School was established on 11 February 1998 and received the Board’s (NBSE) recognition on 21 December 2006. It was inaugurated by Mrs. Asangla Imti, the then E.A.C. of Chumukedima and blessed by Rt. Rev. Jose Mukala, then Bishop of Kohima. Rev. Fr. Mathew Keemattam was the first Principal of the School. The School was started with the strength of 55 students accommodating in two classes, viz., Lower KG and Upper KG. Twenty one students from the school appeared Class X exams for the first time in 2009 and produced 100% pass percentage and in the year 2010 consecutively. The School obtained permission to upgrade the school as high school in the year 2007 and got its recognition for high school education in 2010.

St. Antony School, Tenyiphe was established in the year 1986. Since then care has been given for the growth of the School by Fathers and Sisters through the years. In the year 2007 the growth of the School was further revived and it has been upgraded year after year. Now, the School is growing rapidly both in number and in quality. The School was elevated to a High School in the year 2010. In the year 2011, the will be sending its first batch for Metric Board Examinations. The year coincides with the 25 years of its establishment.

Religious Congregations

The parish is blessed with the presence of four women religious congregations who help in the various activities of the parish. Initially it was the Sisters from the Holy Redeemer Health Centre who looked after singlehandedly the spiritual welfare of the parishioners’. Now, the work is being shared by various congregations who are in and around the parish. HRHC looks after NPCC; SABS Provincial House looks after Tenyiphe and Seithekema centers, over six centers around 4th-5th miles are being taken care of by the CMC Provincial House. In the parish the SCCG sisters taks care of the day to day activities of the Parish as well as St. Joseph School.

Lay Associations

The parish is backed strongly by the lay associations who prove themselves to be very effective and determined to improve the spiritual welfare of the faithful. They are namely; Parish Pastoral Council, Catholic Women Association, Catholic Youth Association, Legion of Mary and Holy Childhood. They conduct seminars, retreats, recollections, Games and Sports, Monthly meetings, Prayer Services and also visit the sick and the needy.

Our Immediate Concern

Having completed 13 years of its establishment, the absence of the Parish Church is creating a large vacuum in the Parish. As the number of the parishioners is increasing rapidly, it is the felt need of the parishioners to have a Church of their own in order to praise God for his numerous blessings. Having realized this grave need, the PPC elected a Parish Church Construction Committee and decided to speed up the process. A bookmark containing the Prayer for Church Construction was printed out and it was blessed on 7 October 2010, since then it is being prayed by all the parishioners in their own respective villages. It is our earnest hope that God listens to our sincere prayers and grant us a house of prayer.

2. Pastors through the Years

Parish Priests                                                             Asst. Priests
Rev. Fr. Mathew Keemattam (1997-1999)                        Rev. Fr. P. J. Thomas (1998-1999)
Rev. Fr. P. J. Thomas (1999-2003)                                   Rev. Fr. James Thsipongkiu (2004-2008)
Rev. Fr. Antony Kalathil (2003-2006)                               Rev. Fr. Johny Padinjareporiyath (2008-2010)
Rev. Fr. Sabu Chenackal (2006-till date)                          Rev. Fr. Loyola Antony (2010-till date)

3. Our Sincere Thanks are Due to:

Our Collaborators (Fathers)                                       Our Collaborators (Sisters)
Shalom Rehabilitation Centre                                           St. Joseph Convent
Development Association of Nagaland                               SABS Provincial House
Don Bosco Vocational Training Centre                               Holy Redeemer Health Centre
Bishop’s House, Dimapur                                                 Medical Mission Sisters
Good Shepherd Seminary                                                CMC Novitiate
Salesian College                                                             Carmel Bhavan
And the Numerous Visiting Fathers

SOME OF THE CATHOLIC LEADERS OF THE PARISH

1. Dr. John Lotha
2. Mr. Silvester Chase
3. Mr. philip Humusoe (Police commandent)
4. Mr. Francis Lotha (SDO)
5. Mr. Elias Lotha (DIG)
6. Mr. paulose Lotha
7. Mr. dominic (Touring catechist)
8. Mrs. Thunchano Lotha (Offier incharge Art and culture)
9. Mr. marius Lotha (ret. DIG)
10. Mrs. Amongla
11. Mr. Asuli joseph (Principal )
12. Mr. Nucha Mathew
13. Mr. Nobert lotha
14. Mr. Victor lotha
15. Mr. david Lotha
16. Mr. jacob rongmai (Teacher)
17. mr. Thomas Rongmai (catechist)
18. Mr. Moses Rongmai (catechist)
19. mr, Joseph Angami (Catechist)
20. Mr. simon Angami (catechist)
21. Mr. paul Loyth (Catechist)
22. Mr. Francis humsoe (ret. medical off.)
23. mr. Hentry Rongmai (teacher
24. Mrs. Lucy Angami (president mahila Congress)
25. Antony Magh (catechist)

 
A brief History of the Catholic Church at Tseminyu Parish


Mr. Pralie Paulus Belho from Kohima came to Tseminyu as an agricultural instructor. He established the Catholic community at Tesophenyu village. As per the version of the community leaders at Tesophenyu 47 persons were baptised as catholics.

The first catholic from Tseminyu village was Mr. Ngabu Khing. He was baptised on 31 July 1968. In September 1968 a chapel was blessed for Sunday services at Tseminyu by Fr. Paul Bernick SDB. 15 persons were batised on 1 December 1968 and that was the beginning of the Catholic Community at Tseminyu. Fr. PD. George SDB arrived at Tseminyu on 18 October 1975. He was installed as the first parish priest of Tseminyu on 1 Agust 1976. On 17 December 1976, MSMHC sisters arrived at Tseminyu. The new church building, new school building and the dispensary were blessed on 4 November 1979 by Bishop Abraham Alangimattathil on 4 November 1979.

Number of Substations: 3

1. St. Theresa’s Church, Tseminyu New Town
2. St. Peter’s Church, Tesophenyu
3. Catholic Church, Kandnyu

Parish Priests

1. Fr. PD. George : 1976 – 1980
2. Fr. Sebastian Manianchira : 1980 – 1983
3. Fr. K.P. Paul : 1983 - 1985
4. Fr. Joseph Edakkudan : 1986 – 1989
5. Fr. N.J. Joseph : 1989 – 1992
6. Fr. CM. Jose : 1992- 1993
7. Fr. N. Carolus Kuotsu : 1993 - 1995
8. Fr. Solomon Vizo : 1995 – 1998
9. Fr. P. Mariadoss : 1998 – 2004
10. Fr. S. Devaraj : 2004 – 2009
11. Fr. Thomas John : 2009 – 2012
12. Fr. Binoy John : 2012 ....

Catechists

1. Mr. James Kent – St. Joseph’ Church, Tseminyu
2. Mr. Sani Emmanuel – St. Theresa’ Church, Tseminyu town
3. Mr. William Magh - St. Peter’s Church, Tesophenyu
4. Mr. Antony – Catholic Church, Kandinyu

 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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