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History

History

The Catholic Diocese of Gorakhpur was erected on the June 19, 1984 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II through the Bull "Exquo Divinum Concilium". Rev. Fr. Dominic Kokkat, cst, was appointed its Bishop. It comprises of seven north eastern districts of the state of Uttar Pradesh viz. Gorakhpur, Deoria, Sant Kairnagar, Basti, Kushinagar, Maharajganj and Siddharth nagar covering an area of 19,070 sq. kms. It has a population of about 15 million, of which the Catholic number is only 2,614. The languages spoken in this part of the Gangetic plain are Hindi and Bhojpuri. It is situated 750 kms. south-east of Delhi, 225 kms. north of Varanasi and 275 kms. west of Lucknow, the capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh.


This diocese is the fruitful outcome of the silent and long perseverance of the Catholic faithful and their spiritual leaders both in the past and present. Although the Christian origin in Gorakhpur is longer and more distant, the Catholic Christian origin in Gorakhpur could be traced back to a group of native Catholics from the then Bethiaraj who migrated to this city as agricultural labourers in the beginning of 1800 during the British colonialism. However , the Handbook of Bengal Mission mentions about the Roman Catholic Church work undertaken by Fr. Joseph Maria around 1740 and some Italian fathers under the guidance of the Vicar Apostolic of Patna appeared to have rendered Pastoral in Gorakhpur. In 1860 Fr. Raphael of Livorno was the first chaplain to be appointed in Gorakhpur. He built St. Joseph's Church, now Cathedral, in 1860. In 1886 Gorakhpur became part of the Diocese of Allahabad.

By 1906 Gorakhpur became the headquarters of various outstations thanks to the work done by Fr. Joseph Hiki and Fr. T. Considine between 1892 to 1906. Gorakhpur - Banaras Prefecture was erected in the year 1947 and was entrusted to the dynamic leadership of late venerable Msgr. Malenfant, ofm cap. In 1958, the headquarters of the Prefecture was shifted to Varanasi. In 1967, the Gorakhpur-Banaras Prefecture got its name changed into Banaras-Gorakhpur Prefecture. In 1970, this Prefecture became the Diocese of Varanasi. Late Venerable Fr. Basilius Panat cst, the founder of the Little Flower Congregation, at the invitation of Msgr. Malenfand, ofm cap, visited the place and worked out the modalities for sending his priests to begin the pastoral and evangelical activities in Gorakhpur in 1969-70. Since 1970 the CST fathers were actively involved in the evangelical works in this Prefecture which became the Diocese of Varanasi in the same year. Next fourteen years saw progressive efforts resulting in the emergence of Gorakhpur as a diocese. Taking into consideration the problems typical to this vast area, the diocese has worked out pastoral, ecumenical, Inter religious , educational, rural developmental and health care apostolates.