Sunday, February 26, 2012

Church in Andhra Pradesh


1. Andhra Pradesh (ఆంధ్ర ప్రదేశ్) is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the country's south eastern coast. It is India's third largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city is Hyderabad. Andhra Pradesh lies between 12°41' and 22°N latitude and 77° and 84°40'E longitude, and is bordered by Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Orissa in the north, the Bay of Bengal in the east, Tamil Nadu to the south and Karnataka to the west.

Andhra Pradesh has the second-longest coastline of 972 km (604 mi) among the states of India.

The primary official language of Andhra Pradesh is Telugu with Urdu a common secondary official language in some areas. Other languages often spoken in the state include Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, and Oriya. It is historically called the "Rice Bowl of India".

On 1 November 1956, the States Reorganization Act formed Andhra Pradesh by merging Telugu-speaking areas of Hyderabad State with the already existing Andhra State (Wikipedia).

2. Christian Presence in the Ancient Period

In the first century, some Greek Christians from Alexandria settled in Masula presently known as Machilipatnam, a coastal port town. It was for long a trading post of Roman merchants. Even some Jews passed through it and made their settlement in the nearby trading towns like Guntur where a Synagogue was built. Armenian Christian merchants and migrants had their settlements in Macilipatnam and nearby locations. Among the letters given by Pope XXII around 1330 to Bishop Jordan Catalani addressed to the Kings and the Christians in India, the historians report that there was one to be conveyed to the faithful at “Mausolipatinam” (Machilipatnam) along with the one for the Mylapore Christians. A Christian king named Solomon, ruled parts of Orissa and Andhra according to the Catalon Map dated 1375. Fr. H. Colli (+1962), an Indologist and Sanskrit scholar of renown, affirms that Christians (Nestorians or Catholics) were already present at Vijayanagar in 1442. He bases his conjecture on some report of Abdur Razack, Persian ambassador at the Vijayanagar Court, who mentions that the Prime Minister (Vizier) of Vijayanagar was a Christian.

3. Missionary Work in the Colonial Period

It appears most likely that the first recorded attempts to convert the native Telugus and plant the Church among them date back to the beginning of the 16th century to the period of arrival of the Portuguese in India in 1498 and the conquest of Goa by Affonso de Albuquerque in 1510. The missionaries who arrived in 1500 in the second Portuguese expedition spanned out to the Empire of Vijayanagar with the explicit support of King Krishnadeva Raya who had his base in the present Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh. In this period, the first conversions of among Telugus were made by the Franciscan pioneers though these Christian communities did not last long.

In 1598 two Jesuit Fathers were received by Venkatapathideva Rayalu, the last great prince of the Aravide dynasty, at Chandragiri near Tirupati. This first attempt by Madurai Mission did not result in the establishment of Christian communities though there were some individual conversions. Second attempt by them to sow the seeds of Christian faith in Andhra Pradesh was around the year 1705 with the arrival of French Jesuit missionaries from Pondicherry under aegis of the Carnatic Mission. This was a successful mission as far as the rooting the Telugu Christian communities on the soil of Andhra Pradesh. Hence some historians consider this mission to be the seed bed of Christianity in A.P. Out of the original territory of the Carnatic Mission, from the ecclesiastical territory of the Diocese of Madras, in 1845 the Visakhapatnam Mission was separated and entrusted to the MSFS Society which became a Diocese in 1886. The Telugu area of the Diocese of Madras, up to the borders of the Krishna River, was given in 1875 to the St. Joseph’s Society better known as Mill Hill Missionaries (MHM) for evangelization after the Jesuits and MEP Societies had left the area. This territory was erected as the Diocese of Nellore in 1928.

As for the Hyderabad Mission is concerned, the first attempts at sowing the seeds of the Gospel go back to the Franciscans who came up to the Bijapur Kingdom in 1510s as held by the thesis of Msgr. Solomon Thanugundla, Structures of the Church in Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad, 1977). The Congregation for the Propagation of Faith, also known as Propaganda Fide, founded the Vicariate Apostolic of Idalkan (Bijapur) in 1637 and later extended it to Golconda. Hyderabad Mission was part of this territory until it was catered to by the Carnatic Mission from Pondichery. The origin of Hyderabad Mission had its humble beginnings in 1646. Many missionary societies rendered their service of spreading Gospel in the region.

The PIME missionary society of Milan was the main builder of Catholic mission of Hyderabad. Until May 11, 1851, the Hyderabad Mission was depending on the Madras Vicariate, which in its turn was officially under the jurisdiction of Goa (Padroado) until July 3, 1832. The Mission of Hyderabad was made an independent Vicariate in 1851. Declared as a Diocese in 1886, it flourished as a leading mission from 1920s. It was raised to the status of an Archdiocese in 1953. The Nizams of Hyderabad were close collaborators of the Bishops in the works of mission and education. They provided land and gave donations to build churches and schools, and devotedly took part in the religious ceremonies particularly during the Christian festivals.

4. Formation of the Dioceses

The (Arch) diocese of Hyderabad (1886) through the untiring efforts of the PIME Missionaries gave birth to the dioceses Vijayawada (1937), Warangal (1952), Nalgonda (1976), and Khammam (1988). The Diocese of Nellore (1928), the base of Carnatic Mission, which was extended through the hard work of Mill Hill Missionaries, was divided into the dioceses of Guntur (1940), Kurnool (1967), and Cuddapah (1977). The diocese of Eluru was bifurcated from Vijayawada in 1977. The diocese of Srikakulam was bifurcated from the diocese of Visakhapatnam (1886) which was ministered mainly by the MSFS and was raised to the status of Archdiocese in 2001.

Thus, at present, in the region of Andhra Pradesh there are 2 Archdioceses and 11 other dioceses: the Archdiocese of Hyderabad has the suffragan dioceses of Warangal, Nalgonda, Khammam, Kurnool, Cuddapah and the diocese of Adilabad (1999) which belongs to the Syro-Malabar Rite. The Archdiocese of Visakhapatnam has the suffragan dioceses of Srikakulam, Eluru, Vijayawada, Guntur and Nellore.

5. Consolidation of the Local Church

In the missionary period of 1930s up to 1960s there were mass conversions to Christianity all over Andhra Pradesh. After this period, though conversions continued they declined to a large extent. Between 1960s and 1980s, 5 new Dioceses were erected. Hence, the Church faced the task of consolidation of the communities that were earlier converted in groups. The period of consolidation included catechizing the new faithful, constructing the village chapels, training and sending the Catechists, and equipping the priests with necessary means. During this time, many parishes were established with new Churches and presbyteries and convents were opened along with the building educational and health care institutions…etc. Efforts were made through the Regional Bodies like the Jyotirmai Society and APSSS to make the A.P. Church self-reliant through the animation programmes for increasing the Lay responsibility and local contribution From 1990s, apart from the animation of the communities and training of leaders, the formation of the Basic Christian Communities (BCC) was taken up in some dioceses which are now spread all over the region.

It may be estimated that at present in the A.P. Catholic Church there are about 700 parishes, 6000 sub-stations and socio-pastoral localities, 1.6 million Catholic population, 1000 diocesan priests, 650 religious priests, 250 religious brothers, 5000 religious sisters, 3600 Catechists, 350 BCC animators and about 500 major and 500 minor seminarians. All the Dioceses have sufficient priests to cater to the pastoral needs of their faithful. Vocations abound in the region as many young people opt to join the religious congregations and dioceses. Some of these congregations and dioceses have become missionary by sending out their priests and religious members to other countries for pastoral and evangelical work.

6. The Andhra Pradesh Bishops' Council (APBC) -

It takes its origin from the “Regional Episcopal Council of Andhra Pradesh” which was set up on October 16, 1954 at the Archbishop’s House, Secunderabad, by Archbishop Mark Gopu, the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Hyderabad, with the objective of strengthening and developing the local Church in Andhra Pradesh. It was later also known as the “Andhra Pradesh Regional Bishops’ Council”.

The revised Statues of APBC were approved by the members on October 15, 1987 when Archbishop Samineni Arulappa was the Chairman of APBC. Taking into consideration the changed context, the Statutes were further revised in the General Meeting held on September 04, 2008, under the chairmanship of Bishop Gali Bali.

7. Nature and Vision

The APBC was constituted under the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) to cater to the special needs and conditions of Andhra Pradesh. The nature of APBC is to exercise jointly the pastoral office of the Bishops to solve common problems and promote unity of action.

The APBC is an association in which the Catholic Bishops of Andhra Pradesh, conscious of their unity and solidarity in the Episcopate, jointly exercise their pastoral office by way of promoting common programmes, which cater to the needs of the region.

8. Purpose, Mission and Objectives

The general purpose of the Council is to facilitate for its members the co-coordinated study and common discussion of questions affecting the Church in A.P.. and the prosecution of a common policy and concerted action. In this way it is intended to witness to Christ more effectively in the service of the people of A.P.

In particular the Council intends:

 to express through statements and representations, the common stand-point of its members on matters of common concern falling within the limits of their jurisdiction:

 to promote by concerted action and guidance among other things, in keeping with the doctrine of the Church, with regard to:

• Proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom of God throughout the Region
• Liturgical instruction and active participation in consonance with the genius and cultural traditions of the Region
• The imparting of Catholic education in our educational institutions with stress on Christian formation
• The adaptation of priestly formation to the special needs and challenges of the modern times
• An increasing participation of our laity in the apostolate of the Church and in social apostolate
• An adequate training in the proper use of mass media with stress on regional language
• A deeper social consciousness of the needs and problems of the society particularly of the human rights of the marginalized and striving for justice, peace and development
• A greater appreciation of the values contained in other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and in other Faiths, with a view to better mutual understanding, fruitful dialogue, harmony and, finally, unity in the Kingdom of God
• To attend to all other assignments of the Council which are necessary for the effective administration of the Church in A.P.

9. Meetings

The ordinary General Meeting is the annual meeting held every year, preferably in February/March at the place decided by the Office-Bearers. Extraordinary General Meetings are held at the time and place decided by the Council. During these meetings, provision may be made for the Metropolitan Provinces to meet separately to discuss their agenda.

10. Office-Bearers
President: Most Rev. Dr. Gali Bali, Bishop of Guntur
Vice-President: Most Rev. Dr Prakash Mallavarapu
Secretary: Most Rev. Dr Moses Doraboina Prakasam
Deputy Secretary: Rev. Fr Dr Anthoniraj Thumma

11. Members

Most Rev. Dr. Kagitapu Mariadas, Archbishop of Vishakapatnam
Most Rev. Dr. Thumma Bala, Archbishop of Hyderabad
Most Rev. Dr. Thumma Bala, Apostolic Administrator of Warangal
Most Rev. Dr. Addagatla Innayya, Bishop of Srikakulam
Most Rev. Dr. Mallavarapu Prakash, Apostolic Administrator of Eluru
Most Rev. Dr. Govindu Joji, Bishop of Nalgonda
Most Rev. Dr. Maipan Paul, Bishop of Khammam
Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Kunnath, Bishop of Adilabad
Most Rev. Dr. Gallela Prasad, Bishop of Cuddapah
Most Rev. Dr. Poola Anthony, Bishop of Kurnool

12. Statistics

The following table presents the statistical data of the Church in A.P. as per the Catholic Directory of India 2005-06:

Diocese             Parishes       Catholics    Priests     Nuns      Catechists     Animators

Adilabad            23                 13,154         35             130
Cuddapah          49                 77,599         126            238          185               30
Eluru                 99                 275,000        155           545           578               30
Guntur               79                 203,525       171            540         422                23
Hyderabad         81                 93,288         242            807         158                30
Khammam          52                 124,000       94              225         255                30
Kurnool              55                 65,921         87             332         230                20
Nalgonda            55                 66,997         112            260         185                30
Nellore               72                 68,765         147           233         238                30
Srikakulam         24                  55, 890        40             95           150                30
Vijayawada         77                 204,308       136            715         610                30
Visakapatnam     64                  218,806       125           428          416                30
Warangal            51                 63,499         107           489          83                 30
TOTAL             781                1,530,752    1577        5037        3510             343

13. Dioceses in A.P.

There are 13 Catholic Dioceses in Andhra Pradesh including the Syrian Diocese of Adilabad. They are under the two ecclesiastical provinces of Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam as listed below. Click on the (arch) below links to see for more information.

Ecclesiastical Province of Hyderabad

1.Hyderabad Archdiocese
2. Adilabad Dioese
3. Cuddapah Diocese
4. Khammam Diocese
5. Kurnool Diocese
6. Nalgonda Diocese
7. Warangal Diocese

Ecclesiastical Province of Visakhapatnam

8. VisakhapatnamArchdiocese-
9. Eluru Diocese
10. Guntur Diocese
11. Nellore Diocese
12. Srikakulam Diocese
13. Vijayawada Diocese

14. Bishops

(1). Most Rev. Joseph Kunnath CMI, Bishop of Adilabad
Born : Sep-02-1939
Priestly Ordination : Apr-24-1972
Episcopal Ordination : Oct-06-1999 Bishop of Adilabad
Address : Bishop’s House, P. O.,
Mancherial - 504 208.
Adilabad District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +918736-258262 (O), +918736-255933 (P)
E-mail :

(2). Most Rev. Gallela Prasad, Bishop of Cuddapah
Born : Apr-07-1962
Priestly Ordination : Mar-01-1989
Episcopal Ordination : Mar- 01- 2008
Address : Bishop's House
Mariapuram, Cuddapah - 516 003
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +91856-2241148(0) +91856-2241696 (P)
Fax : +91-8562-249534
E-mail :

(3). Most Rev. Prakash Mallavarappu, Apostolic Administrator of Eluru Diocese
Born : Jan-29-1949
Priestly Ordination : Oct-11-1979
Episcopal Ordination : Jul-22-1998
Address : Bishop's House, Xavier Nagar
Eluru - 534 006,
West Godavari District
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +918812-230707 (O), +918812-234407 (P)
Fax : +91-8812-237407
E-mail :

(4). Most Rev. Gali Bali, Bishop of Guntur
Born : Apr-29-1939
Priestly Ordination : Dec-19-1964
Episcopal Ordination : Oct-23-1984
Address : Bishops' House
Chandramoulinagar, Guntur - 522 007
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +91863-2350720 (O), +91863-2350255 (P)
Fax : +91-0863-2351234
E-mail :

(5). Most Rev. Thumma Bala , Archbishop of Hyderabad
Born : Apr-24-1944
Priestly Ordination : Dec-21-1970
Episcopal Ordination : Mar-12-1987 Archbishop's House
9-1-17/1 Sardar Patel Road,
Secunderabad - 500 003
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +9140-27805545, +9140-27805418(O),
+9140-27800709 (P)
Fax : +91-40-27718089
E-mail :

(6). Most Rev. Paul Maipan, Bishop of Khammam
Born : Feb-28-1944
Priestly Ordination : Jan-09-1971
Episcopal Ordination : Aug-22-1997 Bishop's House,
Khammam P.O.
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +918742-222459(O)
Fax : +91-8742-223083
E-mail :

(7). Most Rev. Poola Anthony, Bishop of Kurnool
Born : Nov-15-1961
Priestly Ordination : Feb-20-1992
Episcopal Ordination : Apr-19-2008 Bishop of Kurnool
Address : Bishop's House, B. Camp,
Kurnool - 518 002
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +918518-270393(O) +918518-276812(P)
Fax : +918518-270313
E-mail :

(8). Most Rev. Joji Govindu, Bishop of Nalgonda
Born : May-03-1944
Priestly Ordination : Dec-26-1969
Episcopal Ordination : Jun-24-1997 Bishop's House
Address : Rashtrapathi Road,
Nalgonda - 508 001
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +918682-244020 (O)
+918682-232520 (P)
Fax : +918682-232520
E-mail :

(9). Most Rev. Moses Doraboina Prakasam, Bishop of Nellore
Born : Oct-02-1957
Priestly Ordination : Apr-07-1983
Episcopal Ordination : Aug-28-2002 Nellore
Address : Bishop's House
Santhapet, Nellore - 524 001
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +91861-2331038, +91861-2320191 (P)
Fax: +91861-23 23 950
Mobile : +919440161291
E-mail :

(10). Most Rev. Adagatla Chinna Innayya, Bishop of Srikakulam
Born : May-02-1937
Priestly Ordination : Jan-04-1965
Episcopal Ordination : Jun-29-1989 Bishop's House
Address : Bakagathope , Srikakulam - 532 001
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +918942-223265 (O) +918942-227819 (P)
Fax : +918942-222940
E-mail :

(11). Most Rev. Prakash Mallavarapu, Bishop of Vijayawada
Born : Jan-29-1949
Priestly Ordination : Oct-11-1979
Episcopal Ordination : Jul-22-1998 Bishop's House
Address : Bishop’s House, Ring Road,
Vijayawada - 520 008
Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh
Phone : +91866-2471355, +91866-2471093 (O),
+91866-2484647 (P)
Fax : +91-866-2475955 (O)
E-mail :

(12). Most Rev. Kagithapu Mariadas MSFS, Archbishop of Visakhapatnam
Born : Sep-07-1936
Priestly Ordination : Jun-10-1961
Episcopal Ordination : May-05-1977 Archbishop's House
Address: : Bishop’s House, Maharanipeta P.O.
Visakhapatnam - 530 002
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +91891-2706428 (O),
+91891-2704404 (P)
Fax : +91-891-2704404
E-mail :

(13). Most Rev. Thumma Bala, Administrator of Warangal
Born : Apr-24-1944
Priestly Ordination : Dec-21-1970
Episcopal Ordination : Mar-12-1987 Bishop's House
Address : Bishop’s House, Fatimanagar,
Warangal - 506 004
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Phone : +91870-2459128 (O)
+91870-2459332 (P)
Fax : +91-870-24 59 499
E-mail :

15. Sources

1. Andhra Pradesh Bishop’s Council
2. Indian Catholic Directory 2005-2006

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