CHERRAPUNJEE

cherrapunjee

 
History

Known for the heaviest rainfall in the world, Cherrapunjee is located 50 kms away from Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya, and is about 150 kms. from Guwahati. The parish has a Catholic population of about 13,500 spread out in 105 villages. The tribal community of the Khasis inhabits the entire area. The parish has 12 Garo villages. The parish of Cherrapunjee is entrusted to the Salesian Congregation permanently by an agreement signed between the then Archbishop, Most. Rev. Hubert D’Rosario, and the Provincial, Fr. Mathai Kochuparampil on 17-07-1979.
 
The parish centre was started on 5th March 1897 by Fr. Corbinian Bonheim SDS, with the consent of the Syiem (Ruler) Hajon Manik of Sohra. The great earthquake of 12th June 1897, which caused great destruction all over the North East, also caused extensive damages in Cherra and Shella. Around this time, the missionaries residing in Shella, came to start the centre at Laitkynsew.  Fr. Geband Abele started the first printing press for the spread of Catholic literature. Later, Mons. Christopher Becker relocated this press to Shillong.
 
After the earthquake, the new church in honour of the Sacred Heart was built at Cherra in 1905. The parish and the L.P. School started in the year 1907. In 1914, when World War I broke out, the missionaries had to leave Assam. There were 25 Catholics at that time. From then on, till the arrival of the Salesians on 13th January 1922, the Assam mission was entrusted to the care of the Jesuits of Calcutta. Fr. Joseph Hauber was the first Salesian priest to arrive at Sohra (Cherrapunjee). The Salesian presence in the parish dates back to 1931.
 
It was Fr. Aurelius Maschio who started the construction of the church in honour of St. John Bosco. Fr. Peter Tonello completed the building, and Bishop Stephen Ferrando blessed it on 26 January 1952. In 1988, during the centenary celebrations, the church was raised to the status of a shrine. It was decided that the old building had to give way to a new shrine cum hall, and construction was accordingly begun in 2000. Fr. Kozhupathadam Gervasis, residing at Sunnyside, Upper Shillong, is currently in charge of the construction of the shrine. Since 2000, the sub-centre of Mawjrong has been looked after separately, the first person being Fr. Roland Kharkhrang, in view of establishing it as a new parish.
 
The mission has two high schools: one for the boys run by the Salesians and the other for the girls, run by the RNDM Sisters.  The parish has a boarding each for boys and girls.