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THE HISTORY OF THE SALESIAN PROVINCE OF ST. JOHN PAUL II, SHILLONG
The Beginnings of Catholic Church in Northeast India
1890 – The first group of Catholic missionaries, the Salvatorians (SDS) from Germany, under the leadership of Fr. Otto Hopfenmuller, reached Shillong. The whole of present day Northeast India was knows as the Assam Missions.
1891 – First group of Sisters, the Salvatorian Sisters from Germany reached Shillong.
The SDS missionaries sowed the seeds of Catholic faith in several parts of the Assam Missions; The main mission stations set up were at Cherrapunjee, Laitkynsew, Shillong, Raliang and Nowgong.
1915 – The Salvatorian Missionaries, both men and women, left the Assam Missions at the outbreak of the World War 1.
1915-1921 – The Belgian Jesuits from Calcutta took charge of the Assam Missions.
1921 – The Salesians of Don Bosco accepted the Assam Missions at the repeated request of the Holy See.
13 January 1922 – The first group of SDB reached Shillong.
Fr. Louis Mathias was appointed leader of the group. They were 11 in the group, 6 priests and 5 brothers. The Catholics in the Assam Missions counted about 5000 at the arrival of the Salesians.
8 December 1923 – The first group of FMA, under the leadership of Sr. Innocenza Vallino, reached Guwahati. The first FMA house in Khasi-Jaintia Hills was opened at Jowai in 1926.
Growth and Development
1926 – The Salesian missions in India were brought under the juridical body the Salesian India, named The Salesian Province of St. Thomas the Apostle, with Msgr Louis Mathias as the Provincial and Shillong as the Headquarters.
1934 – The diocese of Shillong (the whole of Assam Missions) was established with Msgr. Louis Mathias as its first Bishop. Msgr. Stephen Ferrando was appointed bishop of Krishnagar.
1934 – The Salesian Province of India was divided into (1) St. Thomas Province of South India (Madras) and (2) St. John Bosco Province of North India (Calcutta).
May 1935 – The sudden demise of Msgr. Mederlet, Archbishop of Madras on 12 December 1934 caused the transfer of Msgr. Louis Mathias to Madras.
January 1936 – Msgr. Stephen Ferrando reached Shillong, as the Bishop of Shillong, transferred from Krishnagar.
In spite of the several difficulties caused by the World War II (Several Salesians were interned in the war camps, paucity of funds, scarcity of materials including food, lack of personnel etc.) the missionary work in Assam Missions made big headway.
Post World War II Growth of the Missions
The War experience (interment of foreign missionaries in India, the short supply of vocations from Europe) directed the efforts to recruit vocations from India.
1942 – The Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians (MSMHC), the first Indigenous Congregation in Northeast India was founded by Msgr. Stephen Ferrando.
1948 – The first group of candidates to Salesian life from Kerala and other parts of India reached Shillong.
1951 – The Church in Assam Mission grew in numbers and the mission centers multiplied. The diocese of Shillong was divided and the new diocese of Dibrugarh was formed in July 1951. Msgr. Orestes Marengo was ordained the first bishop of Dibrugarh.
1959 – The Salesian Province of Calcutta was divided and the new Province of Guwahati (Mary Help of Christians Province) was created with Fr. Anthony Alessi as its first Provincial. The territory of the new Province of Guwahati was the State of Assam and the Four Union Territories (Manipur, Tripura, Naga Hills and NEFA).
1964 – Msgr. Orestes Marengo of Dibrugarh was transferred to Tezpur as its first bishop, bifurcated from the diocese of Shillong, Msgr. Hubert D’Rosario was appointed the second bishop of Dibrugarh.
1969 – The Diocese of Shillong was raised to the status of a Metropolitan See. Msgr. Stephen Ferrando retired as the bishop of Shillong. Msgr. Hubert D’Rosario, bishop of Dibrugarh, was transferred to Shillong as its first Archbishop. Msgr. Robert Kerketta was nominated as the third bishop of Dibrugarh.
1973 – The new Diocese of Tura was created and Msgr. Orestes Marengo was appointed as its Apostolic Administrator. He continued as the Apostolic Administrator till 1979. In 1979 Msgr. George Mamalassery was appointed the first bishop of Tura.
1973 – Msgr. Abraham Alangimattathil was ordained the first bishop of the new diocese of Kohima-Imphal, a region formerly under Dibrugarh.
1981 – Msgr. Thomas Menamparampil was ordained as the fourth Bishop of Dibrugarh
1982 – The Salesian Province of Guwahati was divided to form the new Province of Dimapur with Nagaland, Manipur, Upper Assam and Arunachal forming its territory. Fr. Mathew Pulingathil was its first Provincial.
1984 – The new Diocese of Diphu (Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills districts of Assam) was created and Msgr.Fr. Mathai Kochuparambil was ordained its first bishop.
1990 – Msgr. Tarcisius Resto was appointed Auxiliary bishop of Shillong.
1992 – Msgr. Thomas Menamparampil was appointed as the first bishop of the new diocese of Guwahati, carved out from the diocese of Shillong, Tezpur and Tura. Fr. Joseph Aind was ordained as the fifth bishop of Dibrugarh.
1995 – At the demise of Archbishop Hubert D’Rosario, Msgr. Tarcisius Resto was appointed Archbishop of Shillong.
2000 – Fr. Dominic Jala, who was the Salesian Provincial of Guwahati, was ordained as the third Archbishop of Shillong
2009 – Golden Jubilee Year of the Salesian Province of Guwahati. The Rector Major of the Salesians, Rev. Fr. Pascual V. Chavez visited the Province and participated in the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
New Salesian Province of Silchar (INS)
2011 – The Salesian Province of Guwahati was divided into the Province of Guwahati and the Province of Silchar. The territory of the new Province of Silchar (INS) consisted of the Khasi-Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, the Barak valley of Assam, the states of Mizoram and Tripura.
24 May 2012 – The new Province of (Bl.) John Paul II Silchar was officially inaugurated and Fr. George Maliekal was installed as its first Provincial. The solemn inauguration took place at Don Bosco School Silchar. The provincial headquarters were set up at Silchar.
The first Provincial Council of INS consisted of Fr. Paul Olphindro Lyngkot (Vice Provincial), Fr. Cyril Tirkey (Economer), Fr. Roy Anthony (Secretary), Br. Regy Joseph, Fr. Pulinthanath Joseph, Fr. Nelson Joseph, Fr. Syiemlieh Peter and Fr. Philip Barjo.
May 2013 – The first Provincial Chapter of INS was held at Pastoral Centre Shillong 6-11 May 2013. Fr. LB Anthony was its Moderator. It laid down the Road Map of the Province for the coming years.
Transfer of INS Provincial House to Shillong
2013 – After the completion of one year of the new Province of Silchar, having assessed the situation, a decision was taken to transfer the INS Provincial House to Shillong, Mathias Institute Mawlai. The request (15th June 2013) was made to the Rector Major and the General Council for the said transfer. On 19th June 2013 the Rector Major and the Council authorized the transfer of INS Provincial House from Silchar to Shillong. On 2nd September the Provincial Team reached Mathias Institute, Mawlai (Shillong).
May 2015 – On 24th May 2015 INS completed its First three years. The new Provincial Council assumed charge on 24th May 2015. It consisted of Fr. Paul Olphindro Lyngkot (Vice Provincial 2nd term), Fr. James Thyrniang (Economer), Fr. Thomas Pampadiyil (Secretary), Br. Regy Joseph (2nd term), Fr. Pulinthanath Joseph (2nd term), Fr. Blasius Kujur, Fr. LB Anthony and Fr. Christopher Warlarpih.
Feb 2016 – The Second Provincial Chapter was held at Pastoral Centre (16-19 February 2016). Fr. Anikuzhikattil Jose was the Moderator of the Chapter. The Chapter drafted the first INS Province Directory. The Chapter resolved to rename the Province as the Salesian Province of Shillong. It chalked out new areas of mission and ministry of the Province.
26 May 2016 – The new Prenovitiate House Bosco Home Herma (Tripura) was blessed and inaugurated.