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The beginning of the Catholic Church in Nongpoh region dates back to the days of the Salvatorian (SDS) missionaries who reached Shillong in 1890. The first contact of the people of Taiang in the Bhoi area with the missionaries began in 1907. In the year 1909, Fr. Chrysostom Mayer SDS visited the villages of Thaiang region. On Holy Saturday 1911, a group of 17 persons in the village of Pamkdait were baptized by Fr. Chrysostom. A few more families were added to the Catholic Church in the following years.
With the arrival of the Salesian missionaries in 1922, the evangelization work resumed with greater enthusiasm. It was on 26 July 1930 that Fr. Constantine Vendrame set foot for the first time in the Bhoi area. The next morning first baptisms took place at Umshang, part of Umtyrkhang village, in the Raid Taiang. Fr. Sylvanus Sngi Lyngdoh and his family members were among those who entered the Catholic Church that day. In the following year, Fr. Vendra went to Umden village, baptized the Doloi of Umden and his brother. Fr. Vendra proceeded to Nongpoh. There was not a single Catholic at Nongpoh. Fr. Vendra struck friendship with the Daroga (one in charge of the British Bungalow) of Nongpoh, who was baptized on the next day. On the same day Fr. Vendra bought a small plot of land above the Bungalow (where the Parish Church is situated now). ‘You will see one day’- repeated Fr. Vendra, when others criticized him for buying the plot in the jungles of Nongpoh. Fr. Vendra was right. In the following years, more and more people entered the Catholic Church. They were being looked after from Shillong. Finally, as the number of Catholics increased in the area, the Parish of Nongpoh was established in 1953. Fr. Botto was the first Parish Priest.
Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Church, established in 1953, is the first Mission Centre in the Bhoi area. The linguistic groups like the Bhoi, War, Mahram, Marngars, Garos and Karbis form the mosaic of the parish community.
The enormous growth of the Parish owes to the hard work of number of missionaries who have gone to their eternal reward, like Fr. Mauri, Fr. Michael Balawan, Fr. John Mariae (diocesan priest), Fr. Dossi, Fr. Vanni, Fr. Premoli, Fr. Arminana, Fr. Kavalakadan Joseph and others. Fr. Sylvanus Sngi Lyngdoh deserves the greatest of appreciation for planting the Church on a solid basis in the area.
The increase in the number of Catholics, the vastness of the area and the possibility of greater growth gave birth to many new parishes from the mother Parish of Nongpoh. They are the Parishes of Mawbri (1972), Umsohlait (1972), Umsning (1977) and Umkadhor (1985). Much of West Karbi Anglong and Tiwa area were looked after by missionaries from Nongpoh. Later, the parishes of Sojong and Umswai were born. Umden (2006) is the latest parish created out of Nongpoh area.
The care that Fr. Vendra took of the leprosy affected villagers of Ri Bhoi is never to be forgotten. Fr. Vendra noticed the plight of the sick, isolated from home and made to starve in the forest. He baptized number of them and made the first hut for them in Umtyrkhang village and insisted with their families to serve them food. Fr. Balawan started the village of ‘Molokai’ to look after the lepers. On 27 February 1975, the Sisters of Missionaries of Charity officially began the Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre (Shanti Van) at Nongpoh.