History of Barisal Diocese
The early history of the Church goes back to 1537 A.D. when there were Catholics in the Portuguese settlements in areas that now form part of the Diocese of Chittagong. The first Churches were set up in 1600 in what now forms Diang and the city of Chittagong. Father Francesco Fernandez, S.J. who came to Chittagong in 1598, and who was blinded and tortured and died in captivity on November 14, 1602, is the Bengal’s first martyr. In 1845 Chittagong became the seat of the first Vicar Apostolic of Eastern Bengal, and later the administration was transferred to Dhaka. Noahkhali was also the first place to have the Holy Cross Missionaries who arrived there in June 1853. The Diocese of Chittagong was Canonically erected on May 25, 1927, taking away a good half of the territory that comprised the then Diocese of Dhaka. The Diocese then comprised of Chittagong, Noakhali, Barisal, Gournadi, Narikelbari and other parts in India and Myanmar. The newly erected Diocese of Chittagong in 1927 was entrusted to the care of the Canadian Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross. When the new ecclesiastical province of Dhaka was created in July, 1950, Chittagong became a sufragan of Dhaka. Later in 1952, portions of the Diocese of Chittagong that were situated in Assam (India) were detached to form a separate ecclesiastical unit, called the Prefecture of Haflong, and later the Diocese of Silchar, which is called now the Diocese of Agartola and the Diocese of Aijwal.
Since the erection in 1927, the geographical map of Chittagong Diocese is changed two times in the past. It is recently changed in 29th December 2015 to give birth the Barisal Catholic Diocese as the 8th Diocese in the country. The Holy Father Pope Francis has erected new Catholic Diocese of Barisal and appointed Most Rev. Lawrence Subrato Howlader, CSC as its 1st Bishop on 29th December 2015. Territory of Barisal Diocese is 20,708 square kilometers under 2 Division Barisal & Dhaka with 11 Districts of Bangladesh. 9 civil districts (Barisal, Bhola, Jhalokathi, Pirojpur, Barguna, Patuakhali, Madaripur, Shariatpur & a portion of Gopalganj) from the territory of Chittagong Diocese, 2 civil districts (Faridpur & Rajbari) from Khulna Diocese. Before the erection of Barisal Diocese, the district of Gopalganj (A Portion) under Dhaka Division along with Chittagong Diocese & Khulna Diocese. But now the district Gopaljanj is fully included under Barisal Diocese territory.