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History of Rajshshi Diocese

On May 21, 1990, the Diocese of Rajshahi was canonically erected incorporating within its territory the southern portion of the greater Diocese of Dinajpur. The history of Rajshahi Diocese before its creation is part of the history of Dinajpur Diocese.

The work of evangelisation in the areas, now Rajshahi Diocese, began at the request of Mr. Gabriel Topno, a Munda tribal, a Christian and a leper, who migrated from Choto Nagpur in India in the village of Begunbari two miles south of the present Beneedwar Parish. It was Fr. Francesco Rocca, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Milan (PIME), who came from Pakuria in Meherpur District, south of the mighty Ganges on January 29, 1902 to provide pastoral assistance to Mr. Topno and his family and subsequently to continue the preaching of the Gospel in the area. Within eight years of his arrival there were already large Christian communities among the Mundas in Begunbari, Mahalis in Chokjodu and Santals in Beneedwar. And crossing the River Ganges, there came Mal-Paharias to build the Iswardi-Amnura Railway Tracks. The Christian missionaries also crossed the river and walked along the railway tracks preaching the Good News of Christ. The first Mal-Paharias of Andharkota were baptised in the Catholic faith on February 21, 1904 by Fr. S. Taveggia, PIME.

Thereupon, from the tiny beginnings of in Begunbari and Andharkota, the Catholic faith has gradually spread among the Adibasis throughout the present Diocese of Rajshahi. Beginning in the year 1925, many Bengali Christians from Bhawal areas of the Archdiocese of Dhaka started migrating to the greater districts of Pabna and Rajshahi in search of land and their economic amelioration.

For their pastoral care three parishes were gradually established in Bonpara (1940), Mothurapur (1947) and Mariabad/Borni (1949). Mothurapur had belonged to the Archdiocese of Dhaka until 1976 when it was transferred to the Diocese of Dinajpur. With the growth and extension of the Church in Northern Bengal, the need was felt to create a new diocese which comprised of the eight southern districts of the Diocese of Dinajpur to further the work of evangelisation.

The Most Rev. Theotonius Gomes, C.S.C., the then Bishop of Dinajpur, initiated the process of erection of the Diocese of Rajshahi which was announced on May 21, 1990 and the Most Rev. Patrick D'Rozario, C.S.C. was appointed the first Bishop of the new Diocese. After five years of strenuous pastoral and organisational works of the new diocese, Msgr. D'Rozario was trasnferred to the Seaport Diocese of Chittagong and became its second native Bishop on February 3, 1995. The Very Rev. Fr. Julian Rozario guided the Diocese as the administrator of the Sede Vacante of Rajshahi Diocese until the Most Rev. Paulinus Costa was named, consecrated and took possession of the diocese on April 26, 1996. Most Rev. Paulinus Costa was transferred to the Metropolitan to see the Archdiocese of Dhaka on 9 Sept.2005. Rev. Fr. Gervas Rozario guided the diocese as its Administrator from that time up to 22 March 2007 when he was ordained as the 3rd bishop of Rajshahi.