RAIGARH CATHOLIC DIOCESE



History
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Raigarh Diocese is situated in the central part of India in the state of Chhattisgarh.

Though with an old name, it is like a quite new diocese. This will become clear from its following historical background-

A diocese, named Raigarh- Ambikapur was established as early as in 1951. The Diocese was comprised of the then Raigarh and Ambikpaur Districts (presently Raigarh, Jashpur, Ambikapur and Korea Districts). The diocese was then named Raigarh-Ambikapur because Raigarh and Ambikapur were the two district headquarters.

The diocese had its headquarters at Kunkuri (presently headquarters of Jashpur Diocese), 186 k.m. away from Raigarh and 120 k.m. away from Ambikapur. The diocesan headquarters was established at Kunkuri in Jashpur area because that area was the centre of missionary activities which were started as early as 1890.

In 1951 though the new diocese was called Raigarh-Ambikapur, the Raigarh area had not even a single parish. In this area only in 1953 first parish was eablished at Birsingha. Raigarh itselfbecame a parish only in 1954.

Since KUNKURI had become the diocesan headquarters, in and around that area gradually the diocesan infrastructures like Bishop's House at Kunkuri (including Education Centre, Social Development Centre), Cathedral of Our Lady of Rosary at Kunkuri, Pastoral Centre at Ginabahar, Apostolic Schools at Kunkuri and Gholeng, Minor Seminary at Gholeng etc.were developed.

In the meantime missionary activities had also gained momentum in Ambikapur district of the diocese. In 1977 the diocese was bifurcated and Ambikapur Diocese was created with its headquarters at Ambikapur. Kunkuri remained as the headquarters of Raigarh Diocese.

In Western part of Jashpur, which is Raigarh, people had come in contact with those missionaries who were active in Jashpur area. Few people embraced Christianity. By 1930 there were few Christians in and around Raigarh. There were some Christians from Dalit groups. Slowly some tribal Christians too migrated in this area and Christian population grew. As already mentioned above, when a diocese was erected with the name of Raigarh-Ambikapur in 1951, there was noteven a single parish in Raigarh area.

But till 2000 the number of Catholics in Raigarh area was sizable. In 2006 the old Raigarh Diocese was bifurcated for the second time and there were now two dioceses namely Jashpur and Raigarh. With this bifurcation the well established diocesan headquarters at Kunkuri became the diocesan headquarters of Jashpur Diocese. Also the above mentioned other important infrastructures remained with Jashpur.

Therefore, with this bifurcation, Raigarh in fact became like a new diocese, though with an old name. A new diocesan curia was now established at Raigarh with a new bishop, Rt.Rev. Paul Toppo,D.D.. It had now to begin everything from scratch.

The Raigarh Diocese now faced a big challenge to establish the basic infrastructures like Bishop's House, Cathedral, Pastoral Centre, Social Development Centre, Education Centre, Apostolic School etc. In the new set-up, the diocese had also to initiate various apostolates, activities, programs, institutions etc.

On the other hand, it had also to develop an undeveloped area. In fact the diocese was bifurcatedfor the purpose of ensuring better growth of Raigarh area which due to far distance from diocesan headquarters, had remained undeveloped.

At the time of bifurcation in May 2006 the Diocese inherited the following parishes:

(1) Birsingha ( Established in 1953)
(2) Raigarh ( Established in 1954)
(3) Dharamjaigarh ( Established in 1958)
(4) Banhar ( Established in 1959)
(5) Panchdhar ( Established in 1961)
(6) Sarangarh ( Established in 1961)
(7) Bairbandh ( Established in 1970)
(8) Gharghoda ( Established in 1974)
(9) Bairdih ( Establishe in 1982)
(10) Khamhar ( Established in 1985)
(11) Tamnar ( Established in 1990)
(12) Boirdadar ( Established in 1993)
(13) Laripani ( Established in 1995)
(14) Kharsia ( Established in 1995)
(15) Mahuapali ( Established in 1999)
(16) Hati ( Established- 23 June, 2002)
(17) Chhal ( Established- 23 June, 2002)
(18) Sisringa ( Established- 22 June, 2003)
(19) Lailunga ( Established- 18 June, 2004)
(20). Demupara ( Established- 16 July, 2004)
(21) Baramkela ( Semi Parish - officially and formally not yet erected as a parish)
(22) Gawanga (Established - 16 June, 2013)
(23) Chalha to be established in 2016

The last 10 years have also been a period of intensive pastoral activities, deep reflection, mutual sharing etc. In these years the diocese has discerned the needs of the diocese and set its priorities. All this resulted in "Diocesan Vision- Pastoral Plan and Policy".