A Breif History
The Franciscan Friars, the Pioneers

The Church is a community of the people of God, inspired by the life and the teachings of Jesus Christ and animated by the Holy Spirit. It is a worshipping community and it reaches out in service to humanity. The great commission of Jesus to go and proclaim (Mk 16:15, Mat 28:19) has inspired Christians at all times. So too, in the Diocese of Bellary, the Franciscan Friars from the Great Britain, toiled to radiate the light of Christ through their zealous lives. Though it was very hard for them climatically and culturally, they were impelled by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Good News among the people of this part of Karnataka. The word of God that was preached and lived out by the Franciscans in the 16th century did accomplish its task in its own way. The Diocese of Bellary owes its faith and growth to the Franciscan pioneers. Thanks to the efforts of stalwarts such as Bishop John Forest Hogan, Frs. Bhagyanath Rajendra, Amruthanath, Gnanabodha, Krupananda, Rajendra, John Paradisi, C. Doyle, Ernest Reily, Bede, Fidelis, Bonaventure Joseph Pinto, to name a few and Fr. Joachim Tinneny OFM, who is still with us, the seeds of faith have have borne fruit.

Bellary: Fourth Diocese in Karnataka

In 1928, the Holy See detached the two districts of Raichur and Gulbarga from the Diocese of Hyderabad and the district of Bellary from the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore and formed the new Mission "Sui Juris" of Bellary. It was entrusted to the pastoral care of the Order of Friars Minor of the English province. In the course of twenty years, the development of the Mission was considered sufficient to be constituted as a Diocese. This took place in 1949 with Rt. Rev. John Forest Hogan, OFM, appointed as the first Bishop of Bellary.

During the reorganization of India into linguistic states, certain territories, which had become part of Andhra Pradesh, namely Tandur, Adoni and Rayadurga taluks went to Hyderabad and Nellore dioceses respectively in 1959. Later the Adoni and Rayadurga taluks were transferred to the newly created diocese of Kurnool. On 24th June 2005 a new diocese of Gulbarga was created. The diocese of Bellary now consists of Bellary, Raichur and Koppal districts of Karnataka. Presently, the Bellary Diocese has, to the North is the diocese of Gulbarga, to the South the diocese of Shimoga, to the East the diocese of Kurnool and to the West the diocese of Belgaum.

Bishop John Forest Hogan, ofm

Bishop John Forest Hogan, O.F.M., the first Bishop of Bellary displayed an unflinching spirit of sacrifice and dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel in the Diocese. He was a simple person, full of missionary zeal. In spite of ill health, he spent about 200 days in a year visiting parishes and sub-stations of the diocese, especially of Raichur district. When he was on his way to the Second Vatican Council in 1962, he fell ill at Naples in Italy and died there at the age of 67.

Bishop Ambrose P. Yeddanapalli, ofm

Bishop Hogan was succeeded by another great Franciscan Bishop Ambrose P. Yeddanapalli, O.F.M., a dynamic and energetic person, who walked on the path blazed by his predecessor and built up the Diocese. Bishop Ambrose was appointed as the second Bishop of Bellary Diocese on Dec. 10, 1963 by Pope Paul VI. He set up a number of charitable institutions and erected 15 parishes. He encouraged many congregations of men and women religious to establish educational and medical institutions. He undertook developmental works in order to make the diocese self-sufficient. Bellary Diocese Development Society was born in the year 1987 for the all round social development of the diocese. After tenure of 28 years as Bishop, Rt. Rev. Ambrose P. Yeddanapalli rested in peace on 20th November 1997 at the age of 83.

Bishop Joseph D'Silva

Most Rev. Joseph D'Silva was appointed as the third Bishop of Bellary on the 27th October 1992 by Pope John Paul II and he took charge on the 9th March 1993. Being a zealous pastor, in the short span of thirteen years between 1993 and 2005, he established 18 new parishes. Many beautiful churches, presbyteries in the parishes and chapels in the substations were constructed during his Episcopate. Since the Diocese was extensive, it was divided into 4 deaneries to facilitate better administration. Episcopal Vicar was appointed for Raichur district to co-ordinate missionary activities.

On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Diocese of Bellary and Yesu Krist Jayanthi - 2000, a beautiful shrine dedicated to Mother Mary and a Biblical Museum were built to stand as the monument of eternal tribute to the Blessed Virgin, who guided the Diocese of Bellary for 50 years. September 8, 2000, the day of inauguration of the shrine, was recorded in red-letters in the annals of the diocese for it coincided with the golden jubilee of the diocese and Yesu Krist Jayanthi - 2000. He served the diocese with much dedication until his death on 17th November 2006.

Bishop Henry D'Souza

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Fr. Henry D'Souza, the then Executive Secretary of the CBCI Commission for Social Communications, New Delhi, as Bishop of Bellary Diocese on March 15, 2008. Earlier, he served as the Secretary, Proclamation and Communication Commission of Karnataka Regional Bishops' Council (1989-2000). He was the Founder Director of SANDESHA Regional Institute of Communications (1989 -2000) and Director of Sandesha College of Fine Arts, Mangalore (1996-2000). Besides, he has been President of UNDA OCIC-India (Catholic Communicators' Association), now Signis India (1986-1992) and Secretary, Signis - Asia (1989-1995).

The Bishop-Elect Henry D'Souza was consecrated Bishop of Bellary on June 12, 2008. Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and President of CCBI, was the Chief Consecrator; Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore and Bishop Aloysius Paul D'Souza of Mangalore were the Co-Consecrators. Thirty four Archbishops and Bishops from different parts of India attended the historic event.

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