- The diocese of Kumbakonam was born on September 01, 1899. It was bifurcated from the Archdiocese of Pondicherry and it was entrusted to the able leadership of MEP. The Diocese is very proud to say that the first two Bishops were from the MEP.Most Rev. Hugo M. Bottero was appointed as the first Bishop on September 01, 1899. He showed a keen interest in the establishment of the diocese which was facing many challenges and difficulties. Being a Tamil scholar, he translated the entire Bible into Tamil.Most Rev. Marie Augustine CHAPUIS was appointed as the co-adjustor to the Prelate, Hugo M. Bottero on July 25, 1911. When Most Rev. Hugo M. Bottero rested in his eternal abode, Bishop Augustine Marie Chapuis succeeded him in 1913. He promoted native vocation to priesthood and religious life. By his foresight, he prepared the diocese to be handed over to the indigenous clergy. At his resignation, Msgr. M.A. Xavier was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese in 1930.Most Rev. Peter Francis was nominated by Pope Pius XI as the first indigenous Bishop of the diocese of Kumbakonam. He was consecrated on the feast of his patron St Peter (June 29, 1931). He promoted evangelization through the mission stations established at Ariyalur, Kulumur and Thiruvalanthurai. There was increase in the number of conversions in large numbers in the above mission centers. He celebrated his Episcopal Silver Jubilee and the Golden Jubilee of the diocese. He rested in peace on May 4, 1973.
On 5th May 1955 Most Rev. D. Paul Arulsamy, the then Parish Priest of Kottapalayam was nominated as the Bishop. He was consecrated as the Bishop on August 24, 1955. He continued the zeal of his predecessor on mission and extended the mission at Thirumanthurai, Fatimapuram, Elakurichy, Vadakkalur and Padalur. His personal interest to improve the Shrine of our Lady of Refuge at Elakurichi had made it known to the Catholics both in and outside Tamilnadu. The contribution of
Fr. C.J. Beschi S.J. to Tamil language was highlighted and the fame of the Shrine spread far and wide. The tenure of the Bishop envisaged the dawn of the Second Vatican Council. He personally participated in the council sessions and was convinced of the changes of the times. He took keen interest to implement the teaching of the Vatican II. He promoted renewal in the fields of Liturgy, Catechesis, Bible etc. The Pastoral Centre was his creation, made in 1979.
After Most Rev. D. Paul Arulsamy’s resignation accepted on 16 August, 1988,
Msgr. M. Antony David became the diocesan administrator and continued the mission of the former Bishop until the nomination of the next Bishop.
Most Rev. Peter Remigius, a priest of Kottar diocese was nominated the Bishop of Kumbakonam on December 02, 1989. He was consecrated as the Bishop of Kumbakonam on January 03, 1990. He built chapels in majority of the substations. He gave importance to the education of children and awareness. Many schools were upgraded and new buildings were constructed with the help of the benefactors thanks to the hard efforts of the Bishop. The Shrine of Our Lady of Miraculous Mother of Poondi was raised to the level of Marian Minor Basilica with the approval of the Holy See. His missionary pastoral works came to the highlight during the centenary celebration of the diocese of Kumbakonam on September 01, 1999. He was transferred from Kumbakonam as the Bishop of Kottar on 30th June 2007. He took charge of his diocese on 24th August, 2007.
Msgr. C. Peter Francis was elected to be the diocesan administrator of Kumbakonam on 27th August, 2007. With the help of the College of Consultors he continued and completed the works of the former Bishop. He coordinated the mission of the diocese and prepared the way for the next Bishop.
Most Rev. Antonisamy Francis, a priest of Thanjavur diocese and the Parish Priest of Vailankanni was nominated Bishop of Kumbakonam on 31st May, 2008. He was ordained as the Bishop of Kumbakonam on 09th July, 2008. The diocese is given a focus in all possible ways to improve the mission of the diocese. He renewed the diocesan pastoral council and encouraged the different commissions of the pastoral centre to work more effectively with full time priest secretary to each commission. The statutes of the diocese of Kumbakonam, rules and regulations and memorandum of the diocese are all revised and updated on a par with the other dioceses of Tamilnadu. The centralized educational employments and appointments of the teachers begun by the previous Bishop are brought to the perfection with an independent diocesan secretary for education and diocesan education commission. His focus on evangelization and education and prayer meetings etc. create renewal of Christian faith in the diocese. His spiritual outlook is made clear through his attractive homilies and reflections in the news letters. Apart from the continuation of improving education he shows keen interest in the professional and higher education of the students of our diocese.
- The diocese is situated in 12 civil taluks from 5 districts of Tiruchirapalli, Thanjavur, Perambalur, Thiruvarur and a small portion of South Arcot; it covers 7823 sq.kms. Among the total population of 50,44,798, the Catholics form 4.66 %, Muslims 4.24 %, Hindus 91% and others 0.10 %.
- It is prestigious to note that the first two Bishops were the M.E.P. missionaries. Born on January 20, 1837 at Chambery, in France, Rt.Rev.Msgr.Hugo M.BOTTERO was ordained priest on December 23, 1859. He was appointed the first Bishop on September 1, 1899. He showed a keen interest in the establishment of the Diocese which was facing many challenges and difficulties. Being a Tamil Scholar, he translated the entire Bible into Tamil. After 14 years of Episcopate, he died on 21st May 1913.Born on 20th of April 1869 at Hostien, Haute Loire, in France, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Marie Augustine CHAPUIS became a priest on 24th September 1892 for the Society of Paris Foreign Missions. When he was the Parish Priest of Koneripatti, he was appointed as the Co-adjutor to the Prelate of Hugo M. Bottero on July 25, 1911. When Msgr.Hugo M. Bottero rested in his eternal abode, Bishop Augustine Maria Chapuis succeeded him in 1913. ‘India, thy sons shall be the ministers of thy salvation’ was the clarion call of Pope Leo XIII. Making the dreams of Pope Leo XIII a reality, Bishop M.A. Chapuis promoted native vocations to Priesthood and Religious life. By his far-sighted vision, he prepared the Diocese to be handed over to the indigenous Clergy.
After a year of able guidance by Msgr. M.A. Xavier as its Apostolic Administrator, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Peter Francis became the first indigenous Bishop in 1931. When he took over the administration, the material resources of the Diocese were at the lower ebb. Under such conditions, it was his undaunted courage and his immense trust in God that helped him to carry on his work unflinchingly. During his episcopate, the Diocese had made a rapid and all-round progress in the number of Priests, Seminarians, establishments, etc
- This year it marks the greatest occasion of the diocesan centenary celebrations to be held on 31st of August 1999. We thank God for His bountiful graces and we gratefully remember all who have helped us in our journey for 100 years. May God give eternal reward to all those deceased Bishops, Clergy, Religious, Laity and benefactors who were associated with the diocese in one way or other.
- The diocese of Kumbakonam has a catholic population of 1,98,048 in 75 parishes and 525 substations grouped under 6 vicariates. The 124 diocesan priests are committed to the diocese with common aims and united efforts with their bishop and brother-priests. About 30 Religious Priests, 17 Religious Brothers and 453 religious Sisters cooperate with the diocesan bishop and priests in the apostolate and exercise their charism in the diocese.
- As the diocesan priests are the necessary collaborators of the Bishop, due care is taken to promote the diocesan clergy. Special interest is shown in the minor seminary in selecting good and promising candidates. After initial training, the suitable candidates are sent to the Regional Major Seminaries; they are closely followed, corrected and shaped during their formation. The worthy candidates are ordained priests. Ample chances are given for the priests to grow in their talents in their respective assignments. Through Seminars, renewal programmes and further studies, the clergy is formed according to the needs of the diocese.
- Attending to the spiritual needs of our Catholics comes as the priority. 2,20,772 Catholics live in 75 parishes and 525 sub-stations. According to the urgency and need of the people, Churches, chapels, and community halls are constructed in the parishes and sub-stations. Here the generosity or our donors are very much appreciated. We woe them our sincere gratitude and prayers. The Parish priest, responsible for pastoral ministry in the parish, endeavour their best in all spheres. The different pastoral commissions devote their interest and work towards the parish by conducting seminars, prayer sessions, faith animation, catechism etc.
- The education is imparted through the 123 schools in the diocese of which 13 are Hr. Sec. Schools, 8 High Schools, 42 Middle Schools, 61 Primary Schools, 2 technical schools and 1 deaf and dump school. 42 Hostels and children’s Home accommodate thousands of children and facilitate their education and character formation.
- Health and hygiene is one of the basic needs of the society. Motivated by the same spirit of Jesus Christ, who went about healing the sick, the diocese carries out the hospital ministry through 2 Leprosy Hospitals, 8 Hospitals, 20 Dispensaries and 2 Homes for the handicapped. The most deserving aged people are cared through 2 Homes for the aged.
- In all our efforts, we are fully aware that we are only the instruments in the hands of God. Relying on His providence and support and joined hands with our people, clergy, religious, friends, well wishers and generous donors, we are confident to carry out our ministry to our best. Your cooperation is our support; your generosity is our strength; your appreciation is our consolation and service to our Christ’s Faithful is our goal.