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Retired Archbishop to Administer Jowai Diocese
Update on:03-Feb-2014

In a surprise move, Pope Francis on Monday appointed a retired archbishop to look after a diocese in northeastern India. 

The Pope brought Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil from retirement as the apostolic administrator of Jowai diocese in Meghalaya state.

The Salesian prelate had retired as the Guwahati archbishop on January 18, 2012, after 20 years. He was earlier the bishop of Dibrugarh for 11 years. The 77-year-old peacenik prelate is taking up a new Episcopal assignment for a third time.

The appointment was announced at 4:30 pm on Monday at Jowai diocesan headquarters.

Jowai diocese that covers the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya was created on January 28, 2006, with Bishop Vincent Kympat as its first bishop, who died in August 2011.

Archbishop Menamparampil had led the funeral services of Bishop Kympat.

The diocese has 81,242 Catholics, 28 priests, 40 sisters and 19 religious brothers.

Asked about his response to the new appointment, Archbishop Menamparampil said, “It came to me as a surprise.”

He said he had raised his difficulties to ecclesiastical authorities adding the Latin dictum, “Non recuso laborem” (I will not shirk work).

The appointment came just when Archbishop Menamparampil and his peace team were busy with a dialogue between the Karbis and the Rengma Nagas who came into conflict a few months ago.

“Dozens of villages were burnt, some 3,000 people had fled to refugee camps, and all negotiations had failed. Though gradually the Karbis began returning to their homes, the Rengma Nagas were more different. They are smaller in number, some 6,000 in all, among other communities,” said the archbishop who engineered the peace initiative.

It was then the Joint Peace Mission Team of Archbishop Menamparampil sought to offer their assistance.

A delegation of 15 of them went from Guwahati to visit the camps near Chokihola and Jongpha. 

Other delegates came from Golaghat, Diphu and other places.

Some of the team members visited even the remote villages.

The visiting ecumenical team which had grown in size by the time they reached the Rengma village of Jongpha sought to persuade the two groups to send their representatives to Guwahati for exploring ways of restoring normalcy in the area.

Hope for peace and reconciliation is rising in the Karbi Anglong district as the leaders of the two communities have agreed and are due visit Guwahati for the proposed meeting.

It is at this juncture that Archbishop Menamparampil receives his new appointment.

Over a period of 15 years as the archbishop of Guwahati, the Salesian prelate and his Peace Team successfully led seven major peace initiatives — Bodo-Adivasi in 1996, Kuki-Paite in 1998, Dimasa-Hmar in 2003, Karbi-Kuki in 2003, Dimasa-Karbi in 2004, Bodo-Muslim at Udalguri in 2010 and Rabha-Garo in 2011.

In November 2013, the prelate was conferred an Honorary Doctorate from Universita’ Urbaniana in Rome for his outstanding contribution for promotion of cross cult


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