The people who made history have no time to write it. As we search for records of those who brought the faith to our State, we find very little written by them who really made history. We have to depend on those who were influenced by them, or on their correspondence or on other historians who have managed to glean some facts from events, writings and reliable historical data. History it is said has two eyes, geography and chronology. The big question is how do we approach the study of the history of the origin of our faith in this vast Metropolis of Hyderabad. If we go by chronology alone we may witness events that happen but miss the spirit behind the event. If we go by geography we might appear to be mere tourists visiting sites already visited by our ancestors. In another sense, history is more or less biography on a large scale. Here we look at events and happenings through the insights and perceptions of the dominant characters of the age in question. They may give us only part of the truth. It must be complemented with other incidents as investigated by historians in order to get the full picture and appreciate its importance.
How then do we begin the study of the early beginnings of Christianity in Hyderabad? First, we will have to consult our history books and pick out the main characters who traversed the length and breadth of this ancient land. Next we will have to look at the political, social, economic and religious conditions of those times. Only then we can make an approximate estimate of the efforts of our Christian ancestors. We do not judge whether they were successful or not because that would be a historical blunder. We appreciate their enthusiasm, the spirit of adventure and above all their spirit of self-sacrifice to share the good news of the gospel. Of the early Christians it is said, “it is in the blood of the martyrs that Christianity grew”. These early missionaries to Hyderabad (Golconda, Bhagyanagar) were the seed of Christ’s love sown in this land. It is up to us now to help that seed germinate, grow and bear abundant fruit. History never ends.
We must make a note here before we go on further. We will not study the whole history of Christianity in Andhra Pradesh. That is not our purpose in this venture. Rather we will only investigate the story of Christianity in the diocese of Hyderabad. Hence, from the larger picture we zoom into a particular portion of that picture. Here in the present day Archdiocese of Hyderabad we would like to know who went before us, how did they perceive their surroundings, what were their values or perceptions. Time moves ahead and changes all in its path. Let us then enter our time capsule and head for the part.
The early beginnings
Vasco da Gama reached Calicut in 1498 and in 1510 Albuquerque conquered Goa. The Christian presence came to the western shores of India with this conquest. Even though Hyderabad was only 800 kms. away, to the West no missionary came to Hyderabad at that time. Perhaps Hyderabad was too far away and anyone who wished to come there would have to cross the Western Ghats. St. Francis Xavier went further south to Kerala. He rounded the Cape (Kanya Kumari) and went on to Japan and China. He made over a million disciples for Christ in ten short years. It is surprising that the early missionaries came to Hyderabad and Andhra from the Carnatic mission after 1735. Let us go further into history and investigate whether there was any Christian presence between St. Thomas and St. Francis Xavier.
1. The Franciscans
The only recorded event of any Catholic priest coming to the east of Goa is Fr. Louis da Salvador, a Franciscan who was sent by General Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500, he came to the heart of the Telugu country and the capital of the Vijayanagar Kingdom. Perhaps he passed through Hyderabad. He did convert some people in the Vijayanagar capital and was later murdered. He was therefore the first Christian Martyr in the Telugu region.
2. The Jesuits
There is no record of the Jesuits from Goa visiting (Hyderabad even though they visited Chandragiri, the new capital of the Vijayanagar kings in 1550.
3. The Theatines
The Theatines handed over their mission in Golkonda to the Augustinians since they lacked personnel. However they were to return these missions to the Theatines when personnel was available. The Augustinians came in 1652. Apart from this mission in other parts of the Kingdom, they constructed a church of Our Lady of Good Succor at Bagyanagar (Hyderabad) in 1652. There were over a hundred Christians looked after by Anthony of St. Joseph’s Church. A few miles away from this church, another Church of Our Lady of the Rosary was constructed by them where there were 300 Christians cared for by Peter di Silveira. No one knows the exact location of these Churches. The Augustinians left in 1663. Twenty-four years later Emperor Aurangzeb attacked Golkonda and shifted the Capital of the Deccan to Aurangabad. This was the end of the Qutub Shahi dynasty of Hyderabad.
The story of Hyderabad
Hyderabad was founded by Mir Qamruddin Chin Qilich Khan, son of Ghazi-ud-din Khan Feroz Jang, a General in Aurangazeb’s army in 1713. Aurangazeb’s successor made him the Viceroy of the Deccan with the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk Feroz Jang. Emperor Muhammed Shah conferred on him the title of Asaf Jah. In 1724 Asaf Jah I grew independent over the entire south. However, further south in Karnataka, the Nawab of Arcot became more powerful and challenged the Nizam of Hyderabad. In 1743 he overthrew the Nawab of Arcot and appointed his own Viceroy. But the fight for supremacy in Karnataka drew the French and British into a war which gave rise to the First Karnatic War. Robert Clive defeated the French General Dupleix and captured Arcot in 1752. The action moved back to Hyderabad when Asaf Jah I died in 1748 and this gave rise to the war of supremacy between his son and grandson. The English supported Nasir Jung, the Nizam’s son, the French supported the grandson. The latter won the war of supremacy and as a token of gratitude to his French supporters he gave them the Northern Circars along the Bay of Bengal known today, more popularly, as Coastal Andhra. Muzzafar did not last long on the throne. He was murdered in 1751 and his uncle Salabat Jung with the help of the French General Marquis de Bussy became the third Nizam increasing the French influence over the Nizam. In 1763, Salabat Jung died and was succeeded by Nizam Ali Khan. The title of Asaf Jah was conferred on him hence he is known as Asaf Jah II. Under his rule the capital of the Deccan was shifted from Aurangabad to Hyderabad. The Nizam had soldiers from all parts of his territory. Among these soldiers were Christians from Goa. Goa came under the rule of the Bijapur Kingdom and when Aurangazeb defeated Bijapur in 1685 Goa was annexed to the Moghul Empire. When the capital was moved from Aurangabad to Hyderabad in 1763, so were the troops and among them were Christians belonging to the Padroado allegiance. They came along with their priests as chaplains and settled around Jahanuma and Secunderabad.
In 1756 Colonel Forde landed at Visakhapatnam and invaded the Northern Circars driving out the French and in 1763 they were handed over to the British. This reduced the French influence over Hyderabad and in 1778 the British were allowed to station a subsidiary force with a British Resident. In 1798 the Nizam signed the subsidiary Alliance of Lord Wellesley after the death of the last French General Raymond on 5th May 1798. Most probably he took part in the Maratha and Mysore wars between 1775-1799. “Raymond had become a legend in his own lifetime. He was loved alike by the ruler and the ruled. He was revered by his soldiers of all faiths because he drilled them, marched them, made men out of them, paid them regularly and led them to victories.” His name was changed to Musa Rahim by the Muslims and Musa Ram by the Hindus. He belonged to all. People still visit his grave at Asmangarh (Hyderabad, a Memoir of a City by Narender Luther, pg. 149-150)
The subsidiary Alliance meant disbanding of the French forces, the defense of the realm now was in the hands of the British. The Nizam could not employ other Europeans, a British Resident had to be received, and the army had to be maintained. This reduced the Nizam to dependence on the British. In 1792 the Nizam sided with the British to defeat Tipu Sultan. In turn the former ceded Kurnool, Bellary, Cuddapah and Ananthapur to the English. These are known as the ceded districts. The Residency building (now Koti) was started in 1798. Together with this building close by St. Thomas Church was built in 1801. In 1979 this Church was demolished by Rev. Fr. M. Dhanaraj (Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Cathedral) and a modern Church was erected . Nizam Ali Khan died in 1803 and was succeeded by Sikander Jah or Asaf Jah III in the same year. Asaf Jahi III died in 1829 to be succeeded by Nasir-ud-Dowlah or Asaf Jah IV. During his reign, Berar was ceded to the British, the Telegraph system came to Hyderabad in 1856. During this period more and more Christians immigrated to Hyderabad. They came in with the British troops as support personnel. They were mainly Tamil speaking. Among the British troops themselves there was a large contingent of Irish troops who were devout Catholics. They were stationed in two areas one in Bolarum, north of Hyderabad and the other south of Hyderabad. These were later known as Cantonment areas and were outside the city. These soldiers and their Christian support personnel were Catholics under Propaganda, whereas the soldiers in the Nizam’s armies came under the control of Padroado. Later there were to be clashes.
In 1857 Hyderabad was threatened by the Great Mutiny but the Nizam sided with the British. The first regular postal system was introduced in 1862 and this same year also saw the end of Mughal rule over Hyderabad. Afzal-ud-Doulah succeeded as the Vth Nizam and the first bridge over the River Musi, called Afzalgunj was built.
On 11-05-1851 Hyderabad was erected as a Vicariate, with Msgr. Daniel Murphy as its first Vicar Apostolic . He was able to work in Hyderabad because of the large contingent of Irish troops. With the troops also came their Chaplains. However they could not cater to the local Christians as they did not know the local language. No direct evangelization took place. Msgr. Daniel Murphy was a sickly man. He returned to Ireland but before returning he also requested Propaganda for missionary priests. Two priests of the newly formed PIME Fathers arrived in Secunderabad on the 5th of June 1855. They were Fathers Francis Pozzi PIME and Dominic Barbero PIME. However during his absence Msgr. Clement Bonnand, the Father and Apostle of the Telugus visited Hyderabad in 1860 and wrote to Propaganda advising for the appointment of a new Vicar Apostolic. This request was finally granted on 12th December 1869 with the appointment of Msgr. Dominic Barbero as the Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad and with that the PIME presence began to grow in Hyderabad. In the same year Mahboob Ali Khan at the age of three succeeded his father as Asaf Jah VI. The first railway line was built in 1874 connecting Hyderabad to Wadi – a distance of 181 kms. With the introduction of the postal system, telegraphs and railways, people began to immigrate to the state of Hyderabad. The state was secure and there was no threat from its surrounding neighbours because the British influence grew stronger as the whole of India came under the British Crown by 1856. The Christian population grew not because of direct evangelization but because of immigration. Large number of British families came to Hyderabad seeking their fortunes as British influence grew. Anglo Indians from various parts of India were attracted to the Postal, Telegraph and Railway departments. New railway lines were being added from Hyderabad to Kazipet which became a vast railway junction. From there lines were laid to connect Nagpur in the North and Vijayawada in the South East. Many Tamils had moved with the soldiers from Madras Presidency to Hyderabad because of the Subsidiary Alliance. The Goans were attracted to the Nizam’s Army and many came in also as traders from the West Coast.
By 1886 the Padorado question was settled and Msgr. Peter Caprotti PIME became the first Catholic Bishop of Hyderabad which had now become a diocese spread over a vast area extending from Aurangabad in the north to Ananthapur in the south, Gulbarga in the east to Kammamet in the west. Malaria was the cause of many people dying. In 1897 Dr. Ronald Ross proved that malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes and in 1902 he won the Nobel Prize for medicine. Hyderabad had its own share of sufferings in 1908 when the Musi River overflowed its banks and flooded the city. Three years later Mahbood Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VI who ruled for 32 years died in 1911. He was succeeded by Osman Ali Khan or Asaf Jah VII who was to sit on the throne of Hyderabad for the next 56 years. During his tenure Hyderabad was transformed from a princely state to a vassal of the British and finally acceded to the Indian Union in 1948 and above all he witnessed the birth of the Modern State of Andhra Pradesh into which most of his kingdom was amalgamated. In 1956 Hyderabad became the Capital of the new State.
Msgr. Daniel Murphy – First Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad : (1851 – 1864)
Hyderabad was separated from Madras and made into a new Vicariate on the 17th of February 1845 and Fr. Thomas Mac-Auliffe an Irish Priest from Madras was proposed as its first Vicar Apostolic. However, he declined the offer mentioning Fr. Daniel Murphy in Secunderabad as a worthy person since he was already working there and had built up the Church in Hyderabad. Rome accepted and appointed Msgr. Daniel Murphy the Vicar Apostolic of the new Vicariate of Hyderabad. But he was to be subject to the Vicar Apostolic of Madras who had all the Episcopal rights. Msgr. Murphy would only be a titular Bishop. Bishop J. Fennelly of Madras requested Rome to make Hyderabad a totally separate Vicariate. This took time. The Pope in Rome, Gregory the XVI died and was succeeded by Pius IX who finally gave Msgr. Daniel Murphy the full powers of a Vicar Apostolic and confirmed his appointment on 13th May 1851.
Msgr. Murphy was born in Ireland on the of 18th June 1815 in the Valley of the Bride. He arrived in Secunderabad in 1839 and took charge of the Mission here. He was consecrated Bishop at the age of thirty in 1846 at Kinsale, Ireland. He took charge in August 1847 with 5 Irish priests and was expelled by the British Governor of Madras Presidency in 1851. He was accused of instigating trouble among the Irish soldiers. The trouble began with the padroado Priest who wanted jurisdiction over a Chapel built by the Propaganda Priests and soldiers. This priest, Fr. Fernandez, set up a few soldiers to demand jurisdiction over the chapel. They reported the matter to their Commandant. He was a fanatic and he gave orders for the transfer of the Chapel. Msgr. Daniel Murphy refused the order and locked the chapel. The Commandant broke open the lock and transferred it to the Padroado Priest, Fr. Fernandez. The Irish soldiers of the 84th Regiment took offence at this. They unroofed the Church and took away all the sacred vessels. This was reported to the British Governor at Madras. Msgr. Daniel Murphy left Secunderabad for London in 1851 to fight his cause in the British Parliament. He was then reinstated. He solemnly entered Secunderabad on Easter Sunday of 1853. The Padroado Problem was finally settled in Hyderabad only in 1886.
In the meantime Msgr. Murphy completed the construction of St. Mary’s Church in 1847, ten years before the Indian Mutiny. In 1885 he laid the foundation for St. Joseph’s Church and All Saints School and Boarding, Gunfoundry, The Minor Seminary was started in 1848 with about 24 students who attended All Saints School. In 1855 the first PIME fathers : Fr. D. Barbero and Fr. F. Pozzi came to Secunderabad. Msgr. Daniel Murphy and his priests felt the need for Sisters to help them in their pastoral ministry. He invited the Loreto Sisters who came to Hyderabad on December 21, 1856. They started three schools to serve different cultural states. At Secunderabad, where they were well established, three local girls joined their community as Postulants. However, for health reasons all the Sisters of Loreto left Secunderabad by 1859. But two lay postulants remained and they formed the nucleus of the order of Tertiaries of St. Francis of Assisi without vows but lived in community. Their main work was to care for orphans, teach catechism especially to women and prepare the sick for a happy and holy death. The Vicariate of Hyderabad was visited by Bishop Clement Bonnand in the absence of the Bishop. He found it was divided into two parts. The Western part consisted of Secunderabad and Hyderabad with 7 mission stations. They were Bolarum, Warangal, Umparty, Moinabad, Daroor, Bhir, and the Eastern part Bezwada, Pallicole, Eluru and Chandragudiyam with Mausilipatnam as the headquarters. Fr. O’Brien an Irish Priest took care of the Eastern Part. After the visit of Msgr. Bonnand, Murphy was told that the Vicariate of Hyderabad would be split into two and surrendered to the Eastern part with Mylapore. This broke his heart. He became very discouraged. He was a man of poor health. He appointed Fr. Dominic Barbero as his Vicar General and returned to Ireland. In 1866 he was appointed to the Diocese of Hobart in Tasmania, Australia and died in 1908 at the age of 93. He and his priests could not do much missionary work. His method of evangelization was that of St. Patrick and De Nobile who first converted the Chief of the Tribe and with him the whole clan would follow. With this in mind he appointed Fr Dominic Barbero in the eastern part to convert the Telugus. He met with little success in ten years. Fr. Barbero returned to Secunderabad and continued his work among the Caste people as that was given high priority in the Vicariate. There was something else the Lord had in store for Fr. D. Barbero. The Vicariate was to be left vacant for the next six years without a Vicar.
Msgr. Dominic Barbero- 2nd Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad (1870 – 1881)
Msgr. Daniel Murphy left, not because he was a sick man. He was a disappointed man. The cause of his disappointment was the precarious situation of the new Vicariate of Hyderabad. The news was that it would be suppressed and merged with the Padroado according to the concordat signed by the Holy See and Portugal in 1857. Msgr. Murphy was hurt in mind and heart over the behaviour of the Padroado priests and local Christians. He had to go to London and seek justice. This is what the Pro-Vicar General Fr. Dominic Barbero wrote in his letter of 15th April 1867 : “Our mission goes on very well but so far no decision from Rome regarding the Vicariate”. It was under this blanket of gloom about the future of the Vicariate that three years later he was appointed the Second Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad.
Msgr. D. Barbero was the first PIME priest to be made a Vicar Apostolic in India. He was fifty years old when he was appointed. He was consecrated Bishop in Rome and took part in the 1st Vatican Council. On his return to Hyderabad in 1871 he managed to bring a fresh batch of missionary priests and also the first six sisters of St. Ann of Providence from Turin, to India. The Sisters of St. Ann opened a School at Gunfoundry and later they moved to their present school adjoining St. Mary’s Church, Secunderabad.
As Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad now Msgr. D. Barbero continued what he had already been doing. Mission work in both the sectors continued after his arrival from Rome. He visited his old mission stations at Chandragudem which he started in 1857. He notes with an affectionate heart, “with what great joy those beloved children of mine welcomed me.” He visited them later as their Vicar Apostolic.
The building of St. Joseph’s Church was completed and blessed on Christmas Night 1875. All Saints School and Boarding was inaugurated. He suffered from a constant lack of personnel and finance. His balance for the diocese in 1877 showed a deficit of Rs. 22,000. He sold his horse and carriage to maintain his 10 missionaries. He also sold part of the mission estate at Palakole. The eastern part of his vicariate covering Vijayawada, Eluru were in the grip of famine, drought and cholera between 1871 and 1878. Added to his anxiety was the absence of local vocations. The seminary had about 12 students. One student was to be sent to Rome to complete his studies but all efforts failed.
All these problems took its toll on him. He was a very humble, simple man, who followed the path of self-renunciation with indomitable faith. He was a living saint. But his anxiety got the better of him and he slipped into depression. He submitted his resignation as early as 30th December 1876 but Rome did not accept it. He was a man of scrupulous conscience, great humility, childlike simplicity and felt unfit for his duties. He died suddenly on 18th September, 1881 at the early age of sixty. Fr. Peter Caprotti had written of him and said, “The Vicar Apostolic needed only courage, perhaps more of self-confidence.” He is buried at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Gunfoundry.
Msgr. Peter Caprotti – 3rd Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad – 1881 – 1886
The long period from 1876 were moments of silence and patience. The Vicar Apostolic was sick. Missionary work went at its own pace. Nothing dramatic happened. On 29th June 1882 Msgr. Peter Caprotti PIME, the Vicar General was appointed the third Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad. He was consecrated in St. Joseph’s Church whose foundation stone he blessed and laid, supervised it’s building and inaugurated it at the Midnight Mass on 5th December 1875. Five years after he became Vicar Apostolic, he proclaimed St. Joseph’s Church as his Cathedral on 17th March 1887. Pope Leo XIII made the proclamation on the 1st August 1886 after converting all the Vicariates in India into Dioceses and making all Vicar Apostolic residential Bishops. The first Regional Bishops’ Synod was held in Bangalore on the 25th June 1887 attended by the Roman Apostolic Delegate. Bishop Caprotti was present at that synod.
The Diocese of Hyderabad extended from Aurangabad to Kurnool, from Gulburga to Khammam. In 1886 Raichur, which was part of the Nizam’s dominion was added to the new Diocese. Msgr. Peter Caprotti began his Episcopal duties with the challenge of evangelization with 10 missionary priests covering this large area. Among his priests were Fr. Malberti, Fr. Pozzi who later became the Bishop of Krishnagar, Bengal in 1879, Fr. Bigi, Fr. Salvi, Fr. Vigano, Fr. Garbelli, Fr. Rolla, Fr. Civati, Fr. Piatti. He had an offer for more missionary priests but he could not pay their travel express to India and much less their upkeep as priests here. However, this number increased to 16 by the end of the century.
After the Regional Bishops’ Synod in Bangalore in 1887 he convoked a Diocesan Synod of Hyderabad on the 28th February 1889 for one day. This was the only time when all the missionaries left their mission stations and gathered together. The Bishop’s health was failing him. He had to make two visits to Italy because of his bad health. The big problem of the Padroado question was finally settled in 1887 but not without its final trauma. He had two Padroado priests working in his diocese, Fr. Michael Murphy at Shabad and Fr. Paschal Barret a priest from Mangalore. The Archbishop of Goa sent a priest to cater to the needs of the Goans in 1888 in response to Bishop Caprotti’s letter. He was Fr. Francesco da Vaz. During his Episcopate the railway line from Secunderabad to Vijayawada (1888) was laid making Kazipet an important Railway junction where new Christian Communities were springing up. All through his tenure as Bishop he was worried about vocations to the priesthood from the local communities. Even though the Seminary at St. Joseph’s, Gunfoundry had a number of students yet no one persevered to the end. The Holy Father Pope Leo XIII issued two documents to encourage local vocations. Bishop Caprotti wrote, “… the conditions to establish seminaries for local people is not yet ripe; however the Fathers are instructed to be on the lookout for vocations and foster the both in their congregations and schools.” Bishop Caprotti tried his best even inviting seminarians to Hyderabad from other places outside the Diocese. He succeeded in getting Fr. Paschal Barret. The Bishop’s health had deteriorated much. He went on a holiday to Yercaud to spend the summer but he unexpectedly died there on 2nd June 1897. Three years later on 5th August 1900 his mortal remains were brought to his Cathedral and buried there.
Bishop Caprotti died at Yercaud with a heavy heart. He was not able to build up a Seminary to provide local priests for the diocese of Hyderabad. He still had to depend on foreign Missionaries from Europe. Already the PIME Fathers began arriving and spreading out into the Diocese. The Northern part of the Diocese namely Vishakhapatnam had the MSFS Fathers and MHM (Mill Hill Fathers) landed to the South Eastern part of the Diocese and later at Nellore. The Christian Community in the Twin Cities consisted mainly of foreigners - Goans who were traders and soldiers in the Nizam’s army, Tamils and Anglo-Indians who came in from many other cities because of the Railways and Post and Telegraphs. There were not many Telugu converts in the Twin Cities. Real missionary work was being done in the villages and interior towns. PIME missionaries were spread out at Thurlapadu and Bayyaram. Fr. Salvi worked among the Koyas. Both places are now in Khammam Diocese. Bezwada began to grow in importance because of the railway line. Missions already were growing up in Eluru, Machilipatnam and Bandar. Mattampalli was already a big centre with the most number of Christians in the Telugu districts. In fact it became the “Mother Church” of the Catholic Telugus of that area.
Msgr. Peter Vigano 2nd Bishop of Hyderabad – 1897-1908
Msgr. Peter Vigano PIME was appointed the Second bishop of Hyderabad, by Pope Leo XIII on 12 October 1897 and was consecrated at St. Joseph’s Cathedral on 23rd January 1898. He was forty years old. He served as Parish Priest both at St. Mary’s Church, Secunderabad and St. Joseph’s Gunfoundry. He knew Tamil, Urdu, English, French and Telugu. He was quite a linguist. He was an able organiser and consolidated and built on the work of his predecessors. He was a tireless worker and a saintly man. On his pastoral visits around the diocese he meticulously mentions places and dates. In his relationships with others he was gentle, warm and kind. He was the only PIME Bishop who did not die in harness. He was recalled to Rome in 1908 and made Superior General of the PIME congregation. He began his Episcopal Ministry by preaching the Annual Clergy Retreat in December 1897 to help build up relationships with his fellow clergy who would work with him and build up the Diocese. All the priests were PIME Fathers. No sooner had he become bishop than he began his pastoral visits to the far-flung mission stations of the Diocese. In 1904-1905 he spent a whole year visiting the Diocese by train beginning From Hyderabad to Bezwada. He kept a careful account of Names, Dates and places that he visited.
Stalwart missionaries like Fr. Civati had come to India in 1892 and began his work in the Bezwada area. In 1899 he took the first group of Sisters of St. Ann of Providence from Secunderabad to Bezwada and began the Atkinson School. In 1903 he was made Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Cathedral and Rector of All Saints.
In 1902 Bishop Vigano held the second diocesan synod in which statutes for pastoral life were worked out. These statutes helped to guide missionaries in their pastoral life. The codification of Canon Law was to take place later on in 1917. Bishop Vigano was ahead of his times.
There was a great need for Religious Sisters to help out in the pastoral life of the Diocese. To help the Sisters of St. Ann of Providence who arrived in 1871 Bishop Vigano founded the Little Sisters of St. Ann as a diocesan Congregation. In 1904 the first four postulants joined the new congregation. Their formation was entrusted to the sisters of St. Ann of Providence. They were to teach poor children and instruct working girls in the faith. Their numbers began to grow gradually. Vocations to this congregation came mainly from the Goan and Anglo-Indian communities.
Earlier in 1898 Bishop Vigano modified the rules of the Tertiaries who already numbered about 14 sisters and entrusted their formation to the Sisters of St. Ann of Providence at Secunderabad. Under their guidance vocations grew from the local Tamil community hence they were known as the Tamil Sisters . By 1911 they were able to open two more houses; one at Bezwada and the other at Raichur. In 1903 the first group of FMM Sisters arrived in Hyderabad and were given the school run by the Sisters of St. Ann of Providence at Gunfoundry. The Sisters of St. Ann moved to their present place next to St. Mary’s Church, Secunderabad. Also in 1903 the Little Sisters of the Poor arrived at Malakpet where they established their first Home for the Aged with 124 aged. They faced great hardships due to the different cultural attitudes of the local people, the severe climate conditions and unfamiliar language. So in June 1907 they shifted to their present premises.
Bishop Vigano reopened St. Joseph’s Seminary in 1900-01 after his visit to the Jesuit Seminary at Mangalore. He had seven students; three were Kanarese, two Telugus, one Goan and one Tamilian. However he had to close it down as there were no positive results. “The efforts of the PIME to form the local clergy seemed to slip away”. According to one report of the statistics of Hyderabad it shows that there were 13,251 Catholics, 15 priests, 52 churches, 3 convents, 23 schools and 88 sisters. This personnel were spread out over an area of 68,000 sq. miles. It is against this backdrop of the Diocese of Hyderabad when Bishop Vigano was recalled by Rome in 1908 and Appointed Superior General of the PIME. Hyderabad Diocese was now waiting for its 5th Bishop.
Msgr. Dennis Vismara 3rd Bishop of Hyderabad (1909-1948)
Bishop Peter Vigano left Hyderabad in 1908. He was a bishop with an unfinished task. It was becoming clearer now as the 19th century was advancing that there were no local priests to take up the mission of Christ in the Twin Cities and the larger parts of the Hyderabad Diocese. The coffers of the Diocese were empty. The local Seminary came to a standstill. The Christian population was growing. New towns were beginning to emerge because of the introduction of the Railways, Posts and Telegraphs. In another few years the whole of Europe would be engulfed in the First World War. India would be engulfed in another type of awakening. The freedom movement and the cry for Independence. Already in 1892 the first District Association of the National Congress was formed in Krishna District. In 1905 the Vandemataram and Swadeshi movements stirred the masses towards self-rule. With Gandhi entering national politics in 1919 all Indians would rise up as one man. This had its effects also in the heartland of the Telugus. This took its form in the non-cooperation movement that ended in 1922. The call for a separate Andhra State was raised at this time with the epic deeds and glorious death of Alluri Sitarama Raju which dates back to the years between 1922-1924. Much more was to unfold as time passed. Before Bishop Vismara took charge of Hyderabad, the Musi river flooded its banks in 1908 and thousands of people lost their lives, houses and property. The word Musi is the Islamic name for Moses. It has two tributaries that join before the Fort, one is the Musi (Moses) the other Isa (Christ). This river flooded again in 1970.
It is against this backdrop the Msgr. Dennis Vismara became the fifth Bishop of Hyderabad. He was bishop from 1909 to 1948; a period of thirty-nine years. Fr. Dennis Vismara came to Hyderabad in 1890. He already knew English which was rare among the Italian Missionaries coming to India at that time. He worked mainly in the Bolarum, Trimulgherry and Gunfoundry areas. He was hardly seven years in Hyderabad when his name was proposed for Episcopal succession when Bishop Caprotti died. However he became bishop after Bishop Peter Vigano. Some of the senior Christians of the Twin Cities still remember him cycling all the way from Trimulgherry to the Home for the Aged to celebrate mass for the sisters. Perhaps he could cycle on those roads which barely saw more than a bullock-cart, unlike today where even walking seems dangerous. He made Trimulgherry his Episcopal residence.
During his Episcopate he devoted most of his time to evangelization. He encouraged his fellow priests to move into new areas and take up the challenging task of evangelization in spite of lack of personnel and means of income to maintain missionaries. Bezwada was his first love that is why he is known as the Father of the Bezwada Diocese. He had a paternal preference for it and helped to lay its strong foundations.
Bishop Vismara had a committed band of brave missionaries who did not spare themselves. Some of them were Fr. S. Pasquali who built up Mattampalli, Avutapalli, Eluru, Fr. Hugues Pezzoni who came to Hyderabad in 1867 and worked in Raichur, later in Bezwada from 1910. In fact he had a parish named after him, Pezzonipeta in Vijayawada city. Fr. Pius Tentario who worked in Machilipatnam, Fr. Caesar Baldarelli who worked at Machilipatnam and Bandar. Fr. Paul Farntana came to India in 1929 and worked in Avanigadda. There were other Missionaries like Fr. A. Bianchi, Fr. J. Tinti (1886-1900), Fr. Stephanati, Also joining this group of foreign Missionaries were our Indian missionaries like Fr. F.X.Pinto… All these missionaries sowed the seeds of the faith in the Andhra heartland. This was to pick up in momentum and lead to the great wave of conversions in the thirties. During this period from 1895 to 1925 a good number of Reddy Christians from the southern Krishna District migrated to various parts of the Hyderabad Diocese.
It was long felt that the diocese of Hyderabad was too large an area to care for pastorally. In the latter half of the nineteenth century it was divided into the eastern and western sectors. Hyderabad was the centre of the western sector and Machilipatnam of the eastern sector. Gradually, because of the railway junction at Bezwada the latter grew in importance and became the centre of trade and commerce. The Christian community also expanded in Bezwada the centre of trade and commerce. As early as 1860 it was suggested that the eastern sector should be made into a separate mission. Over the years the main missionary activity of the PIME fathers centred in the Bezwada area. Bishop Vismara was known as the Father of Bezwada centre which was a missionary sub-station of Hyderabad. In 1933 Bezwada or the Krishna Mission was bifurcated into a separate and independent mission and in 1937 it was made into a diocese with Msgr. Dominic Grassi becoming its first Bishop. The diocese of Bezwada / Vijayawada was entrusted to the PIME Fathers. With the bifurcation of the Krishna Mission, the Hyderabad Diocese now consisted of Aurangabad in the West, Raichur in the South, Warangal in the North and Khammam in the East. It was still too large an area. In 1928 with the formation of the Bellary Diocese the districts of Raichur and Gulbarga were taken away from Hyderabad. Earlier in 1921 Bishop Vismara realising the need for local clergy to carry on the mission of Christ in the Hyderabad area reopened St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary at Gunfoundry attached to All Saints High School. St. Joseph’s at Gunfoundry and St. John’s Major Seminary at Nellore will now provide local priests for the Diocese of Hyderabad in the future.
The Christian Community began growing in the Twin Cities. Already St. Francis Xavier Church, Bolarum (1876), Holy Family Church, Trimulgherry (1880) St. Mary’s Church, Secunderabad (1854), St. Joseph’s Gunfoundry (1820) were existing parishes. A new parish began in 1929 at Sacred Heart Church, South Lallaguda, to take care of those in the Railways and Fr. Stephanati was appointed the first Parish Priest. Ten years later in 1939 St. Philomena Church, Bhoiguda was built and Fr. B. Marianna was its first Parish Priest. Missionary Priests, Fr. P. Fernando and Fr. Roch entered the Diocese. In 1941 Fr. Roch built Our Lady of Health Church, Khairatabad.
The Second World War had began in 1939 and continued till 1945. British India and the Nizam supported the war. All the Europeans who were against the British and their allies were imprisoned in the Cantonment jails. Italy was on the side of the Germans and so all the movements of the Italian priests in Hyderabad were closely watched and monitored. As the World War came to an end India was on the brink of self-rule. The World War ended in May 1945. Bishop Vismara was already 36 years the Bishop of Hyderabad. He felt that young blood was needed in the changed circumstances. The colonial India he began with had transformed into Independent India. It needed a new leader. India was granted Independence on 15th August 1947 and became a Republic in 1950. However, the story was different in Hyderabad, Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VIII refused to join the Indian Union. He entered into a standstill agreement with the Government of India. The Razakar took over and the reign of terror began. The Communists gave a call to take to arms and began to intensify their struggle for liberation. There was confusion and terror in the Hyderabad State. On the 18th of September General Choudhuri with troops of the Indian Union marched into Hyderabad and declared it part of the Indian Union. The Nizam’s kingdom was amalgamated with the Indian Union.
In 1916 a crisis of identity arose with the Little Sisters of St. Ann. Did they belong to the Sisters of St. Ann of Providence, Turin, or did they have a separate identity? It was the task of Bishop Vismara and the Superior General of St. Ann’s to solve. Since the Little Sisters of St. Ann was a congregation founded by the local Bishop only to help the Sisters of St. Ann hence they had a separate identity. However the problem now was; should they be incorporated fully into the Sisters of St. Ann or should they be autonomous? On the request of Bishop Vismara the Congregation for Religious in Rome finally accepted their full amalgamation into the Sisters of St. Ann of Providence which took place in 1933.
In 1914 Bishop Vismara invited the Charity Sisters once again to return to Hyderabad. They finally came in 1915 and began work in King Edward Memorial Hospital, Secunderabad (Gandhi Hospital). In 1919 Bishop Vismara entrusted the formation and care of the Tertiaries who were founded in 1860 to the care of the Charity Sisters. He also handed over their convent in 1919, the present, St. Francis Convent to them. He prohibited the Tertiaries to take new members. The Charity Sisters grew in number while the Tertiaries finally dwindled and faded away by 1987. Bishop Vismara invited the Brothers of St. Gabriel to come and take charge of All Saints School as early as 1925. However they came in 1932 and took charge of the school. Three years later they took charge of St. Patrick’s School and left in 1958. Msgr. Alfred Fernandez became the Principal of the School in 1958.
Due to his failing health Bishop Vismara resigned in 1948 and lived in the Home for the Aged which he served for 39 years. Now they served him till his death on 13th October 1953. He was 86 The Nizam of Hyderabad called him, “my old friend”. Hyderabad Diocese entered a new era.
Msgr. Alphonsus Beretta Fourth Bishop of Hyderabad (1951-1952)
1947-48 saw a radical change in the political scenario of India and in particular Hyderabad. India had become Independent. The Nizam refused to join the Indian Union. The stand still agreement broke down. There was a law and order problem in the State. Sardar Patel, the Home Minister of the Indian Union and the Iron Man of India ordered the troops to march through the streets of Hyderabad and hoisted the Indian National Flag. The Nizam surrendered. Hyderabad State joined the Indian Union. Bishop Vismara resigned in 1948. The diocese of Hyderabad now extended from Nizamabad in the North to Bidar, in the West, from Mehbubnagar in the South to Khammam in the East. It was still a vast territory. There were about 20 PIME priests and seven Indian priests. Fr. Alphonsus Beretta who came to India in 1935 was elected Vicar Capitular when Bishop Vismara resigned in 1948. The Diocese was without a Bishop till 1952 when Msgr. Alphonsus Beretta was named the Fourth Bishop of Hyderabad. He was consecrated Bishop in his hometown of Brugherio, Italy on the 8th April 1951. He was aware that his stay would be very short in Hyderabad because of the political development in the state. He remained Bishop of Hyderabad for 623 days only from 8th April 1951 to 22nd December 1952. He knew that Warangal would be the next best place to become a Diocese so he sent Bro. Sala Pasqualino to search for land to begin the infrastructure of the new diocese. He identified about 200 acres close to the Kazipet Railway junction. But permission was not granted to build. However the statue of Our Lady of Fatima had come from Portugal to Hyderabad in 1950 the jubilee year of Our Lord. Msgr. Beretta prayed to Our Lady for this request, Permission to build was granted over night. Bishop Beretta always acknowledged this grace of Our Blessed Mother. When he blessed the new Cathedral of the new diocese on 13-03-1962 he named it after Our Lady of Fatima. The Diocese of Warangal was erected on the 22nd December 1952 and Bishop Alphonsus Beretta was appointed its first Bishop.
His preoccupation was to open a seminary and get local vocations. The Lord blessed his endeavours for from all those who became priests in his time three were consecrated Bishops – the first one of Guntur, the second of Warangal and the third of Nalgonda. Mgr. Beretta mastered the Telugu language so well, that when he spoke the people of the place were surprised that this foreigner knew their language perfectly. He loved the poor and was rightly called “the apostle of the poor”.
Mgr. Beretta incarnated the tradition of the PIME congregation by sending his missionaries to found the church where it did not exist. He himself made frequent visits to the villages on the bicycle, always at the beck and call of the people adapting himself to situations which called for patience and understanding. His spirit of sacrifice and mortification coupled with strict poverty has certainly left a deep impression in the lives of those with whom he loved and worked.
With the erection of Warangal as a new diocese the civil districts of Warangal. Khammam and Nalgonda were detached from Hyderabad diocese. Bishop Alphonsus Beretta resigned in 1985 and died in 1998 after having spent 64 years in India. He was then 87 years old. He was the last PIME Bishop of Hyderabad. With his shifting over to Warangal all the PIME Missionaries from Hyderabad diocese shifted over to Warangal. Hyderabad not only became an Archdiocese but now had its own indigenous clergy event though few in number at the beginning.
“To Whom Much Is Given From Him Much Will Be Required” (Luke 12, 48)
The PIME Fathers used what the Lord gave them in faithful service to Him. Their lives unfolded as they focused in parish ministries, spending and being spent to enrich their fellowmen, giving time, thought, care and concern to do good to others in whatever way there seemed need. In moments of crisis they did not sit down and weep, but they picked up and moved. Walking with Christ was their total life-experience.
The PIME fathers founded six dioceses among the Telugu population in Andhra Pradesh – Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Warangal, Eluru, Nalgonda and Khammam. One hundred and seventy five PIME Missionaries worked in India, eight of whom became Bishops.
On the occasion of the renovation of the Cathedral at Vijayawada (in October 1998) dedicated to the three Bishops, Dominico Grassi, Ambrogio De Battista and Joseph Thumma, Bishop Marampudi Joji, Bishop of Vijayawada invited the Superior General of the PIME Congregation Fr. Franco Cagnasso to grace the occasion with his presence. He had this to say : “Being the first fruit of the work of the PIME missionaries, I feel indebted to your Institute. Therefore I cherish a deep desire to preserve the traditions of the PIME fathers in our diocese. And to safeguard your memory, bringing to light the contributions of your missionaries and their magnanimous love for the diocese of Vijayawada. … the memory of your bishops is a small thing when compared to the hard labours of the PIME fathers. We remember them with love and gratitude”.
The diocese of Hyderabad will always be grateful to the PIME missionaries for their unstinted labour, missionary zeal, and devotion. They laid a strong foundation. It is the task of future generations to continue spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. A new era in the History of the diocese of Hyderabad would now take shape.
Msgr. Joseph Mark Gopu Fifth Bishop of Hyderabad (8th January 1953 - 19th Sept. 1953)
When the PIME missionaries left with Bishop Alphonsus Beretta, only a few Indian priests remained. Since Hyderabad was now becoming the political hub of the new state of Andhra Pradesh and since India was already Independent it was felt that the time was ripe to appoint the first Indian Bishop for Hyderabad. Another factor had to be kept in mind. Hyderabad was a cosmopolitan city and cosmopolitan cities are multilingual. At the same time it was the capital of the Telugu-speaking people. So the person who would be appointed had to be multilingual. The main languages spoken were Telugu, Urdu, Hindi, English and Tamil. Keeping these factors in mind the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Pondicherry Most Rev. Mark Gopu was appointed the Fifth Bishop of Hyderabad on 8th January 1953. He was ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Pondicherry in 1933. He served the Archdiocese of Pondicherry in various capacities; first as an Assistant Parish Priest later as Parish Priest, then as a Professor in a Seminary, graduating later to be the Chancellor and Vicar General. In recognition of his services to God’s people in Pondicherry he was ordained Titular Bishop and Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Pondicherry on 8th July 1948.
When he took charge of the diocese of Hyderabad there were 18 Indian Priests, 5 parishes in the twin cities and about 6 parishes in the villages. There were two schools, St. Mary’s High School and Boarding and St. Patrick’s High School and Boarding that had diocesan priests working in them. Bishop Mark Gopu was nor to remain only the Bishop of Hyderabad for long On 19th September 1953 the Diocese of Hyderabad was raised to the status of an archdiocese and Bishop Mark Gopu became the first Archdiocese of Hyderabad. A year later the Andhra Regional Bishops Conference was inaugurated at Archbishop’s House, Secunderabad.
Archbishop Joseph Mark Gopu – First Archbishop of Hyderabad (1953 to 1971)
Archbishop Mark Gopu now had the twin tasks of consolidating and expanding the work done by the foreign missionaries in Hyderabad. The first priority before him was formation of the local clergy. This involved encouraging vocations to the priesthood from good Catholic families to continue the work already done. He did so; but demand was much greater than the supply. He opened 4 new parishes, Vikarabad, Alirajpet, Jadi and Yadareddypalli (now in Nalgonda Diocese). He opened one school in Tandur which is named after him. He encouraged the Brothers of St. Gabriel to open what is commonly known today as Boys Town, Jahanuma. The full name is “St. Mark’s Boys Town” He encouraged the building of Boys Town to help underprivileged boys to gain a technical training so that they could earn their living with dignity. He built the parish churches of Sacred Heart, Lallaguda, the Shrine of Our Lady of Health, Khairatabad. Our Lady of Lourdes, Dharmaram, and built the present Archbishop’s House in 1957. Today it stands as an architectural monument. He was also instrumental in bringing St. John’s Seminary from Nellore to Hyderabad and converting it into a Regional Seminary for Andhra Pradesh. He and the Regional Bishops’ Conference of Andhra Pradesh took up the suggestion of Fr. Rink, MHM to revitalize priestly formation and give it a new status. The Seminary at Nellore was built in 1926 to cater to the formation of priests for the Andhra area. The present building of St. John’s Regional Seminary is a monument of this futuristic vision. He took the responsibility of raising the finance for the project. He blessed the foundation stone in 1962 and inaugurated it in 1965. Cardinal Gracias, Archbishops Knox, Inter-Nuncio to India and all the bishops of Andhra Pradesh with a gathering of over 1500 lay people were present at the inauguration. The seminary building stood in an area of 150 acres at Ramanthapur. The Mill Hill Fathers were incharge of the formation of the seminarians.
Archbishop Mark Gopu participated in the Second Vatican Council where he made a few interventions. In the Andhra Region he was incharge of Liturgy and Catechetics, At the National level he was the Chairman of the CBCI Commission for Catechetics and Liturgy and member of the Standing Committee of the CBCI.
He was a linguist and a prolific speaker. He knew (his mother tongue), Tamil, French, Latin, Malayalam, Kannada. As someone said of him “He conformed to Cardinal Newman’s definition of gentleman. He never inflicted pain on anyone. In fact there was a tenderness and human sympathy behind his words”. He was not very enthusiastic about the new thinking brought about by Vatican II. He was traditional in his methods and over cautious in his actions. This is shown by his reluctance to invite any religious congregation to share in the pastoral ministry of the diocese. At the same time he was very warm and friendly in his relationships. Protestant Bishop Subhan said of him on hearing of his death “ We have lost a great spiritual leader who was a loyal citizen of the country, devoted to the good of the nation and of Andhra Pradesh in particular. He was very friendly to all who needed his help”. He was an ardent Telugu. Cardinal Gracias had this to say, “How often either in Bombay and on more than one occasion when I was his guest in Hyderabad did he not wax eloquently on the sterling qualities and deservedly so, of the Telugus - industrious, not given easily to begging and steady in their habits of life – the race which has produced great worthies in the civil and ecclesiastical spheres.”
26th July 1967 was a red-letter day for the Archdiocese of Hyderabad. Msgr. Alfred Fernandez who served the Archdiocese as the Vicar General for many years was consecrated Bishop of Simla at All Saints High School Grounds. Archbishop Knox the Internuncio to India was the main celebrant together with the Bishop of Andhra Pradesh. Msgr. Alfred Fernandez was the first priest of the Diocese of Hyderabad to be made a bishop. He was the parish priest of St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Gunfoundry when he was made a bishop.
On 28th Feb 1971 Archbishop Mark Gopu breathed his last in Gandhi Hospital. He was 64 years old. He was Archbishop for 18 years. His last wish was to be buried with his priests at the Mettuguda graveyard.
During his time the Catholic Family Movement was encouraged. The Legion of Mary was vibrant and achieved its objective namely to encourage devotion to our Blessed Mother. The legionaries were a devoted band of workers bringing spiritual comfort many. The YCM (Young Christian Workers) movement had taken root and many Young Christian workers were involved. AICUF (All India Catholic Union Federation) for College students also brought many young budding Catholic students together to discuss various problems facing the county and also the reforms brought in by the Second Vatican Council. The Catholic Association of Hyderabad was growing in importance taking up political issues facing the Christian community. Mr. G.S. Reddy, M.P. and Mrs. Godfrey, MLA were at the forefront.
Archbishop Samineni Arulappa – Second Archbishop of Hyderabad (1972 – 2000)
The death of Most Rev. Joseph Mark Gopu on 28th February 1971 was a big shock to the Archdiocese of Hyderabad. After Vatican Council there was aggiornomento or renewal all over the Catholic world. On December 6, 1971 Rev. Fr. S. Arulappa of the Archdiocese of Madras – Mylapur was nominated as the 2nd Archbishop of Hyderabad. He was 47 years of age, the youngest Archbishop in India. He had an M.A. in Economics from Loyola College, Madras. He studied at Oxford University in England. He was professor of Latin and Philosophy and Rector of the Seminary Madras at the time of his appointment he was rector of Christ Hall Major Seminary of Madurai 1972. Pope Paul VI invited him to Rome for his consecration on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of Propagation. There were 29 Cardinals and 79 Bishops present at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Most Rev. S. Arulappa was installed as the Archbishop of Hyderabad on the feast of St. Joseph on19th March 1972. He was greeted by the Clergy and laity of the Archdiocese at the airport on the 19th morning. The Sardar Patel Road from the airport to the Archbishop’s house was colorfully decorated and lined with school children to welcome the new Archbishop. In the evening he was taken in a motorcade to St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Gunfoundry. Msgr. Y. Bali, Vicar Capitular of the Archdiocese formally handed over the key of St. Joseph’s Cathedral to the new Archbishop at All Saints School Grounds.
The motto he chose for himself was significant. “Love and Serve” are two dynamic verbs indicating action. On his coat of arms he chose the Charminar. The four minarets, each minaret symbolising Ecumenism, Education, Evangelization and youth care. The Archdiocese consisted of Mahabubnagar, Hyderabad District (later bifurcated into Ranga Reddy District in 1978), Medak, Nizamabad and Bidar District. There were 24 priests, 18 parishes and diocesan schools. As Metropolitan he had six Suffragans.
The new Archbishop formed three societies to facilitate efficient administration and gave concrete shape to his vision. In 1973 the Social Service Society popularly called HASSS (Hyderabad Archdiocese Social Service Society) was registered as a society for the Socio-economic development. Hyderabad Archdiocese Society was also registered to care for Pastoral needs in 1973. The Education Society known as HAES (Hyderabad Archdiocese Educational Society) was registered in 1982.
He realized priests were in short supply. Vocations to be priesthood from all sections of society was encouraged and gradually the number of diocesan priests from 1972 to 2000 increased to one hundred. New parishes began to be opened and large parishes were bifurcated. From 18 parishes we have now 72 in the Archdiocese, besides 4 parishes that went to Nalgonda in 1977. He began to invite the clerical Religious congregations. The SVD were the first to enter the Archdiocese in 1973. The Jesuits came into Hyderabad for the first time. He gifted them St. Patrick’s High school in 1974. They began Loyola Academy at Alwal and opened their regional headquarters at Satyodayam, Tarnaka. The Salesians were given Sanathnagar Parish in 1973. The Franciscans were given Ramnagar in 1975. In 1974 the whole district of Medak was given to the SVDs (Divine Word Missionaries) Today they have 11 parishes, two parishes, two popular prayer centres, a formation house for Brothers and four schools. The Brothers of St. Gabriel who already had possession of All Saints and Boys’ Town also opened two more schools, St. Paul’s at Hyderabad and Little Flower School and College at Chirag Ali Lane, Hyderabad before his arrival. A number of women Religious were also welcomed. By the year 2000 they numbered 40 religious Congregations.
The Archdiocese has seven Deaneries with 72 parishes. As part of the pastoral care for the diocese the following organizations were started: The St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Legion of Mary, Marriage Encounter, the Charismatic Renewal, the Catholic Workers’ Movement, the Teachers’ Guild, Catholic Nurses Guild, the YCS/YSM, Divya Disha and Women'’ Desk encouraged. Each group had its Spiritual Director. The Pastoral Center was established at Gunfoundry to look after the Biblical Catechetical, liturgical apostolate, together with the formation of the Laity. The youth have a full-time Director. From 1996 it was felt necessary to have a special pre-marriage formation programme for young couples. Since then over a thousand young people have attended the course. He wanted that every Catholic boy and girl be given the right to be educated. At his Installation in 1972 he was presented with a purse. After receiving it he announced that he was giving it for the education of poor Catholic children and so was born the “Prema Seva” fund. He also announced that at any public function to which he was invited he was not to be garlanded with flowers but given a monetary gift to help the fund grow. Later he instituted one Sunday’s collection in a year to be given to Prema Seva fund.
When he took charge of the Archdiocese there were very few educational institutions, today there are quite a number serving our Catholic children as well as the society. He knew that the Church also serves the poor, and the needy. Charity needs to be organized if it is to be effective. The Hyderabad Archdiocese Social Service Society HASSS took up rural development in various district parishes. They provided bore-wells, left-irrigation schemes, building houses for the poor. They provided financial debt relief to many in the Twin Cities. Through Save A Family Scheme they helped poor families and unemployed individuals to start small-scale business. Later, through the CFCA, notebooks, scholarships and sponsorships were granted to school children and college students.
He worked together with all the other Christian denominations to build a common platform so that the Christian presence might be felt. This gave rise to the annual common Christmas celebrations that is held in a public place. Already in December 1972, an ecumenical celebration was held at SPG grounds to celebrate the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of St. Thomas the Apostle. The Archbishop was also honored for his positive cooperation with other religious.
After the second Vatican Council in the early seventies it was felt the message of Christ’s love should be spread through all Andhra by using the various electronic media. With this in mind Rev. Fr. John Wijngaards, MHM, with the blessings of the Archbishop and the Regional Bishops began “Amruthavani” under the aegis of the Regional CRI founded in 1974. Rev. Fr. John Wijngaards was instrumental in the foundation of this institution.
June 10th, 1998 was another Red Letter Day in the annals of the History of the Archdiocese of Hyderabad. Rev. Fr. M. Prakash, a priest of the Archdiocese, was chosen as the second Bishop of Cuddapah. He was consecrated on the 22nd July in the Cathedral of Cuddapah. Earlier he served the diocese in various capacities, as a Parish Priest, Procurator of the Archdiocese and Rector of St. John’s Regional Seminary, Ramanthapur. Msgr. Alfred Fernandez of the Archdiocese was made bishop of Simla 31 years earlier.
The Archdiocese of Hyderabad was still extensive in area. It covered four civil districts. In 1977 the district of Mahabubnagar was detached and was joined to the district of Nalgonda of Warangal Diocese and made into the new diocese of Nalgonda. In 1978 the district of Hyderabad was bifurcated into Ranga Reddy district. In 1978 the Marathi speaking areas of the Archdiocese were detached and added to the diocese of Aurangabad. The civil district of Bidar of Karnataka State is still under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese but pastorally it is managed by the Bishop of Mangalore. The original diocese of Hyderabad from 1886 has been divided into the diocese of Vijayawada (1933), Warangal (1952), Kurnool (1967) Nalgonda (1977), Cuddapah (1976) Eluru (1977) and Khammam (1988). The present Ecclesiastical province of Hyderabad covers the entire civil districts of Andhra Pradesh. There are now 12 suffragans.
The young Archbishop who took charge of the Archdiocese on 19th March 1972 closed seventy-five years of age on the 28th of August 1999 and submitted his resignation to the Holy Father. It was accepted on 17th March 2000. He summoned his Consultors on the 17th of March at 4.00 p.m. at Archbishop’s House for his last meeting and announced his resignation at 4.30 p.m. At the same meeting before the glare of video cameras of the media he announced that Most Rev. Marampudi Joji, Bishop of Vijayawada, would be the third Archbishop of Hyderabad. The new Archbishop took canonical possession of the Archdiocese on the 30th of April 2000 at an impressive installation ceremony held at St. Mary’s High School grounds. Ten years His Grace Most Rev. Marampudi Joji served the Archdiocese of Hyderabad with commitment and zeal. On 27th August, 2010 he breathed his last. Death takes no holidays. The mortal remains of Archbishop M. Joji were laid to rest at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Gunadala, Vijayawada on Monday, 30th August, 2010. The new Archbishop took canonical possession of the Archdiocese on 12th March, 2011.