.- The Diocese of Belgaum, in southwestern India, celebrated its diamond jubilee this month, and intends to continue building on 60 years of faith among its people.
On Nov. 14, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio to India, presided at a Mass with over 3,000 faithful at St. Xavier school in Belgaum to mark the anniversary. The diocese was established Sept. 19, 1953, by Pope Pius XII.
These 60th anniversary celebrations are an important occasion for us to “thank God for his blessings and to evaluate our past, assess the present and plan for the challenges of the future,” Bishop Peter Machado told CNA Nov 25.
“Our attention is focused on catechesis, so that our youth and children will be properly grounded in the basics of faith.”
The diocese's focus now lies on the “training of catechists, so that they can supplement the work of our missionaries.”
Education has been the priority in the diocese, which has over 90 schools. An emphasis is being placed on “intellectual charity,” inter-cultural dialogue, and the Christian values of love, service, and discipline.
Bishop Machado also emphasized the role of the laity, and women in particular.
“It’s time to make our laity aware, especially the youth, of the challenges ahead of us, so that they can take up responsibility in the Church and in society.”
The Belgaum diocese covers 13,000 square miles in the state of Karnataka, and serves 30,500 Catholics, who constitute 0.3 percent of the total population of 10.7 million.
It has been a challenging ground for inter-religious dialogue and inter-cultural exchange, and the diocese promotes various initiatives to share the Gospel during Christmas and other feast times.
Presently, there are over 65 parishes in the diocese, with 75 diocesan priests and 40 religious priests. There are 59 congregations of religious in the diocese, working in education and health and social development.