About Church

Simla Chandigarh Diocese has a long history. The Archdiocese of Simla was created in 1910 when it was separated from the Archdiocese of Agra, the mother diocese of all North India. Very Rev. Fr. Anselm E.J. Kenneally O.F.M. Cap. Superior General of the Friars minor Capuchins was appointed as the first Archbishop of this new Archdiocese, and he was consecrated in Rome on 1st January, 1911. The church of St. Michael and St. Joseph in Simla built in 1885 by Lord Ripon the Catholic Viceroy of India became the Cathedral of new Archdiocese. It is during this period that the Archdiocese witnessed great changes, both political and social The greatest of these was the partition and Independence of the country. A new diocese of Lahore was formed in Pakistan. The realignment of the states, the creation of the new city of Chandigarh and its Union Territory status have all influenced the history of the diocese and have had their effect on the structure and development of the diocese. When the political capital of the country was shifted to Delhi, the Catholic population was placed under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Simla, thus becoming the Delhi-Simla Archdiocese and the See shifted to Delhi. Archbishop Sylvester P. Mulligan was the first Archbishop of Delhi-Simla Archdiocese, which comprised of the present states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and the Union-Territory of Chandigarh. Archbishop Sylvester P. Mulligan was succeeded by Archbishop Joseph Alexander Fernandes. In 1959 the Archdiocese of Delhi-Simla was dismembered to form Simla as an independent diocese and thus beginning the history of current diocese with Bishop John Burke as its pastor. In the year 1966 Bishop John Burke was succeeded by Bishop Alfred Fernandes, the Vicar General of Archdiocese of Hyderabad. He was transferred to the See of Allahabad in 1970.

The foundation of the new city of Chandigarh gave rise to a new concept of urban Punjab and the political and social life of people began to shift and centre around the new city. Even though the bishop kept Simla as headquarters of the diocese, he was forced to remain in Chandigarh to be closer to the people and their lives till finally Bishop Gilbert B. Rego shifted the residence to Chandigarh and the diocese came to be known as Simla-Chandigarh Diocese.

The present diocese of Simla-Chandigarh has a total area of 83,560 sq. km. and is spread in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. The Diocese of Simla-Chandigarh consists of the civil districts of Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti, Kullu, Mandi, Bilaspur, Simla, solan and Sirmour in Himachal Pradesh Panchkula, Amabal, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Panipat, Kaithal, Jind, Hissar, Bhivani, Fatehbad and Sirsa in Haryana State; Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa, Bhatinda, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ropar in Punjab state; and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. This vast area accounts for a population of about 20,134,365 of which only 13,500 are Catholics. The Catholic community is itself a Kaleidoscopic picture of the variety of ethnic and cultural groups with independent linguistic identity, from different socio-economic background, yet united together in their faith in Christ around one pastor. Today the diocese has 43 parishes and mission stations and the pastoral activities of these centers are taken care of by 100 priests of the diocesan clergy and different religious congregations. The pastoral, educational and social activities are shared by 25 other congregations of religious brothers and sisters spread in 54 communities. , With the appointment of Bishop Rt. Rev. Ignatius Mascarenhas, the diocese of Simla-Chandigarh enters into a new phase of its history May his leadership and guidance be blessed with abundant fruits in this far flung vineyard of the Lord.