Diocese of Rajshahi
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Population

Total population is 29,190,000. In addition to wide use of Bangla, different tribal languages, such as, Santali, Oraon (Kuruk and Sadri), Mahali and Paharia are also spoken by indigenous people in the diocesan territory.

History

On May 21, 1990, the Diocese of Rajshahi was canonically erected incorporating within its territory the southern portion of the greater Diocese of Dinajpur. The history of Rajshahi Diocese before its creation is part of the history of Dinajpur Diocese.

The work of evangelisation in the areas, now Rajshahi Diocese, began at the request of Mr. Gabriel Topno, a Munda tribal, a Christian and a leper, who migrated from Choto Nagpur in India in the village of Begunbari two miles south of the present Beneedwar Parish. It was Fr. Francesco Rocca, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Milan (PIME), who came from Pakuria in Meherpur District, south of the mighty Ganges on Jan. 29, 1902 to provide pastoral assistance to Mr. Topno and his family and subsequently to continue the preaching of the Gospel in the area. Within eight years of his arrival there were already large Christian communities among the Mundas in Begunbari, Mahalis in Chokjodu and Santals in Beneedwar. And crossing the River Ganges, there came Mal-Paharias to build the Iswardi-Amnura Railway Tracks. The Christian missionaries also crossed the river and walked along the railway tracks preaching the Good News of Christ. The first Mal-Paharias of Andharkota were baptised in the Catholic faith on Feb. 21, 1904 by Fr. S. Taveggia, PIME.

Thereupon, from the tiny beginnings of in Begunbari and Andharkota, the Catholic faith has gradually spread among the Adibasis throughout the present Diocese of Rajshahi. Beginning in the year 1925, many Bengali Christians from Bhawal areas of the Archdiocese of Dhaka started migrating to the greater districts of Pabna and Rajshahi in search of land and their economic amelioration.

For their pastoral care three parishes were gradually established in Bonpara (1940), Mothurapur (1947) and Mariabad/Borni (1949). Mothurapur had belonged to the Archdiocese of Dhaka until 1976 when it was transferred to the Diocese of Dinajpur. With the growth and extension of the Church in Northern Bengal, the need was felt to create a new diocese which comprised of the eight southern districts of the Diocese of Dinajpur to further the work of evangelisation.

Bishop Theotonius Gomes, C.S.C., the then Bishop of Dinajpur, initiated the process of erection of the Diocese of Rajshahi which was announced on May 21, 1990 and the Bishop Patrick D'Rozario, C.S.C. was appointed the first Bishop of the new Diocese. After five years of strenuous pastoral and organisational works of the new diocese, Msgr. D'Rozario was transferred to the Seaport Diocese of Chittagong and became its second native Bishop on Feb. 3, 1995. Father Julian Rozario guided the diocese as the administrator of the Sede Vacante of Rajshahi Diocese until Father Paulinus Costa, then vicar general of Dhaka, was named, consecrated and took possession of the diocese on April 26, 1996. 

Political

There is no separate political structure in the diocesan territory. There are some seats in the Parliament for Rajshahi. Citizens elect their representatives for those seats. No serious disruption of democracy is seen for the time being. Minorities can vote and take part in politics without any pressure. Rajshahi city people have the opportunity to elect their mayor for the Rajshahi City Corporation.

Transportation

Rajshahi is connected to all parts of the country by land and, to some extent, by air. Buses, trains and private vehicles are the main modes of transport to Rajshahi city. By domestic planes people may reach to Rajshahi city. Roads and highways connect the city to towns and rural areas of the diocese.

Geography

The territory is located between 88.15 and 89.80 degrees longitude (East) between 23.75 and 25.25 latitude (North).

The diocese covers a total land area of 18,063 square kilometers. It comprises the nine civil districts of Rajshahi, Natore, Pabna, Sirajgonj, Bogra, Chapai Nawabgonj, Naogaon and Joypurhat (excluding the Police Station of Panchbibi). Padma, which is known as Gonga or Ganges in West Bengal of India, enters into the country through the diocesan territory.

Economy

The per capita income in the diocesan territory is equivalent of US$463. The main agricultural products are rice and mango. Different varieties of mangoes produced in the Rajshahi territory are famous because of their unique taste. 

Telecommunication

There are many cell phone service providers in addition to government and private land phone service providers. The cell phone is much used.

Education

The literacy rate (overall) in the diocesan territory is 47 percent (as per Census-2001).

Catholics protest attack on Boldipukur convent

Catholics protest attack on Boldipukur convent The protest was held in front of the sub-district office of Mithapukur in the district of Rongpur. This is the first time that a Bangladeshi bishop has taken part in a demonstration.