New diocese is 100 per cent Dalit
by Nirmala Carvalho
New diocese is located in Buxar, Bihar. The new bishop pledges his commitment to Dalit development and women education. The diocese is dedicated to Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Buxar (AsiaNews) – The newest Indian diocese that Pope Benedict XVI has created is in Buxar, in the state of Bihar, and is 100 per cent Dalit, this according to its new bishop, Mgr William D'Souza. The new diocese, the 155th in the country, will be entirely dedicated to the material and spiritual well-being of Dalit Christians.

"I am happy to lead this community," the bishop-elect told AsiaNews. "Dalit Christians have given me much more than I can offer them."

"Their love, honesty and transparency in their affection and commitment to the Church are immense," the Jesuit-trained clergyman said.

The first bishop of Buxar chose "Not to be Served, but to Serve" as his diocese's motto to embody the spirit of devotion to Dalit community. "This," he explained, "is the mission of every pastoral, educational and social ministry."

Since Dalits are "exploited by everyone" and their suffering is "unspeakable", Father D'Souza said that "my mission here is to tell them that they are created in God's image and thus possess human dignity."

"The diocese is rural-based without many facilities," the 60-year-old bishop said. "We have mission stations, and medical dispensaries in the remotest rural outposts, no big hospitals or even colleges, but only primary schools," adding that our "main efforts will be on empowering Dalit Christians and promoting their development." Similarly, "strengthening their faith and nourishing their respect and personal dignity is a fundamental need here".

Father D'Souza is committed to equal rights for Dalit Christians. "This group, which is ostracised by others, suffers from illiteracy and poverty. Their situation is a major social, political and economic problem".

As part of this effort, special focus will be put on educating girls and young women. For instance, "[w]e have to intensify our balwadis (baby-sitting) facilities, so that the school-aged girls are not deprived of an education in order to look after infants at home," he said.

He said that the diocese will be dedicated to 'Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help' and that the "Holy Mary will be my side all along my ministry."

The bishop will be officially installed on March 25, Feast Day of the Annunciation.

The new diocese of Buxar was created out of the division of the archdiocese of Patna. It includes the four districts of Buxar, Bhojpur, Bhabua and Rohtas and has 15,745 Catholics, 13 parishes and mission stations, 8 diocesan priests, 14 religieux and 63 sisters. Buxar's parish church will serve as the diocese's cathedral.

For the local community, the new diocese is a sign that Church is growing in Bihar, where the first missionaries arrived in the early 1700s.