Diocese of Sylhet

Brief History : Sylhet was erected a Diocese with the promulgation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on 8 July, 2011.  Bishop Bejoy N. D’Cruze, OMI who was the Bishop of Khulna for about six years (2005-2011) was installed as the first Bishop of this Diocese on 30 September, 2011. This new Diocese consists of four civil districts namely Sylhet, Sunamgonj, Hobigonj and Moulvibazar covering 12,594 sq. k.m. The total population is about 10 million.  There are about 19,087 Catholics.

Sylhet is the most tea cultivated area of Bangladesh.  The cultivation of tea was initiated by the British in 1850s. There are about 225 Tea-Estates in Sylhet Division and about 700,000 people (mostly indigenous Hindus from 40 groups) earn their livelihood working in the tea estates. A small number of the tea estate workers are Christians. Besides there are Khasis and Garos living in the hillocks of Sylhet cultivating betel leaf for their livelihood. During the rule of British, the Catholics of the Tea-Estates, Khasi and Mandi indigenous groups were given pastoral care from Assam (India).  After the partition in 1947, it was not possible for a Priest to come to East Pakistan from India.  Therefore, the pastoral care of the entire area of Sylhet was given to the Archdiocese of Dhaka.  Archbishop Lawrence Graner, CSC sent Fr. Vincent Delivi, CSC to visit the area and see what the Archdiocese had inherited.  Fr. Delivi toured the vast area and found around 700 Catholics who were from the tea estates and the Khasi punjees. The baptism register copied from Assam showed the record of 903 baptisms since 1910.

Bishop Bejoy Nicephorus D’Cruze, O.M.I.

Fr. Delevi, CSC established the first Parish in 1950 at Srimangal. On the following year 1951 the second Parish was established in Mugaipar by the Archdiocese of Dhaka and was handed over to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) later. The Oblate Fathers are taking pastoral care of the parish till today. With the arrival of the Oblate Fathers the pastoral care of this vast area was being enhanced and in 1975 Khadim Nagar parish was established and again in 1985 Lokhipur became a separate Parish. In 2010 Barlekha parish was established separating it from Lokhipur.  At present there are seven parishes and a Mission Centre in the Diocese.  The Oblate Fathers are taking pastoral care of four parishes, namely: Mugaipar, Khadim Nagar, Lokhipur and Barlekha. The Holy Cross Fathers look after Srimangal Parish, the biggest Catholic populated parish in the Diocese. The other two parishes namely Jafflong and Rajai are looked after by diocesan priests. Four male and six female congregations are serving the Syhet Catholic Diocese. The priests and religious are all together about 45.  This new Diocese has 3 local priests and the Archdiocese of Dhaka gave two more local priests to serve this Diocese.