Significant episcopal appointments in various Roman Catholic dioceses across India

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas (fourth from left) and Mr. Hemant Soren (fifth from left), the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, during their Christmas 2022 visit to the Archbishop House. (Photo: Courtesy of Bishop Theodore)

The Vatican has announced a series of significant episcopal appointments in various Roman Catholic dioceses across India. The appointments that come from Pope Francis for the four new bishops are aimed at filling vacancies and ensuring the smooth functioning of these crucial religious jurisdictions. The names and brief profiles of the new Bishops are given below. 

Fr. Ambrose Puthenveettil: Bishop of Kottapuram, Kerala 

Fr. Ambrose Puthenveettil, born on August 21, 1967, in Palliport, is the new Bishop of Kottapuram in Kerala. He brings a wealth of academic achievements to his role, studying Philosophy at St. Peter’s Pontifical Institute in Bangalore and Theology at the Collegium Canisianum in Innsbruck, Austria. With a pastoral theology degree from the Leopold-Franzens-Universität in Innsbruck and a missiology doctorate from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, Fr. Ambrose (as often called), ordained on June 11, 1995, has served in various capacities over the years, from Deputy Parish Priest to Rector of St. Antony’s Shrine since 2022. 

His extensive journey within the Diocese of Kottapuram includes roles such as Secretary to the Bishop, Vice Rector of seminaries, and Parish Priest of St. Michaele Cathedral. As he takes on the role of Bishop, Fr. Ambrose's diverse experiences position him as a leader capable of addressing the spiritual needs of the diocese. The faithful are eagerly looking forward to the impact of his leadership in fostering growth and community building within the Diocese of Kottapuram. 

The Diocese of Kottapuram, created on July 3, 1987, covers an area of 3300 sq. km., with a population of about 96,950 Latin Catholics. It comprises 61 parishes, 132 diocesan priests, 92 religious priests, 253 female religious, and 108 educational institutions. 

Fr. Malcolm Sequeira: Bishop of Amaravati, Maharashtra 

Fr. Malcolm Sequeira, born on November 4, 1961, in Giriz, is set to take charge as the Bishop of Amaravati in Maharashtra. His academic journey in philosophy and theology at St. Pius X College in Mumbai culminated in his ordination as a priest on April 13, 1996, for the Diocese of Poona. Fr. Malcolm's extensive service within the diocese includes roles such as Priestly Assistant, diocesan director of Basic Christian Communities, Rector, and Vicar General.

His notable achievements include obtaining a Licence in Social Communications from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2005. Since then, he has been instrumental in steering the diocesan communication efforts and has served as Rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. His versatile service also extends to being a diocesan consultant and the Director of the Property Office. 

The Diocese of Amaravati, created on May 8, 1955, has an expansive reach, covering an area of 46,090 square kilometres. With a Catholic population of 15,680, the diocese comprises 20 parishes, 36 diocesan priests, 23 religious priests, and 238 religious sisters. Fr. Malcolm's appointment comes at a crucial time, filling a vacancy since December 3, 2018, and providing the diocese with a shepherd experience in both pastoral and administrative roles. 

Fr. Linus Pingal Ekka: Bishop of Gumla, Jharkhand 

Fr. Linus Pingal Ekka, born on September 23, 1961, in Chainpur, will lead the Diocese of Gumla in Jharkhand. His academic pursuits include a Master of Arts at St. Aloysius College in Jabalpur and a licentiate in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. Ordained as a priest on January 22, 1994, for the Diocese of Gumla, Fr. Linus has held diverse roles, showcasing his commitment to both academic excellence and pastoral care. 

His journey includes serving as Deputy Parish Priest, Rector of a preparatory seminary, and pursuing a Doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical Urbaniana University. Fr. Linus has also been a guest professor at St. Albert’s Regional College in Ranchi, showcasing his dedication to nurturing the intellectual and spiritual growth of future leaders. 

The Diocese of Gumla, created on May 28, 1993, has been without a bishop since the passing of Bishop Paul Alois Lakra on June 15, 2021. With a Catholic population of 1,93,000, 38 parishes, 138 diocesan priests, 92 religious priests, and 371 religious sisters, Fr. Linus's appointment as the Diocesan Administrator in 2021 laid the groundwork for his expanded role as Bishop. 

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas: Bishop of Daltonganj, Jharkhand 

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, born on November 9, 1960, in Camurlim, Goa, is appointed as the Bishop of Daltonganj in Jharkhand. His journey is marked by a commitment to pastoral work, extensive studies, and a range of responsibilities within the Church. After studying philosophy and theology in India, he pursued a Master of Arts in political science from Nagpur University and obtained a licence and doctorate in sacred scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome. His ordination as a priest on April 24, 1988, set the stage for a diverse and impactful ministry.

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas and Mr. Hemant Soren, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, during their Christmas 2022 visit to the Archbishop House. (Photo: Courtesy of Bishop Theodore)

Bishop Theodore's pastoral roles span pastoral work in Punjab, studies for the Licentiate and Doctorate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and coordination of the works of the Society of Pilar in Rome. His service as the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) from March 2016 to June 2019 and his current role as the Chairman of the CCBI Commission for Ecology highlight his commitment to the broader ecclesiastical landscape. 

The Diocese of Daltonganj faced a vacancy since 2016, and Bishop Theodore's appointment in 2023 brings stability to the leadership. With a wealth of experience, he is expected to guide the diocese through spiritual, pastoral, and administrative challenges. 

Speaking of the challenges to Christian Today, Bishop Theodore said, “The diocese of Daltonganj is a difficult diocese. Not because the people are difficult or the priests are difficult,” clarified the Bishop, “but because there are not enough resources. That is a challenge that the Holy Father has entrusted upon me. I am a man of challenges; I have taken challenges in the past and will take this challenge also.” 

He also spoke about what is the drive behind the service that he does and he responded without mixing words, “For two years I have moved with the people of Daltonganj and have gained affection of most of the people and I have given affection to most of the people. Deep down in my heart I have love for our people and that is my drive. If we don’t love our people, we should seriously question our vocation,” said Bishop Theodore to The Christian Post.