India gets first Bhil trial prelate

Jhabua (Matters India): Pope Francis on Saturday appointed Divine Word Father Basil Bhuriya as the bishop of Jhabua, a diocese in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The 59-year-old priest is the first prelate from Bhil, one of the major tribal groups in central India.

The bishop-elect is currently the parish priest of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church of Thandla, a parish under the predominantly tribal diocese. He took charge of the parish six years ago. He is also a member of the Provincial Council of the Society of Divine Word.

The diocese was without a bishop since December 12, 2012 when Bishop Devprasad Ganawa was transferred to Udaipur diocese in Rajasthan state. Bishop Ganawa was functioning as the Apostolic Administrator of Jhabua until now.

The bishop-elect was born March 8, 1956, in Panchkui parish of Jhabua. He studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum of Pune. He became a full-fledged member of the Society of the Divine Word in 1985. He was ordained a priest on May 5, 1986.

He began his priestly mission as the assistant parish priest of Muvalia in Muvalia parish in Baroda diocese in Gujarat.

He was vice rector of St Thomas Seminary in Indore for four years from 1988. He then became the rector of the same seminary and held the post for five years until 1997.

He was then appointed parish priest of Dhar in Indore diocese. He returned to his mother diocese as the director of a hostel in Thandla in 2002.

After three years, he was appointed parish priest of Rajgarh parish where he remained until he was appointed pastor of Thandla parish.

He was inducted as a member of the Divine Word congregation central province in 2011.

Jhabua diocese was created in 2002 as the suffragan of the Archdiocese of Bhopal. Spread over an area of 21,366 square kilometers the diocese has nearly 39,000 Catholics in a population of 5.8 million.

It has are 30 parishes, served by 68 priests (46 diocesan and 22 religious), 26 religious brothers, 211 nuns and 36 seminarians.

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