Shivagangai’s first bishop dies

He was a bishop for 29 years

By Matters India Reporter

New Delhi: The first bishop of Shivagangai diocese in Tamil Nadu died on April 11. Bishop S. Edward Francis was 86. He was retired on September 1, 2005.

Bishop Francis’ funeral Mass is scheduled at 3 pm on April 12 at St Justin’s Higher Secondary School campus at Sivagangai. He will be buried inside St. Alangara Annai Cathedral in the same town, said a note from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India headquarters in New Delhi.

Bishop Francis was born on June 3, 1930, at Sendamaram, Tamil Nadu. He was ordained a priest on March 25, 1957. He was appointed as the first bishop of Sivagangai on July 3, 1987.

He was a priest for 60 years and a bishop for 29 years. Bishop Jebamalai Susaimanickam succeeded Bishop Francis.

Sivagangai diocese was carved out of Madurai archdiocese on July 25, 1987. The diocese covers the civil districts of Ramanathapuram and Sivagangai. The diocese has 62 parish centers, 734 mission stations about 107 diocesan clergy, 19 religious priests and more than 350 brothers and sisters.

St. John de Britto (1647-1693), the patron saint of the diocese, entered the region as a Jesuit missionary from Europe and became the bedrock of faith for thousands of people. He was beheaded at Oriyur on Feb 4, 1693, by a regional king for preaching about Jesus Christ and establishing churches.

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