By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi: Pope Francis on January 29 appointed Father Athanasius Rethna Swamy Swamiadian as the new bishop of Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
The appointment was announced at 12 noon Rome time (4:30 pm India) simultaneously at the Vatican and in India.
Father Swamiadian is currently the rector of the Major Inter-Diocesan Seminary, Vianney Vihar, Ahmedabad. He also serves as professor and spiritual director at Gujarat Vidya Deep and spiritual director at St Joseph’s Minor Seminary, a press note from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India says.
The dates of episcopal ordination will be announced later.
The newly-elected bishop was born on February 10, 1961, at Parampukkarai in Kottar diocese, Tamil Nadu. After primary school, he joined the “Mission Home” at Nagercoil. In 1977, he entered the Minor Seminary in Madurai. Two years later, he joined St Charles Seminary, Nagpur, for philosophical and theological studies.
He was ordained a priest on March 29, 1989, for Ahmedabad diocese. He began his priestly work as assistant priest at Sananad, a post he held for two years. He was then made the rector of St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary, Ahmedabad. He was the principal of St. Xavier’s High School, Chavdapura, for two years from 1993.
In 1994, he went to Rome to study Bachelor of Education and Licentiate in Clinical Psychology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. On his return in 1998, he was appointed rector of Shradha Inter-diocesan Seminary, Ahmedabad for four years. He was the rector of St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary, Ahmedabad and Spiritual Director at Gujarat Vidya Deep Seminary, Baroda,f or ten years from 2002.
Ahmedabad diocese was without a bishop since June 2015 when Bishop Thomas Ignatius Macwan was transferred to Gandhinagar as its archbishop.
Ahmedabad is the oldest diocese in Gujarat diocese. It is based at Ahmedabad, a mega city which is the commercial capital of the western Indian state.
The earliest sign of Christianity is a church dating to 1842. But only in 1893 a missionary from Bombay archdiocese formally came to set up a mission in the state. Missionaries from Germany, Switzerland and Spain have served in the state.
Ahmedabad diocese covers 14,791 square kilometers comprising the districts of Ahmedabad, Anand and Kheda. It was created from the territory of Bombay Archdiocese on May 5, 1949. At that time its territory included the areas now covered by Rajkot diocese (Syro-Malabar) and Gandhinagar archdiocese.
Archbishop Macwan is the first from the local Catholic community to serve the diocese.