Northeast’s first native prelate laid to rest

By Felix Anthony

Tezpur, Dec. 29, 2018: The mortal remains of Bishop Emeritus Robert Kerketta, the first native Catholic prelate of northeastern India, were laid to rest on December 27 in Tezpur, Assam.

All the bishops of the region’s 15 dioceses attended the funeral and burial of Bishop Kerketta at the Tezpur Cathedral Church. Around 150 Priests, hundreds of women religious and 3,000 people from across northeastern India attended the services.

Officiating at the funeral service, Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, hailed Bishop Kerketta as a gentle and humble prelate. The burial took place at the Priest’s Cemetery in Bishop’s House, Tezpur.

Bishop Kerketta, 86, died on December 22 after battling old-age related illness fir two weeks.

Bishop Kerketta, , attended his last public function on August 2 at the ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Panipitchai of Miao at Borduria village in Arunachal Pradesh where he had administered baptism for first Catholics in the state on the same day in 1979.

The Salesian was made a bishop on May 21, 1970, at the age of 38, one of the youngest prelates in the history of the Church in India. He was then serving as the rector of Krishnagar Seminary in West Bengal.

After serving as the bishop of Dibrugarh for 11 years, he was appointed Bishop of Tezpur on January 31, 1981. He retired on March 3, 2007.

As the bishop of Dibrugarh, he was also in-charge of the Church in most part of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. The dioceses of Diphu, Guwahati, Kohima, Imphal, Itanagar and Miao were carved out of Dibrugarh and Tezpur, the two dioceses Bishop Kerketta had served his whole life.

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