By Jose Kavi
New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019: Retired Jesuit Bishop Charles Soreng of Hazaribag, a former secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), died on January 11 at Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand state. He was 84.
He died at 8.40 am in Seva Nilaya Health Centre Aragate Ranchi, said a condolence message from the CBCI headquarters in New Delhi.
His funeral will be held at Hazaribag, some 95 km north of Ranchi, on January 13, Jesuit sources in Ranchi told Matters India.
Bishop Soreng’s body was kept at the Manresa House, headquarters of Ranchi province of the Jesuits, on January 11 afternoon for the public to pay homage. It will be taken to Hazaribag on January 12.
Bishop Soreng was born August 18, 1934, and was ordained a priest in the Society of Jesus on March 24, 1969. He taught at St Xavier’s College Ranchi, where he also served as the principal.
He was consecrated as the bishop of Daltonganj on February 9, 1990. He was transferred to neighboring Hazaribag on April 1, 1995.
He retired as a bishop on Sep 8, 2012. On July 4, 2013, he joined the community of St Xavier’s College, Ranchi, as a member.
He was a priest for 49 years and a bishop for 28 years.
Bishop Soreng was elected the CBCI secretary general in 1994. He was the first tribal prelate to hold the post. Oswald Gracias, who was then the auxiliary of Bombay, took over from Bishop Soreng in 1998.
Bishop Soreng represented CBCI at the funeral of Mother Teresa in Calcutta (now Kolkata) along with Archbishop Alan de Lastic of Delhi, who was the conference’s vice president.
Bishop Soreng also served as the chairperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s commission that catered to the weaker sections – Dalit, tribal and backward caste groups.
Bishop Charles was an assistant coordinator of a Vatican-appointed committee to evaluate India´s 87 major seminaries and ecclesiastical faculties belonging to all three of India´s Catholic rites in 1998. Archbishop de Lastic coordinated the committee that had Syro-Malankara Archbishop Cyril Baselios of Trivandrum, Salesian Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, and Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop Varkey Vithayathil as “assistant coordinators.”
The visitation aimed to “promote a more complete human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation” of diocesan and Religious priests in India.
It was undertaken by the Congregations for Evangelization of Peoples, Oriental Churches, Catholic Education, and Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.