By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi, July 17, 2019: Pope Francis has appointed Father Vijaya Kumar Rayarala as the second bishop of Srikakulam diocese in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
The bishop-elect is currently the regional superior of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions or PIME.
The announcement was made public at noon on July 16 in Rome as its corresponding time in India, according to a press note from the New Delhi-based headquarters of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
The diocese of Srikakulam was lying vacant after the resignation of Bishop Addagatla Innayya Chinna on December 12, 2018.
Bishop-elect Rayarala was born in Khammam, Andhra Pradesh, on October 15, 1969. He joined St. John’s Minor Seminary, Nidadavolu, Eluru, and then studied Philosophy at Jnana Deep Vidyapeeth, Pune.
He continued his theology and spirituality studies at the PIME International Theologate in Monza, Italy, and made his final profession in the congregation in 1997. He was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Khammam, on August 29, 1998. In 2003, he obtained a Licentiate in Biblical Theology from San Luigi University, Naples Italy.
He began his priestly ministry as the vocations animator, at St. Xavier’s Institutions, in Eluru. During 2003-2006, he served as the parish priest of Woodlark, Alotau, Papua New Guinee and then as the associate director, Lepers’ Rehabilitation Centre, in Bombay for two years.
He served as the director of the same institute until 2014 when he was appointed the regional superior of his congregation.
The diocese of Srikakulam covers an area of 8,734 square kilometers spread over the civil district of Srikakulam and Taluks (counties) of Kurupam, Parvathipuram, Cheepurupalli and Gummalakshmipuram of Vizianagaram district.
The diocese was erected in 1993 carving it from Visakhapatnam, now an archdiocese, with Bishop Innayya as its first prelate.
The diocese was started with 35,000 Catholics in 14 parishes. Tribes such as Savaras, Jatapus, Gadabas and Kons are seen in the forest area.