Ecclesiastical Details

Diocese of Bettiah
Heirarchy of the Diocese
Diocesan Priests:
  Total area:
16089 km
Religious Priests:
Religious Sisters:
Our Lady of the Rosary
  Languages: Hindi Bhojpuri English
  Civil States: West Champaran East Champaran Siwan Gopalganj Saran
Contact Diocese Office :
Bishops House Bettiah Post - 845 438 West Champaran Dt BIHAR
Telephone 1:
06254-24 35 90 /
E-Mail Office:
Most Rev Peter Sebastian Goveas, Bishops of Bettiah
Most Rev Peter Sebastian Goveas
Bishops     Period: 2017-
Telephone (P):
09708 56861
E-mail (P): bettiahdiocese6@rediffmailcom
Other Present & Retired Ordinaries of the Diocese of Bettiah
Pilgrim Centres in theDiocese of Bettiah
Ecclesiastical Institutions
Social / Charitable Institutions / Care Centres
Educational Institutions
Degree Colleges:
Major Seminaries:
Technical Training Centres:
Minor Seminaries:
Special Schools:
High Schools:
Lower Primary Schools:
Counselling Centres:
Presses & Media Centres:
Formation Houses:
Social Centres:
Professional Colleges:
Retreat Centres:
Dispensaries / Clinics:
Parallel Colleges:
Physically Challenged:
Higher Secondary :
Boarding Houses:
Upper Primary Schools:
HIV / AIDS Centres:
Nurseries/Pre-Primary :
De-addiction Centres:
          Aged & Destitute: 2        
History of the Diocese of Bettiah

On March 14 1703 The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome decided to open a mission in Tibet -This decision came about because the reports from travelers that were received in Rome said that there were Christian communities in Asia somewhere between India and China -In the sixteenth century the Society of Jesus tried to start a mission in Tibet -They found no such communities and they abandoned the plan because of the great difficulties of the journey

In 1637 French Capuchins of the Tours Province came from Syria to Surat in India and hearing the same story of Christian communities somewhere between India and China and not knowing of the failure of the Jesuits also wanted to go there and help those communities which however were never found -This attempt also failed

In the decree of the Congregation of the Propaganda mentioned above the territory was vaguely described in such a way that if the Tibet Mission failed the missionaries could still work in the area on the left bank of the Ganges River -This mission was assigned to the Italian Capuchins

Five priests and one brother were assigned to the mission and these left Europe on January 25 1707 -Except for the leader of the group all were between the ages of 30 and 35 -Three died on the way and these were replaced two years later by three more The missionaries managed to reach Chandernagore in Bengal where the French had a trading center

The route to Tibet went from Chandernagore through Patna and Kathmandu -In Patna at that tome there were about one million inhabitants and there were trading posts of the Dutch French and English - Many of these foreigners were Christians but there were no local Christians -It was decided that a priest should stay in Patna and minister to the Christians there

The missionaries reached Lhasa in late 1707 but after a few years had to leave because of sickness and lack of money -The mission was again started in 1716 then closed again in 1733 and reopened in 1738 -A few Tibetans became Christian but because they refused to follow the customs of their former religion they were severely beaten and the authorities turned against the missionaries and they were finally forced to leave in 1745-

In the meantime Fr Joseph Mary Bernini from Gargnono while in Patna for a short time was asked to go to Bettiah to treat a member of the local kingƒ--s family -The patient was cured and the king asked the Pope to send missionaries to his kingdom to serve his subjects and to preach their religion Fr Joseph Mary was the one chosen for this mission which was formally begun in December 1745

In 1768 Fr Joseph of Rovato was made the Prefect Apostolic of the Tibet Mission and he made his headquarters in Patna -In 1784 the northern part of the Vicariate of the Great Mogul was attached to the Prefecture of Tibet In 1820 the center of the mission was shifted to Agra which was raised to the status of a Vicariate -This was because other Capuchin missionaries were working in Mhow Indore and Gwalior and had their headquarters in Agra -Thus these two missions became one

In 1844 Athanasius Hartmann OFM Cap a Swiss Capuchin arrived in Agra On February 7 1845 the Agra Vicariate was divided and the civil Province of Bihar of which the main stations were Bettiah Chakhni Chuhari Patna Dinapore Bhagalpur Monghyr and Purnea Nepal and Sikkim was made into the independent Vicariate of Patna On September 30 1845 Fr Hartmann was chosen as the titular Bishop of Derbe and Vicar Apostolic of Patna -After twenty years of strenuous work in a territory that included the present states of Bihar Jharkhand Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh the saintly Bishop Hartmann died in Patna on April 24 1866 -He was succeeded by Bishop Paul Tossi OFM Cap and then by Bishop Francis Pesci OFM Cap

In 1886 Bishop Pesci moved his see from Patna to Allahabad and the North Bihar Mission with four stations (Bettiah Chakhni Chuhari and Latonah) was entrusted to the Tyrolese Capuchins in the same year

On April 20 l892 the Prefecture Apostolic of Bettiah was established as a suffragan of Agra It had jurisdiction over the civil districts of Champaran Saran Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga and those parts of the districts of Bhagalpur and Monghyr that lie north of the Ganges River ie the whole of Bihar north of the Ganges -The first Prefect Apostolic was Fr Hilarion of Abtei OFM Cap

On May 191893 the whole of Nepal was added to this Prefecture

By a decree of September 10 1919 the Diocese of Allahabad was divided and the eastern part became the Diocese of Patna The Prefecture of Bettiah was dissolved and it became part of the Diocese of Patna -Because of their nationality the Capuchin missionaries were not allowed to continue residing in the territory during the first World War and so the new Patna Mission was entrusted by the Holy See to the Missouri (USA) Province of the Society of Jesus

The first Bishop of Patna Diocese was Louis Van Hoeck SJ a Belgian Jesuit working in the Ranchi Mission -He was Bishop of Patna from 1921 till 1928 when he became the first Bishop of the Diocese of Ranchi -His successor was Bishop Bernard Sullivan SJ who guided the diocese from 1929 till 1946 In 1947 Fr Augustine F Wildermuth SJ was consecrated Bishop of Patna

In 1980 when Bishop Wildermuth retired because of age those parts of Patna Diocese that lie north of the River Ganges were made into the Diocese of Muzaffarpur with John Baptist ThakurSJ as the first Bishop

Then on June 27 1998 by the Apostolic Bull ƒ--Cum ad Aeternamƒ- His Holiness Pope John Paul II separated the five Bhojpuri speaking districts in the northwestern part of the state of Bihar from Muzaffarpur Diocese and created the Diocese of Bettiah The five districts in the new diocese are West Champaran East Champaran Gopalganj Siwan and Saran Rev Fr Victor Henry Thakur a priest of the Diocese of Raipur was appointed the first Bishop of Bettiah

Bishop Victor Henry Thakur was born and raised in Chakhni in the Diocese of Bettiah but chose to be a missionary in the Raipur Diocese Thus his return to the diocese as Bishop was quite natural

The new diocese did not have a separate residence for the bishop and so the parish priest of Bettiah at that time Rev Fr Julius Lazarus put four rooms in the presbytery at the disposal of the Bishop and his curia -Part of the Verandah in front of the Bishopƒ--s room was partitioned off and made the Bishopƒ--s office Thus till 2007 the Bishop and his helpers were guests of the parish priest of Bettiah -Quarters were congested but fraternity was more than ample

Prelates of the Diocese of Bettiah