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Salesian Appointed Bishop of Kuzhithurai
By Louis Kumpiluvelil SDB
Chennai, Dec. 22. The Holy Father Pope Francis has today appointed Fr. Jeromedhas Varuvel SDB, 63 years, the first bishop of the newly erected diocese of Kuzhithurai, southern Tamilnadu, which has come into existence by the bifurcation of the diocese of Kottar, one of the largest dioceses in India with a catholic population of around 550,000. The new diocese of Kuzhithurai has around 100 parishes and a Catholic population of around 260,000.
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The announcement of the erection of the diocese and the appointment of its bishop was made at the Vatican today at 4.30 p.m.

At the time of his appointment, Bishop-elect Jeromedhas was the Master of Novices of the Chennai Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

The bishop-elect was born on 21 October 1951 at Kallutharai, in Kanyakumari district, in the diocese of Kottar. He completed his High School from Carmel School, Nagercoil in 1965 and therafter did his Pre-University Course at the Scott Christian College in Nagercoil, before joining the St. Aloysius Minor Seminary (1968-1970) at Nagercoil, as a candidate for the diocese of Kottar. He did his philosophical studies at the Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee, Chennai (1970-73. Thereafter, he did his  bachelor's degree in Economics from Arulanadar College, Karumathur (1973-76) before joining the Salesian Novitiate at Yercaud in 1977. He made his first profession on 24 May 1978.

His theological studies were done at the Salesian Pontifical University (1981-85). He was ordained a priest on 2 June 1985 by St. John Paul II at the Vatican.
After his priestly ordination, the bishop elect completed his Masters degree in Pedagogy from the Salesina Pontifical University before returning to India. As a priest he held the following responsibilities in the Province of Chennai: Vice-Rector of the Salesian Novitiate at Vellakinar, Coimbatore (1986-1990); Rector of the Pre-novitiate at Tirupattur  (1990-1992), and Rector of the Pre-Novitiate at Pallithammam; Dean of the Salesina Studentate at Tiruchy (1994-1996); and Rector and Parish Priest of St. Mary's Co-Cathedral, Chennai; Provincial Councillor (2001-2002); Director of the Educational Ministry of the Province ofChennai (2003-2010); Director of Don Bosco Mission at Thalavadi (2010) and Master of Novices (2010-)

The new diocese of Kuzhithurai, dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity, will have its Cathedral and episcopal seat at Thirithuvapuram, in Kuzhithurai. The diocese is surrounded by the dioceses of Palayamkottai on the North and northeast, Kottar on the East  and Trivandrum and Neyyatinkara (Kerala)on the West and the Indian Ocean in the South and South-West.

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