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A `New Salesian Province` in NorthEast India - Province of Bl. John Paul II
By Dianetious
Guwahati, Apr. 5. A new Salesian Province is born in the Northeastern region of India. Fr. Pascual Chavez, the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco announced on 20th December 2011 the creation of the new Province of Silchar with Bl. John Paul II as its Patron, bifurcated from the Province of Guwahati. The new Province of Silchar is the 11th Salesian Province in India. It comprises of the Salesian activities in the Archdiocese of Shillong, dioceses of Nongstoin, Jowai, Aizawl and Agartala, and the Dima Hasao district of Diphu diocese. The territorial reality of the Province is the Khasi-Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, the states of Mizoram and Tripura, and the Dima Hasao district of Assam. The new Province has 35 centres. The number of Salesians of Don Bosco in the new Province counts about 250. Rev. Fr. George Maliekal is appointed as its first Provincial.
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The Salesian history in India traces back its origin to the beginning of last century. The first group of Salesians under the leadership of Fr. George Tomatis reached Tanjore (Tamil Nadu) in 1906. The Salesian work in India received a boost with the acceptance of Assam Mission in 1921. The Salvatorian Missionaries who began the pioneering work of planting the Catholic Church in the Northeast India in 1890 were expelled from the country at the outbreak of World War I. Thanks to the hard work of the Salvatorian Missionaries, the number of Catholics in the region registered 5,176 in 1915. The Belgian Jesuits from Calcutta assumed temporary care of the Mission at the departure of the German missionaries.

On 13th January 1922, the first group of Salesians, 11 valiant missionaries under the leadership of Mgr. Louis Mathias, set foot in Shillong. The indefatigable missionary zeal and unfathomable love for the people of Northeast India bore wonderful results in the spread of the Church. In 1934 the Prefecture of Assam was raised to diocese with headquarters in Shillong. In the same year the Salesian Province of North India with headquarters at Calcutta was created. In the following years more and more missionary personnel arrived; the number of Catholics grew, parishes and mission centres multiplied, institutions rendering multi-services increased, and the Church became a vibrant reality in the region. In 1959 the new Province of Guwahati was bifurcated from Salesian Province of North India. The growth of Salesian missionary activities was so prodigious that a new Province of Dimapur was born of Guwahati in 1981. The increase in Salesian personnel, the proliferation of services and new exigencies of various ethnic groups in the region necessitated the current division of the Province of Guwahati into Provinces of Guwahati and Silchar.

The new Province of Silchar with its headquarters at Silchar will be officially inaugurated on 24th May 2012.

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