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History Of Diocese

”A Brief History of the Diocese of Thanjavur”

The Diocese of Thanjavur was carved out from the southern part of the ancient See of Mylapore when it was amalgamated with the diocese of Madras on 22 November 1952 through the papal bull “Ex Primaevae Ecclesiae”. When it was bifurcated from Mylapore, it had to wait for four more months for the nomination of its new bishop Rt. Rev. R. A. Sundaram, an illustrious son of the soil. He was nominated as the first bishop of Thanjavur on 4 February 1953 and was consecrated at Madras on 19 March 1953. Many illustrious missionaries including Franciscans, Augustinians, Dominicans and Jesuits like Robert de Nobili (the Father of Tamil Prose), Balthasar da Costa (the Founder of Thanjavur Mission), St. John de Britto (the first Jesuit Saint in India), Antonio de Proenca (whose Tamil – Portuguese Dictionary was the first of its kind to be printed) and Costanzo Giuseppe Beschi (fondly called by the Tamils ‘Veeramamunivar’ who was the author of the Tamil Catholic Epic Thembavani, the first European scholar to study scientifically Tamil grammar and compose new Tamil grammar both in Tamil as well as in Latin and the first to compile a Tamil – Tamil Dictionary called Saduragarathi) had toiled laboriously in the area presently covered by Thanjavur Diocese. It is true that Thanjavur became a diocese only in 1952 but it is interesting to note that in 1843 itself, the then Apostolic Prefect of Pondicherry, Msgr. Bonnand had proposed Thanjavur to be erected as a separate Apostolic Vicariate.

Historical Roots of Christian Faith in Thanjavur

Though the origin of Christianity in Mylapore started with St. Thomas, the Apostle we do not have any historical evidence about the Christian community in Mylapore after the apostolic period until the thirteenth century. Ever since Marco Polo (1254 – 1324), the Italian traveler had found the sea rout to India, the westerners were keen to reach India for trade. At the end of the thirteenth century, the missionaries, Franciscan Friar John Monte Corvino (1247-1328) followed by Franciscan Friar John de Marignoli (1290-1357) reached Mylapore on their way to China. Friar John de Marignoli was the first missionary to go to the court of Grant Khan in Cambalec, the ancient Peking in China who had stayed at least thirteen months at Mylapore where his fellow missionary, Friar Nicholas died and was buried. They had converted at least a hundred people in Mylapore. Later Mylapore became a diocese in 1606 and was the third oldest diocese of India till it was amalgamated with Madras in 1952. Its jurisdiction extended from the present Diocese of Tiruchirapalli and Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu and to what is now known as West Bengal.

We first hear of indigenous Christians living in Nagappattinam when Ludovico de Varthema, an Italian traveler visited it in 1505 which was before the Portuguese had settled there. According to the Annals Minorum of the Franciscans, they erected their Friary of Nagapattinam in 1506 and settled there soon after the arrival of the Portuguese to Nagapattinam. When St. Francis Xavier stayed with the Vicar of Nagapattinam at Kadambadi in 1545 on his way to Mylapore, the Portuguese were well established there. The Franciscans were the only religious in the place till almost the very end of the 16th century. In 1570, Caesar Frederick who visited Nagapattinam describes it as ‘a great city and very populous of Portuguese and Christians of the country and many gentiles’. Nagapattinam had about 3000 Christians in 1577.

The Jesuits came to Nagapattinam in 1598 through the efforts of Fr. Nicholas Pimenta, the delegate of the Jesuits and started a school in 1602 and subsequently a college in 1618. The priests, who stayed in Nagapattinam, often visited the Catholics at Tranquebar where a chapel, dedicated to the Exaltation of the Holy Cross had been constructed around 1597. From 1620, Tranquebar had a resident priest, Fr. Diaz. The Dominicans came to Nagapattinam in 1604 and the Augustinians in 1625. In 1642, there were five churches in Nagapattinam, administered by the Franciscans, Jesuits, Augustinians and Dominicans while the main church was always administered by a Mylapore Diocesan priest. Besides, the Franciscans ran a Mercy Home and a hospital there. By 1642, there were 7000 Christians above the age of seven in the town. In the 17th Century, six persons born at Nagapattinam of Portuguese parents became Jesuits. A Church, dedicated to St. Francis Xavier was erected in Sathangudi, presently a substation of Tranquebar in 1726.

Earlier, Francesco de Oriente, a Portuguese Franciscan Friar who was a resident of Nagapattinam made an attempt in 1585 to found a church at Thanjavur but he was not permitted to do so by Achuthappa (1560-1614), the Nayak of Thanjavur. The Nayaks were not averse to Christians living in their kingdom but would not allow any missionary to work there or to construct churches. Fr. Balthazar da Costa speaks about Thanjavur, for the first time, in his letter dated 29 October 1644 and he had mentioned that he baptized the first convert, Gaudentius (Anandhu). He preached the Gospel in that area, converted many and constructed a church there. In 1654-56, there were 985 Catholics in Thanjavur, up from 180 in 1647. Soon Christian communities were formed in Vallam and Sellappanpatti. During seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, though Thanjavur was mentioned as a parish or mission centre in the annual letters of the Jesuits, the local princes, who were opposed to the Christian faith often persecuted the Christians and did not allow the missionaries to stay and do their ministry there. Thus the Christians, living within the Thanjavur kingdom, had to go to priests residing in Nandavanapatti or Koonampatti or Elakurichi for their Christian obligations.

Nandavanapatti and Koonampatti are presently substations of the Parish of Muthandipatti in the Diocese of Thanjavur, while Elakurichi belongs to the Diocese of Kumbakonam. Fr. Beschi mentions Koonampatti in many of his letters. There was until recently a small chapel, which according to the Jesuit annual letter of 1667, was constructed by a local Catholic lady named Margaret during the time of Fr. Domingo de Almeida. It was known as the ‘Chapel of Five Wounds’ and had a small presbytery attached to it. It has now been replaced by a small new chapel. The tombs of two Jesuit priests are still found on the bank of the village tank. We are informed that the Marathas who replaced the Nayaks in the kingdom of Thanjavur imprisoned two of the Jesuit missionaries, Fr. Joseph Carvalho and Fr. Charles Michael Bertholdi, a dear friend and compatriot of Fr. Beschi at Vallam and Thanjavur and one of them, Fr.Carvalho who is rightly called ‘The Martyr of Thanjavur’ died in prison in 1701. Another Jesuit Missionary Fr. Emmanuel Machado was arrested at Vallam, spent about 23 months in prison and freed on 6 June 1717. Owing to these persecutions, Shahji (1684-1712), the Maratha king was called ‘The Nero of Thanjavur’ by the Jesuit missionaries in their annual letter dated 20th August 1713.

Among the ancient missionary centers, now under the jurisdiction of Thanjavur the following centers are to be mentioned: Pillavadanthai, Mayiladuthurai, Mannargudi, Pattukkottai, Vedaraniam and Kozhai near Palayamkottai (served by many Jesuits including St. John de Britto), Moolangudi (where, according to a local tradition, St. Francis Xavier had erected a chapel to Our Lady at Serugalathur), Kottaikadu, Sammanasur, (ancient parishes in Pudukkottai area) and Eylur (a substation of Kattumannarkoil now are mentioned in the letters of Fr. Beschi who constructed some buildings there). Most of these were served by Jesuits and some by Franciscans and later by MEP priests to whom Thanjavur mission was entrusted by the Holy See after the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773. But even before that in 1759 when the Jesuits were suppressed in Portugal, many priests from Goa and Kochi were sent to work in this area.

Ever since the Society of Jesus was suppressed in Portugal, Thanjavur was one of the worst affected regions and they were replaced by the priests from Goa. Since the Society of Jesus was suppressed Fr. Costantino de Vasconcellos, a secular priest from Goa but belonging to the diocese of Mylapore took charge of the mission of Thanjavur region and resided at Palliyeri, a village of the present parish of North Gate, as superior of the entire Madurai Mission from 1785 until his death on 19 July, 1797.

From 1788, Rome extended the territory of the Apostolic Vicariate of Pondicherry by including Madurai, Coimbatore and Mysore. Since Thanjavur was under old Madurai Mission, when the MEP wanted to send a priest from Pondicherry, Fr. Vasconcellos, a Goan by birth and Mylapore diocesan priest, who was appointed as the superior of the Madurai Mission at the suppression of the Jesuits agitated. The MEPs also did not pressurize their entry as they suffered shortage of priests due to French Revolution. Because of these events, from 1780 to 1836, until the arrival of the Jesuits after their restoration in France, the region of Thanjavur suffered due to shortage of missionaries. During the period of MEPs and later during the time of restored Jesuits, Thanjavur also suffered under the problem of double jurisdiction between the Padroado and Propaganda, a sad truth but it is a history to be mentioned. The presence of Sacred Heart Cathedral and the nearby Church of Our Lady of Sorrows (ViyagulaMadha chapel) exhibit even today to the fact of double jurisdiction in Thanjavur.

The Jesuits of the New Madurai Mission under the umbrella of Propaganda Fide came to Thanjavur in 1845 and served in various parishes like the Sacred Heart Church (the present Cathedral), Vallam, Sammanasur, Pudukkottai, Venkatakulam, Mannargudi, Pattukottai and Padregudi. It was during this period some of the old churches in aforesaid parishes were constructed. Later some of these were renovated, extended or reconstructed to accommodate the number of Catholics. But even today, the churches, Sacred Heart Cathedral (Thanjavur), Padregudi, Palliyeri, Sammanasur and ViyagulaMatha Chapel in Thanjavur are kept intact for its antiquity though it is renovated to brush up the wear and tear. But the Jesuits had to hand over these parishes to the Diocese of Mylapore in 1893 in executing the Concordat of 1886 between the Holy See and Portugal through a papal bull. There were 36 churches, 94 chapels and 21000 Catholics at that time in this area. Visualizing the difficulties and foreseeing the shortage of the manpower, the then bishop of Mylapore, Teotonio Manuel Rebeiro de Castro invited the Salesians to work in the region of Thanjavur and they rendered their valuable service from 1906. The Salesians departed in 1928 for one or other reasons and once again the region of Thanjavur went into the hands of the diocesan priests of Mylapore.

After the independence of India, the system of Padroado was abolished in India with the efforts of the Republic of India, through a Concordat between Holy See and Portugal on 18 July 1950. But there were two dioceses in Madras itself. Hence, for better administration and to avoid jurisdictional problems, Bishop Louis Mathias of Madras proposed to merge both the dioceses. Considering the request, the Holy See came out with a prudent plan of amalgamating both the dioceses of Mylapore and Madras and at the same time erected the new diocese of Vellore, carving the northern part of the diocese of Madras and erected the diocese of Thanjavur, carving the southern part the diocese of Mylapore. Thus the diocese of Thanjavur was bifurcated on 22 November 1952.

Initial struggles of the New Diocese

With such a hoary past and rich missionary traditions, the new diocese came into being with the Sacred Heart Church in Thanjavur as its Cathedral. As there was no Bishop’s House, a portion of the Cathedral Presbytery served as the Bishop’s House and the Diocesan Office. After eight months, the Baroda Villa on the Trichy Road was purchased and converted into the Bishop’s House. In 1957 a new Bishop’s House was constructed in the adjacent land.

When the Diocese was started, it had only 41 Parishes served by 51 Priests. Though a good number of them were advanced in age, there was no dearth of zeal and pastoral commitment among them. There was a good number of Goan priests serving in the Diocese at the beginning, so much so two of the four Vicars Forane in the Diocese used to be Goans. To foster vocations in the new diocese, the Bishop started St. Mary’s Minor Seminary in a small room in the St. Xavier’s Boys’ Home in 1953. It was then shifted to a rented house in New Town (presently VOC Nagar) and when a new Bishop’s House was constructed, the Baroda Villa became the Minor Seminary. It is a matter of notable pride that practically all the priests serving in the diocese today, including the present Bishop, are the products of this Minor Seminary. Since 2002 a new building at Bishop Sundaram Campus, Arulanandammal Nagar in Thanjavur, houses the Minor Seminary.

Fr. R. Savarimuthu and Fr. S. T. Amalnather (the former Bishop of Thoothukkudi) who were serving in the Seminary in Mylapore as well as Fr. Paul K. F. Belevendram, then serving in Kovalam, joined the new diocese. Similarly Brothers S. A. Arulaiah (former Bishop of Cuddappah), P. M. Joseph and Y. Leo Michael and some other brothers hailing from the territory of Thanjavur including S. L. Gabriel (Former Bishop of Trichirapalli) who were studying for the diocese of Mylapore also joined the new diocese. This helped to solve the problem of the initial scarcity of priests. The Diocese now has 181 Priests and 96 Parishes. The parishes, which became part of the diocese in 1952, were full of old buildings, churches, presbyteries, schools and convents. Almost all of them wear a new look today with new buildings -some renovated and some replaced by new and modern structures.

Religious Congregations

There were only a few convents in the new diocese in 1952; but over the past 67 years, many new congregations have established their houses and have taken up new ministries. This has contributed to the establishment of many educational and other institutions in the diocese. It is to be noted that, in addition to many women congregations, quite a few men religious congregations too are functioning in the diocese. At present, 11 men religious congregations and 40 women religious congregations are working in the diocese.


In 1952, St. Antony’s High School was the only High school run by the diocese. Today we have 7 Higher Secondary Schools, 9 High Schools and 3 Matriculation Schools under the management of the diocese and 10 Higher Secondary Schools, 17 High Schools and 19 Matriculation Schools run by various religious congregations. To give quality education at an affordable fee structure in 2019 a new CBSE School has been started in Thanjavur. Today practically almost all the parishes have a school. While there was only one Industrial School (St. Xavier’s Industrial School, Thanjavur) in the diocese in 1952, the diocese is presently running 2 Industrial centers in Thanjavur and Namanasamudram. To cater to the needs of the time, the Diocese now runs a College of Education offering B.Ed. and M.Ed. courses, a Nursing School offering diploma in nursing and a Nursing College offering B. Sc., P. B. Sc., and M. Sc. courses. The Diocese also started AnnaiVailankanni Arts and Science College at Bishop Sundaram campus in Thanjavur. To give opportunity for higher studies at an affordable cost to the village boys and girls, St. Joseph’s Boys Home and St. Agnes Home for Girls are managed by the Diocese of Thanjavur and they study in the college run by the diocese.

Many of the diocesan Priests have high academic qualifications in religious and in secular studies. On account of this, many of them are able to serve in schools and industrial centers in the diocese or as professors in various Major Seminaries and in regional commissions.

Homes for the Aged

Two Charitable Trusts, established by individual Catholics of Perumpannaiyur parish and entrusted, one in Pannaivilagam to the diocese and the other in Elanthavanancherry to the religious, are running Homes for the Aged, both for men and women. The diocese has started one such Home in Vailankanni. There is also a Home for the Aged in Thanjavur run by St. Vincent De Paul Society. Many destitute are able to find shelter in these Homes in their old age.

The Marian Shrine at Vailankanni

Our Lady of Health, Vailankanni is the second patroness of the diocese. Though no historical records exist, according to an age old and strong oral tradition, Our Lady appeared to two poor boys besides saving the Portuguese sailors from shipwreck in Vailankanni and this led to the origin of a Marian Shrine at Vailankanni centuries back. A Chronicle of 1630-1635 composed by Fr. Paulo de Trinidade and a letter of 1642 mention a Christian centre at Vailankanni with a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Health. The Franciscan priests of Nagapattinam were looking after Vailankanni which in course of time had a Franciscan Friar stationed there. Later it came under the administration of the Diocese of Mylapore. Through the letter of Fr. Francesco de S. Ignez, from 1713 there is a clear indication that a separate priest was working in Vailankanni by stationing himself there. Though the commencing of the devotion to Our Lady is unknown, Fr. Antonio do Rosario and Fr. Nicolao de S. Rita have mentioned about the devotion in 1779. The diary of RangappaThiruvengadam Pillai 1760-1766 also mentions that Vailankanni was a pilgrim place.

In 1933, a spacious Gothic church was built by Fr. Sebastião Xavier de Noronha replacing the old church and at the same time keeping the old altar intact constructed by the sailors. The shrine was raised to the status of a Minor Basilica in 1963 and a two-storied extension church was added to it in 1975 to accommodate the ever growing number of pilgrims during the time of Fr. Maria Susai. On the way to Our Lady’s Tank, Stations of the Cross and Mysteries of the Rosary were constructed. The Shrine now has many pilgrim quarters with convenient rooms at an affordable rate of rent for the benefit of the pilgrims. The Shrine Retreat House and the Institute of Mariology are milestones in the development of the Shrine. It is also to be mentioned that perpetual Eucharistic adoration and counseling centre were started and confessions in different languages are heard. The administration was reformed to give better service to the pilgrims.

The Tamil Nadu Latin Bishops Council had the inaugural celebrations of Jubilee 2000 at the Marian Shrine at Vailankanni. All the Bishops of Tamil Nadu with almost 75,000 people from all the dioceses of Tamil Nadu gathered at the Shrine to celebrate the dawn of the third millennium.

The X International World Day of the Sick was celebrated at the Shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni from 9 to 11 February 2002. During the three day celebration of the World Day of the Sick, Vailankanni witnessed the largest gathering of Christian Health Care Personnel in Indian History, besides a large number of pilgrims. 1710 delegates from different parts of the world participated in the program. Our Holy Father Saint John Paul II sent his special envoy Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan who was the President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, Rome. In 2009 in view of the celebration of Year of Priests, the CDPI (Catholic Diocesan Priests of India) organized a programme at Vailankanni in which more than 1000 priests from all over India participated.

It is another landmark that the 25th Plenary Assembly – Silver Jubilee meeting of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India – Latin Rite was organized in Vailankanni from 5 to 10 February 2013. Almost 130 bishops participated in this plenary assembly meeting. The culmination event of the Golden Jubilee year of raising the shrine to the status of Basilica was celebrated on 10 February 2013. To highlight this event, the monumental Morning Star Church was blessed and opened by His Eminence Fernando Cardinal Filoni, the papal delegate and the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The Apostolate of the Laity

Parish Councils have been formed in 62 parishes and 707 Basic Ecclesial Communities (Anbiams) are functioning in 59 parishes. This helps the laity to play an active role in the life of the Church. The Catholic Association, Legion of Mary, St. Vincent de Paul Society, VaazhvurimaiIyakkam and Third Order of St. Francis are some of the lay organizations, which are active in the diocese.

Pastoral Commissions

Sensing the need of the pastoral activities in the diocese, Rt. Rev. R. A. Sundaram started 14 pastoral commissions but since there was an acute scarcity for the priests in the diocese, some of the parish priests were asked to look after the pastoral commissions as an additional ministry. Besides building a separate pastoral centre adjacent to the Bishop’s House, a coordinator was also appointed for the pastoral commissions at that time itself. When the second bishop, Most Rev. PackiamArokiasamy came in 1986, thanks to the Lord, there were sufficient number of priests in the diocese and hence, some of the pastoral commissions were clubbed and separate priest-secretaries were appointed and these secretaries became residents along with the curia. When the third bishop, Most Rev. Dr.Devadass Ambrose came in 1997, he added some more commissions according to the signs of the time. A separate magnificent pastoral centre was built with the pastoral training centre in Munthirithoppu and the commissions became more organized. Today almost all the commissions have a fulltime staff with a priest or nun secretary and every year a sizable amount is allotted for every commission in the annual budget and hence the pastoral activities are on the right path without any difficulty.

The Shepherds of the Diocese

Rt. Rev. R.A. Sundaram served as the first Bishop of Thanjavur from 1953 to 1986 and has left a long record of great achievements. He built the Diocese from scratch and put it on a sound track. During his tenure he erected 19 new parishes like Thirumayam (1965), Maraneri (1968) Medical College(1970), Punalvasal (1974), Oliyamangalam(1974), Adhichapuram (1975), Thandeswaranallur (1977), Chidambaram(1979), Madhakottai(1981), Manambuchavady (1981), Needaman-galam(1982), Budalur(1985), Vayalur(1985), Sanjainagar (1985), Sebathiarpuram(1985), Avudaiyarkoil (1985), Moovanur(1985), Pannaivilagam (1986) and Valispet (1986) added to the existing 41 parishes. It was due to his strenuous efforts that the Marian Shrine at Vailankanni became a Minor Basilica in 1963 and many buildings were constructed to provide proper accommodation to the growing number of pilgrims. After reorganizing the Thanjavur Multipurpose Social Service Society (TMSSS) in 1978 and making it more participatory, he started the Pudukkottai Multipurpose Social Service Society (PMSSS) in 1984 to concentrate on the social development of the area. He wanted every parish to have a decent church, presbytery, school and a convent so that the people of the area can be served with great effect. With future vision he bought 130 acres of land in the heart of the town for future development of the diocese. He spent his retired life in the Sacred Heart Home for retired priests in ArulanandaNagar, Thanjavur and died peacefully in the Lord on 28 August 1998 at the ripe age of 94.

Most Rev. PackiamArockiasamy succeeded him in 1986. He created 15 new parishes (Konakollaipatti(1987), Rasiamangalam (1987), Eganivayal (1988), Thirukanurpatti (1989), Mandalakottai (1989), Kottarapatti (1990), Settiapatti (1991), Meyyapuram (1992), Sri Puthur (1992), Thirupoondi (1994), Thanikottagam (1996), Thirukokarnam (1996), Keelvelur (1996), Pattudaianiruppu (1997) and Namunasamu-thiram(1997) in 11 years of his tenure and constructed necessary parish churches and other infrastructures in the rural areas. He started new High Schools in Palayamkottai, Vichoor, Anaikadu and C. Aranthangi as well as Industrial Centres in Namanasamudram and Vanamadevi. He encouraged the Charismatic Movement in the Diocese and started the Diocesan Charismatic Centre at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Mangalapuram, Thanjavur. It was during his time that the Diocese of Tanjore Society was reorganized and many Committees were formed for the better functioning of the Diocese. He retired in 1997 and died peacefully in the Lord on 22 May 2003.

Most Rev. M. Devadass Ambrose, hailing from the Diocese of Thanjavur, was nominated as the third Bishop of Thanjavur in June 1997 and was consecrated on 24 September of the same year. He continues to tread the path paved by his predecessors and concentrates on the overall development of the people. He has erected new parishes in Annanagar(2000), Amaradakki(2004), Machuvadi (2004), Kuthalam(2005), Paruthiyur (2005), Old Housing Unit (Thanjavur-(2006), Siluvaipuram(2006), Adhanur (2007), Arasadipatty(2007), Nagore(2008), Munnayampatti(2010), Arimalam(2011), Mannargudi (InfantJesus - 2012) Veerakurichi(2013), Koranad(2015), Thirupunalvasal(2015), Manalmedu(2015), Thirumangalakottai (2016), Melattur(2017), Gnanam Nagar(2017), Rajagopalapuram(2018) and Anaikadu(2019). He has errected 3 Vicariate Centers such as Pattukottai, Palayamkottai and Avudaiyarkoil. Sensing the need of the future priests and for their spiritual atmosphere a beautiful and spacious minor seminary was built in 2002 at Bishop Sundaram Campus. The Bishop is concentrating also the whole development of the villagers and especially their faith. In order to have decent place of worship for them, the Bishop has been constructing many village chapels. Today almost 900 out of 1186 substations have chapels either newly constructed or renovated. The Bishop had constructed a new pastoral centre and added more commissions like Anbiams, Women etc.

When the Tsunami hit the shores of the diocese on 26 December 2004, the Bishop rose to the occasion; he arranged to feed and shelter thousands of victims in Vailankanni. Through the TMSSS, he constructed many temporary shelters and distributed clothes, utensils etc. to the affected with the help of many donors from India and abroad. Then he constructed more than 2400 houses with the help of the State Government and donor agencies like Caritas-India, CRS, CNEWA and the Carmelite Society.

Considering the needs of the diocese, the Bishop has invited some of the men and women religious congregations. The SVD priests were invited to Manalmedu, the Holy Cross Fathers were invited to Thirumangalakottai, the MMI Fathers were invited to Kottaikadu and Eganivayal and the Pallotine fathers were invited to Melatur. New Women congregations were invited to Thanjavur, Vailankanni, Paruthiyur, Ukkadai, Embavayal (Vichoor), Kuthalam, Elupatti (Thirukkanurpatti), Vayalur, Eganivayal and Adhanur. He has also regularized the contracts with many Religious Congregations already working in the Diocese. He has sent many priests for both religious and secular studies within India and abroad. During his tenure he has sent 14 priests to USA, 12 priests to Europe and 6 priests to Singapore for studies, pastoral ministry or as a missionary.

The Bishop also had upgraded many schools according to the need of the people. He has upgraded Primary school into Middle School in Moovanur, Middle School into High School in Thirukkanurpatti, Padregudi and Karunganni, High Schools into Higher Secondary Schools at Palayamkottai, Pudukottai, Vichoor and Pattukottai. Realizing the need for higher education for the youth, he started six institutions of higher education which is very much appreciated by the people.

The Bishop has started an Educational Fund and asks the people to contribute to it monetarily instead of honouring him with shawls and garlands during his pastoral visits to the parishes. This fund is used to conduct evening study centre in villages. At present there are 151 study centers in 55 parishes. He has also introduced a new educational scholarship scheme to help the poor students of the diocese. A lot of poor students get benefit of this scheme.

Way back Bishop Sundaram had a great vision to build a hospital for the poor and the sick people. During the time of Bishop DevadassAmbrose it was developed and today there are around 300 beds and Our Lady of Health Hospital is one of the leading hospitals in Thanjavur for pediatrics.

The Bishop is putting up a great effort to make the diocese and its parishes self-sufficient. He has been building commercial complex, community halls and shops wherever possible in view of making the parishes self-sufficient.

In fine, the Diocese of Thanjavur, under the patronage and protection of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Health, Vailankanni is making great strides in spreading the Kingdom of God in the area entrusted to it by the Divine Providence. It has contributed its share to the growth and development of the Church in the region of Tamil Nadu and India by generously lending the services of its priests. It is extending its ministry in educational, cultural, social, economic and pastoral fields, thus contributing to the overall growth and development of the people of the area, irrespective of caste or creed.