Brief History of the Diocese: Gulbarga diocese consisting of the civil districts Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur in North Karnataka was erected by the Pope Benedict XVI on 24th June 2005. He also appointed Mons Robert M Miranda, the pioneer missionary of ‘Bidar Mission’ of Mangalore diocese, as the first bishop of the new diocese. Subsequently, Gulbarga district was bifurcated by the State Government and the new district of Yadgir came into existence on 10th April 2010. Thus, today we have four civil districts northern Karnataka, namely Bidar , Gulbarga, Yadgir and Bijapur under the jurisdiction of Gulbarga diocese covering an area of 32157 sq. km with a population of around 6.5 million(2011) . The Government of Karnataka has renamed Gulbarga as Kalaburagi, and Bijapur as Vijayapura in 2014.
Prior to the formation of the new diocese, Bidar district, juridically under the care of Hyderabad arch diocese, was under the care of Mangalore diocese that adopted the district for its social and pastoral care (1982), and it was popularly known as the Bidar mission. Kalaburagi district was a part of Bellary diocese. Vijayapura under Belgaum diocese was adopted by Karnataka Jesuits in 1992. The new diocese had its birth pangs as it was a difficult task to put together people, priests and sisters from three dioceses under the reality of the one new diocese. As the Word of God says ‘Everything is possible for God’ LK. 1:37, the Holy Spirit brought the people of God in the new diocese from all the 4 districts together to accept the mission of the Lord, to be evangelized and to evangelize others in the region.
Pastoral Plan 2006: Putting their hearts and minds together, studying the spiritual, social, economic and educational realities of the place and discerning God’s will, they prepared the first Diocesan Pastoral Plan (DPP) in June 2006. Ever since, the people, priests and religious have been working hard implementing the DPP trying to build vibrant Christian communities in all the parishes and missions, earnestly seeking evangelization of all people around. The catholic community has come to understand and accept all the pastoral and social dimensions of faith, served by various commissions under the DPP. The Commission Secretaries in spite of several constraints such as multiple responsibilities, lack of finances, formation and expertise have come to function with tangible results.
Growth of the Diocese 2005-15: The basic structures, such as Pastoral Councils at the Parish/Mission Centers, Deanery, Diocesan, Council of Priests have been established and have started functioning. The diocese also made remarkable progress in the first decade of its formation establishing its basic infrastructures, such as, Bishop’s House, Curia, the Pastoral Centre, Cathedral, Minor Seminary, a hospital etc.
A number of new mission centre’s, religious houses, educational institutions and hostels have also been started in these years in order to have an evangelizing presence in this vast diocese where the catholic population is just minimal. The diocese has reached out to thousands of people irrespective of caste or creed, particularly among the poor and the marginalized through social, educational and health services. Thanks to the self-less and tireless work of the missionaries ! The Good News is proclaimed in Word and Deed to all people.
Decennial Evaluation: As the diocese completed a decade of fruitful service, the Bishop, Clergy and the Superiors of the religious communities decided for a General Evaluation at the meeting on 6th December 2014. It was decided to have the Evaluation at 6 different levels, namely, Group Interviews of Pastoral Council Members(10 zones), Personal Interviews(150), Survey and evaluation of all catholic families(1436), Self assessment by the Clergy, Evaluation and Assessment by the Religious, Evaluation of all the Commissions and Evaluation by an External Agency.
18 -19th August 2015 was a momentous time for us in this diocese. It was a day to celebrate God’s blessings on us in the past 10 years of service in the new diocese that came into existence on the same day back in 2005. It was indeed a unique celebration of the church in Gulbarga with an assembly of the laity, religious and priests of the diocese coming together to listen to all the reports of decennial evaluation, know ourselves as we are, our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as exoressed by our people and experts from outside, and take a step forward and plan for another phase of the mission Gulbarga 2015-2025.
Gulbarga Diocese 2025: The assembly of selected representatives that included priests, superiors of the religious communities and near equal number of prominent Lay representatives accepted the Report, with an open mind, wasted no time in identifying the major concerns that need to be addressed. They felt the need to formulate anew the Vision and Mission Statements of the diocese and also set the Goals to be achieved in the next 10 years. With major concerns identified, Vision, Mission statements formulated anew, the Goals set for the next 10 years by the assembly, the Secretaries along with the Core Group prepared the objectives and plans for their respective commission. The new Pastoral Plan – Gulbarga Diocese 2025 is the outcome of this long, tedious but immensely fruitful exercise.
Name of the Diocese : Gulbarga
Rite : Latin
Current Bishop : Robert Michael Miranda
Vicar General : Msgr. Stany Lobo
Catholic Population : 7930
Diocesan Priests : 31
Religious Priests : 37
Religious Sisters : 220
Religious Brothers : 4