It was a grand celebration on December 4 for the Diocese of Agartala and its bishop, the Most Rev. Lumen Monteiro, C.S.C. The diocese marked the closing of its year-long commemoration of the 25th anniversary of both its establishment and the episcopal ordination of Bishop Lumen. The theme for the year was ‘Rejoice with Gratitude – Renew with Hope.’
The Mass, which welcomed approximately 1,000 people, including 10 bishops and approximately 100 priests and religious, was held on the grounds of Holy Cross College in Agartala. As many as 100 hundred young women, attired in their cultural costumes and representing 19 tribal groups, led in dance the opening, liturgical procession. After the Mass, a short felicitation program was organized by the laity with the youth leaders in the forefront.
Due to the restrictions in place for COVID 19 many of the jubilee commemorations for students, youth, and small Christian communities held throughout the year were toned down. Fr. Shaji Mandapathikunnel Lucka, C.S.C., Jubilee Committee Chairman and Vice-Principal of the College, was delighted with all the commemorations. “I am happy with the collaboration and support from the laity, religious, and priests from the diocese since day one,” he said.
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The Diocese of Agartala, which is comprised of the entire state of Tripura, was erected by Pope John Paul II on January 11, 1996. It was bifurcated from the former Diocese of Silchar. Bishop Lumen was ordained and installed as its first bishop on May 26, 1996.
Faced with the earlier challenges of beginning a diocese without financial or personnel resources in the midst of political turmoil, Bishop Lumen has led the faithful zealously with his priorities of improving evangelization efforts, education, development, and health care. Bishop Lumen acknowledges that there is still more to be done.
In an interview with Matters India, Bishop Lumen reflected, “My motto for myself and the diocese is ‘Lead Us Onward.’ To live this motto today means to constantly overcome challenges and borders of languages, ethnicities, cultures, and religions, as well as bridge the widening gap between the rich and the poor…. The challenges will always be there…the challenge to become better; the challenge to reach out by crossing borders of all sorts; the challenge to work as a united family. We are also challenged not to become mere spectators, sitting on our past laurels or brooding on our failures. We have to move forward.”
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Bishop Lumen attributes many of the diocese’s achievements to his many collaborators, the priests, religious, and laity in the diocese who have been his “hands and feet” and “co-travelers on this journey.”
The Congregation of Holy Cross established the first parish in Agartala at Mariamnagar in 1937. Today the Province of North East India administers seven parishes in the Diocese of Agartala and continues to offer, as it has done for 25 years, support for Bishop Lumen by providing a confrere to serve as secretary and financial administrator in the diocese.