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Pope Francis erects new Diocese of Sultanpet in India


Vatican City, 28 December 2013: Pope Francis has erected the new Diocese of Sultanpet in India, On December 28. It has been carved out of the Dioceses of Coimbatore and Calicut, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan Archdiocese of Verapoly. The Pope has also appointed the first Bishop of Sultanpet, Fr. Peter Abir Antonisamy of Pondicherry and Cuddalore.

The new diocese of Sultanpet, include the civil district of Palakkad in the state of Kerala, located in the southwest of India and is bordered by the Diocese of Coimbatore and Calicut. It will be a suffragan diocese of the ecclesiastical province of Verapoly. The parish church of San Sebastian, located Sultanpet in the city of Palaghat, will become the Cathedral Church of the diocese.

The new Diocese of Sultanpet has an area of 4466 km² and has a Population 4,260,435, among whom 30,975 are Catholics. It is comprised of 21 parishes, 14 Diocesan Priests, 18 Religious Priests, 9 Religious men, and 102 Religious sisters. It has 21 Schools, 12 Hospitals and clinics.

Bishop Peter Abir Antonisamy, was born on 14 October 1951, in Sathipattu, Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore. He studied at the R.C. Sathipattu Elementary School and then at St. Joseph's Higher Secondary School in Cuddalore. Subsequently, he attended St. Joseph's College, Trichy. In 1970 he entered the Minor Seminary of St. Agnes Cuddalore and from 1971 to 1979 he studied at the Seminary of the Sacred Heart Poonamelle, Chennai. He was ordained a priest on 1st May 1979 for the Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore.

Later, from 1981 to 1983, he obtained a Master's degree in Biblical Theology at St. Peter's Pontifical Institute, Bangalore. From 1985 to 1987 he studied at the University of Tirupathy, obtaining d an MA in Literature and History. From 1990 to 1994 he studied for a licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Biblicum in Rome, obtaining the Doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Gregorian University (1994 -1996).After ordination he held the following positions:
1979-1981: Assistant parish to Athipakkam;
1981-1983: Studies at St. Peter's Pontifical Institute, Bangalore;
1983-1984: Secretary of the Archbishop and Chancellor of the Curia;
1984-1986: Professor of Sacred Scripture at the Good Shepherd Seminary, Coimbatore;
1986-1987: Priest in Kurumbagaram;
1987-1990: Director of the St. Paul's Bible Institute, Poonamelle;
1990-1996: Studies in Rome, residing at the Pontifical College of St. Peter the Apostle;
1996-2004: Director of the St. Paul's Bible Institute, Poonamelle;
2002-2004: Deputy secretary of the Tamil Nadu Bishops' Council;
2002-2008: Coordinator for South Asia of the Catholic Biblical Federation;
2004-2010: Director of the Tamil Nadu Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre;
Since 2010: Director Emmaus Spirituality Centre, Sithanagur, which he founded in 2004.

Source: VR Sedoc