Archbishop Emeritus of Bangalore Dr. Alphonse Mathias completes 50 years of Episcopal Consecration

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By Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Udupi, 05 Feb 2014: The first Bishop of Chikmagalur Diocese and presently Archbishop Emeritus of Bangalore Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathias completes 50 years of being ordained a Bishop on 5 February 2014. His Episcopal ordination had taken place on 5 February 1964 and he had served the then newly formed Chikmagalur Diocese for 23 years and was later appointed as the Archbishop of Bangalore in1986 and served the Archdiocese for 12 years till 1998. Having retired as the Archbishop of Bangalore,   Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathais who is 86 years old spends his retired life at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore.



Born on 22 June 1928 as fourth child of Diego and Philomena Mathias residing in Pangala Parish (Shankarpura), Archbishop Alphonse Mathias had his early education at St. John’s Primary School at Shankarpura and higher primary education at Don Bosco Higher Primary School, Shirva and completed his high school studies at Milagres High School, Kallianpur.


After completing SSLC, young Alphonse realized that he had vocation to dedicate his service to the church. In this, he was very much inspired by the then parish priest of Pangala Fr. Basil Preris who later became the Bishop of Mangalore. With a strong yearning to become a priest, Alphonse joined St. Joseph’s Seminary, Jeppu-Mangalore in 1945. After nine years of rigorous training for priesthood, Br. Alphonse Mathias was ordained a priest on 24 August 1954 at Candy in Sri Lanka where he had been studying Theology. On returning home he offered  first solemn mass in the presence of his family and parishioners at St. John the Evangelist Church, Pangala.


The first assignment of Fr. Alphonse Mathias was as the Assistant Parish Priest at St. Joseph’s Church, Bajpe. The dedication and intelligence of Fr. Alphonse Mathias attracted the attention of the diocesan authorities and he was asked to proceed to Rome in 1955 to undertake research in Cannon Law with view to acquire the Doctorate Degree.


From 1955 to 1959, Fr. Alphonse Mathias did research in Canon Law and International Civil Law at  the University of Propaganda Fide and Lateran University at Rome and secured doctorates in both fields of study.


On his return from Vatican in 1959, Fr. Alphonse Mathais was appointed as the Secretary to the then Bishop of Mangalore Most Rev. Dr. Raymond D’Mello who had taken charge of the Diocese of Mangalore as the Bishop following the death of Most Rev. Dr. Basil Peris, mentor of Fr. Alphonse Mathias.


When the new Diocese of Chikmagalur comprising of the three civil districts of Shimoga, Chikmagalur and Hassan was created by Pope Paul VI by the Apostolic Constitution, ’Indicae Regionis’ dated 16 November 1963, Fr. Alphonse Mathias who had served as the Secretary to the Bishop of Mangalore for four years was appointed as the first Bishop of the newly formed Diocese. And the announcement was made on the same day as the constitution of the new Diocese of Chikmagalur was made. Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathisas was consecrated on 5 February 1964 at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Chikmagalur as the first Bishop.  The Principal Consecrator was Archbishop James Robert Knox,Titular Archbishop of Melitene and Principal Co-Consecrators were Archbishop Albert Vincent D’Souza, Archbishop of Calcutta and Bishop Raymond D’Mello, Bishop of Mangalore.  Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathias became the youngest Bishop to be ordained so at the age of 35.


Geographically the Diocese of Chikmagalur is situated in the Western Ghats and consists of hilly region where the main crop is coffee. Tea is grown in some places. Ragi, paddy, maize, sugar-cane, vegetables, pulses and coconut are grown in the plains. The greater part of the Catholic population are the Konkani speaking descendents of migrants from the South Canara District, who had come for work in coffee plantations and later on settled in the area of whom some are planters. The native Catholics are found in the plain of Hassan District, their ancestors had become Catholics in the beginning of the 18th century when the Jesuit missionaries evangelized the area. After the constitution of the Diocese of Chikmagalur only Indian priests have been  working in the Diocese. Descendents of the settlers from Tamil Nadu can be found all over the Diocese. The early history of evangelization of Chikmagalur Diocese goes back to 16th century.


When Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathias took charge of the Chikmagalur Diocese as the first Bishop there were only 19 parishes and 18 Diocesan Priests in the three districts. The new Bishop had to work hard to build up the diocese and increase the number of parishes and serving priests. Due to the initial efforts of Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathias who served as the Bishop of Chikmagalur for 23 years and successive Bishops presently there are 39 Parishes, 1 Shrine, 3 Independent stations with resident priests and 56 active Diocesan Priests. Besides there are a great number of religious priests and sisters. Educational institutions have increased and even first grade colleges have been started. The St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary, Bridgetine convent and the Holy Cross Hospital at Chikmagalur, the Cloistered Carmel Convent, the Don Bosco Technical School and Seva Samsthe, the Diocesan Social Service Centre (C.M.S.S.S.) at Hassan are but a few of the many important institutions.


Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathias had the privilege of attending Third and Fourth Sessions of the historic Second Vatican Council (2 October 1962-8 December 1965) as Council Father.


Having served the Diocese of Chikmagalur for 23 years with great dedication, Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathias was promoted as the Archbishop of Bangalore on 12 September 1986. During his 12 years tenure as the Archbishop of Bangalore from 1986 to 1998. Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathias occupied some of the prestigious positions and undertook a lot of developmental work. He was greatly responsible in upgrading St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences. He also improved the condition of St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary in Bangalore. He was elected as the Chairman of many commissions under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). He was elected as the president of CBCI for two terms in 1989 and 1993. Archbishop Alphonse Mathais was also given important responsibilities in the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference(FABC) and also served as a member of Pontifical Commissions  such as  ‘Social Communication’ and ‘Justice and Peace’.



During his tenure as the Archbishop of Bangalore, Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathias had participated in the consecration of a number of Bishops. He was the Principal Consecrator of: Bishop Francis Michaelappa  (1987), Bishop John Baptist Sequeira (1987), Archbishop Ignatius Paul Pinto (1989), Bishop Joseph D’Silva (1993) and Bishop Joseph Roy  (1995) and  Principal Co-Consecrator of: Bishop Basil Salvadore D’Souza  (1965), Bishop Maurice Piat, C.S.Sp. (1991) and  Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza (1996)


Having served as the first Bishop of Chikmagalur for 23 years and Archbishop of Bangalore for 12 years, Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse Mathias resigned as the Archbishop of Bangalore on 24 March 1998 at the age of 70 years and since then has been spending his retired life at the St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore.



Comments on this Article
Dorothy D souza, Shimoga Wed, March-30-2016, 5:36
I can never forget,I remember when you visited our parish/Shimoga. when the procession started from the main gate to the church,I was only 4 yrs old then. He was so kind and blessed me before I went to nursing school at St.Martha s Hospital Bangalore in 1980. Gave me Rs.500 and said use of it wisely .Remember those in need when you finish your training. Yes you highness I do remember you everyday in my life and thank you for that help then I needed it most.It was a huge amount in those days.I thank you from the bottom of my heart. May God give you and long and good health. My mother wished to visit you and take blessing from you ,I came with her and my 8 moths old son without appointment,you were so humble and left behind all the work came and blessed us.It was such an hounour to us. I thank you from the bottom of my heart,for the Rs 500.Today I am qualified nurse serving in the UK.well and contented.

Dear your Grace, I am so happy and impressed to know about you and your life from Cyril Edward Mathias Sir, Shirva. Please pray for us. I would like to visit you. thank you your Grace

Rev.Fr.Valerian Castelino, Moodubelle/Chikmagalur,Infant Jesus Shrine Sun, February-9-2014, 12:53
I Congratulate Archbishop Alphonse Mathias on completing 50 years of his Episcopal Consecration on 5th Feb,2014.I am proud to state that as a first Bishop of Chikmagalur Diocese he came to Moodubelle and selected me for his Diocese and after my Seminary formation he ordained me at St.Joseph s Cathedral on 19th May 1974.I remain grateful to his eminence for all the encouragements,support given to me.I always look up to him and try to emulate his great qualities while serving the people of the Diocese.I thank Archbishop Alphonse Mathias for being a model in Pastoral work giving importance to children,poor and the needy.He is always remembered by the people of Chikmagalur. I avail this opportunity to wish him a golden life in the golden Jubilee celebration. Thanks Dr.Eugene for highlighting his early days of educastion and noble qualities.
Arun Shetty, Belman/Bahrain Thu, February-6-2014, 4:20

One correction. He did his high School at S.V.H. High School at Innanje.

Benedict Noronha, Udupi / India Wed, February-5-2014, 8:34
Hearty congratulations to Arch Bishop Alphonse Mathais on completing 50 years of Episcopal Ordination. May God Bless him with good health and happiness in his advanced age. The Religious must emulate his quality of nobility , honesty and a devoute Priesthood. He bowed down and laid down his office when he attained the age of retirement and gave way for the others. He lead by example as I know him. May he live long and be a Light to the younger Priests.
Alphonse Mendonsa, Pangla/Abu Dhabi Wed, February-5-2014, 4:55
Congrats to HE Archbishop Alphonse Mathias on his Episcopal ordination. Thanks dear Dr. Eugene for highlighting his service as a priest, Bishop and Arch Bishop in various capacities. yes he is indeed a gem of person. Worked very hard and dedication to solve community/language problem in Bangalore. he will be remembered for solving this issue and amicable settlement of language issue of Tamil/Kannada which took to the streets.. Proud to be a Pangalite having such a great personality from pangla. Let God grant him good health and continue his mission in Lord s Vineyard.
Ronald Sabi, Moodubelle Wed, February-5-2014, 12:43
He is a pride of Entire Udupi and Mangalore diocese. His work as Bishop of Chikmagalur speaks volumes about his vision and dedication. Long live Archbishop Emeritus
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