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Celebrations to mark Episcopal ordination of Bishop George Mamalassery

TURA: The first Bishop of Tura and recipient of Meghalaya government’s Pa Togan Nengminza award for Social Service, this year, Rt. Rev. George Mamalassery is being honoured by the Catholic Church of Garo Hills today with a ‘Ruby celebration’ during which a new Diocesan Pastoral Centre constructed by him would also be blessed at Walbakgre, Tura.

The ‘Ruby Celebration’ is to honour Mamalassery for having completed 40 years as the Bishop of Tura. He retired in 2007 and was made Bishop Emeritus by the Vatican.

As many as 17 Bishops of the north east are gathering in Tura for the celebration and blessing of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre along with priests, clergy, religious leaders and a delegation from the Aid to Church in Need organization.

Bishop George Mamalassery, who was ordained as a priest in 1960, joined the pioneer work of evangelization in the Garo Hills, soon after.

In his autobiography, “Thy Kingdom Come: Reminiscences of my Missionary Life” Bishop Mamalassery recalled arriving in the remote, hazardous, hilly terrain of Garo Hills that was part of erstwhile Assam infested with malaria and wild animals.

After working as the assistant and later parish priest at Tura, Baghmara and Dalu for several years the Pope consecrated him as the first Bishop of Tura on March 18th 1979.

In his 28 years as the Bishop of Tura, before his retirement as the Emeritus, Bishop Mamalassery undertook religious and social activities in a major way making Tura the leading diocese in India in pastoral activities, social and developmental works.

His social work lead to the establishment of as many as 57 lower primary schools, 35 middle English schools, 16 secondary schools, two higher secondary schools and 24 Girls and 23 Boys hostels across the Garo Hills region.

He also invited the Salesians to open the Don Bosco College in Tura and brought the Jesuits to open a school and College (Loyola) in Williamnagar.

On the health sector, Bishop Mamalassery established medical dispensaries in 20 village parishes and established the Holy Cross hospital in Tura which has now been upgraded into a 150 bedded institution.

Besides financing the training of dozens of nurses, the establishment of the Rino Simonetti Nursing School for General Nursing in Tura has helped to bring many local girls into the nursing profession.

“It was also during his tenure as the Bishop of Tura that two old age homes for the poor and the destitute were set up by the Mother Teresa Missionaries of charity in Tura and Williamnagar. The Montfort Brothers were also invited to establish the Montfort centre for Physically challenged at Danakgre and the Diocesan Social Service centre (Bakdil) under his partronage grew into a major NGO involved in various welfare and people empowerment programmes in Garo Hills,” said Father Jose from Bishop House while speaking on the tenure of Mamalassery who also built a residential school for drop out girl children that has been endorsed by the government and named Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya School at Jengjal.

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