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Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
283 Roorkee Road,
Meerut Cantt, 250001
Uttar Pradesh , India
In an area of 28,337 square kilometers, Meerut diocese has the following civil districts in the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand: Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Dehur Dun, Haridwar, Moradabad, Rampur, Jyotiba Phule Nagar, Ghaziabad, Baghpat and the Tehsil of Dhampur of Bijnor district. Most of the people here are Hindus and Muslims. Christians are mostly poor and live in the villages. Meerut diocese has the highest number of Catholics in the region.
The Uttarakhand state capital Dehra Dun is in the diocese. The Uttarakhand region is mostly mountainous and the major portion is covered with forests.
The languages spoken by the 30, 000,000 odd people in the diocese are Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and English.
Missionary thrust was the focus of the diocese. It has been giving importance to education: running local Hindi medium schools in villages and English medium schools in towns. They are mainly run by Religious Sisters and Brothers, allowing the priests to focus on the pastoral ministries.
Most of the villagers are involved in farming. They cultivate rice, sugarcane, wheat, barley, jowar, bajra, maize, pulses, oil seeds, potato, tobacco and cotton. Ganga river and its tributaries make the land fertile.
Most of the rural population consists of dalits (former untouchables) and they are farmers.
Ghaziabad has many industries like sugar mills, steel, chemical and car factories
The antiquities discovered in places like Meerut connect its history to the early stone age and the Harappan culture.
The area has many holy shrines and pilgrim centers. It promotes pilgrimage tourism. Haridwar is an important pilgrim centre for the Hindus. Thousands of devotees gather here for the Kumbh Mela. The hill station Mussorie is a great tourist centre, especially in summer.
Ornamental brassware work is famous in Moradabad and carved woodwork in Saharanpur.
Detached from Agra archdiocese, Meerut diocese was formed on Feb 20, 1956. The first bishop was Bishop Joseph B. Evangelisti ofm cap (!956 - 1973). He was succeeded by Bishop Patrick Nair (1974 - retired in 2009). Bishop Oswald Joseph Lewis was ordained co-adjutor bishop in 1998 and in 2005 he was transferred to be the first bishop of the newly created Jaipur diocese.
The new diocese of Bijnor was formed in May 1972, detaching the civil districts of Bijnor (excluding Dhampur tehsil), Chamoli, Garhwal, Tehri and Uttarkashi form Meerut diocese.
The patroness of the diocese is Our Lady, Mediatrix of all Graces. The Church of Our Lady of Graces in Sardhana was raised to the status of a minor Basilica by Pope John XXIII on Dec. 13, 1961. It was built in 1822 by the then Queen Begum Yohanna Sumru, a Muslim convert. It has become a pilgrim centre for many Catholics and non-Christians.
Though not many Hindus are becoming Christians these days, many Christians from other Churches are coming to the Catholic Church.
The diocese also has a strong prison ministry: 'Asha Kiran.'