Mortal Remains of the first native Bishop of Northeast India laid to rest
The Mortal Remains of Bishop Emeritus Robert Kerketta, the first native Catholic Bishop of Northeast India, was laid to rest at the Priest’s Cemetery in Bishop’s House, Tezpur on 27 December 2018.
Bishop Kerketta (86), who was battling old-age related illness since the past two weeks, passed away at the Baptist Mission Hospital on 22 December. His mortal remains was laid to rest at the Tezpur Bishop’s House Cemetery after a fittingly solemn Funeral Service at the Tezpur Cathedral Church in the presence of all the Bishops, around 150 Priests, countless women Religious and 3000 people from across Northeast India.
Salesian prelate, Bishop Kerketta attended his last public function on August 2 this year at the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Dennis Panipitchai the Auxiliary Bishop of Miao Diocese in Arunachal Pradesh Borduria village, where he administered the baptisms of first Catholics in the state in the year 1979 on the same day.
Officiating at the Funeral Service, the Archbishop John Moolachira, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Guwahati, remembered fondly of the gentle and humble nature of the first native Bishop of Northeast India.
Bishop Kerketta was made bishop on 21 May 1970, at the age of 38, one of the youngest to be made Bishop in the history of the Church in India, while he was serving as the Rector of Krishnanagar Seminary in West Bengal. Having served as the Bishop of Dibrugarh for 11 years, he was appointed Bishop of Tezpur Diocese on 31 January 1981, where he served as Bishop for 26 years and retired on 3 March 2007.
As the Bishop of Dibrugarh, Bishop Kerketta was also incharge of the Church in most part of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Dioceses of Diphu, Guwahati, Kohima, Imphal, Itanagar and Miao all came to exist out of Dibrugarh and Tezpur, the two Dioceses he served his whole life. Hence, it would not be wrong to say that the whole of Northeast India is connected to Bishop Robert Kerketta.
The Church in Northeast India has lost an intelligent, gentle, humble and a visionary leader with the death of Bishop Robert Kerketta.