By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Sunday appointed a new archbishop in Ranchi in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. He transferred Jesuit Bishop Felix Toppo of Jamshedpur to Ranchi as its new Archbishop.
Bishop Felix takes over from 78-year old Cardinal Telesphore Toppo whose resignation the Holy Father has accepted. The cardinal reached the retirement age of 75 in 2014 as stipulated by the Church’s Code of Canon Law.
Bisohop Felix Toppo
Bishop Felix Toppo was born on November 21, 1947, in Tongo, Diocese of Gumla. He entered the Society of Jesus (SJ) in 1968 and was ordained priest on 14th April, 1982.
He obtained a Masters in psychology from Rome’s Gregorian University in 1990. After serving the Jesuits in various capacities, as Director of Pre-Novices, Novice Master and Superior, he was appointed Bishop of Jamshedpur on 14th June, 1997 and was consecrated on 27th September, 1997.
Bishop Felix served as the Chairman of the CBCI Office for Clergy and Religious for four years, and of the National Vocation Service Centre, Pune, for four years.
At present he is the Governing Body Chairman of the CBCI Society for Medical Education, North India; Chairman of the Jharkhand & Andamans (JHAAN) Regional Bishops’ Council and of two Regional Commissions; and Vice-Chancellor of St. Albert’s College, Ranchi.
Cardinal Telesphore Toppo
Cardinal Toppo has retired after heading Ranchi Archdiocese for 32 years.
He was born on October 15, 1939 and ordained a priest on May 3, 1969. Blessed Pope Paul VI appointed him Bishop of Dumka on June 8, 1978, and St. Pope John Paul II nominated him Coadjutor Archbishop of Ranchi in November 1984. He succeeded as Archbishop of Ranchi when late Archbishop Pius Kerketta retired on August 7, 1985.
When St. Pope John Paul II raised him to the rank of cardinal on October 21, 2003, he became the first tribal or indigenous cardinal of India.