By Robin Gomes
The Pope has transferred Bishop Alangaram Arokia Sebastin Durairaj of Khandwa as Metropolitan Archbishop of Bhopal. His October 4th appointment came after the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Archbishop Leo Cornelio, who in March last year reached the retirement age of 75.
A member of the Society the Divine Word (SVD), Archbishop Cornelio stepped down after heading Bhopal Archdiocese for 14 years. Before that, he led the Diocese of Khandwa from 1999 until Pope Benedict XVI transferred him to Bhopal in June 2005.
Bishop Durairaj, also a Divine Word missionary, was born on 3 May 1957, at Thirunagar in the Archdiocese of Madurai in Tamilnadu state. After attending elementary school in his hometown and in Madurai, he entered SVD’s St. Charles Seminary in Tiruchirapalli in 1971. He completed his Pre-University Course while in the seminary, and did his juniorate formation at Palda Seminary in Indore in 1975. He also obtained a B.Sc. degree from P.M.B. Gujarati Science College, Indore and a Master’s degree in Psychology from Government Arts and Commerce College in Indore.
He completed his novitiate at Khurda in Indore and made his first profession in 1979. He did his theological studies at Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune and made his perpetual profession there on June 12, 1984, and was ordained a priest on May 8, 1985, at Thirunagar, Madurai.
Following his priestly ordination, he held the following responsibilities:
1985-1987: Parish Vicar in Jhabua
1987-1988: Procurator of Vidhya Bhavan SVD Philosophate in Bhopal
1988-1993: Prefect of Students at the SVD Juniorate in Palda
1993- 1995: Pursued studies in counselling in the United States
1995-1996: Spiritual Director at Khrist Premalaya Regional Philosophate, Bhopal
1996-1999: Rector of SVD Philosophate, Bhopal
2000-2003: Studied for a doctorate in Educational Psychology in Chicago (Illinois, USA)
2003-2004: Vice Director at Snehalaya, Spirituality Centre in Indore
2004-2005: Rector of SVD Regional Philosophate
2005 : Elected Provincial Superior for the SVD’s Central Indian Province
2008 : Re-elected Provincial
May 11, 2009: Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Bishop of Khandwa. He was consecrated bishop on 16 July 2009.
Bishop Durairaj, 64, holds a Master’s degree in counseling from Loyola University in Chicago and a Doctorate in Counsellor Education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh (USA).