Monday, 12 February 2007

First Bishop Appointed for Nepal

KATMANDU, Nepal, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the Apostolic Prefecture of Nepal to the rank of apostolic vicariate, which means that the country will now have a bishop.

The Vatican press office announced Saturday that the Pope appointed Father Anthony Sharma, 69, as the first apostolic vicar of Nepal. He is currently the apostolic prefect of Nepal.

Anthony Sharma was born in Katmandu in 1937. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 1968. He spent years in India, teaching in the area of Darjeeling, and he was rector of St. Joseph's College.

He was appointed ecclesiastical superior of Nepal in 1984.

When Pope John Paul II elevated the "sui iuris" mission of Nepal to the rank of apostolic prefecture, Father Sharma became its first apostolic prefect.

The Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal counts 6,600 Catholics in a population of 23.7 million.

It has five parishes, two churches that are virtually parishes, six mission stations and 22 substations, served by 11 diocesan priests and 40 religious priests. There are five major seminarians and 112 women religious.

In addition, the Church has 44 educational and 16 charitable institutions.