Wilbert Marwein was formally installed as the new Bishop of Nongstoin today.
Bishop Marwein was previously the parish priest of the Divine Saviour Church in Nonbah. Pope Francis named him the new bishop in February. Nongstoin had been without a bishop since October 2016.
Present at the occasion today was Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who tweeted, “Blessed to attend the Episcopal Ordination of Reverend Fr Wilbert Marwein as Bishop of Nongstoin Diocese at St Peter Parish in Nongstoin today.
Praying for divine guidance and blessings as Reverend Bishop Wilbert takes on his responsibility to further serve God and His people.”
As appointed by Pope Francis from Vatican on February 4, Marweiñ was ordained Bishop of the 18-year-old Nongstoin Diocese today at 10am at Cathedral Parish, Pyndengrei, where ten of thousands of Catholic faithful took part in the Holy Mass.
The Episcopal Ordination was performed and consecrated by Archbishop Victor Lyngdoh of Shillong Archdiocese and was witnessed by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Nuncio of Pope Francis of Vatican Embassy in New Delhi, Archbishops and Bishops of North East India besides priests, and thousands of Catholics congregated from far and wide.
The Bishop elect was born at Rangblang village on February 17, 1970. His parents were Oswald Thyrniang and Prisca Marweiñ, both have passed away. He is the sixth among the eight siblings.
All of them are males except the eighth who is their only youngest sister having her husband and six children (three boys and three girls). During his childhood he had to tend his cattle in the field along with his cattle herd friends for about three years during the day and went to morning school in the village.
As he was friendly and amiable he had many friends in the village. He was very obedient and hard working like his brothers at home. He comes from a very humble and marginalised family so much so that his parents, due to poverty, had to face immense hardships and often they did not know from where the next meal would come.
However, god fearing as they were, the situation had improved very gradually. Having completed class VI it was time for young Wilbert to leave tending cows and join Class VII during day section and after having completed it he was selected to join Class VIII at St. Paul’s Minor Seminary as a young aspirant for Priesthood and at the same time to complete other secular education.
From then on there was no turning back. Wilbert completed philosophy in Christ King College at Laitumkhrah and did his Theology in Oriens Theological College at Mawlai and was ordained priest by Arch-Bishop Dominic Jala on April 27, 2003 at Rangblang Parish.
He was sent to Ummulong Parish as Assistant Parish Priest for three years then back to the Oriens Theological College at Mawlai as procurator for three years. From there he went for further study in Missiology at Pontifical Urbaniana in Rome for four years.
Later, Wilbert was asked to work as Assistant Parish Priest at Santa Maria in Consenza, Italy for six years. In 2015 he was asked to take over as Parish Priest of Nonbah Parish and also take charge as Vicar General of Nongstoin Diocese for nearly five years. However, he remained the Parish Priest of Nonbah Parish till he was appointed Bishop by Pope Francis on February 4, 2023.
It is of utmost importance that the 18-year-old Nongstoin Diocese was established on January 28, 2006 having a geographical area of about 5247 sq. Km with a population of approximately 5.80 lakh. The literacy rate is 70 per cent with the per capita income of Rs.50, 000 approximately annually.
The Catholic population of a little less than 2 lakh spreads over 22 catholic Parishes under the districts of West Khasi Hills, Eastern West Khasi Hills and South West Khasi Hills. Except for Maweit Parish which is horrible to reach by road, all parishes are easily accessible by road.
The 22 parishes are Mairang, Nongkhlaw, Kynshi, Nongkasen, Mawthong, Mawkyrwat, Munai, Nonghyllam, Mawpat, Rangblang, Mawkhlam, Mawlangdep, Nonbah, Cathedral Pyndengrei, Rambrai, Umwahlang, Riangdo, Nongjri, Umdang, Shallang and Riangdim. All these parishes (many of which were established much later) were administered from Marbisu from 1950 by Father Carmelo Attard, the pioneer of Western Khasi Hills.
However, prior to 1950 all these Catholic areas including the other greater parts of Khasi-Jaintia Hills areas were administered from Lumtyngkong Cathedral Parish, Laitumkhrah by the German Salvatorian Congregation missionaries from 1897 onwards till replacement by the Salesian Congregation missionaries in 1922.
Due to non available of parishes in Western Khasi Hills but the number of Catholics have multiplied by leaps and bounds, thus it was felt necessary to establish a parish at Pyndengrei (now the Cathedral of Nongstoin Diocese) on May 12, 1966.
The parish was headed by Father Emmanuel Albizuri, a Spaniard and assisted by a young Father John Mary Premoli an Italian, both were called “Bulldozer Missioneries” for their giant missionary works in this in neglected rich fertile field. From just one parish in 1966, now it has multiplied into 22 parishes all over Western Khasi Hills, under one diocese, the 18-year-old Nongstoin Diocese.
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