Myanmar Catholic Church 2007

Myanmar Catholic Church 2007
Catholic Bishops' Conference Myanmar.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Diocesan Officials

A. Ordinary of Myitkyina Diocese

Bishop Francis Daw Tang was born on Dec. 19, 1949, in Bum Dum village, Panghkak parish. He was ordained a deacon on Dec. 4, 1979, in St. Joseph Catholic Major Seminary, Yangon. He was ordained a priest on March 25, 1979, at Pangkak parish, by Bishop Paul Zinghtung Grawng. He then served in Nanghling parish for 14 years. From 1993 to 2002, he was Phakant parish priest. On April 11, 2002, he was episcopally ordained and served as Auxiliary Bishop of Myitkyina. He was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Myitkyina diocese indefinitely on June 11, 2003. On Dec. 3, 2004, Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Myitkyina. Bishop Francis Daw Tang is chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Laity and a member of the Philosophate of Episcopal Commission for Seminaries.
Address: St. Columban's Cathedral, Aungnan Yeiktha, Myitkyina, Myanmar 01011
Phone: (95) 74-23016
Fax: (95) 74-23016

Previous Ordinaries
Bishop Paul Zinghtung Grawng (1976-2003)
Auxiliary Bishop Philip Lasap Za Hawng (1994-1998)

B. Other Diocesan Officials

Secretary: Sister Mary John Paul G. Bawm Win, SFX
Address: St. Columban's Cathedral, Aungnan Yeiktha, Myitkyina, Myanmar 01011
Phone: (95) 74-23016
Fax: (95) 74-23016

Procurator: Father Patrick Zinwa Brang Di
Address: St. Columban's Cathedral, Aungnan Yeiktha, Myitkyina, Myanmar 01011
Phone: (95) 74-23017
Fax: (95) 74-23016

Vicar General: Father Francis Lum Dau
Address: St. Columban's Church, Kokko Taw, Banmaw, Myanmar 01011
Phone: (95) 74-50771

  • Father Patrick Zinwa Brang Di
  • Father Francis Lum Dau
  • Father Joseph Kum Htoi
  • Father Stephen Lau Mun
  • Father Thomas Gumrai Aung
  • Father Joseph Labnag Tu
  • Father Michael Myint Aung
  • Father John Naw Lawn

  • Statistics

    A. Catholic Population
    As of December 31, 2004, Myitkyina diocese had 102,235 baptized. At that time, the diocese had 27 parishes.

    B. Diocesan and Religious Priests
    Diocesan priests: 50

    C. Deacons
    Transitional: 5 (to be ordained to priesthood)

    D. Religious Brothers, Sisters
    Religious Brothers: 7 (Myanmarese in 3 houses, diocese congregation)
    Religious Sisters: 138 (133 Myanmarese, belonging to 8 congregations and 32 convents, 5 foreigners).

    E. Lay Missionaries, Catechists
    Catechists: 738 (560 salaried, full time 499, part time 239)
    Volunteer teachers: 71

    F. Minor and Major Seminary, Houses of Formation
    Minor seminary: 42 seminarians
    Address: St. Columban (Minor Seminary) Aungnan Yeiktha, Myitkyina, Myanmar
    Pre-Major seminary: 18 seminarians
    Address: St. Patrick (Pre-Major Seminary) Sitapur, Myitkyina, Myanmar
    Major Seminarians: 18
    Houses of Formation: 2

    G. There are 27 churches / parishes in Myitkyina region

    Diocesan Activities and Organizations

    A. Major Diocesan Commissions and Organizations
  • Catholic Education Committee
  • Social Committee
  • Committee for Finance and Property
  • Men and Women committee
  • Youth committee
  • Parish Elders' Committee

  • Diocesan Offices
  • Social communications
  • Youth
  • Men & Women association
  • Finance and Property
  • Catholic Education
  • Radio Veritas
  • Basic Bible Sharing (B.B.S)

  • B. Catholic Social Welfare
  • Nurseries: 40
  • Marriage counselling and family life centers: 1
  • Boarding school: 35
  • Mission school: 12
  • Vocational Training school: 3

  • C. Social Communications
  • Jinhpaw Kasa Printing Press

  • Religious Congregations, Societies and Institutes

    A. Religious Institutes of Men
  • Little Brothers of St. Francis Xavier

  • B. Religious Institutes of Women
  • Franciscan Missionaries of Mary ~ FMA
  • Sisters of St. Francis Xavier
  • Sisters of Reparation
  • Sisters of St. Joseph's Apparition
  • Good Shepherd Sisters
  • Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette
  • Sisters of St. Paul
  • Missionaries Sisters of St. Columban ~ SSC

  • General Characteristics of the Diocese

    Myanmar (Burma) is divided into (14) states and division. The diocese of Myitkyina is composed of the Kachin State and in the north tip of Myanmar. It is bordered by India on the west and north west, China on the north and east. Myitkyina is the largest diocese of the Catholic Church in Myanmar, because it included not only the Kachin State, but also Upper Sagaing Division (Katha, Bhamank, Lashi, Khamti, Lahe and Nam-Yung townships) and northwest Shan State (Mobing township). The area of Myitkyina diocese is 78,000 square kilometers, includes the (27) parishes. There are Myitkyina, Sitapur, Waing Maw, Chipwi, Namsan Yang, Tanghpre, Sumprabum, Durip, Kachyihtu, Putao, Tanai, Shingbwi Yang, Khamti, Hpankant, Kamaing, Mohnyin, Mogaung, Banmaw, Nanhlaing, Mainghkat, Momauk, Sinlum, Pangkhak, Zaubung, Tingsing, Namlim Pa and Prang Hkudung. The greatest part of the diocese is mountainous and vast stretches are not habitable. The mountain ranges run north to south along the Chindwin and the Mali and Nmai river in the northern part and along the Ayeyawaddy river in the southern part. Some of the highest mountains of Myanmar, like the Khkaborazi at 5,888 meters can be found here. The bulk of the lowland can be found around the towns of Putao in the extreme north; Myitkyina, the capital of the Kachin State in the central part; Banmaw in the south; Mogaung and Monyin along the railway consider southwest of Myitkyina; and the Hukaung valley in the northwest.

    The total civil population of the territory is 2,000,000 + and includes mainly the Burmese, the Shans and the Kachin. Catholic number about 102,235 baptized at the end of 2004. The other Christians brethren are mainly Baptists, Anglicans, Church of Christ and the Assemblies of God.

    Rice is the staple crop in the Kachin state, as of the country. Secondary crops include corn, potato and ground nut. There is a rich variety of fruits and vegetables almost the whole year round. Citrus fruits like oranges, grape fruit, star-apple, mangoes, lychees, pineapples, jack-fruit, damson, pear, guava and papaya. Banana can be found everywhere and in all seasons.

    The forest yields, valuable wood like teak, and hardwood as well as herbs and roots, bamboo and flowers and species of insects and animals. Then there is a jade, gold, ruby and minerals. Those who inhabit the land near the rivers profit by the great variety of fish and prawns that the river streams abound with. But a wise plan for keeping ecological balance is urgently needed.

    Farming is the main work of the people. The state tries to introduce more productions farming methods, high yielding varieties of paddy and crop rotation. It opens agricultural and farming centers both to train form workers and to show to the people how farming and gardening should be done.

    The percentage of the population estimated to be literate is 85 percent in the country and 78.5 percent in the Kachin state. The laudable effort of the government to provide schooling and education for all is having a measure of success in areas where communication is open.

    There are five levels; Nursery School, elementary, middle; High School; College, University. Elementary (5 years), middle (4 years) and High School (2 years). There are (2) types of College University education. Distance University and Day University. For the Distance University the subjects are limited. For Day University the subjects are not limited. Day or Distance, depend on the High School marks.

    The Church tries to promote education in (4) ways. First, the Church opens Nursery Schools in the remote area and in the town, and every year gives training to the teachers from different parishes. There are (40) Nursery School in the diocese. Secondly the Church opens Mission schools where there are no schools. These are called State affiliated schools. Thirdly, every parish keeps hostel or boarding houses where the Church provides food and lodging and religious instruction and formation of boys and girls who otherwise would not be able to attend school. Fourthly, the Church subsidizes the education of needy students in college, University or Vocational training Schools. Young people who are no longer in schools are trained on carpentry, sewing, embroidery, weaving, knitting, decorations, gardening and farming etc. There are (3) vocational schools, about (35) boarding school for boys and girls and (12) mission school in the remote area.

    Sisters, Catechists and youth Volunteers are active in boarding school and remote communities. There are associations of men, women and youth in every parish. They are also actively involved in the parish festivities and projects. The Radio Veritas Asia has Kachin broadcast that reaches remote areas. Catholics and non-Catholics listen to it and are spiritually very much encouraged by it.

    Transportation and Communication: There is regular plane service to Myitkyina, Banmaw and Putao. It is the State priority to repair and maintain the roads connecting the main towns of the Kachin State. There is also daily train service to between Myitkyina and Mandalay. Boats can come up from Mandalay as far as Banmaw and small boats ply between Banmaw and Myitkyina during the low- water seasons. There is telecommunication between Myitkyina and some major towns in the State with the rest of the country.

    Historical Development Local ordinary: The early works in the Diocese of Myitkyina dated back to the time of the great legendary missionary Bishop, Paul Ambrose Bigandet, M.E.P., who was then the Vicar Apostolic of Ava and Pegu. Bishop Bigandet himself visited this far-flung northern territory in 1856. When Bishop C. Bourdon was consecrated Vicar Apostolic of Northern Burma in 1873, the first thing he did was to send Rev. Fr. Biet to Banmaw (Bhamo). Rev. Fr. Liyet and Rev. Fr. Lecome followed within a short space of time. The start was good but unfortunately cerebral malaria (black water fever) was rampant and for thirty years the work did not progress much. From 1873 to 1901, a total of 14 priests either died or returned wrecked in health.

    In 1903, Fr. Charles Gilhordes founded Hkudung village, 30 miles North-east of Banmaw. From here the Catholic missions among the Kachins was destined to grow. The two outstanding missionaries in this period were Fr. Gilgordes (+1945) among the Kachins and Fr. Roche (+1941) among the Shan-Chinese. But the great missionary endeavour of the early M.E.P. Fathers was hampered by malaria that infested the region.

    The arrival of the first Columban missionary priests from Ireland gave great joy to the veteran missionaries. Divine Providence was there once again to spearhead the entire work of evangelization with new vigour and fresh hopes. The first Columban Missionaries set foot in Banmaw at the end of 1936 and the number increased to 38 barely two years after the arrival of the first batch. In 1939, the Holy See formally erected the districts of Banmaw, Myitkyina and Katha into the Prefecture Apostolic of Banmaw and Rev. Fr. Patrick Usher was named the first Perfect Apostolic. The Second World War disrupted the growing mission activities of Banmaw. The dauntless and courageous Msgr. P. Usher died in 1958; consoled by the splendid recovery of the missions after the devastating war years, a good hope for the future of the Church in Banmaw-Myitkyina area. The Vicar Delegate and Pro Prefect Rev. Fr. John Howe succeeded Msgr. Usher and a magnificent church was built in Banmaw under the supervision of Rev. Fr. James Cloonan. Archbishop J.R. Knox, who was then the Apostolic Delegate for Myanmar, blessed the Church in 1960.

    In 1961, the Prefecture Apostolic was erected into the Diocese of Myitkyina and in the same year Msgr. John Howe was consecrated Bishop of Myitkyina by His Grace Archbishop J. U Win of Mandalay. On March 27, 1965, Msgr. Howe and the Church in the Prefecture had one of their greatest joys in ordaining the first Kachin Priest in the person of Paul Zinghtung Grawng. Soon after the turn of events in 1965, the Columban Fathers began to concretely prepare for handing over the care of the Diocese to the local clergy and people. They chose and trained priests, religious, catechists and the faithful for the seminary, catechist school, the liturgy and religious instruction and formation.

    On April 3, 1976, Bishop Howe, with the mandate and blessing of His Holiness Pope Paul VI, ordained Fr. Paul Zinghtung Grawng as his Auxiliary Bishop. The following year he handed over the diocese to the indigenous clergy who then numbered 10 and left for home. The rest of the Columban Fathers withdrew completely in 1979, gratefully acknowledging the merciful love of God in planting His Kingdom in the hearts of the people and entrusting it to Him who they know will bring to completion the work that they strived to do with His love.

    The Diocese of Myitkyina like any other diocese in the country did not simply enjoy a smooth-sailing ride as far as her missionary activities are concerned. Rough and tough situations often paved the way and the little band of young and energetic clergy found enough courage to blaze the trail and carry the Gospel message to remote and critical areas. Today after all those hard years of worries and anxieties, pain and toil, suffering and anguish, the Diocese has increase in the number of clergy and faithful.

    History of the Church in Brief: A Jesuit priests, in the middle of 18th century, was the first missionary to have ever passed through the Kachin State on his way to China. Then, Bishop Begandet of Missions Estrangeres de parish (MEP), residing in Yangon, made the first missionary journey to Bhamo to make survey of the Kachin State in 1856 for the future possibility of propagation of the faith. The first MEP sent to Bhamo area as residential missionary arrives there in 1872. This was the beginning of the church in the present Kachin State. Up to 1939, the first batch of Irish Columban missionaries arrived in Bhamo to take charge of area. In 1939, the Kachin State became a separate Prefecture Apostolic having Bhamo as its center.

    Though the conversion into the Catholic faith was slow during the first few decade of the missionaries' life there, the growth in the Catholic faith increased rapidly during the time of Columban missionaries as more mission centers and schools were expelled in 1966 and schools, hospitals and dispensaries were nationalized. Only a few elderly missionaries and two native priests remained in the diocese at the time. But slowly the native priests and sisters increased. Today, there are almost 50 priests and over 100 native sisters. There are also Salesians priests, Marist priests, Columban sisters, Lasalette sisters and a Maryknoll sister. The population of the Catholic is over 100,000 today.

    Burmese, Kachin, (Jinhpaw, Lhaovo, Lachit, Lisu, Rawang, Zaiwa and many dialects), Shan, Naga, Chinese, Indian, Nepali, and other tribes with their own dialects.

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