1. Introduction: The Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal established in 1834 and included besides the Bengal Region, formally called the Bijhan Region, North East Region, which included some parts of Orissa Region of India and the whole of Bangladesh. As and when the need arose this great Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal was divided and sub-divided, because of the vastness of geographical area, resulting in smaller Dioceses and Archdioceses. Thus the Archdiocese of Calcutta was born on 25th January 1887. The Episcopal heads of these Dioceses under the able leadership of the Metropolitan, regularly gathered together to deliberate on the nature and ecclesiastical development of the region, paving the way and setting precedent for a formal and juridical grouping of Dioceses.
2. Overview and brief history: After the Vatican Council II change took place in the life and ministry of the Universal Church, so also in the Church in Bengal. That fruitful necessitated developing much needed infrastructures, such as Regional Episcopal Councils/Conferences etc. Implementing the tenets of Christus Dominus, the Bishops of Bengal Region formed a conference of their own which enjoyed juridical status. They met from time to time at regular intervals and such meetings acquired a much more formal status after the promulgation of the Latin Code of Canon Law in 1983.
A systematic gathering of the bishops of this Region was put in place from 1984. Since then it has grown and developed from strength to strength, besides being christened during its growth, with different names, initially as “The West Bengal Regional Council of Bishops” and later as“The Regional Council of Bishops of West Bengal.” Today it is formally and officially known as “The Bengal Regional Bishops’ Council” and has worthy recognition in the local Church and in the civil society after the promulgation of its statutes on 1st January 2012 which came into effect on the same day.
3. Functions of BRBC and Regional Commissions: The following are the formally approved regional commissions, committees and bodies some of which function from the secretariat:
3.1. Commissions: 1) Bible, 2) Catechetics, 3) Liturgy, 4) Proclamation & Evangelization, 5) Family, 6) Laity, 7) Seminaries, Clergy & Religious, 8) Ecumenism & Dialogue, 9) Education, 10) Health Care 11) Labour, 12) SC/ST/ OBC & Minorities, 13) Justice, Peace & Development, 14) Communication & Media, 15) Youth, 16) Women, 17) Public Relation, 18) Doctrine & Theology and 19) Canon Law & Legislative Texts.
3.2. Committees: 1) Basic/Small Christian Communities, 2) Conference of Diocesan Priests of Bengal, 3) Catholic Council of India and 4) Prison Ministry
3.3. Bodies: 1) Morning Star Regional Seminary & College, 2) Regional Propaedeutic Seminary and 3) All Bengal Collaborators for Development (ABCD)
5. The Various Pastoral Activities of BRBC:
6. Organizational Structure of BRBC: The Bengal Regional Bishops’ Council consists of the bishops of the eight ecclesiastical provinces in West Bengal and Sikkim. The Archdiocese of Calcutta is the Metropolitan Archdiocese having seven suffragan dioceses. They are Asansol, Bagdogra, Baruipur, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Krishnanagar and Raiganj. The Catholic population in this region is approximately 7.5 lakhs. The people of this region mostly communicate in English, Bengali, Hindi, Santali, Nepali, Sadri, Oraon, Khadia, Munda, Tamil and Malayalam.
7. Members of BRBC: The Member Bishops of BRBC are:
8. Present Office Bearers of BRBC:
The Chairman: Rt. Rev. Salvadore Lobo, the Bishop of Baruipur
The Secretary: Rt. Rev. Vincent Aind, the Bishop of Bagdogra
The Deputy Secretary: Fr. Robert Johnson, Archdiocese of Calcutta