Holy Father Pope Francis on April 11, 2016, erected a new diocese in Odisha, eastern India, and appointed a Vincentian, Rev. Fr. Aplinar Senapati C.M as its first bishop. Rayagada was carved out from Berhampur diocese in western Odisha. It is the 171st Catholic diocese in India and sixth in Odisha, under Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese. The diocese covers 39,368 sq km. It has a population of 5,407,894, mostly Hindus. The diocese has 50,542 Catholics with 23 parishes and 377 missions. There are 30 diocesan priests, 12 religious priests, 104 women religious and 270 catechists working in the diocese. The diocese has 8 men and 25 women religious congregations. The languages spoken in the area are Odia, Telugu, Hindi, English, Saura and Kui. At the time of appointment, the bishop-elect was serving as the parish priest in a mission at Derapather, in Guwahati diocese, North East of India.
Msgr. Aplinar Senapati was born on October 28, 1960 at Dantolingi, in Odisha to Narcis Senapati and Rosemary. He has three brothers and two sisters. One sister is a Daughter of Charity. He joined the Congregation of Mission in 1984 and was ordained a priest on November 28, 1990. He holds Masters Degrees in Economics and Philosophy and a diploma in psychology and religious formation.
He served the Church in Odisha in the Congregation of the Mission as the Vocation Promoter, Assistant director of Retreat centre, Director of Marian Youth, Formator, Director of Internal Seminary, Parish priest, Assistant Parish Priest and Director of School. He also served as the secretary of the Orissa Catholic Bishops’ Council. He translated Gospel of St John, St John’s letters and the Book of Revelation into Odia, the language of Odisha. We congratulate Bishop Aplinar Senapati and wish him everything best for his new ministry.