Peoples Bishop John Mulagada (1937 2009)
St. Joseph Dental College is the result of the vision of His Excellency, Most Rev. John Mulagada, Bishop of Eluru. The Bishop of the Eluru is a man of great purpose. He has spent thirty years serving the people of West Godavari district and Konaseema of East Godavari district through many institutions in formal and informal education. He is the chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Social Service Society, which is a pioneer institution in bringing informal education (adult education) to the general masses of Andhra Pradesh. His mission is to establish the first dental college for people in this part of the state. One founded on the principles of services, education, and research. One determined to develop dental surgeons which philanthropic feeling, moral and ethical values. Innovative and visionary, the Bishop thus forged the college’s ideals of educational excellence, academic research, and service with love.
On August 16, 2009, Most Rev. John Mulagada, Bishop of Eluru, who was hailed as Peoples Bishop breathed his last. This affectionate father of millions in the diocese of Eluru and in Andhra Pradesh is mourned not only by the members of his diocese also by the people of all Christian Denominations and religious affiliations. His mortal remains will be buried in the Cathedral of Eluru, which was built by him, on Tuesday, August 18, 2009, at 10 a.m.
Bishop John Mulagada was born on Dec. 12, 1937, at Marriveedu of the Diocese of Visakhapatnam. After his elementary education in his native place, he completed high school studies at St Anthonys High School, Visakhapatnam. His priestly formation began in St Peters Minor Seminary at Cuddapah and continued in St Johns Seminary at Nellore which was moved to Hyderabad during the last few months of his theological studies. He was ordained a priest on Jan. 04, 1965 by Bishop Joseph Baud of Visakhapatnam. He was one of the first native priests of the diocese of Visakhapatnam.
As a priest, he served in many parishes in Srikakulam district for short periods before being appointed parish priest of Paikaraopeta in 1971 where he ministered for six years. Through prayer, he constantly sought the will of God and following his Master Jesus Christ strived hard to establish the Kingdom of God. God willed that this simple, loving and committed priest be entrusted with a care of a bigger flock. Though he was nominated Bishop of the newly erected diocese of Eluru on Dec. 9, 1976, Vatican made the news public only on Feb. 26, 1977. The delay was necessitated probably due to the internal situation of emergency in the country at that time. He was ordained a bishop on May 5, 2009, at Visakhapatnam and took charge of the diocese of Eluru on May 8, 1977 at the age of 40. Possibly Bishop John Mulagada is the first Catholic Bishop hailing from the Dalit community in the whole country.
The diocese of Eluru, which was bifurcated from the Diocese of Vijayawada, consists of the entire revenue district of West Godavari and the island of Konaseema in East Godavari district. The paternal tireless labor of Bishop John in the pastoral field, lasting over three decades, yielded a rich harvest. The strength of the faithful multiplied from about 76, 000 to 2, 85,000, and the number of diocesan clergy from 26 to over 100. Bishop John, a passionate and compassionate leader, entrusted many parishes and areas to the religious for their integral development. Now there are more than 20 men religious congregations and 40 women religious congregations engaged in the apostolate in the diocese. At the time of his taking over, there only 12 religious priests, of whom 10 were PIME, presently there are close to 80 religious priests minister in the diocese. Similarly, the number of women religious rose from 140 to over 540.
The fruits of the careful tending of the vineyard by Bishop John are the 100 parishes of which 10 of them are pilgrimage centers with shrines frequented by people of all religions. People in the area, irrespective of caste and creed are served by over 10 colleges, 200 schools, 70 orphanages, and about 40 hospitals and homes for the disabled facilitated by Bishop John, a devoted shepherd after His own heart.
Peoples Bishop showed much interest and took great pains to liberate the marginalized from their bondages. Through the Andhra Pradesh Social Service Society (APSSS) of which he was Chairman for over two decades, he promoted social awareness and literacy. Lakhs of poor people, especially the women, were challenged to organize themselves into self-help groups, take up saving schemes and self-employment projects. They were given the training to be their own leaders which resulted in many of them getting elected as sarpanches and peoples representatives of local civic bodies. Massive house construction projects were taken up by the Eluru Diocesan Social Service Center, which was founded by the kind-hearted Bishop, as the coastal area of the diocese is prone to natural calamities like cyclone and storm.
The poor people of the area, the faithful of the diocese, the priests and the religious feel that they are orphaned at the demise of their affectionate Father. However, they are sure they have gained a strong advocate who would continue to pray for them and support them. His venerable memory will be a constant source of strength and encouragement to carry forward his vision and works for the spread of Divine region.