Nepal’s first Bishop, Bishop Anthony Sharma died on Tuesday, 8th December aged 77 years. He died of Brain Cancer.
He was ordained a priest by the Jesuits in Darjeeling, India, in 1968. In 1984, he was appointed Nepal’s first Jesuit superior. St John Paul II appointed him prefect of Nepal in 1996, and he was ordained a bishop in 2007. He retired in 2014.
Bishop Anthony Sharma is known in Nepal not just as the first Bishop, but for his enormous contributions to establishing peace, freedom of worship and other human right institutes and laws in Nepal:
- Bishop Sharma in 1993 got to influence the Nepal government to allow the Nepal Catholic Society to register as an officially recognised body.
- When Bishop Sharma was a Seminarian he was close to the royal family and taught former King Gyanendra and his brother, the late King Birendra Shah, at Jesuit-run St Joseph’s College in Darjeeling.
- Bishop Sharma watered secularism in Nepal which is enshrined as thus: “Secularism does not mean an end of Hinduism or any other religion, but means everyone is free to practice his or her belief in terms of equality with others.”
- He used his contacts to get the government to allow the Nepal Catholic Society to register as an officially recognised body in 1993, giving Catholics a sense of belonging to a homeland where they were once seen as pariahs, reported ucanews.com.
“Bishop Sharma worked during the royal regime and later witnessed the political upheaval when Nepal was declared a republic. He witnessed the change of Nepal from a Hindu country to a secular state,” said Fr Silas Bogati, vicar general.
He set up a school in 1990 aimed at catering for the marginalized and poor people. He also helped to the establishment of 23 other schools. That is why many regard Bishop Sharma as a “Great Educator”.
The Nepal Catholic Directory counts about 8,000 Catholics out of the 27.8million people in Nepal, mostly in the eastern region where parishes were set up in 1999.