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An American Bishop who was Elected an Indian Municipal Commissioner

September 10, 2012  by: Paulose  Points: 20   Category: Social    Views: 855

He was born in America. He went to serve in India. He loved the Indian people so much that they called him affectionately, “Father”. He shared his smile with everyone. That printed his picture in every heart that people call him, “The Smiling Bishop”. He is Bishop Morrow who passed away 25 years ago, leaving behind the indelible memories of services in India.


Early this week, on 3rd September, an indigenous Catholic congregation in West Bengal observed the 25th death anniversary of their founder, an American bishop who founded their congregation.

Louis LaRavoire Morrow was born on the eve of 1892 Christmas in Texas, America, in a devoted French Catholic family. He aspired for priesthood, joined the Salesian congregation, became a priest in 1921 and served in Philippines for a few years. While he was there he was appointed as the Bishop of Krishnagar, West Bengal, in India.

Bishop-elect Morrow flew to Calcutta on 5 September, 1939. When he was ordained as the Bishop by His Holiness Pope Pius XII on 29 October 1939, the advice given to him by the Pope was, “Love your people, my son”. And Bishop Morrow fulfilled this mandate verbatim in his diocese Krishnagar and in all the places he served till he breathed his last in 1987.

A dedicated missionary

Bishop Morrow came to India as a missionary to share the message of love. He dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the service of the people. He learnt Bengali and mingled with people in every way. People loved his talk and speeches in Bengali and appreciated his efforts.His ever-shining smile adorned his service. It was quite fitting that he was affectionately called by the Indian People “The Smiling Bishop”.

A missionary congregation just like Mother Teresa’s

Bishop Morrow founded the congregation of the Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians in 1948, even before mother Teresa started her congregation “Missionaries of Charity” in 1950. These sisters wore saree reached out to all people, especially women in their homes. They were travelling in their cycles and were popularly called “Cycle sisters” and “Smiling sisters”. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was his great friend and supporter.

A loving Father of Bengal who was elected as the Commissioner of Municipality

His service in Bengal was really great during the three crises that shook Bengal, the disastrous famine, the despairing results of World War II and the tragic partition of India is marvellous. He acted courageously and timely during these turbulent periods in Indian history. Whenever natural calamities of floods and droughts devastated Bengal, Bishop Morrow was there with the people, helping and consoling them.

Bishop Morrow’s work for the welfare of all and his service to the people of Krishnagar was duly recognized by them when they forced him to be their first leader in the Republic India. Apart from the norms of the Indian government and the Church he was exceptionally elected as member of the executive committee of the Krishnagar Municipality in 1953 and they re-elected him twice.

Mr. Nandalal Bhattacharji, a past President of the Pleaders’ Bar Association, Krishnagar, said, “Although an American citizen, Bishop Morrow, at the insistence of voters, had to stand in the municipal election, and was returned as a Commissioner of Krishnagar Municipality, securing 82% of the votes, showing clearly his great popularity”. Yes, Bishop Morrow’s service to India was irrespective of religion, caste or creed.

He came, he loved and he won

Bishop Morrow came to India to share the love of God and he shared it with all people with whom he lived. What Collier’s Magazine wrote early in 1957, “Bishop Morrow is a towering figure in India, a missionary who has breathed new life and hope into a blighted area,” is absolutely correct.

Author: Xavier        
Posted Date: 09/21/2012    Points:2    

Dear Paulose,

I was very happy to read your article on the revered Bishop Morrow. I had heard about him from my friends who studied with me but it was the first time I read an article about him. Thanks. Well written. Keep it up.


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