BISHOP DOMENICO GRASSI (1933 - 1951)
The first Bishop of Vijayawada was born on August 08, 1887, in Milan, Italy. He joined the PIME and at the age of 24. By the Decree of Propaganda Fide, dated November 11, 1933, he was appointed “Ecclesiastical Superior” of the new erected Missio Sui Juris of Bezwada. When the independent mission became a Diocese on 13th April, 1937, he continued his work as Apostolic Administrator till he was nominated as the first Bishop of Vijayawada on December 03, 1938. He we consecrated in Milan on May 01, 1939. Msgr. Grassi was known as the “Gentlemen Bishop”. His innate sense of self control prudence and kindness made him almost an exception among his confreres. A man of apostolic zeal, he organized are intensified the conversion movement in the Diocese. During his episcopate the number of Catholics almost tripled.
Msgr. Grassi died on May 09, 1951 in the PIME Moth House in Milan, Italy. His mortal remains are laid to rest in Lecco.
BISHOP AMBROSE DE BATTIST (1951-1971)
BISHOP AMBROSE DE BATTISTA was born on 22 May, 1905 at Mandello, Como, Italy. The eldest of eight children, he entered his diocesan seminary at the age of 12. He joined the PIME after three years of ministry in his diocese of Como. He arrived in India on April 24, 1932. He worked as zealous missionary in Munugodu (Nalgonda Diocese), Nandigama, 21 Eluru, Chinthalapudi and Gunadala. He was 46 years old when he was nominated as the second Bishop of Vijayawada on December 13, 1951. A priest since 23 years and Vicar General of his Congregation for four years, he was consecrated in his home village on March 19, 1952 and was solemnly welcomed into the diocese on August 14, 1952.
Bishop Battista was called "The Builder of Vijayawada Diocese". In his twenty years of episcopate he founded several institutions. Some of the outstanding institutions are:The Andhra Loyola College and Maris Stella College at Vijayawada; St. Theresa's college, St. Xavier Institutions and Damian Leprosy Centre at Eluru, Hospitals at Gudivada, Bhimavaram, Bhimadole, Fatimapuram, Jangareddygudem, Jaggayyapeta, Kondapalli, Tiruvuru, Amalapuram, Mogalturu, Kalidindi Etc., and the innumerable Churches and Chapels throughout Krishna, East and West Godavari Districts.
Bishop Battista died on December 15, 1971 and his mortal remains were laid to rest at Gunadala.
BISHOP JOSEPH THUMMA (1970 - 1997)
BISHOP JOSEPH THUMMA was born in Thatchoor Village of Tamilandu State on December 19, 1918. He had his primary education in his village and college education at Pondicherry. Later he joined St. Agnes Minor Seminary at Cuddalore for the Latin Course. In 1946 he was sent to the Pontifical Athenaeum Urbanianum de Propaganda Fide, Rome for the ecclesiastical studies and was ordained a priest on December 21, 1952. As principal of a school, rector of the seminary and vicar general of the diocese of Pondicherry he rendered yeoman service. He was elected as the Coadjutor Bishop of Vijayawada on January 02, 1970 and was consecrated Bishop on May 07, 1970. He took charge of the Diocese, as successor of Bishop Ambrose De Battista, on January 31, 1971.
His 27 years of Episcopate is memorable in the annals of the Diocese. He has led and fed the diocese with his graciousness, kindness and patience in order to shape the diocese in the present state. The number of educational institutions, starting from primary schools to the University Colleges, are his remarkable contribution in the field of education. At the regional level he was Chairman of Jyothirmai, Education and SC, ST, BC Commissions. At the national level he was the Secretary General of the CBCI for two terms and at the International level he as a delegate to the Synod at Rome. Bishop Joseph Thumma's Episcopate is called "The Golden Age" of the Diocese.
He retired from his episcopate on December 18, 1996 at the age of 79. He died on August 18, 1997 of cardiac arrest and his mortal remains were laid to rest at Gunadala cemetery on August 20, 1997.
BISHOP JOHN MULAGADA (THE NEW ERA)
The election of Bishop John Mulagada marks the beginning of the new era of the diocese of Eluru.
Bishop John Mulagada was born on 12 December, 1937, at Marriveedu of the Diocese of Visakhapatnam. He was ordained a priest of the diocese of Visakhapatnam on 4 January 1965 by Bishop Joseph Baud of Visakhapatnam. A man of prayer and deep spirituality, he had no inhibitions to accept the short appointments as the will of God.
He was a great pastor from the very beginnings of his priestly ministry. He was simple young priest, loving and affectionate. He was nominated Bishop of the new Diocese of Eluru on 9 December 1976, the good news was made public in Vatican on 26 February, 1977. He was Consecrated Bishop on 5 May 1977 at Gananapuram (Visakhapatnam) and he took possession of the diocese of Eluru on 8 May 1977.