Servant of God Theotonius Ganguly

Servant of God Ganguly

Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly was born in Hashnabad, which is in present-day Bangladesh, on Feb. 18, 1920, the feast day of his patron saint, St. Theotonius. His family added the Bengali name Amal, which means “spotless” or “innocent.”

After being educated by the Brothers of Holy Cross at Holy Cross High School in Bandura, Theotonius attended St. Albert’s Seminary in Ranchi, Bihard, India. He was ordained a diocesan priest in the Dhaka Archdiocese on June 6, 1946.

In 1947, Ganguly went to the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, in the United States to earn a master’s degree and doctorate. He graduated with his Doctorate in Philosophy in 1951, making him the first Bengali Christian to receive a doctorate. It was the first of several firsts Ganguly's life would mark for the Catholic community in Bangladesh.

While at Notre Dame, he came to know Holy Cross more closely and decided to enter the Congregation. He attended the Novitiate in Jordan, Minnesota, and professed First Vows on August 16, 1952.

Upon returning to homeland, Ganguly began teaching at Notre Dame College, a well-respected college run by the Congregation in Dhaka. He was made the school’s Dean of Studies in 1954 and Assistant Principal in 1958. In between, Ganguly made his Final Vows in 1955.

See a timeline of major events in Archbishop Ganguly's life

Upon the death of Rev. James I. Martin, C.S.C., on March 21, 1960, Ganguly was appointed Principal at Notre Dame College. He was the first Bengali appointed to that position. That appointment, however, did not last long as on September 3 of the same year, Pope John XXIII nominated Fr. Ganguly as Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Lawrence L. Graner in the Archdiocese of Dhaka. Ganguly was ordained a bishop on October 7, 1960, becoming the first Bengali bishop in history. He immediately began work as Archbishop Graner’s auxiliary.

Servant of God Ganguly at a Celebration

Ganguly’s work as Auxiliary Bishop included serving as Pastor of a parish and working as Archdiocesan Treasurer. On July 6, 1965, he was appointed Graner’s co-adjutor, and when the archbishop retired November 23, 1967, Ganguly became the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Dhaka.

In his leadership at both Notre Dame College and in the Archdiocese, Ganguly was known for the way he respected the dignity of every person. He had  a truly religious spirit and a gentlemanly character. His gentle, yet strong persona helped him shepherd the Archdiocese through the trying time of the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

A heart attack caused his suddent death on Sept. 2, 1977.

Archbishop Ganguly’s Cause for Sainthood was opened by the Archdiocese of Dhaka in September 2006, thereby declaring Ganguly a Servant of God. Archbishop Paulinus Costa of Dhaka serves as the Postulator of his cause and will oversee a reconstruction of Ganguly's life on the basis of eyewitnesses and documents to arrive at a judgment on his holiness.

Explore the history and current work of Holy Cross in Bangladesh