Archbishop Leo Cornelio SVD was born on March 14, 1945 in Kukkunje, near the coastal city of Udupi in Karnataka to Late Mr. Valerian Cornelio and Mrs. Rose Cornelio.
After completing his primary schooling in his native place, at the early age of thirteen he was recruited by a well known SVD German missionary, Fr. Peter Verhalen, and was admitted to
Rajeshwar Vidhyalaya, Mhow in Madhya Pradesh. There he continued his studies from 1958 to1962. These four years of studies in Hindi medium, helped him to be conversant in the national language.
After completing two years in the juniorate of the Divine Word Society in Mhow where he studied Latin and other disciplines meant to integrate his life with spiritual and intellectual training, he joined the novitiate (1964-66) for spiritual and religious formation. After his first profession, he graduated in Philosophy and in Theology at the Papal Athenaeum, Pune in the year 1968 and 1972 respectively. After his philosophical studies, he was assigned to an Institute in Goa for an intensive year of training exposure. During this time, he helped in the construction of the SVD seminary and taught the students English and Mathematics.
Having made the Religious Profession on 11th June, he was ordained a priest in his native parish at Mount Rosary Church, Kallianpur on 14th November,1972 by the then Bishop of Mangalore, Bishop Basil S. D'Souza. Soon after his ordination, he joined Gyan Ashram, Mumbai to assist Fr. George Proksch SVD, a German missionary who made significant contribution to music, dance and Hindi writings. Later, he was assigned in Dahod, in Baroda Diocese where he worked for eleven years, first as teacher, then as the Vice Principal of St. Stephen's Higher Secondary School, and as assistant parish priest of St. Joseph's Parish. During this time, he actively involved himself in teaching, pastoral work, and youth activities.
While in Dahod, he obtained Master's degree in English literature from the State University and took up specialized studies in the field of Education. After that he was appointed the Principal and Parish Priest in Dahod, where with his active involvement and polite behaviour, he endeared himself to the students and the public alike. In Dahod, to provide jobs to the unemployed youth, he also set up a technical school with five departments.
In June 1983 he travelled to Rome for a spiritual and theological course. On his return to India in 1984, he was elected as Provincial Superior of the SVD Central Indian province with its headquarters in Indore. Three years later, in 1987, he was re-elected to the same position. In June 1988, at the SVD General Chapter held in Rome, he was elected a General Councillor.
He served for two terms of six years each in that position.
As a General Councillor, he has travelled far and wide in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Caribbean Islands, South America, Africa, Asia as well as Europe, and has participated in many international meetings and conferences.
Besides being well acquainted with several Indian languages and English he is also proficient in Italian, Spanish, French, German and Indonesian. Almost towards the fag end of his second term as General Councillor, Pope John Paul II appointed him as Bishop of Khandwa Diocese. As a dedicated shepherd, he promoted spiritual renewal in the diocese as well as the educational and social development apostolate to a great extent.
In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II appointed him as a member of Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People; and in 2006 he was reappointed by Pope Benedict XVI for a second term for the same. He was also the chairman of the CBCI Commission for Youth and Chairperson of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM) as well as of YCS/YSM, both at the
national and Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh level. Besides, he was a member of the CBCI Commission for Social Communications and also the financial administrator for the Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh Regional Major Seminaries at Bhopal and Ashta.
On 10 Dec., 2015 on International Human Rights Day he has been bestowed with the award with the title - Ambassador of Peace, in New Delhi by the council of Justice, Peace, Solidarity and harmony.
Born: 14 March 1945
Ordained Priest: 14 Nov. 1972
Bishop of Khandwa: 08 Sept. 1999
Archbishop of Bhopal: 16 Sept. 2007 - 4 Oct. 2021
Most reverend Pascal Topno, S.J., Archbishop Emeritus, Bhopal; was born in a village called Koneloea, Jharkhand, on 15.06.1932. His parents were devout Catholics. Evening prayer in the family was a must.
Later on he joined the Society of Jesus on 20.06.1953 and was sent to Sitagarh for his Novitiate. All novices there were encouraged to read spiritual books, especially the lives of Saints. He found there "The song of Bernadette" written by a Jewish writer, Franz Werfel, so interesting that he read it three times. He was sent to Belgium for his theological studies and was ordained there a Jesuit priest on 30.07.1965. After his Tertianship he was sent to Loyola School, Kunkuri, as a Teacher, Rector and for some years as a Principal. They were his happiest days! He came to Ranchi from Kunkuri as Provincial of the Ranchi Province.
When Bishop of Ambikapur Philip Ekka, S.J. was transferred to Raipur, he was appointed Bishop of Ambikapur on 18.01.1986 till 15.06.1994. He enjoyed his Episcopal ministry because the people in the Diocese were so wonderful!
He was promoted as the new Archbishop of Bhopal on 20th May 1994 and he was installed on July 17, 1994. Under his paternal guidance the Archdiocese grew to new heights with 53 Diocesan priests and 40 Parishes and Mission Stations. As a man of spiritual depth and simplicity Archbishop Pascal added many a successful chapter to the history of the Archdiocese.
Most Rev. Pascal Topno SJ after pasturing the Archdiocese for about 13 years relinquished the office on 15th June, 2007 on his 76th Birthday.
After the retirement, he preferred to come to Khrist Milan Ashram, Namnakala, Ambikapur; in June 2013 where his mission is to pray for the Church and to take rest.
13th September, 1963 His Holiness Pope Paul VI created the Archdiocese of Bhopal with a few civil districts that belonged to the Dioceses of Ajmer, Indore and Jabalpur. Most Rev. Dr. Eugene D'Souza was transferred from Nagpur to Bhopal to be its first Archbishop.
After steering the life of the Church in Madhya Pradesh for 30 years through the Archdiocese of Bhopal, Archbishop Eugene laid down his office and handed over to Bishop Pascal Topno S.J., of Ambikapur, who was promoted as Archbishop of Bhopal on 20th May 1994.
Born:15 Nov 1917
Ordained Priest: 29 Sep 1994
Bishop of Nagpur: 03 Oct 1951
Archbishop of Nagpur: 25 Sept 1953
Archbishop of Bhopal: 13 Mar 1963
Retired: 20 May 1994
Eternal Rest: 18 Mar 2003