Centenary Jubilee of Canonry of Jamtara/St. Norbert Abbey Jamtara (1923 to 2023)

Dear Abbot General Jos Wouters, O. Praem and Definitors,

Prayerful greetings from St. Norbert Abbey Jamtara, Jabalpur, India!

I wish to inform you that Canonry of Jamtara will be starting its Centenary Jubilee year from 28th October 2022. 100 years of Norbertine Fathers’ presence in India will be completed in 2023. In view of this I wish to share with a brief history of Norbertine Fathers’ presence in India.


The first three Norbertines arrived on Indian soil in 1923 as Missionaries from the Abbey of Berne, The Netherlands. Their field of ministry was located in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. In 1929 they took up Jabalpur region (Madhya Pradesh) for their apostolate. They concentrated mainly on the development of the people of Mandla District (M.P) through parochial, educational and health care activities. In 1932 Jabalpur was constituted as a Prefecture Apostolic and Rt. Rev. Msgr. Conrad Dubbleman, O.Praem was appointed as the first Prefect Apostolic. On July 5, 1954, Jabalpur was raised to the status of a Diocese and Msgr. Conrad Dubbleman, O.Praem became the first Bishop. 

St. Norbert Priory, the first house of the Norbertine Order in India, was started at Jamtara, in the suburbs of Jabalpur Town, Madhya Pradesh. The Novitiate was established at Jamtara, Jabalpur in 1962. Fr. Rudolphus Frans Rooijmans, O.Praem was the first Novice Master with three novices. Striving to establish the Kingdom of God, the Canonry of Jamtara had one of slow and steady growth. From a small tree, the Canonry of Jamtara has grown into a sturdy tree giving shelter and shade to many. St. Norbert Priory, Sub-Canonry of Jamtara was elevated to an autonomous Canonry status on February 15, 1984.  October 7, 2000 was once again a red-letter day for the Norbertine Canonry in India. On this day, St. Norbert Priory was elevated to the status of “St. Norbert Abbey”. We very fondly remember 50 of those Dutch Missionaries came and sown the seed of Christ message in the Indian soil. They worked in the remotest area of Mandla District in the Diocese of Jabalpur. It is their tireless work, sweat and unfathomable commitment which gave growth to the present Canonry of Jamtara. Today we remember and salute their dedicated service. 

Rt. Rev. Nicholas Ambrose, O.Praem became the first Abbot and received his abbatial blessing on November 13, 2000. Rt. Rev. Rocky D’Souza, O.Praem was elected as the second Abbot of St. Norbert Abbey on August 1, 2003 and he received his abbatial blessing on September 17, 2003. Rt. Rev. Abbot Benzes Thomas, O.Praem was elected as the third Abbot on July 23, 2009 and he received his abbatial blessing on September 30, 2009. Rt. Rev. Abbot Marcus Champia, O. Praem was elected as the fourth Abbot on March 1, 2015 and received his abbatial blessing on April 30, 2015 and   now he leads the Canonry to become a vibrant witnessing community. 


To experience communion with God, fellow brothers and sisters, universe and oneself in its fullness, as lived by Jesus Christ, inspired by St. Norbert and St. Augustine, and to share that experience with every one through our life and mission.


To emphasize and establish communion in all aspects of our life. To enhance our present apostolate with both spiritual and professional means and take up new missions wherever needed reading the signs of the times. To commit ourselves to a preferential option for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized and foster love, freedom, justice, unity and peace. To join hands with all people of good will to work for human dignity and rights, to preserve and enhance cultural identity and values and the sanctity of creation.

The Canonry of Jamtara Today:

Today the Canonry of Jamtara renders its service in different fields like, pastoral, educational, technical training, communication, social work, village development, empowerment of the poor and the marginalized. Today the membership stands at 106 solemn professed confreres working in 9 states and 17 dioceses across India and abroad. It has 4 flourishing Dependent Priories in Mumbai, Trichy, Kollam and Varanasi and 1mission foundation in Hansa, Khunti, Jharkhand. Kollam Dependent Priory was raised to the status of Quasi Canonry in the year 2014. Confreres of Kollam Quasi Canonry are aspiring to move towards autonomous Canonry. We hope that this dream will be fulfilled in future. 

Marcus Champia, O. Praem