Bangalore 19 December 2015: His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Fr. Joseph Raja Rao Thelagathoti (63), the Bangalore Provincial Superior of the Montfort Missionaries (SMM), is the new bishop of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. This provision was made public in Rome on Saturday19 December 2015, at noon local time, corresponding to 16:30 hours, Indian Standard Time. The seat of the Vijayawada Diocese has been vacant since 2012 after Pope Benedict transferred Bishop Prakash Mallavarapu to the Archdiocese of Visakhapatnam.
Rev. Dr. Joseph Raja Rao Thelegathoti, S.M.M. was born on 8 March 1952 Peddautapally, in the diocese of Vijayawada. After his graduation in Loyola College, Vijayawada he joined the Society of Montfort Missionaries and continued his seminary studies at St. Ambrose Seminary. As a Montfort novice he studied philosophy at St. Peter’s Papal Seminary di Bangalore, and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Later, he obtained a licentiate in Biblical Theology from Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore and a doctorate in Spiritual Theology from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. After taking his final vows as member of the Montfort Missionaries on 13 January 980, he was ordained a priest on 7 June 1980.
After his ordination he held several posts, among them the rectorships of the Montfort minor seminary and the Montfort Theologate in Bangalore. He was Provincial of Montfort Fathers from 1993 to1997. Vice President of the Conference of Religious of India (CRI) from 1997 to 2004. He was former General Secretary, General Procurator and Postulator of the Society of in Rome