The first Catholics to come to Khandwa were those who worked in Railways and British administration. The history of the advent of Church in Nimar region began with the coming of the missionaries of St. Francis De Sales (MSFS) to Asirgarh Fort. To take care of the needs of the faithful Rev. Fr. Amadeys Delalex, one of the French MSFS stationed at Jabalpur, then under the jurisdiction of Vishagapatanam, used to visit Khandwa since 1866. Rev. Fr. Amedeys Delalex who, as a military chaplain of Jabalpur, visited periodically the Asirgarh Fort, which was not very far from Khandwa. In 1870, Rev. Fr. J. Thevenet MSFS built a small chapel at Khandwa, later in 1879 a Church in gothic style was built. Bishop Tissot of Vishagapatanam in the presence of Dr. Meurin, Vicar Apostolic of Bombay, solemnly blessed it. Rev. Fr. Adolphe Souchon MSFS was appointed the first resident parish priest of Khandwa from 1880 to 1888. He had to minister to the whole Railway line from Bhusaval to Jabalpur that included Christians in Burhanpur, Asirgarh Fort, Khandwa, Harda, Itarsi, Hoshangabad, Narsighpur, Pachmarhi and Betul. His letter (July 16,1880) to the Secretary District Funds committee requesting the Government to grant the piece of land intended for the priests’ residence and school-house that brought stability and new life to Khandwa parish.
Education apostolate in Khandwa began way back in 1892 with the arrival of the sisters of St.Joseph of Chambery from Kamptee who started the first school in Khandwa Railways staff quarters taken on rent with an agreement signed by Bishop of Nagpur Rt. Rev. Charles-Félix Pelvat MSFS and Central India Railway Executive Engineer. Later, the convent and school were built in the parish compound. Missionary activities with the non-Christians in Khandwa area started with the arrival of Franciscan Missionary Brothers (CMSF) in December 1901. The first among them was Brother Paulus Moritz CMSF. On 15th January 1902, the first village school was opened at Roshnai by Franciscan Brothers fol-lowed by another in Aulia. In 1904, Fr. J. Andrews MSFS started R. C Mission School in Khandwa that is today known as St. Thomas Higher Secondary School. In 1912, Rev. Fr. Fidelis MSFS laid the foundation stone for church at Sirpur.
Fr. Daviet MSFS built a chapel and bungalow at Pandhana in 1913. Thus Khandwa slowly emerged as a centre of intense missionary activities under the missionaries of St. Francis De Sales (MSFS) and Franciscan broth-ers (CMSF). During the First World War German Brothers were sent to internment camps by the British and the missionary activi-ties suffered a setback. In 1928 the mission was brought under the prefecture of Jabalpur. The MSFS fathers left the mission after 68 years of proclamation and service.
The revival of missionary activities in the post war phase began with the pastoral activities by Capuchin fathers from Ajmer in the princely state of Barwani where Goan Catholics were the courtiers, musicians and cooks. Fr. Charles OFM Cap was the first resident priest who reached Barwani in July 1922 and started visiting Chiklya and many other villages around Barwani. Thus began the second phase of the missionary activity in Nimar region.
In 1934, the mission was handed over to the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Rev. Fr. Valentin Zimmerman SVD was appointed to take charge of the Barwani mission in 1934. However, he did not stay there for long. In January 1936, Rev. Fr. William Wuellner took charge of Barwani and spent practically his whole life in this region at the service of Barela community. The first hostel in the Nimar mission was established in Barwani for adivasi tribal chil-dren in 1943. The SVD missionaries also turned their attention to Balahis and Korkus of Khandwa region. Rev. Fr. Jacob Lercher SVD was the pioneer who used to visit Korku settlements in deep jungles. Rev. Fr. William Knopp SVD who worked among the Balahis gained gradual entry into Korkus settlement at Dongalia. Mean-while, missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) ar-rived in Khandwa and began an orphanage for girls in the year 1940. But with the death of Rev. Fr. William Knopp in 1944, mis-sionary activity in this area suffered a setback.
In 1952, Indore diocese was established. Rt. Rev. Francis Simons SVD, the first bishop of Indore Diocese gave utmost priority to East and West Nimar Mission. During his tenure, new stations like Nepanagar (1957) were opened and new educational institutions were started. This time was marked by the entry of many women religious congregation like CMC sisters at Burhanpur (1965), SSpS at Aulia (1963), Lay Missionaries at Barwani (1952), Augustinian Sisters at Sendhwa (1972)
The year 1977 is a landmark in the history of Catholic Church in Nimar region. Nearly a century after Khandwa was given the sta-tus of an independent parish, the whole Nimar region was raised to the status of a full-fledged Diocese. The Diocese of Khandwa came into existence formally on 3rd February 1977, by the Papal Apostolic Bull of Pope Paul VI. It comprises four civil districts namely Khandwa, Burhanpur, Khargone and Barwani. The dio-cese covers an area of 24,000 square kilometers and shares its boundaries with Indore, Nashik, Amaravati, Nagpur and Bhopal dioceses.