In 1690 Charnock founded Calcutta. Portuguese from Hugli settled in the new town. What appears below is not purported to be a balanced history of the church in Calcutta generally.
They built a small church there that was served by Augustinian priests.
In 1799 this small building was replaced by the beautiful church dedicated to Our Blessed Lady of the Rosary, which is used today as the main Catholic church (cathedral) in Calcutta.
The Catholic Encyclopedia (1910 edition) bluntly stated what follows hereunder:
"The issues and problems raised give an indication of some of the many and varied difficulties faced in a foreign mission.
The problems with communication and effective administration were an additional burden to more fundamental weaknesses."
The Catholic Encyclopedia also states, "The Augustinians of Bengal have been severely criticized by Protestant travellers, and, it must be granted, not without foundation.
It can cause no surprise if in some cases the conduct of poorly trained priests who were sent into the country, far from any spiritual help or control, should not always have been exemplary.
Besides, they were living in the middle of pagan, Mohammedan, and Christian corruption. The defect lay in the way they were recruited.
The Augustinians of Goa refused all candidates of native or mixed origin, and were therefore compelled to accept all European candidates, however unfit.
As the supply was not equal to the demand, the training was necessarily short.
Even so, Catholic communities had to remain without a priest for many years. The Augustinian superiors of Lisbon did not approve of such a policy.
They pointed out that it was much better to select the best of the native candidates than to accept indiscriminately the young men seeking adventure or refuge, whose families had sent to India to get rid of them.
These superiors and the King of Portugal himself, in virtue of his right of patronage, threatened more than once to recall the Augustinians from Bengal.
At the end of the eighteenth century there were Augustinians in Calcutta and Bandel only. Elsewhere the Catholics were attended by clerics from Goa.
The condition of the 25,000 Catholics then living in the eleven parishes of Bengal may he summed up in two words: ignorance and corruption."