Commission for Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants

Commission for Migrants

The Major Archiepiscopal Commission for

Evangelization the Pastoral Care of the Migrants

The Major Archiepiscopal Commission for Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants is constituted to assist the Major Archbishop of the Church in carrying out his responsibilities towards the Syro-Malabar migrant faithful out side the proper territory of the Syro Malabar Church (in India and aboard) and to animate and co-ordinate the evangelizing mission of the Church.

History

The Catholic Church is a communion of twenty three sui iuris Churches with different liturgy, theology, spirituality and administrative system. The Syro- Malabar Church is the second largest in number among twenty two Eastern Churches with a total population of 3.8 million faithful. It is a Major Archiepiscopal sui iuris Church with a Synodal structure. The Synod is the supreme legislative and judicial authority in the Church. The Major Archbishop is the father and head of this Church (CCEO, 55). As the father and head of the Church, the Major Archbishop must be solicitous not only for the faithful of his Church in the proper territory, but also for the migrants scattered all over the world. He enjoys certain rights and duties towards the faithful who belong to his Church no matter wherever they stay (CCEO.148§ 2). He exercises his pastoral authority in the Church with the help of various Commissions because canon 124 of the CCEO prescribes that there should be various Commissions to take care of the different fields of activities in the sui iuris Church. The Commissions are erected by the Major Archbishop, constituted of persons chosen by him and are governed by norms established by him (Synodal News, No. 1, August 1993, p. 47).

In the very first meeting of the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church, held from 20 to 25 May 1993 at the residence of Mar Antony Padiyara, the then Major Archbishop, at Ernakulam under the chairmanship of Archbishop Abraham Kattumana, the Pontifical Delegate to the Syro-Malabar Church, decision was taken to constitute the Major Archiepiscopal Commission for the Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants. This Commission was constituted to assist the Major Archbishop of the Church in carrying out his responsibilities towards the Syro-Malabar migrant faithful outside the proper territory of the Syro Malabar Church in India and aboard and to animate and co-ordinate the evangelizing mission of the Church. The same Synod elected Bishop Mar Gregory Karotemprel CMI as the Chairman and Bishops Mar Joseph Pallikaparampil (Pala) and Mar Paul Chittilapilly (Kalyan) as members of the Commission. (Synodal News, No. 1, August 1993, pp 6-7, Synodal News, No. 6, May 1995, p. 41).

While the VI Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church was in session from 12th to 24th January 1998, Mar Varkey Vithayathil C.Ss.R., the Apostolic Administrator of the Syro-Malabar Church reconstituted the Commission for the Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants with Bishop Mar Gregory Karotemprel CMI as the Chairman and Bishops Mar Joseph Pallikaparampil and Mar Gratian Mundadan CMI as members. The Commission members took charge on 21 May 1998 (Synodal News, No. 11, March 1998, p.15).

The VII Synod of Bishops, held at Mount St Thomas from 14 to 20 November 1999, took the decision to establish a Mission Secretariat under the auspices of the Major Archiepiscopal Commission for Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants at the Major Archiepiscopal Curia, Mount St Thomas. Mar Varkey Vithayathil, the then Apostolic Administrator, canonically erected the Mission Secretariat at Mount St Thomas vide Decree No. 1871/99 on 17th December 1999. (Synodal News, Vol. 7, Nos. 1& 2, December 1999, pp 56, 70, 124)

In the course of the XI Synod of Bishops held at Mount St. Thomas from 3 to15 November 2003, Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop reconstituted the Commission for the Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants with Bishop Gregory Karotemprel CMI again as the Chairman and Bishops Mar Vijay Anand Nedumpuram CMI and Mar Mathew Vaniakizhakkel VC as members (Synodal News, Vol.11, No.2, December 2003, p. 30).

During the XVI synod, on 27th August 2008, Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop reconstituted the Commission for the Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants with Bishop Sebastian Vadakel MST as the Chairman and Bishops Simon Stock Palathara CMI and Mar Antony Chirayath as members (Synodal News, Vol.12, Nos.1&2, Novembers 2008, p. 47).

Mission

The love of Christ towards migrants urges us (cf. 2Cor. 5:14) to look afresh at their problems and to respond more efficiently to the pastoral needs of the Syro-Malabar faithful living outside the territorium proprium of the church in India and abroad and the zeal for Christ obliges us to be His witnesses in the whole world sharing the light of Faith lit by St Thomas the Apostle. Mission

Activities

Pastoral care of the emigrants of the Syro-Malabar Church has always been the priority of the Commission. Some of the members of the Commission in the past were appointed Apostolic Visitors of the USA and Canada as well as the European countries. They presented reports of their visitations to the Synod as well as to Rome. The Commission arranged several meetings and deliberations with the Latin prelates of the migrant areas and sent various memoranda to Rome as well as to other ecclesiastical authorities. As a result of these efforts, St Thomas Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago was erected for the Syro-Malabar migrants in USA and Canada, chaplains were appointed for the pastoral care of the Syro-Malabar migrants by the Latin prelates in many places and several Syro-Malabar parishes were established in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata. Commission ensures regular correspondence with the emigrant communities

The Commission was entrusted with the task of arranging the conduct of the first Syro Malabar Mission Assembly. Accordingly a preliminary meeting was held in November 1998 at Poornodaya in Bhopal with delegates from all dioceses, especially from mission dioceses for drafting the first Working Paper (Lineamenta). The Mission Assembly was held from November 12 14, 1999 at Mount St Thomas. As per the direction of the Synod, held from November 14 20, 1999, the Commission convened a Meeting of the Bishops of the Dioceses of the Syro Malabar Church outside the Territorium Proprium and the major Superiors of the Syro Malabar Religious Congregations and Institutes of Apostolic Life, working in the above Dioceses at Poornodaya in Bhopal from 13 to 15 October, 2000.

An all-inclusive Syro-Malabar Catholic Directory was published by the Commission for the first time in November 2004. The Commission joyfully undertook the preparation of a Mission Policy of the Syro-Malabar Church in the challenging circumstances of the Mission of the Church in the third millennium. After several years of study, consultation, discussion and preparation it was finally promulgated on March 19, 2006. It was simultaneously translated into Malayalam as well. The Commission conducted the first ever Global Meet of the Syro-Malabar emigrants at Mount St Thomas, the Major Archiepiscopal Curia from 18 to 21 of August 2006 after a year long preparation. Almost 380 participants from all over the world participated in the Meet and of them some 100 were from outside India and others from various cities and Syro-Malabar dioceses in India. The Commission brought out a Directory of the Syro-Malabar Migrants, with a brief history, general statistics, contact details and other relevant pieces of information of every sizeable Syro-Malabar migrant community in India and outside. The Commission also published two issues of the Mission India. Around the time of Christmas in 2006 Syro-Malabar Global Mission was published for the emigrants of the Syro-Malabar Church as per the suggestions of the Global Meet 2006. Together with Sathyadeepam the Commission (CEPCM) brought out a Mission Supplement as a special issue in order to introduce the Syro-Malabar Mission Dioceses to the Mother Church in Kerala. The Supplement contained articles and pictures on all the Mission dioceses of the Syro-Malabar Church and it was a landmark achievement for the Commission. A study seminar on the Mission Policy of the Syro-Malabar Church under the title Mission Congress 2007 is being planned out by the Commission. The Commission intends to publish a shorter version of the Directory of the Syro-Malabar Church in 2008.

Church Teachings on Pastoral Care of the Migrants

            The history of humankind is a history of migration. Migrations are on the increase day by day for reasons of better livelihood, or for other demands of life like jobs, strenuous conditions in one’s own country, religious persecution and so on. It is a matter of serious concern for all nations and people. There are many advantages along with it, like good job opportunities, peaceful life, higher salaries, wide range of living standards and so on. But it is a fact that migrants who have had to give up their homeland, their possessions and relations inevitably carry with them the characteristics and memories of their own people as an indelible identity which cannot be renounced or denied. Experience has shown that the inability of expression in other than the mother language and loss of cultural and spiritual patrimonies not only damage the conscience but also cancel religious convictions and practices. As far as the Church is concerned, migration has a great missionary dimension. Pope Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi notes: “It is the result of their living presence and witness in the midst of new people that forms new Churches. So they are the real seeds and the evangelizers” (n.21).

Migration always involves uprooting, detachment from one’s people, culture and place. At the same time it is for insertion and integration into a new society and place. In the Old Testament God brought the Israelites to the promised land to make them a chosen race and wanted them to keep up their identity in the new land. God did not want the Israelites to be scattered but united as the people of God. As Yahweh cared for the Israelites, the migrants need special pastoral care from the part of the Church lest they be disoriented in the new situation. St. Paul says: “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom.15:7).

Proper pastoral care of the migrants is a great mission entrusted to the Church. Erga migrantes caritas Christi, an instruction issued in 2004 by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People notes: “Welcoming the stranger is intrinsic to the nature of the Church itself and bears witness to its fidelity to the Gospel” (n. 22).The mission of the Church towards migrants calls for an integrated approach of the proclamation of the gospel, clear policy and programs of pastoral works, catechetical and liturgical formation, fostering dialogue with them, working for their human rights, dignity, etc.

There is no dearth of Magisterial material safeguarding the right of pastoral care of the migrants. Popes, Councils and Encyclicals recommend the retention and promotion of the rights of the migrants. None of the Vatican documents encourage absorption or integration of the immigrants into the Church of arrival. The teachings of the Church with regard to the pastoral care of the migrant faithful of any sui juris Church, anywhere in the world, are crystal clear from the following Church documents.

Teachings of the Councils

Lateran Council IV 

“Since in many places people of different languages live within the same city or diocese, having one faith but different rites and customs, we therefore strictly order bishops of such cities and dioceses to provide suitable men who will do the following in the various rites and languages: celebrate the divine services for them, administer the Church’s sacraments, and instruct them by word and examples” Lateran Council IV (1215), can. 9, Counciliarurn Eccumenicourum … Rome.1962, p. 215.

Second Vatican Council

ccFor the Catholic Church wishes the traditions of each particular church or rite to remain whole and entire, and it likewise wishes to adapt its own way of life to the needs of different times and places” (OE. 2).

ccTherefore these churches are of equal rank, so that none of them is superior to the others because of its rite. They have the same rights and obligations, even with regard to the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world (cf. Mk16:15), under the direction of the Roman Pontiff” (OE. 3)

ccProvision must be made therefore everywhere in the world to protect and advance all these individual Churches. For this purpose, each should organize its own parishes and hierarchy, where the spiritual good of the faithful requires it…each and every Catholic, as also the baptized members of any non-Catholic church or community who come to the fullness of the Catholic communion, must retain each his own rite wherever he is, and follow it to the best of his ability” (OE. 4)

ccIt likewise pertains to Episcopal conferences to found and promote agencies which will fraternally receive those who immigrate from missionary territories for of work or study, and which will aid them by suitable pastoral attention” (AG.38).

ccThis Synod solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, while keeping in mind the necessary unity of the whole Church, have the power to govern themselves according to their own disciplines, since these are better suited to the character of their faithful and better adapted to foster the good of souls. The perfect observance of this traditional principle-which indeed has not always been observed-is a prerequisite for any restoration of union” (UR. 16).

ccWhere there are faithful of a different rite, the diocesan bishop should provide for their spiritual needs either through priests or parishes of that rite or through an Episcopal Vicar endowed with the necessary faculties. Wherever it is fitting, the last named should also have an Episcopal rank” CD. 23) Teachings of Popes “Pope Pius XII says that “for Oriental Churches there should not be any compulsion to substitute their customs with those of the Latin Church and every Rite must have equal estimation and dignity before the common Mother Church” (AAS. 1944. P. 137)

ccRegarding the pastoral care of the faithful of the Eastern Rites who are living in Latin Rite dioceses, in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Conciliar Decree Christus Dominus 23 and OrientaliumEcclesiarum4the Latin Ordinaries (bishops) of such dioceses are to provide as soon as possible for an adequate pastoral care of the faithful of these Eastern Rites, through the ministry of the priests or through parishes of the Rites, where this would be indicated, or through an Episcopal Vicar endowed with the necessary faculties where circumstances would so indicate” (Letter of Pope John Paul II to the bishops of India on May 28, 1987).

ccThe migrant has the right to pastoral care from the local Church. It should be emphasized that he or she has the right not to the generic pastoral care common to the whole body of the believers but to a specific ministry adopted to their language and especially their culture” (Message of John Paul II on World migration day 1990, L’Osservatore Romano, August 6, n.32, Vol.23 (1990), p.11.

ccI particularly urge the Latin ordinaries in these countries to study attentively, grasp thoroughly and apply faithfully the principles issued by the Holy See concerning ecumenical cooperation and the pastoral care of the Eastern Catholic Church especially when they lack their own hierarchy.” (John Paul II, Orientale Lumen (1995), n.9.

 “There is an urgent need to overcome the fears and misunderstandings which appear at times between the Catholic Eastern Churches and the Latin Church… especially with regard to the pastoral care of their people, also outside their own territories.” (John Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia, 1999, n.27.

Canonical Dispositions

ccThe Christian faithful have the right to worshipping God according to the prescriptions of their own Rite approved by the 2 legitimate pastors or the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life consonant with the teaching of the Church” (CIC.214).

ccIf the local Ordinary has faithful of a different rite within his diocese, he is to provide for their spiritual needs either by means of the priests or parishes of that rite or by means of an Episcopal Vicar” (CIC. 383§2).

ccThe Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescriptions of their own Church sui iuris, and to follow their own form of spiritual life consonant with the teaching of the Church” (CCEO. 17).

ccNo one can presume in any way to induce the Christian faithful to transfer to another Church sui iuris” (CCEO.31).

ccThe Christian faithful of the Eastern Churches even if committed to the care of a hierarch or pastor of another Church sui iuris, nevertheless remain enrolled in their own Church” (CCEO.38).

ccNo one can validly transfer to another Church sui iuris without the consent of the Holy See” (CCEO. 32§1).

ccThe Christian faithful of the Eastern Churches even if committed to the care of a hierarch or pastor of another Church sui iuris, nevertheless remain enrolled in their own Church” (CCEO.38).

ccThe eparchial bishop to whom the care of the Christian faithful of any other sui juris Church is committed is bound by the serious obligation of providing all the things in order that these Christian faithful retain the rite of their own Church, cultivate and observe it as much as they can; he should foster relations with the higher authority of that Church” (CCEO 193§1).

ccThe eparchial bishop is to provide for the spiritual needs of those Christian faithful, if it is possible, through the presbyters or pastors of the same Church sui iuris as the Christian faithful or even through a syncellus constituted for the care of these Christian faithful” (CCEO 193§2).

ccIn places where not even an exarchv has been erected for the Christian faithful of a certain Church sui iuris, the local hierarch of another Church sui iuris, even the Latin Church of the place is to be considered the proper hierarch of these faithful, with due regard for the prescription of can. 101; if, however, there are several local hierarchs, that one is to be considered their proper hierarch who has been appointed by the Apostolic See or, if it is a question of the Christian faithful of a patriarchal Church, by the Patriarch with the assent of the Apostolic See” (CCEO. 916§5).

Era migrantes Caritas Christi 

Erga migrantes caritas Christi is an instruction issued in 2004 by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

ccWelcoming the stranger is intrinsic to the nature of the Church itself and bears witness to its fidelity to the Gospel” (n. 22).

ccWith regard to Catholic migrants the Church makes provision for a specific kind of pastoral care because of the diversity of language, origin, culture, ethnicity and tradition, or of belonging to a particular Church sui iuris with its own rite… The uprooting that moving abroad inevitably involves (from country of origin, family, language etc.) should not be made worse by uprooting the migrant from his religious rite or identity too” (n. 49).

ccWhen groups of immigrants are particularly numerous and homogeneous therefore, they are encouraged to keep up their specific Catholic traditions. In particular, efforts must be made to provide organised religious assistance by priests of the language, culture and rite of the migrants selecting the most suitable juridical option from among those foreseen by the CIC and the CCEO.” (n. 50)

ccEastern Rite Catholic migrants, whose numbers are steadily increasing, deserve particular pastoral attention. In their regard we should first of all remember the juridical obligation of the faithful to observe their own rite everywhere insofar as possible, rite being understood as their liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary heritage (cf. CCEO Can. 28, §1 and PaG 72) (n.51).

All the above official teachings of the Church attest to the solicitude of the Church for the migrants and defend their pastoral rights. The official ecclesiastical position on the emigrants from the time of Lateran IV (1215) favoured providing ministers of the rite and language of the emigrants because migration is no reason to dissolve one’s birth- rite. The inability of the Syro-Malabar Church to cater to the spiritual and liturgical needs of the migrants can lead to their alienation and ultimate separation from the Mother Church. The only solution to solve the above issue is to extend jurisdiction everywhere in the world as territorial or personal. Any further delay in doing so will result in irreparable damage to the entire Catholic Church. Besides, it is also a question of keeping up the credibility of the Catholic claim that the Church stands for justice, peace and harmony. It is all the more right and just for the Church to allow the faithful to protect as well as foster their own faith traditions everywhere in India through the establishment of appropriate juridical structures proper to the sui iuris Church.

Click here for the Official Site of the Commission

A Short History of CMI Congregation

A Short History of CMI Congregation

 The Congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) is the first indigenous religious congregation in the Catholic Church of India. Fr. Thomas Palackal, Fr. Thomas Porukara and Fr. Kuriakose Chavara of the Syro-Malabar Church of apostolic origin, who felt that “a lot of good had not been done due to the absence of a Thapasu Bhavanam (House of Discipline) and a Darsana Veedu (House of Vision)”, had the challenging vision of providing spiritual leadership and fostering unity and growth in the Kerala Church. With the permission of Bishop Maurelius Stabilini, the then Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly, they founded a religious house at Mannanam on 11 May 1831. Jacob Kanianthara who later became the first professed brother in the Congregation, cooperated with the founding fathers from the beginning. The name of the Congregation was ‘Servants of Mary Immaculate’.

 Soon, some more priests and clerics joined the founding fathers and thus a small religious community took shape. On 8 December 1855, the religious Congregation was canonically approved and the first eleven fathers made their religious profession.  Blessed Chavara, the only surviving founder, was appointed the first superior of the Congregation. Since, during the early period of the religious Congregation, the Vicars Apostolic of Verapoly were Carmelites, the congregation had come under the Carmelite influence; hence, the rules of the Carmelites with some modifications were given to them in 1855.  In 1860, the community was affiliated to the Order of Carmelites Discalced with the name, ‘Third Order of the Carmelites Discalced’ (TOCD). The Constitutions were approved ad experimentum by the Apostolic See in 1885. In 1958, the name was changed to ‘Carmelites of Mary Immaculate’ (CMI).  The Congregation was granted pontifical exemption in 1967.

 From the very beginning, the religious life in the congregation was rooted in the Indian, Oriental and Carmelite spiritual traditions. Being contemplatives in action, the members engaged in such activities as the Church in Kerala was in need of at particular times.  They preached retreats, conducted seminaries for the training of the local clergy, met the challenge of educating the youth and disseminating Christian literature, laboured for the propogation of the faith and for the reunion of separated brethren, undertook works of mercy and started charitable institutions.

 The apostolate of the CMI Congregation gathered new dimension and momentum as mission areas were entrusted to it beyond the boundaries of Kerala.  In 1962, Chanda became the first mission ordinariate of the Syro-Malabar Church and was entrusted to the Congregation.  Since then, more mission dioceses and regions were erected in Central and North India.  There are now four dioceses in North India and one in South India entrusted to the Congregation, viz., Chanda, Jagdalpur, Bijnor, Rajkot and Adilabad. These five dioceses are headed by CMI Bishops.  This is indeed a milestone in the progress of the CMI missions and an abiding evidence of the recognition by the Apostolic See. Besides, many members are engaged in various kinds of apostolate in other parts of India and also in other countries.

 The Prior General, assisted by four Councillors, is at the head of the administration; the Prior General’s House at Chavara Hills in Kochi is the headquarters of the Congregation. For the sake of administration, the Congregation is divided into 14 provinces, one region and 5 sub-regions. At present the Congregation has about 3000 members including 5 bishops, 1539 priests, 2 permanent deacons, 34 brothers and 1300 brothers in formation.  More than half of the priests are working outside Kerala, of whom about 300 are doing pastoral services in 23 countries around the world.

Click here for the Official Website of CMI Congregation

Diocese / Eparchy of Kothamangalam

The eparchy of Kothamangalam was erected by Pope Pius XII through the Papal Bull ‘Qui in beati Petri Cathedra’ of July 29, 1956 separating the protopresbyterates – Arakuzha, Kothamangalam and Mailacombu- of the then Archeparchy of Ernakulam- Angamaly. Mar Mathew Pothanamuzhi was ordained as the first bishop of the eparchy in Rome on November 18, 1956. The inauguration of the eparchy and the installation of the new bishop took place on January 10, 1957. Mar Mathew Pothanamuzhi who guided the eparchy with paternal care and succeeded in curing the teething troubles of the eparchy retired after two decades of memorable ministry. His Excellency Mar George Punnakottil succeeded Mar Mathew Pothanamuzhi. He was ordained and was installed in office on April 24, 1977. The developmental programmes in the eparchy got new vigour and verve and there were new initiatives to augment this process. At present the Eparchy is constitute of 115 parishes. The continuous showering of the grace of God from His kingdom lead this eparchy to the service of successful 50 years and we commemorate this divine providence in 2007 with grant celebration.

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Directories of the Eparchy of Kothamangalam

Eparchy of Kothamangalam – Directory 2012-13

Bulletin of the the Eparchy of Kothamangalam

Deivarajyam 2013 January

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Bishop:

Mar George Madathilkandathil

Bishop Mar George Madathilkandathil

Moto: “സ്നേഹം ഒരിക്കലും അവസാനിക്കുന്നില്ല”  “Love Never Ends” (I Cor 13, 08)

Profile:

Date of Birth : 1956-05-09

Contact:

Mob : +91 485 2862237
Email : madathikandathil@gmail.com
  • Diocese image of Kothamangalam

Short History of Kothamangalam Diocese

Group: : Syro-Malabar
Phone : +91-485-28 62 236, +91-485-28 62 692, +91-485-28 61 625
Address : Bishop’s House,
P.B. No. 6,
Kothamangalam,
Ernakulam district,
Kerala, India – 686 691.
Website : http://www.kothamangalamdiocese.org

The diocese of Kothamangalam was established in the year 1956, and inaugurated in January, 1957. Mar Mathew Pothanamuzhy was appointed as the first bishop of the diocese of Kothamangalam in 1957. On his retirement in 1977, Mar George Punnakkottil was appointed the bishop. The Kothamangalam diocese initially encompassed the areas of the current Idukki diocese also, until the new Idukki diocese was formed in 2002. The diocesan cathedral is St George’s Cathedral, located at the High Range Junction, the centre of Kothamangalam town. The eparchy covers 12 foranes, with 115 parishes. Recently the diocese was bifurcated to form Idukki diocese. Kothamangalam is a small town lying on the foothills of the Western Ghats and is referred to as The Gateway to the High Ranges. Until the recent past, the town was also a very important trading center for spices and hill produce. Kothamangalam is known for its old Christian churches and its prominent educational institutions. St. Thomas is believed to have preached in this place and converted about 240 Brahmin families to the Christian faith.

Geography
Located at (10°4’48″N 76°37’12″E) It is surrounded by the Archdiocese of Ernakulam and Madurai and the Dioceses of Kanjirapally, Palai, Idukki and Coimbatore. Situated in the centre of Kerala, the Eparchy of Kothamangalam with 4,800 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the taluks of Kothamangalam, Devikulam, Kunnathunad, Udumbanchola and Thodupuzha.

Climate
The diocese enjoys four seasons – Winter, Summer, South-West Monsoon and North-East Monsoon. The winter season starts with the end of the northeast monsoons i.e. from the later part of November lasting till the middle of February. During this season temperature is comparatively low. In the Highlands where the climate is cool throughout the year, winter temperatures often fall below 10?C. This season witnesses the lowest amount of rainfall. The flora is tropical. The heavy rainfall combined with moderate temperature and fertile soil support a luxuriant vegetation.

Topography
The diocese lies mainly on the highland consisting of the hills and forests respectively. The hilly or eastern portion is formed by a section of Western Ghats. Muvattupuzha and Periyar are the main rivers of which the latter flows through Thodupuzha, Muvattupuzha, Aluva, Kunnathunadu and Parur taluks. During rainy season these rivers are full and heavy floods affect the low-lying areas on the banks, but in the summer season they generally go dry and narrow. The Periyar is stretched over a length of 229 km.

Languages
Malayalam, English and Tamil are the spoken languages in the diocese.

STATISTICS

Name Type
Catholic Population 2,26,900
Parishes 112
Diocesan Priests 236
Religious Priests 63
Total Priests 299
Religious Sisters 2,171
Religious Brothers 3
Ecclesiastical Institutions 3
Colleges 2
Schools 167
Professional Colleges 1
Orphanages 25
Hostels 10
Hospitals 14
Publications 2

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Click here for the Official Website of the Eparchy of Kothamangalam

Click here for the Official Blog of the Eparchy of Kothamangalam

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Diocese of Kothamangalam (Syro-Malabarese)

Dioecesis Kothamangalamensis


Show: All | General Information | Ordinaries | Historical Summary | Statistics | Affiliated Bishops, Living | Affiliated Bishops, Deceased


Bishop(s)

General Information

  • Type of Jurisdiction: Diocese
  • Erected: 29 July 1956
  • Metropolitan: Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly (Syro-Malabarese)
  • Syro-Malabarese Catholic Church of the Chaldean Tradition
  • Country: India
  • Square Kilometers: 4,840 (1,869 Square Miles)
  • Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6, Kothamangalam 686691, Kerala, India
  • Telephone: (0485)86.22.36
  • Fax: 86.15.55

Past and Present Ordinaries


Historical Summary

Date Event From To
29 July 1956 Erected Archdiocese of Ernakulam (Syro-Malabarese) Diocese of Kothamangalam (Syro-Malabarese) (erected)
15 January 2003 Territory Lost Diocese of Kothamangalam (Syro-Malabarese) Eparchy of Idukki (Syro-Malabarese) (erected)

Statistics

Year Catholics Total Population Percent Catholic Diocesan Priests Religious Priests Total Priests Catholics Per Priest Permanent Deacons Male Religious Female Religious Parishes Source
1970 194,948 560,000 34.8% 165 37 202 965 50 1,565 142 ap1971
1980 242,950 200 47 247 983 56 1,693 179 ap1981
1990 334,390 805,990 41.5% 237 61 298 1,122 69 2,098 197 ap1991
1999 474,530 1,255,410 37.8% 280 104 384 1,235 214 2,738 213 ap2000
2000 495,520 1,273,130 38.9% 286 115 401 1,235 229 2,858 223 ap2001
2001 500,180 1,320,230 37.9% 273 124 397 1,259 241 2,867 225 ap2002
2002 400,318 1,194,318 33.5% 275 83 358 1,118 203 2,870 226 ap2003
2003 500,580 1,315,230 38.1% 274 122 396 1,264 272 2,661 227 ap2004
2004 206,270 702,300 29.4% 176 86 262 787 171 2,070 112 ap2005
2009 223,990 764,050 29.3% 176 96 272 823 186 2,256 115 ap2010

Note: Any changes in boundaries over time are not indicated in the above table.


Affiliated Bishops, Living

Affiliated Bishops, Deceased

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Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Kothamangalam

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Kothamangalam is a Roman Catholic diocese in India, under the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. It was established by Pope Pius XII in 1957. Mar George Punnakottil served as the bishop until January 10, 2013, when his resignation was accepted by the synod. He will be succeeded by George Madathikandathil.[1]

Situated in the central region of the Indian state of Kerala, the Eparchy of Kothamangalam lies extended in Ernakulam and Idukkii districts of Kerala, neighbouring the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, eparchies of Irinjalakuda, Idukki and Pala.

English: Picture of Vazhappilly church
English: Picture of Vazhappilly church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vazhappilly Church

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Boundaries

North: River Chalakudy and northern boundary of Devicolam Taluk
East: Uzhavathadam River – Cheeyapara Waterfalls – Karimanal Power house – Kulamavu Dam (Eastern boundaries of Pazhampallichal, Neendapara, Rajagiri and Uppukunnu parishes)
West: Eastern boundaries of Thripunithara and Vallam of Ernakulam Archeparchy
South: Southern boundaries of Ramamangalam,Memuri,Marady and Arakuzha Villages of Marika Kara and Purapuzha and Karimkunnam Villages,Vazhipuzha River(Kingnithodu),eastern boundary of Velliamatam and southern boundary of Thodupuzha Taluk.

[edit] Population

The Kothamangalam Diocese has a total of approximately 231,300 faithful under its jurisdiction.

[edit] Foranes & Parishes

1.Kothamangalam Forane

1. Kothamangalam
2. Injoor
3. Kallelimedu
4. Keerampara
5. Kottapady
6. Kuruppampady
7. Kutthunkal
8. Kuttampuzha
9. Malippara
10. Manikandamchal
11. Mathirappilly
12. Nadukani
13. Nedungapra
14. Nellimattom
15. Njayappilly
16. Pooyamkutty
17. Thrikkariyoor
18. Urulanthanni
19. Vadattupara
20. Veliyelchaal
21. Vettampara
22. Allungal

2.Arakkuzha Forane

1. Arakuzha
2. Arikkuzha
3. Meenkunnam
4. Peringuzha
5. Perumballur
6. Thottakkara

3.Kaliyar Forane

1. Kaliyar
2. Koduvely
3. Mannukkad
4. Mundanmudy
5. Njarakkad
6. Thennathur
7. Thommankuthu
8. Vannappuram

4.Karimannoor Forane

1. Karimannoor
2. Cheenikkuzhy
3. Cheppukulam
4. Chilavu
5. Kaithappara
6. Malayinchi
7. Mulappuram
8. Neyyasserry
9. Pallikkamuri
10. Peringasserry
11. Thattakkuzha
12. Udumbannoor
13. Uppukunnu

5.Mailakkombu Forane

1. Mailakkombu
2. Ezhallur
3. Kaloor
4. Nakappuzha
5. Perumbillichira
6. Thazhuvamkunnu

6.Maarika Forane

1. Maarika
2. Kolady
3. Kuninji
4. Nediyasala
5. Purappuzha

7.Muthalakkodam Forane

1. Muthalakkodam
2. Chalasserry
3. Kodikkulam
4. Paarappuzha
5. Vandamattom
6. Vazhakkala

8.Muvattupuzha Forane

1. Holy Magi Forane Church, Muvattupuzha
2. St Sebastian’s Church Anicadu
3. Karakkunnam
4. Marady
5. Mekkadambu
6. Mudavoor
7. Muvattupuzha East
8. Randaar
9. Vazhappilly East

9.Unnukal Forane

1. Unnukal
2. Ambikapuram
3. Injathotty
4. Maamalakkandam
5. Neendapaara
6. Neryamangalam
7. Parikkanni
8. Pazhambillichal
9. Perumannur

10.Paingottoor Forane

1. Paingottoor
2. Kalvarigiri (Kulappuram)
3. Kadavoor
4. Mullaringad
5. Pothanikkad
6. Punnamattom
7. Rajagir (Vellallu)

11.Thodupuzha Forane

1. Thodupuzha
2. Alakkodu
3. Anjiri
4. Chittur
5. Kalayanthani
6. Kallanikkal
7. Methotty
8. Nazareth hill (Thoyipra)
9. Nediyakaad
10. Pannimattom
11. Ponnanthanam
12. Thalayanad
13. Thodupuzha East
14. Vettimattom

12.Vazhakkulam Forane

1. Vazhakulam
2. Ayavana
3. Beslehem
4. Enanelloor
5. Kadalikkad
6. Kalloorkkad
7. Kavakkad
8. Nadukkara
9. Vadakodu

[edit] Priests

Priests belonging to the Eparchy 226
Priests working outside 46
Priests out for studies 8
Priests Retired 25

[edit] Educational institutions

University Colleges 2
Engineering College 1
Self financing colleges 3
Teacher Training College 1
Technical Schools 6
Higher Secondary Schools 21
High Schools 20
Upper Primary Schools 26
Lower Primary Schools 51
Unrecognized Schools 4
Nursery Schools 53

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Kothamangalam is a Roman Catholic diocese in India, under the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. It was established by Pope Pius XII in 1957. Mar George Punnakottil served as the bishop until January 10, 2013, when his resignation was accepted by the synod. He will be succeeded by George Madathikandathil.[1]

Situated in the central region of the Indian state of Kerala, the Eparchy of Kothamangalam lies extended in Ernakulam and Idukkii districts of Kerala, neighbouring the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, eparchies of Irinjalakuda, Idukki and Pala.

Vazhappilly Church

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Boundaries

North: River Chalakudy and northern boundary of Devicolam Taluk
East: Uzhavathadam River – Cheeyapara Waterfalls – Karimanal Power house – Kulamavu Dam (Eastern boundaries of Pazhampallichal, Neendapara, Rajagiri and Uppukunnu parishes)
West: Eastern boundaries of Thripunithara and Vallam of Ernakulam Archeparchy
South: Southern boundaries of Ramamangalam,Memuri,Marady and Arakuzha Villages of Marika Kara and Purapuzha and Karimkunnam Villages,Vazhipuzha River(Kingnithodu),eastern boundary of Velliamatam and southern boundary of Thodupuzha Taluk.

[edit] Population

The Kothamangalam Diocese has a total of approximately 231,300 faithful under its jurisdiction.

[edit] Foranes & Parishes

1.Kothamangalam Forane

1. Kothamangalam
2. Injoor
3. Kallelimedu
4. Keerampara
5. Kottapady
6. Kuruppampady
7. Kutthunkal
8. Kuttampuzha
9. Malippara
10. Manikandamchal
11. Mathirappilly
12. Nadukani
13. Nedungapra
14. Nellimattom
15. Njayappilly
16. Pooyamkutty
17. Thrikkariyoor
18. Urulanthanni
19. Vadattupara
20. Veliyelchaal
21. Vettampara
22. Allungal

2.Arakkuzha Forane

1. Arakuzha
2. Arikkuzha
3. Meenkunnam
4. Peringuzha
5. Perumballur
6. Thottakkara

3.Kaliyar Forane

1. Kaliyar
2. Koduvely
3. Mannukkad
4. Mundanmudy
5. Njarakkad
6. Thennathur
7. Thommankuthu
8. Vannappuram

4.Karimannoor Forane

1. Karimannoor
2. Cheenikkuzhy
3. Cheppukulam
4. Chilavu
5. Kaithappara
6. Malayinchi
7. Mulappuram
8. Neyyasserry
9. Pallikkamuri
10. Peringasserry
11. Thattakkuzha
12. Udumbannoor
13. Uppukunnu

5.Mailakkombu Forane

1. Mailakkombu
2. Ezhallur
3. Kaloor
4. Nakappuzha
5. Perumbillichira
6. Thazhuvamkunnu

6.Maarika Forane

1. Maarika
2. Kolady
3. Kuninji
4. Nediyasala
5. Purappuzha

7.Muthalakkodam Forane

1. Muthalakkodam
2. Chalasserry
3. Kodikkulam
4. Paarappuzha
5. Vandamattom
6. Vazhakkala

8.Muvattupuzha Forane

1. Holy Magi Forane Church, Muvattupuzha
2. St Sebastian’s Church Anicadu
3. Karakkunnam
4. Marady
5. Mekkadambu
6. Mudavoor
7. Muvattupuzha East
8. Randaar
9. Vazhappilly East

9.Unnukal Forane

1. Unnukal
2. Ambikapuram
3. Injathotty
4. Maamalakkandam
5. Neendapaara
6. Neryamangalam
7. Parikkanni
8. Pazhambillichal
9. Perumannur

10.Paingottoor Forane

1. Paingottoor
2. Kalvarigiri (Kulappuram)
3. Kadavoor
4. Mullaringad
5. Pothanikkad
6. Punnamattom
7. Rajagir (Vellallu)

11.Thodupuzha Forane

1. Thodupuzha
2. Alakkodu
3. Anjiri
4. Chittur
5. Kalayanthani
6. Kallanikkal
7. Methotty
8. Nazareth hill (Thoyipra)
9. Nediyakaad
10. Pannimattom
11. Ponnanthanam
12. Thalayanad
13. Thodupuzha East
14. Vettimattom

12.Vazhakkulam Forane

1. Vazhakulam
2. Ayavana
3. Beslehem
4. Enanelloor
5. Kadalikkad
6. Kalloorkkad
7. Kavakkad
8. Nadukkara
9. Vadakodu

[edit] Priests

Priests belonging to the Eparchy 226
Priests working outside 46
Priests out for studies 8
Priests Retired 25

[edit] Educational institutions

University Colleges 2
Engineering College 1
Self financing colleges 3
Teacher Training College 1
Technical Schools 6
Higher Secondary Schools 21
High Schools 20
Upper Primary Schools 26
Lower Primary Schools 51
Unrecognized Schools 4
Nursery Schools 53

Mar George Madathikandathil, Bishop of Kothamangalam മാര്‍ ജോര്‍ജ്ജ് മഠത്തിക്കണ്ടത്തില്‍

Mar George Madathikandathil 01

Mar George Madathikandathil, Bishop of Kothamangalam

അഭിവന്ദ്യ മാര്‍ ജോര്‍ജ്ജ് മഠത്തിക്കണ്ടത്തില്‍ പിതാവ്, കോതമംഗലം രൂപതയുടെ പുതിയ അമരക്കാരന്‍  

Mar George Madathikandathil 03 Mar George Madathikandathil 11 Mar George Madathikandathil 14 Mar George Madathikandathil 15

News: Fr George Madathikandathil is new Bishop of Kothamangalam Diocese

Fr George Madathikandathil has been appointed the new Bishop of the Diocese of Kothamangalam. He succeeds Mar George Punnakkottil, who is retiring from administrative responsibilities after 36 years of service.

The new bishop was elected at the Bishops’ Synod being held at Mount St Thomas, the head headquarters of the Syro-Malabar Church. The order appointing Fr Madathikandathil was read out by Cardinal Mar George Alancherry at a small function, which was attended by bishops, priests, nuns and leaders of Laity organisations. The appointment order was simultaneously read out at Vatican. Election  of the new Bishop has been endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Fr Madathikandathil, 57, is presently serving at the St Mary’s Forane Church, Arakuzha. He had earlier served as a Rector of Major Seminary, Vadavathoor.

Born to Madathikandathil Mathew and Eliyamma, of Purapuzha, near Thodupuzha, on May 9, 1957, he joined the seminary in 1971. He was ordained by Mar George Punnakkottil in 1980.

He left for Rome for higher studies in 1984. After securing a doctorate from Oriental Institute, Rome, he returned to Kerala in 1990. Back home, after higher studies, he served as priest at Bethel parishes and a Judge at the Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Kothamangalam.

He had been the parish priest at Njarakkal, teacher and Vice-Rector of the Vadavathoor seminary. He was appointed the parish priest of St Mary’s Forane Church, Arakuzha, in 2010.

************************************************************************************************

Kothamangalam Diocese , New Bishop , Fr. George Madathikandathil

The Syro-Malabar Church has named Father George Madathikandathil as the new bishop of the Kothamangalam diocese in Kerala with papal approval.

The appointment was made public in Rome on Thursday 4:30 (IST) and in Mount St. Thomas, the Sryo-Malabar Church headquarters, in Kochi.

The Synod of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church selected the new bishop from a panel of names approved by the Vatican for the post.

Fr. Madathikandathil succeeds Bishop George Punnakottil, who resigned after serving the diocese for 36 years. The new bishop is the third leader of the diocese.

The consecration of the new bishop is scheduled for Feb.9.

The diocese has total Catholic population of 226,900 people. It was bifurcated to form Idukki diocese.

KCBC Circular on Mass Stipend (16 December 2012)

Here is the Circular of the KCBC President, His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Mar Andrews Thazhath about the increase of the stipend of the Holy Mass. The KCBC meeting held from 11 to 13 December 2012 at the POC decided to increase the stipend of the Holy Mass from rupees 50 to rupees 75. The decision of the KCBC will come into effect from 1 January 2013 onwards in Syro-Malabar, Latin and Syro-Malankara Catholic Churches in Kerala

KCBC Circular on Mass Stipend

Year of Faith – Syro-Malabar Church

Year of Faith Logo

Year of Faith: Official Theme Song in Malayalam

Lyrics & Music – Santhosh Thomas

Sung by –  Wilson Piravom

Recoding – Joy Joseph, Amala Studio, Kanjirapally

Click here to Download the MP3 of the Official Theme Song of the Year of Faith

Click here to Download Other Material for the Year of Faith

Year of Faith Diocese of Clifton Pilgrimage To...
Year of Faith Diocese of Clifton Pilgrimage To The Holy Land (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))
Year of Faith Diocese of Clifton Pilgrimage To...
Year of Faith Diocese of Clifton Pilgrimage To The Holy Land (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))

 

 

Lay Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church

Lay Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church

Dr Antony Nariculam

The Church or the ecclesial community is the basic agent of catechesis. Besides the Church as a whole, all the members of the Christian community are called to share in this ministry by being witnesses to the faith in a special way. Together with priests, religious and parents, a good number of lay catechists are also rendering valuable whole hearted service in the field of catechesis in the Syro-Malabar Church. The Church considers their service with great respect and recognizes them as special ministers of the community. The vocation of the laity to catechetical ministry springs from the sacrament of baptism, and they are strengthened and sent for the same by the sacrament of confirmation (GDC 231). Through these sacraments, they participate in the prophetic, priestly, and kingly ministries of Christ. According to St. Paul, the Lord has established different ministries in the Church. All the ministries in the Church are for the building up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13). Therefore, by their valuable service lay catechists are actually participating in the building up of the Church. In the early times of the Church, faith was handed down from one generation to the next mainly through community and family centred catechesis and by means of liturgical celebrations, catechetical instructions, and customary practices. Catechetical instruction was given to adults along with the liturgical celebrations, while children were given special instructions either before or after Holy Mass and this was done by the parish priest himself. They were asked to recite and memorize the basic prayers of the Church. Among the liturgical celebrations, the celebration of feasts also played an important role in the transmission of faith. Feasts were celebrated at community and family level. The instruction on the importance of the celebration of the feasts was given by the parents. Therefore the term catechist or lay catechist was not familiar among the St. Thomas Christians at this period. After the arrival of the Western missionaries, the catechetical system of the St. Thomas Christians began to develop into a formal and systematic one. The informal way of handing down the faith was changed to a formal and systematic one, and the liturgy centred catechesis was changed to an instruction oriented one. From then onwards the demands for catechists rose in the Syro-Malabar Church.

Actually it was St. Francis Xavier who introduced the term lay catechist in India for the first time. One of the greatest catechetical contributions of Francis Xavier to the Church in India was the institution of the lay catechist, as a helper of the missionaries. In fact, it was about this time that the qualification “lay” was applied to the “catechist”. The training of the local catechists was one of his main concerns wherever he went. The absence of expected missionary reinforcements, led Francis Xavier to organize an institution of catechists to care for the small, scattered Christian communities. These catechists were an invaluable help. He was very conscious about their training and gave them all the necessary religious instructions. With a view to uniformity in catechetical method, Francis Xavier published the “Instructio pro Catechesis” (1545), in which he described his method of teaching the catechism and gave it as a rule to his helpers. Thus the role of lay catechists was officially inaugurated in the ministry of catechesis in India. We have already seen that St. Francis Xavier had a close contact with the St. Thomas Christians and his missionary activities had an influence on them. Therefore there may also have been lay catechists among the St. Thomas Christians. But unfortunately there is no historical evidence available pointing to the service of the lay catechists adopted in the ministry of catechesis in the Syro-Malabar Church till the beginning of the 20th century. This was a new adaptation in the ministry of catechesis in Syro-Malabar Church. Therefore this may not have had much influence among the St. Thomas Christians. “Syro-Malabar Church can boast of having one of the best catechetical systems in the entire Catholic world. Organized efforts for the catechesis of children are made in all the parishes of the Church.” As we have seen earlier, attached to every parish there is a school to give catechetical formation to the students. This school functions on Sundays.  “Among the St. Thomas Christians the term “Catechist” is understood in its narrow sense-the religion teachers of Sunday school. Therefore they are usually called Sunday School Teachers”. The role of the catechist in the Syro-Malabar Church is to give formation to the students in this school. They are a group of unpaid teachers, with or without formal systematic training. In the KCBC meeting of January 11, 1968 there was a discussion regarding the lay catechists. The main suggestions raised in the discussion were regarding the salary of the catechists and their basic training. This was the first Church level discussion conducted in Kerala regarding the catechists. The suggestion regarding the salary was never materialized, and now catechists render their services voluntarily to the community. From this discussion onwards the Kerala Church began to think about the formation of her catechists.

Formation of Lay Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church

Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church are usually selected by the parish priests. They are to be from practicing Catholic families, and must have a good reputation in the parish community. For their selection the common criterion followed is whether they are practicing their faith than their theological studies. Most of the catechists come from good families. So they are people who experience the life of faith in their families. This does not mean that they do not need any formation for their catechetical ministry. In former days they were given sufficient training by the parish priests themselves or experts were arranged to come to the parish church to give the necessary guidance to the selected candidates for the ministry. Later it becomes the shared duty of the diocesan catechetical director and the parish priests. The parish priests would ask the diocesan director to send persons to train the catechists. Later catechetical formation centres and animation teams came into existence in almost all the dioceses. After the establishment of the POC, the training of the catechists has taken on a new shape. Courses are offered to make the catechists competent for their catechetical ministry. Appreciating the progress in Kerala, Fr. D. S. Amalorpavadass, the pioneer of the Indian Catechetical movement, said: “It is no flattery to say that a miracle is happening in Kerala. The Church has started moving resolutely towards a radical renewal of Christian life in the region”. One of the decisions of the All Kerala Catechetical Meeting of 1968 was that “the best scholars available in the dioceses and religious congregations should be secured to staff the POC”. Thus POC offers a one year course in scripture, theology, philosophy, liturgy, catechetics, sociology…etc. Media education programmes and various psychological training programmes are also conducted here. As we have seen earlier the Kerala Church is somewhat unique. Here there are three particular individual Churches. Hence there was criticism that in the training programme of the POC, there was no stress on the heritage, liturgy and spirituality of any of the particular Churches of Kerala. Though the idea of the pioneers was to have a common training institute for all the three Churches in Kerala, some bishops later did not show interest in sending their students to the POC. Gradually the formation of catechists became more of a diocesan affair. At present all the dioceses have well equipped catechetical centres with trained resource teams, under the guidance of a diocesan director. These centres organize two types of training programmes for catechists, basic training programmes and ongoing formation programmes. The ‘Basic Catechetical Teachers Course’ (BCTC) or ‘Catechist Training Programme’ (CTP) is mainly intended for beginners. Ongoing formation is given with the intention of helping the catechists to meet the day to day needs in their catechetical ministry.

It is true that to a certain extent the above said BCTC and CTP programmes help the catechists to get formation in the ministry of catechesis at the diocesan level. But there is no organized system or programme for their formation for the whole Church. The result is that some of these catechists are not so much capable of explaining the catechism and also the faith formation of the growing generation. The recently published catechetical directory of the Syro-Malabar Church, ‘Call and Response’, also points to the importance of the basic formation of catechists in the Church. Though the structure of the synodal commission for catechesis is formed, its functioning is not yet started.

Issues and Challenges Regarding the Formation of Lay Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church Today

Everybody agrees that it is important to give at least a basic formation to the catechists either before one is appointed as a catechist or in the first year of service. But it is not an easy task to give sufficient training to them. Here, I will try to mention some issues and challenges regarding the formation of the lay catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala. I have had an opportunity to work as a forane/regional catechetical director for two years. During this period I tried to conduct some kind of training programmes for the catechists. On the basis of that experience and also the contact with various diocesan directors we are drafting the existing challenges in the formation of lay catechists.

1. Economic problems:

It is not an easy task to raise funds for the training of the catechists. Catechists may not have interest to paying for their training programmesbecause after this training they are to give voluntary service for the community.

2. Non-availability of time:

In the Syro-Malabar Church there are no full-time catechists. They are occupied with their own job and other duties. Therefore it is not an easy task to find time for their formation.

3. Disinterest on the part of some trainees:

In the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala all the catechists are giving voluntary service. Therefore they may not have any interest to participate the training programmes. Moreover, they are not so much conscious of the importance of this formation in their ministry.

4. Disinterest on the part of some Parish priests:

Though not all, there are a few Parish priests consider these training programmes useless. They think that the catechists are teaching the children and they have more knowledge than the children; therefore a special training programme is not so important. Hence, to a certain extent disinterest on the part of the parish priests is also a problem for this training programme.

5. Disinterest of the parish community:

To a certain extent it is true that the parish community is also not fully serious about the catechetical ministry and the training of their Catechists.

6. Diversity within the group of the catechists itself:

Sometimes there is much diversity among the catechists themselves in the same parish, regarding the intellectual abilities, education standards, age level, social status, etc. Because of this diversity some of them are not so interested to participating with others in the training programmes. It is not an easy task to conduct training programmes for the catechists as in the case of secular teachers.

7. Non availability of resource persons:

It is not an easy task to find well educated resource persons to conduct training programmes in every region.

8. Motivation:

All the catechists are not really motivated for this ministry. Some are coming with some prior ambitions.

9. Lack of a systematic approach:

It is true that to a certain extent there are different kinds of training programmes for the lay catechists in almost all the dioceses. But most of them are not well organized. So, after attending these training programmes the participants may not be happy. Therefore the parish priests may not show any interest in sending others to attend these training programmes.

St Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor

Vadavathoor Seminary
Vadavathoor Seminary

The St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary was formally established by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches through its letter dated April 26, l962 and it was formally inaugurated and began functioning on July 3, l962. It is primarily intended for the education and formation of the seminarians of the Syro-Malabar dioceses. It is also open to the students of Syro-Malankara and Latin dioceses and of religious congregations. The Seminary is subject to the authority and control of the Syro-Malabar Bishops’ Synod, which exercises its authority through a Synodal Commission of Bishops.

Mission

The seminary aims at training priests primarily of the Syro-Malabar Church in the patrimony of Mar Thoma, the Apostle and Founder of the Church keeping up with the spirit of the time.  It fosters the human, spiritual, academic and pastoral formation of its seminarians.

Seminary Chapel, Vadavathoor

Spiritual Life

Celebration of the Divine Praises, the Holy Qurbana and the recitation of the Rosary forms part of the daily time table.  Special attention is given to the daily meditation of the Word of God and the the lectio divina in common. Students draw adequate spiritual benefit from regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and from the earnest participation in recollections and retreats, observance of fast and abstinence. Spiritual instructions and conferences, particularly individual conferences and guidance are help in their spiritual journey during the formative years. Seminary has four resident spiritual directors. Seminarians are encouraged to find time for personal prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament at the Adoration Chapel.  The monthly recollections and the Annual retreats provide for their spiritual growth.

Paurastya Vidyapitham

Paurastya Vidyapitham is the local name given to the Pontifical Oriental Institute of Religious Studies which is an autonomous faculty of Theology  erected at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottayam. This  Seminary has been established by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches through the letter No. 260 / 59, dated April 26, 1962. It is primarily intended for the education and formation of the seminarians of  all the Syro – Malabar Eparchies and also of the Syro- Malankara Eparchies. It is also open to all the Eparchies of the other Churches and in particular of the Latin Church of Kerala for sending their seminarians. The Seminary is subject to the authority and control of the Syro – Malabar Bishop’s Synod, which exercises its authority through a specially elected Synodal Commission.

By a decree of the Congregation for the Catholic Education Prot. No. 674/72/13, the Theological Department of the Seminary was affiliated to the Faculty of Oriental Ecclesiastical Sciences at the Pontifical Oriental Institute Rome on the 21st of February 1973. After an experimental period of 4 years, the affiliation was renewed and extended by the letter of the Congregation for the Catholic Education, dated April 10, 1977. Then realizing the important role of this seminary in the life of the Oriental Churches of India and taking into account its steady growth in the past years the Congregation for Catholic Education erected its academic section into an independent Theological Faculty with right to confer the degrees of B. Th. (Bachelor of Theology), M. Th. (Master of Theology) and D. Th. (Doctor of Theology) through the decree “Perinisigne Fidei Christianae Testimonium” on July 3, 1982 on the Feast of St. Thomas, the Apostle of India.

On August 15, 1985 the Department of Philosophy at this Faculty was given the power to confer the degree of B. Ph. (B.A. in Philosophy). The Institute was authorized officially to commence the Doctoral Course by the letter of the Congregation for the Catholic Education dated November 28, 1986.

General Orientation of the Institute

The programme of formation at this Institute aims at the development of fully integrated priestly personality, and therefore takes into account the human, spiritual, intellectual, pastoral and missionary dimensions of priestly formation. With this end in view the programme of studies co-ordinates the fields of Humanities, Philosophy, Theology, Bible and Eastern Christian Studies in such a way as to present the Mystery of Christ harmoniously to the students.

The specific aims of the Institute are the following:

  •  To cultivate and promote through scientific research the patrimony of Christian wisdom of both East and West with special emphasis on Biblical, Patristic, Oriental, Syrian and Indian traditions.
  •  To enunciate systematically the truths contained in the Biblical, Patristic, Liturgical and Spiritual traditions of Eastern Ecclesiastical heritage and to present them to the people of the present day in a manner adapted to the local cultural context.
  •  To impart a Theological and Pastoral formation to the candidates for priesthood.
  • To train its students to a level of high qualification in the Sacred Sciences and allied subjects according to Catholic doctrine, to prepare them properly to face their tasks in the various fields of apostolate and to promote the continuing permanent education of the Ministers of the Church as well as other sections of the people of God.
  •  To Promote the study and investigation of the writings of the Oriental Fathers and writers and of the Theological, Spiritual, Liturgical and Disciplinary heritage of the Oriental Churches of India.
  •  To promote ecumenical studies and investigate traditions of the various Christian Churches with special reference to the actual situation of India.

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Good Shepherd Major Seminary, Kunnoth

Good Shepherd Major Seminary is the third major seminary of the Syro-Malabar Church. It was canonically erected at Kunnoth, Iritty, North Kerala, India, by the Synod of the Church on 1st September 2000 (Synodal Decree no. 2336/2000). The seminary was inaugurated on 16th June 2001. Even though India, particularly Kerala, had been the land of the Syro-Malabar Church, the Muslim invasion of the 18th century and certain actions of the Portuguese missionaries had reduced the area of the church to the southern part of Kerala.
In the 1940s, however, many Christians migrated from the Christian south of the state to the northern part of Kerala in search of a better life. This was followed by the erection of the Diocese of Tellicherry in 1953 for the immigrants of the region; many churches and church-schools were eventually established, and Christian institutions began to play an important role in the social life of the region. The presence of a live and active church immediately led the region to a phenomenal growth in all aspects of its life. Several dioceses were also eventually erected.
By this time several young people of the region, both men and women, were called by God to lead a consecrated life. It is noteworthy that in the last few decades, in the dioceses in Malabar, the Catholic Church could find more young people looking for consecrated life than any other part of the country or even in any other part of the world. The erection of the new major seminary in this region is in fact an ecclesiastical recognition to the region for the role it has been playing in the life of the universal church.

When the seminary was erected in 2000, the synod of the church had a plan that visualized a steady growth of the seminary that would complete its full structure in eight years. As the seminary accordingly began in June 2001, there were 21 students from eight dioceses admitted to the course of philosophy, and four resident members on the staff: the first rector was Rev. Dr. Joseph Kuzhinjalil, D.C.L. (Diocese of Palai); Frs. Simon Valloppilly (Diocese of Thamarassery), Thomas Neendoor (Archdiocese of Tellicherry), and Jose Vettickal (Archdiocese of Tellicherry) were the other resident staff. Including the non resident professors, in the teaching staff there were then 12 members.

Since the newly erected seminary had no house of its own, it began its life in a nearby house belonging to Nazareth Sisters. The foundation stone for the new seminary building was laid on 3rd August 2002; subsequently, the completed philosophy block was blessed on 18th June 2003 by His Beatitude Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil. The foundation stone for the theology block was blessed by His Beatitude Ignace Cardinal Moussa I Daoud, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches Rome, on 10th January 2004, on the occasion of his visit to the seminary.

In the subsequent years after the inauguration, new batches of students were admitted, and more priests were added to the resident staff. At the same time some of the members in the staff returned to their dioceses. Frs. George Pulickal (Archdiocese of Tellicherry), Jose Pulavelil (Diocese of Palai), and Thomas Poovathanikunnel (Diocese of Kanjrappally) thus joined the resident staff in the academic year 2003-04. After completing a term as the rector and after finishing the construction work of the philosophy block, Very Rev. Fr. Kuzhinjalil, Finance Officer Fr. Vettickal, and Fr. Jose Pulavelil returned to their home dioceses.

Since May 31st 2004, Very Rev. Fr. George Pulickal had been serving as the acting rector and since 11th November 2004 he had been serving as the rector of the seminary.  In the same year Fr George Myladoor (Diocese of Mananthavady) was appointed as the finance officer of the seminary. Frs Paul Mudathotty (Missionary Society of St Thomas), Jose Muthanattu (diocese of Palai), and Thomas Kuzhuppil (Archdiocese of Changanassery) joined the resident staff in the academic year 2005-06; Frs. Jacob Chanikuzhy (Archeparchy of Ernakulam–Angamaly) and Thomas Padiyath (Archdiocese of Changanassery) joined the resident staff in the year 2006-07; Frs. George Mangalathil (Archdiocese of Changanassery) and Antony Tharekadavil (Archdiocese of Tellicherry) joined the resident staff in 2007-2008.

The construction of the beautiful chapel of the seminary was completed, and was consecrated on 26th July 2007. For the consecration ceremony, His Beatitude Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil and several other bishops were present. On 29 January 2008, the first batch of the students, fourteen in all, received the holy order of M’samsanusa (diaconate) in the new chapel. The ordination ceremony was officiated by the convener of the ad hoc committee, His Grace Mar George Valiamattam together with His Grace Mar Joseph Powathil. On this occasion, twenty-three of the second batch also received their ordination as Heupadiyaknusa. In May 2008, Fr. Paul Mudathotty was elected as the Assistant General of the MST. He eventually left the seminary to enter upon the new office, while Fr Thomas Anikuzhikattil (Diocese of Idukki) joined the resident staff, who was subsequently appointed as the prefect of studies on 22 February 2009.

In the year 2008-2009, the first batch of 14 students got ordained priests for different eparchies, which was a landmark in the history of Good Shepherd Major Seminary. In the second batch, 22 students were ordained (2009-2010) and in the third batch 16 students (2010-2011). The list of these priest are available in the Alumni page.

In the beginning of the academic year 2009-2010 a new administrative body was appointed: Fr Joseph Muthanattu was appointed as the Finance Officer on 13 May 2009, Fr Thomas Anikuzhikattil as the Rector on 21 May 2009, and Fr George Mangalathil as the Prefect of Studies on 08 June 2009 in lieu of Frs George  Myladoor, George Pulickal, and Thomas Anikuzhikkattil respectively. After completing a term and another two years Fr George Pulickal left the seminary to take pastoral work in his own diocese, and Fr George Myladoor, after completing his term of office (Since 15t June 2004 till 15 May 2009), returned to his home diocese in May 2009. Fr Jose Koodapuzha from Diocese of Kanjirappally joined the resident staff in the academic year 2009-2010. In May 2010 Fr Sebastian Palakuzhy (Archdiocese of Tellicherry) was appointed Finance officer in lieu of Fr Jose Muthanattu, who was then relieved. Frs Joseph Mulanjanany (Diocese of Kothamangalam), Joseph Karukaparambil (Archdiocese of Kottayam)n and Mathew Pattamana (Archdiocese of Tellicherry) joined the resident staff in the beginning of the academic year 2010-2011.

On 3 May 2011, Fr Joseph Puthumana (Diocese of Palai) was added to the resident staff as professor of English and on 31 of the same month he was appointed vice-rector substituting Fr Thomas Kuzhuppil who was relieved. In the current academic year there are 16 members on the resident staff, 33 visiting professors, and 176 students.

Goal of the Seminary

The seminary wishes to train its students in such a way that they will become good pastors and ministers of the word of God. The Good Shepherd and Preacher Jesus Christ is the model after whom the candidate in the institute has to fashion himself (Ps 23:1; Jn 10:11). He should become a good and self-sacrificing leader of the Catholic Church. The people of God should feel safe under the protection of this shepherd of Jesus.

Giving personal attention to all the students is one of the main concerns of this institute.
The seminary therefore tries to create a home atmosphere in which all the students feel that their formation is safe under the guidance of the institute. Together with the intellectual training, they are given formation for spiritual and emotional growth: they are given three years of philosophy training which will be followed by an year of practical training and period of personal reflection (regency); then they will receive the clerical dress which will be followed by four years of biblical, theological, and pastoral studies.

Throughout the period of training, the students will get enough opportunities to form a personal prayer life, and to develop their personal talents.
The professors and the students together with their Good Shepherd are always in search of pastures which are the products of the ever changing periods of history. The candidates have to apply effectively their energies in order to form themselves for the church so that they can competently guide the people of God of the Catholic Chruch in India and abroad..

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