Malankara Catholic Church and its mission work in the UK and Ireland Regions

The Personal attendance of Servant of God Mar Ivanios to the Holy Eucharistic Congress held at Dublin Ireland in the year 1932 marked the beginning of the current mission work of the Malankara Catholic Church in England and Ireland. It was an honour for not only the Malankara Church but for the Indian Church as a whole. As it was very much in the fresh context of the Reunion movement, the other delegates received the discussions by Mar Ivanios on the newly re united Church and its responsibilities in India with utmost curiosity and respect. (The speech delivered by Mar Ivanios is currently archived at the Public Library in Dublin). The talk delivered at the conference by Mar Ivanios dwelled on introducing the ancient Indian culture and the Syriac liturgy of the East.

The Celebration of the first Holy Malankara Qurbono after the installation as a Metropolitan Bishop and receiving the Pallium from the Pope at the St. Francis Church, AG Gardiner Street in Dublin was a novel experience for many of the Bishops participating at the conference.

Following the conference, Servant of God Mar Ivanios was invited to England to attend at the royal banquet hoisted by King George V where Mar Ivanios discussed at length on India and the cordial co-existence of the various religions in India.

Although, one can believe that nothing happens accidentally, it is evident from history that Mar Ivanios might have foreseen the today’s presence of the Malankara Church in England and Ireland. The work related migration of Keralites, particularly in the field of Nursing and IT related, to these countries experienced a significant increase towards the end of the 1990s. From the very onset of this increase in the influx of Keralites and particularly the presence of its members in various places encouraged the church leadership to ensure that the Malankarites would have access to their rich liturgical patrimony and church activities.

The migrated presence of the catholic communities and their fervent leadership and interest at church’s activities in the Region have set an example for many of the European churches especially in the context of degeneration of faith and family values in the latter churches. At a time of decrease in the social and moral values wide spreading in Europe, the presence of the Malankara church, and her mission activities are a beacon of hope for the young families in this region.

Malankara Church and its Mission activity

Syro-Malankara Catholic Church’s first Catholicose late His Beatitude Moran Cyril Mar Baselios initiated the exploration of the possibility of serving the Malankara Catholics in the region. The strategic planning, decision-making and due diligence of the then Apostolic visitor to America and Canada, Most Rev. Joseph Mar Thomas laid the strong foundation for the church in UK and Ireland.

Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas arrived at London on 4th July 2005 to celebrate his first Holy Mass and to commence the Mission works in the region.

Notable contributions towards the success of initiating the Mission work in UK were also made successively by Rt. Rev. Geevarghese Mannikarot Cor Episcopo, Rev. Jiji Charivupuridam, and Rev. Luis Charuivlla and other visiting priests at various periods.

In 2009, the strategic decisions, planning and leadership undertaken by Major Archbishop and Catholicose Cardinal Baselios Cleemis with the close cooperation from the England and Wales Bishop’s Conference led to the appointment of a permanent Malankara Catholic priest to serve the Malankarites in the region. The Brentwood diocese under the London Westminster province undertook the responsibility of hoisting the Malankara Chaplain and the appointment was taken place by July 2009.

On 3rd October 2009, Most Rev.Joseph Mar Thomas officially inaugurated the Malankara Catholic Missions in UK by inaugurating the First Mission in London under the heavenly patronage of St.Joseph. Following this, the present Bishop in charge of the American Exarchate, Most Rev. Thomas Mar Eusebius continues to give the church strong leadership for its growth in the region as Apostolic visitor.

Currently, Rev.Fr.Daniel Kulangara; Special Pastor and Coordinator-(Brentwood Diocese), Rev.Fr.Thomas Madukkamootil; Chaplain(Shrewsbury Diocese),Fr.Abraham Pathakal; Chaplain(Dublin Arch Diocese) are serving as residing chaplains in London, Manchester, and Dublin respectively . Hitherto, nearly 300 families and 14 Mission centres have been formed in both UK and Ireland. The Mission centres currently serving the Malankara Catholics are in East London, South London, West London, Luton, Ashford, Southampton, Bristol, Coventry, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Nottingham, Glasgow and Dublin. Also, every attempt is being made to form new mission centres to serve the Malankara Catholics and provide all the pastoral support to the people.

The annual convention, which is an opportunity for the Malankara Catholics to convene together, has been a significant boost to the growth and coordination of the church in the region. At these conventions, pastoral visits by His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis and other bishops are considered as an inspiration and source of happiness for the Malankara Catholics in the region. To date, five conventions have been convened at five different places in England. The pastoral visits by Archbishop Thomas Mar Koorilos, Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas, Thomas Mar Eusebius, Joshua Mar Ignathius, Yuhanoon Mar Chrysostom, Abraham Mar Julios and Vincent Mar Paulos have significantly strengthened the various mission works in the region.

To further, to boost the Mission work in the region and to coordinate the church activities, it has been identified by our Venerable hierarchy that a centre in London is essential and efforts toward this objective is gradually progressing. Every effort from our people is to be canalised to achieve this fulfil the dream.