Syro Malankara Catholic Church
Region of United Kingdom
United Kingdom has a rich Christian history and heritage; it is the land of saints and martyrs notably St Augustine of Canterbury, St Bede, St Thomas More, St John Fisher, St Cuthbert et al. During the nineteenth century hundreds of missionaries travelled from England to all corners of the globe to spread the gospel and they were very successful witnesses of Christ. They managed to establish Christian faith through love and education. Today, sadly the nation that once stood as a lighthouse of true faith is suffering from great spiritual darkness. We, Syro Malankara Catholics are in the midst of this situation and we have two roles to play as followers of Jesus Christ- firstly to sustain and grow in our catholic faith and traditions by becoming faithful members of Malankara Catholic family and secondly to evangelise the non practising Christian population of this great nation.
Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios – First Malankara Catholic Missionary
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 not only for 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 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 Catholic Church in United Kingdom
Syro-Malankara Catholic Church’s first Catholicos, late Major Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios took the initiative and explored the possibility of serving Malankara Catholics in England. The strategic planning, decision-making and due diligence of the then Apostolic visitor to America and Canada, Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas were instrumental to lay the foundation of Malankara church in UK and Ireland. Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas arrived in London on 4th July 2005 to celebrate his first Holy Mass and to commence the Mission works in this region.
Notable contributions towards the success of initiating the Mission work in UK were also made successively by Rt. Rev. Geevarghese Mannikarot Cor Episcopo, Fr. Jiji Charivupuridam, Fr. Louis Charuivla and other visiting priests on various occasions.
In 2009, because of the strategic decisions, planning and leadership undertaken by Cardinal Baselios Cleemmis Catholicos with the full support and cooperation from the England and Wales Bishop’s Conference resulted in the appointment of a permanent Malankara Catholic priest to serve the Malankara Catholics in the region. The Brentwood diocese appointed Rev. Fr. Daniel Kulangara as the first Malankara Chaplain in July 2009 and he served here as National coordinator and Special Pastor until December 2016. In June 2012, Fr. Thomas Madukamoottil was appointed as the Chaplain and His Excellency Bishop John Rawsthorne, bishop of Hallam appointed him as an assistant priest of the St. Marie’s Cathedral Church, Sheffield.
On 3rd October 2009, Most Rev. Joseph Mar Thomas, the apostolic visitor of Europe officially inaugurated the first Malankara Mission in London under the heavenly patronage of St. Joseph. Following this, Bishop in charge of the American Exarchate Most Rev. Thomas Mar Eusebius continued to give the church strong leadership for its growth in the region as Apostolic visitator.
In January 2017, Fr. Thomas Madukamoottil appointed as the Special Pastor and National Coordinator by the Episcopal Synod of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church and His Excellency Bishop Alan, Bishop of Shrewsbury appointed him as the Malankara Catholic Chaplain and Parish Priest in charge of the St. John the Baptist Church, Ilford. Fr. Renjith Madathirambil was appointed as the Chaplain on January 2017 and based at Manchester, in the diocese of Shrewsbury.
Priests and Mission Centres
Currently, Rev. Fr. Thomas Madukamoottil, Special Pastor and Coordinator (Brentwood Diocese) and Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Madathirambil, Chaplain (Shrewsbury Diocese) are serving as resident chaplains in London and Manchester respectively. Until now fourteen Mission centres have been formed in UK. The Mission centres are located in following places: East London, Croydon, West London, Luton, Ashford, Southampton, Bristol, Gloucester, Coventry, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Nottingham and Glasgow.
The annual convention, which is an opportunity for the Malankara Catholic families to convene together, has been a significant boost for the growth and coordination of the church in the region. At these conventions, pastoral visits by His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos and other bishops have encouraged the faithful to strengthen their relationship with the Church. To date, five conventions have been convened at five different places in England.
- Coventry- 2011
- London- 2013
The pastoral visits by Archbishop Thomas Mar Koorilos, Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas, Bishop Thomas Mar Eusebius, Bishop Joshua Mar Ignatius, Bishop Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom, Bishop Abraham Mar Julios and Bishop Vincent Mar Paulos have boosted up the paternal love and care of the synod to the Malankarites in the UK.
St. Anne’s Church- Mar Ivanios Centre, Dagenham- London
Syro Malankara Church has its own Church in London for the liturgical services and provided by the diocese of Brentwood by the lease base. We are much indebted and grateful to His Excellency Bishop Alan Williams and to the diocese of Brentwood for benevolently apportioning St. Anne’s Church for the sole use of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church, UK.
His Excellency Bishop Yoohanon Mar Theodosius, Apostolic Visitator
On 5 Aug 2017, The Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed Rt. Rev. Msgr. John Kochuthundil as apostolic visitator for Syro-Malankara faithful resident in Europe and in Oceania, bishop of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia of the Syro-Malankara Church and titular bishop of Tuburbo Maggiore. Rt.Rev.Msgr. John Kochuthundil is ordained as Bishop Yoohanon Mar Theodosius on 20th September 2017. This new appoint will undoubtedly help the Syro Malankara Catholic Church to blossom out in the United Kingdom and Europe.