Syro Malankara Catholic Church
Region of United Kingdom
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, which follows the Antiochene tradition, became a Major Archiepiscopal Church on 10 February 2005 – just 73 years after a Hierarchy was established for this Church by Pope Pius XI in 1932. There is a strong and living tradition that St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, arrived at Kodungallur, in the northern part of Kerala, in 52 AD. He preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and established the Christian Church there. The Christian faithful of the locality are therefore known as ‘Mar Thoma Christianikal’, that is, St. Thomas Christians, after the name of the Apostle. This Apostolic Church has been within the Catholic Communion from the early centuries. It came in contact with the Syro-Chaldean Church of the Middle East and consequently adopted various aspects of the East Syriac Liturgical traditions in its liturgical practice. In the seventeenth century a part of this Church came into communion with the Church of Antioch of the West Syrian tradition.
Its name, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, commonly in use since 1930, distinguishes it from the Syro-Malabar Church and from other Eastern Churches, into which the original Thomas Christian Church is now divided. The name reflects the Church’s heritage in the Oriental Syriac tradition with its roots in the indigenous Indian culture, apostolic tradition and its communion with the Universal Catholic Church.
Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios – First Malankara Catholic Missionary
The personal attendance of Servant of God Mar Ivanios at the Holy Eucharistic Congress held at Dublin, Ireland in the year 1932 marked the beginning of the current mission work of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church in the United Kingdom 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 deliberations of Mar Ivanios on the newly re-united Church and its responsibilities in India with the utmost curiosity and respect. The speech delivered by Mar Ivanios is currently archived at the Public Library in Dublin and focused on introducing the ancient Indian culture and the Syriac liturgy of the East.
The celebration of the first Malankara Holy Qurbono after his installation as a Metropolitan Bishop and receiving the Pallium from the Pope at the St. Francis Church, AG Gardiner Street in Dublin, were novel experiences for many of the Bishops participating in the conference.
Following the conference, Servant of God Mar Ivanios was invited to England to attend a royal banquet hosted by King George V and Archbishop Mar Ivanios was able to communicate the cordial co-existence of the various religions in India.
Although one may believe that certain situations occur inadvertently, it is evident from history that Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios might have foreseen 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 families from Kerala and particularly the presence of Malankara Catholic families in various parts of United Kingdom, encouraged the Church leadership to ensure that Malankara families would have access to their rich liturgical patrimony and Church activities.
Malankara Catholic Church in United Kingdom
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church’s first Catholicos, the late Major Archbishop Cyril Baselios Catholicos took the initiative and explored the possibility of serving Malankara Catholics in the UK. The strategic planning, decision-making and due diligence of the then Apostolic visitator to America and Canada, His Excellency Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas, were instrumental in laying the foundation for the Malankara Church in the UK and Ireland. His Excellency Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas arrived in London on 4th July 2005 to celebrate his first Holy Mass and to commence the Mission activities in this region.
Notable contributions towards the success of initiating the Mission work in the United Kingdom were also made successively by Rt. Rev. Geevarghese Mannikarott Cor Episcopo, Fr. Jiji Charivupurayidam, Fr. Louis Charuvila and other visiting priests on various occasions.
On 3rd October 2009, Most Rev. Joseph Mar Thomas, the Apostolic Visitator of Europe officially inaugurated the first Malankara Catholic Mission in London under the heavenly patronage of St. Joseph. Following this, the Bishop in charge of the American Exarchate, Most Rev. Thomas Mar Eusebius, continued to give the Church strong leadership for its growth in this region as Apostolic Visitator.
The Region of United Kingdom blessed with the great pastoral care of the Apostolic Visitators.
- His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Isaac Mar Cleemis
His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Isaac Mar Cleemis (His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos) was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Trivandrum and Apostolic Visitator to North America and Europe on 18 June 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
- His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thomas
On the 5th of January 2005 he was appointed as the Auxiliary Bishop of Trivandrum and Apostolic Visitator to North America and Europe by His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
- His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Mar Eusebius
His Excellency was appointed the Bishop of the Exarchate of Malankara Catholic Church in USA and the Apostolic Visitator to Canada and Europe on 14 July 2010.
- His Excellency Bishop Yoohanon Mar Theodosius
On 5th August 2017, The Holy Father Pope Francis appointed His Excellency Bishop Yoohanon Mar Theodosius as the Apostolic Visitator for the Syro-Malankara faithful residing in Europe and Oceania.
1.Rev. Fr. Daniel Kulangara (2009-2016): In 2009, the strategic decisions, planning and leadership undertaken by His Eminence Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos with the support and cooperation from the England and Wales Bishops’ Conference resulted in the appointment of a permanent Malankara Catholic priest to serve the Malankara Catholics in the region.
Rev. Fr. Daniel Kulangara was appointed as the First Special Pastor and National Coordinator of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and he was based in the Diocese of Brentwood. Until 2016 he served as the National coordinator and Special Pastor of the Region of the United Kingdom.
2.Rev. Fr. Thomas Madukamoottil (2017-): In January 2017, following the decision of the Holy Episcopal Synod of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church, His Eminence Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos appointed Rev. Fr. Thomas Madukamoottil, who had been based in the UK since June 2012, as the Special Pastor and National Coordinator of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church in the United Kingdom. In the same year, His Excellency Bishop Alan, Bishop of Brentwood, appointed him as the Parish Priest in charge of the St. John the Baptist Church, Ilford. He had previously served in the dioceses of Hallam (2012-2014) and Shrewsbury (2014-2016).
With the decision of the Holy Episcopal Synod of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church, His Eminence Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos appointed the following as the chaplains of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church in United Kingdom:
Rev. Fr. Daniel Kulangara (2009-2016, Diocese of Brentwood)
Rev. Fr. Thomas Madukamoottil (June 2012 – September 2014 – Diocese of Hallam, October 2014– December 2016, Diocese of Shrewsbury, January 2017-, diocese of Brentwood)
Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Madathirambil (January 2017, Diocese of Shrewsbury)
Rev. Fr. John Alex Puthenveedu (October 2017-2019, Diocese of Nottingham, 2020- Diocese of Brentwood),
Rev. Fr. Johson Manayil (March 2018, Archdiocese of Glasgow)
Rev. Fr. Mathew Neryattil (December 2019, Diocese of Nottingham)
Until now Eighteen Mission centres have been formed in the United Kingdom.
- Ashford, St. Thomas Malankara Catholic Mission (29th April 2012), 2. Aberdeen, St. Stephen Malankara Catholic Mission (17thSeptember 2018), Bristol, St. Alphonsa Malankara Catholic Mission (December 2007), 4. Coventry, St. Jude Malankara Catholic Mission (5th December 2010),5. Croydon, St. Pauls Malankara Catholic Mission (30th June 2013), 6.East London, St. Joseph’s Malankara Catholic Mission (2005), 7. Glasgow, St. Andrews Malankara Catholic Mission (June 2010),8. Gloucester, St. Therese of Lisieux Malankara Catholic Mission (October 2015), 9. Ipswich, Mar Ivanios Malankara Catholic Mission (18th January 2020), 10. Liverpool, St. Basil Malankara Catholic Mission (March 2010), 11.Luton, St. George Malankara Catholic Mission (25th August 2012), 12.Manchester, St. Mary’s Malankara Catholic Mission(2009), 13. Northampton, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Malankara Catholic Mission (17th November 2018), 14. Nottingham, Sacred Heart Malankara Catholic mission (25th August 2012), 15. Sheffield, St. Peter’s Malankara Catholic Mission (28th December 2013), 16.Southampton, St. John’s Malankara Catholic Mission (3rd May 2014), 17. West London, St. Antony’s Malankara Catholic Mission (10th March 2012)
Currently, Rev. Fr. Thomas Madukamoottil, Special Pastor and Coordinator (Diocese of Brentwood), Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Madathirambil, (Diocese of Shrewsbury), Rev. Fr. John Alex Puthenveedu (Diocese of Brentwood), Rev. Fr. Johnson Manayil (Archdiocese of Glasgow) and Rev. Fr. Mathew Neriyattil (Diocese of Nottingham) are serving as resident chaplains in the United Kingdom.
The National 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 Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos and other bishops have encouraged the faithful to strengthen their relationship with the Church. To date, seven conventions have been convened at seven different places in England:
- Coventry – 2011, 2. Manchester – 2012, 3. London – 2013, 4. Bristol – 2014, 5. Sheffield-Nottingham – 2015, 6. Liverpool – 2017, and 7. Wolverhampton – 2019.
The pastoral visits by His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos, Archbishop Thomas Mar Koorilos, Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas, Bishop Thomas Mar Eusebius, Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, Bishop Yuhanoon Mar Chrysostom, Bishop Philippos Mar Stephanos, Bishop Abraham Mar Julios, Bishop Vincent Mar Paulos and Bishop Yoohanon Mar Theodosius have significantly helped to strengthen our mission centres.
St. Anne’s Church – Mar Ivanios Centre, Dagenham – London
The Syro Malankara Church has its own Church in London for liturgical services, provided by the Diocese of Brentwood on a lease base. We are much indebted and grateful to His Excellency Bishop Alan Williams and to the diocese of Brentwood for benevolently assigning St. Anne’s Church for the sole use of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church, UK.
His Excellency Bishop Yoohanon Mar Theodosius, Apostolic Visitator
On 5th Aug 2017, The Holy Father Pope Francis appointed His Excellency Bishop Yoohanon Mar Theodosius as the Apostolic Visitator for the Syro-Malankara faithful residing in Europe and Oceania. This new appointment undoubtedly helps the Syro Malankara Catholic Church to blossom in the United Kingdom and Europe.
In March 2019, the Syro Malankara Catholic Church was officially registered as a charity in the United Kingdom. This charity named as “The Syro Malankara Catholic Church UK” with the registration number-1182359.
The Syro Malankara Catholic Church in United Kingdom is in its growing stage and it has special roles to full fill in this land: 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. The Church is always trying to full fill these roles through the various Apostalates.