The Diocese of Kottayam was erected exclusively for the Southist (Knanaya) Catholics in 1911. The Knanaya Community traces its origin from a group of Jewish-Christian emigrants from Southern Mesopotamia to the South Indian port of Cranganore in A D 345, who formed themselves into an endogamous community. They co-existed peacefully in the Indian nation and fulfilled their missionary purpose of re-invigorating the Church of St Thomas Christians. The original community consisted of about 400 persons belonging to 72 families of seven septs headed by Thomas of Kynai. A bishop by name Uraha Mar Yousef, four priests and several deacons were among them.
As the Catholicos of the East had promised the emigrants that he would send from time to time bishops to India, Uraha Mar Yousef had successors till the end of the 16th century. Under the East Syrian Bishops, the Knanaya Community had their own churches and priests distinct from those of the non-Knanaya St Thomas Christians. This system continued also under the Latin Rite European bishops, who governed the St Thomas Christians.
When a ritual separation was effected for the Catholics in Kerala between the Orientals and Latins in 1887, all the Knanaya Catholics de facto were in the Apostolic Vicariate of Kottayam, and the Holy See ordered Bishop Charles Lavigne to appoint a separate Vicar General for the Knanaya Community. When the Vicariates Apostolic were re-organized into Trichur, Ernakulam and Changanassery and three indigenous bishops were appointed for the Syro-Malabarians in 1896 the bishop appointed for the Vicariate of Changanassery was Mar Mathew Makil, the former Vicar General for the Knanaya Community.
On August 29, 1911 the Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam was re-constituted exclusively for the Knanaya Community by the Apostolic letter ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIn Universi ChristianiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â of His Holiness Pope St Pius X.
On December 21, 1923 the Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam was raised to an Eparchy by Pope Pius XI. When the territorial limits of the Syro-Malabar Church was extended in 1955, the jurisdiction of the Eparchy of Kottayam also was made co-extensive with the then extended territory of the Syro-Malabar Church.
By the Apostolic Brief ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œUniversi ChristianiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â of August 29, 1911, Pope St Pius X erected the Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam exclusively for the Southists Catholics. The Eparchy of Kottayam in the state of Kerala was instituted for the Southists Community among the St Thomas Christians of India. The Southists later known also as Knanaya are descendants of a group of Jewish Christians who immigrated into Kerala from the Middle East in AD.. 345. Those immigrants were led by an enterprising merchant called Thomas of Kynai. A Bishop named URAHA Mar Yausef, four priests and several deacons were with them to look after their spiritual needs. They settled in Kodungalloor (Cranganore) enjoying many esteemed privileges granted by Cheraman Perumal, the then ruling emperor of Kerala.
The gist of the SouthistsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ tradition is the following: The Church established by St Thomas the Apostle in India was at that time languishing without ecclesial ministers. The Catholicos of the East in Seleucia-Ctesiphon came to know about the sad plight of the Indian Church. Then, as directed by the Catholicos, Thomas Kinayi (knayi, knay, kinan) organized seventy-two Christian families to immigrate into India together with the above said bishop, priests and deacons.
On reaching the Malabar coast with the immigrants, Thomas visited the then ruling Perumal and obtained from him land at Cranganore and highly esteemed privileges. The influx of these immigrants with a bishop and clergy reinvigorated the Indian Church, enabling it to prosper as a privileged community in India. The immigrants following their Judeo-Christian traditions remained as an endogamous community. Hence, among the Christians of St Thomas there is now the ethnic community of the Southists distinct ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œfrom the majority community of the Northists.
In the caste-ridden social system of India, those Jewish Christian immigrants from Southern Mesopotamia and their descendants comfortably remained an endogamous community. Residing on the southern portion of Cranganore they came to be known as the Southists in distinction from Northists, who were descendants of the native Indians converted by Apostle St ThomaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢3 and were living in the northern portion of the town. The Southists remained an autonomous unit also ecclesiastically with their own churches and priests distinct from those of the Northists. In the course of the time the Southists spread out to other parts of Kerala, especially to the capital towns of several kingdoms, such as Diamper, Thodupuzha (Chunkom), Kaduthuruthy, Kottayam and Kallissery.
Before the synod of Udayamperoor in 1599, the Knanites had five churches of their own: Udayamperoor, Kaduthuruthy, Kottayam, Chunkom and Kallissery. In some other churches they had one half the share along with other Syrians (Northists). So Knanites were called Ancharapallikkar (owners of five and half churches).
Under the Chaldean Bishops some records can be interpreted in the sense. that at one time in the sixteenth century the Southists and Northists had their own archdeacons who exercised ecclesiastical jurisdiction over their own respective communities. From the year 1600 onwards, the Latin Bishops of the Portuguese Padroado as well as of the Propaganda Fide, who governed the St Thomas Christians, respected and preserved this distinction between the Southists and the Northists also ecclesiastically, instituting separate parishes for these communities, and appointing only priests of the respective community as parish priests. After the Holy See effected a ritual separation between the Orientals and the Latins in Kerala and erected the Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam and Trichur for the Orientals in 1887, Msgr Charles Lavigne, S.J., the Vicar Apostolic of Kottayam, appointed two pontifically privileged Vicars General, Msgr Mathew Makil for the Southists and Msgr Emmanuel Nidhiri for the Northists. In 1896, the Holy See re-distributed the St Thomas Christians into three Vicariates Apostolic-Trichur, Ernakulam, and Changanacherry. Then the first Vicar Apostolic appointed for Changanacherry was Mar Mathew Makil, a Southist. When Pope St Pius X erected the Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam (1911), Mar Makil was transferred from Changanacherry to Kottayam.
When the Syro- Malabar hierarchy was constituted by the apostolic constitution Romani Pontifices of December 21, 1923, the Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam was raised to an eparchy along with the eparchies of Trichur and Changanacherry and the arch-eparchy of Ernakulam. On April 29, 1955, Pope Pius XII extended the jurisdiction of the Syro- Malabar Church to a larger territory comprising the whole of Kerala State and beyond. Then the eparchy of Kottayam was given jurisdiction over all the Southists within the entire extended territory by decree number 1812/48 dated April 29, 1955, issued by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. As His Eminence Accacio Cardinal Coussa interpreted, in matters such as determining the proper parish priest having jurisdiction to bless the marriages of the Southists or the Northists, the distinction between these two communities of the Northists and the Southists has the same canonical force as the distinction between two individual sui juris Churches. Thus all along the past 16 centuries, ecclesiastical authorities have recognized and confirmed the special individuality of the endogamous community of the Southists among the St Thomas Christians of India.
Bi-Ritual Eparchy: Knanaya Catholics of Syro Malankara Rite
The Syro-Malankara Southists in the eparchy of Kottayam deserve a special mention. Their history may be summed up as follows: After the unfortunate event of the Coonan Cross Oath of 1653, and the subsequent introduction of Jacobitism into Kerala, about a third of the St Thomas Christians became Jacobites, among whom were also the Southists in about the same proportion. In the following centuries, several attempts were made for re-union, but for one reason or another they were not successful until the first quarter of the 20th century. From 1921 onwards a few priests of the Southist Jacobites joined the Southist Catholic Eparchy of Kottayam. By a decree of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches on July 5, 1921, these reunited priests were allowed to officiate in their own West-Syrian (now Syro-Malankara) Rite. After the re-union of Mar Ivanios and Mar Theophilos in 1930 and the institution of the Syro- Malankara hierarchy on May 18, 1932, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches approved an agreement made between the then Bishop of Kottayam Mar Alexander Chulaparambil and Mar Ivanios agreeing to that those who had already reunited and would reunite later from the Southists Jacobites could continue as part of the SouthistsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Eparchy of Kottayam, keeping of course, their own Malankara Rite (cf. Letter to the Delegate Apostolic on May 20, 1932, port.76l/31). This agreement has worked well until now with slight modification - in effect granting to the Southists at the time of reunion an option to join the eparchy of Kottayam or an eparchy under the Syro-Ãƒâ€šÃ‚ÂMalankara hierarchy. Most of the reunited Southists now belong to the Eparchy of Kottayam, only a few having opted for membership in a parish belonging to the Eparchy of Tiruvalla or the Arch-eparchy of Trivandrum. According to the statistics gathered in 2000, the fifteen Syro-Malankara Rite parishes of the Eparchy of Kottayam have three thousand and three hundred members. Ministry for them is now coordinated under an Episcopal Vicar of the Malankara rite.
Some of the reunited Malankara Southists have been requesting the. Holy See for their own Bishop to provide ecclesiastical ministry in their own Rite. It is notable that the corresponding community of the Southist Jacobites have about 60 thousand members. An effort is being made if they or at East a part of them can be induced to make an ecumenical communion with the Catholic Church.
Knanaya Jacobite diocese of Chingavanam
The diocese was erected in 1910, with jurisdiction over all Knanaya Jacobites wherever they may be. The present Metropoletan is Koobberneethi Hakkeemo Abraham Mar Clemis, with the title ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œChief Metropolitan of the EastÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â (1951-). At present there are 1,00,000 faithful with 60 churches in India and 10 abroad (Indian Christian Directory, 2000, pp 1018-19).
Mar Mathew Moolakkatt, O. S. B.
Metropolitan Archbishop of Kottayam
He was born on February 27,1953 at Uzhavoor in Kottayam District. He was ordained priest on the 27th December, 1978. He has B.Sc., B. Ed., M.A. in Sociology and doctorate in Canon Law. In 1994 he joined the Vallombrosan Benedictine Monastery and made the Final Profession on December 5, 1998. On December 28, 1998 he was nominated Bishop of Holler and appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Kottayam. He received the Episcopal Ordination on 6th January, 1999 from His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Later on August 15, 2003 H. H. Pope John Paul II appointed Mar Mathew Moolakatt as Co-adjutor Bishop of the Eparchy of Kottayam. He took over as the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Kottayam on January 14, 2006.
He is the member of Permanent Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church; Supreme Moderator of Major Archiepiscopal Tribunal; Chairman of the Synodal Commission for the St.Thomas Apostolic Regional Major Seminary, Vadavathoor, He is member of CBCI Commission for Youth, Chairman of the K.C.B.C Commission for Dialogue, and member of the CBCI Standing Committee and member of the Pontifical Council for dialogue with the Orthodox Syrian and Syrian Orthodox churches.
Mar Joseph Pandarasseril
Auxiliary Bishop of Kottayam
He was born on April 18, 1961 at Ettumanoor, Kottayam. He completed his philosophical and theological studies at St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Mangalore and was ordained a priest on December 28, 1987. He studied Canon Law at Santa Croce University in Rome and took Licentiate Degree in 1995.
Mar Pandarasseril has a wide parish and administrative experience. He served Chakkupallam, Kattappana, Karimkunnam and Edacat parishes. He was also the Rector of the Diocesan Minor Seminary from 1996-99. He served as Additional Chancellor, Eparchial Judge, Eparchial Consulter, Secretary to the Corporate Educational Agency and Syncellus of the Malabar Region. Syro Malabar Synod has chosen him as the Auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Kottayam and the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI assigned him the titular Episcopal See of “Castello di Ripa” on September 21, 2006. He was consecrated bishop on October 28, 2006 at Christ the King Cathedral, Kottayam by Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry, assisted by Major Archbishop Baselios Mar Cleemis and Mar Mathew Moolakkatt. He is the Member, Synodal Commission for Catechism, Chairman of the K.C.B.C. Commission for Youth.
Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry
Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry was born on the 11th of September,1928 at Kaduthuruthy in Kottayam District. He was ordained priest on the 21st of December,1955 in Rome. He received doctorate in Civil and Canon Laws from the University of Lateran in Rome and Master’s degree in Politics from USA. He was nominated bishop of Kepha and appointed Co-Adjutor Bishop of Kottayam on 9th December 1967. On February 24,1968 he received Episcopal Ordination at Sacred Heart Mount, Kottayam from His Eminence Cardinal Maximillian de Furstenberg, Priefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. At the retirement of Mar Thomas Tharayil, he took charge of the Diocese of Kottayam on the 5th of May,1974. In addition to Malayalam and English he knows Italian, Latin, French, German and Syriac. He has served the regional, national and Universal Church in various capacities. He was a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Codification of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter- religious Dialogue. He served as the Chairman of the Ecumenical and Inter-religious Dialogue Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India several times.
He was the Chairman of the St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Alwaye and is now the Chairman of the St Thomas Apostolic Seminary,Vadavathoor and Vice Chancellor of the Paurastiya Vidya-pitham, Vadavathoor. He has held offices in the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council and the Syro-Malabar Bishops’ Conference. He was a member of permanent synod of the Syro-Malabar Archiepiscopal Church and member of commission for Ecumenism and particular law.By the decree “God our loving father” dated May 9, 2005, the Major Archbishop Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil appointed Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry as the first metropolitan of the newly erected metropolitan see of Kottayam. On June 3, 2005 Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil ordained and enthroned Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry as the Metropolitan of Kottayam at a liturgical service in Christ the King Cathedral, Kottayam. The Syro Malabar Synod has accepted his resignation on January 14, 2006.
BISHOPS FROM ARCHEPARCHY
Abp Abraham Viruthakulangara
Archbishop of Nagpur
Archbishop’s House, Mohan Nagar, Nagpur-440 001
Tel: 0712-2533239; 2560780 (P) | Fax: 0712 – 2527906
Born: Jun. 05, 1943 | Priestly Ordination: Oct. 28, 1969
Episcopal Ordination: Jul. 13, 1977
Parish: Kallara New
Bp George Palliparambil, S.D.B.
Bishop of Miao
Bishop’s House, Miao – 7921, Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh
Born: May 15, 1954 | Priestly Ordination: Dec. 19, 1982
Appointed Bishop: Dec. 07, 2005 | Episcopal Ordination: Feb. 26, 2006
Bishop James Thoppil
Bishop of Kohima
Bishop’s House, Catholic Cathedral, P.B. No. 519, Kohima – 797 001, Nagaland
Tel. 0370-2242887, 280097 | Fax: 0370 3228452
Born: March 2, 1959 | Priestly Ordination: January 12, 1986
Episcopal Ordination: September 8, 2011
Charles Lavigne (1840 – 1913)
Charles Lavigne S.J., was born on 6.11.1840 at Sarlette in France. He was ordained for the titular see of Milevia and was appointed to the Apostolic Vicariate of Kottayam in 1887. He was transferred to the Diocese of Trincomalee in the year1896 and he died on July 11, 1913 in France.
Mar Mathew Makil (1851-1914)
Mar Mathew Makil was born on 10.4.1851 at Manjoor in Kottayam Distrit. He was appointed Vicar General for the Southists in the Vicariate of Kottayam in 1889. When the Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam and Trichur were re-organized into Trichur, Ernakulam and Changanassery in 1896, he was nominated Titular Bishop of Trallus and appointed Vicar Apostolic of Changanassery. In 1911, a new Vicariate Apastolic of Kottayam was constituted exclusively for the Knanaya Catholics and Mar Mathew Makil was transferred to Kottayam as Vicar Apostolic. He died at Kottayam on 26-1-1914.
Mar Alexander Chulaparambil (1877-1951)
Mar Alexander Chulaparambil was born on 14-10-1877 at Kumarakom in Kottayam District. He was ordained priest on December 22, 1906. He was nominated titular bishop of Bussaries and appointed Vicar Apostolic of Kottayam on the 16th of July, 1914 by His Holiness Pope St Pius X. When the Syro Malabar hierarchy was constituted on December 21, 1923 he became the Bishop of Kottayam. He died on January 8, 1951.
Mar Thomas Tharayil (1899-1975)
Mar Thomas Tharayil was born on May 5, 1899 at Palathuruth in Kottayam District and was ordained priest on the 18th of December 1926. He was nominated Bishop of Azota and appointed Co-Adjutor Bishop of Kottayam on June 9, 1945 by His Holiness Pope Pius XII. At the demise of Mar Alexander Chulaparambil he became the Bishop of Kottayam on the 8th of January, 1951. He was an educationist. During his episcopacy two colleges – B.C.M. Kottayam, St. Stephens Uzhavoor – were established. He retired from the office on May 5, 1974 and died on July 26,1975.