There was boom in the migration from Kerala to Northern Ireland during the early 2000’s. Majority of migrants were Medical Professionals and their families. Rev. Fr. Sony Palathara CMI celebrated the first Malayalam Holy Mass in the Clonard Monastery on 11th October 2002. Since then the community continued the Holy mass every month, and celebrated Christmas and New Year. Every year the community conducted retreats for adults, youth and children by popular retreat teams from Kerala.
In the course of time the strength of the community increased and people settled not only in Belfast but in other areas of Northern Ireland like Lisburn, Bangor, Antrim, Portadown, Eniskileen and Derry. To help the members in these areas Masses started there also. Priests, Rev. Fr. Mathew Arakkaparambil and Rev. Fr. Paul Njaliath from Dublin, helped the community for their spiritual needs. In 2010 Rev. Fr. Joseph Karukayil was appointed in the diocese of Derry. He extended his service to other parts of Northern Ireland.
When the then migrant bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Gregory Karotemprayil CMI visited the community in the year 2005, arrangements were made with the Down and Connor bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Patrick Walsh and bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Donal McKeown to appoint a malayalee priest for the community. The process of appointing the priest took many years until Rev. Dr. Fr. Antony Perumayan was appointed as a curate in the St Pauls Church Belfast. He arrived Belfast on 7th Jan 2011. He took charge officially during the initiation ceremony led by bishop Dr. Donal McKeown, on 16th Jan 2011.
As a Church that existed outside the Roman Empire, the Church of the St. Thomas Christians had little contact with the Roman or the other Churches within the Empire.At the same time it maintained communion with the Church of Rome through the Church in the Persian Empire,which later came to be known as the East Syrian or Chaldean or Babylonian Church. It is believed that Christianity in Persian Empire was introduced by the disciples of St. Thomas. It seems that the Christians in India had contact with these Christians of the Persian Empire from very early times. Given the commercial relations of India of those days such a contact was possible.
In the middle of the 4th century or later a group of Christians from these communities under the leadership of a merchant called Thomas of Kinayi migrated to the southern parts of India Known as Kerala now. The descendants of this latter group are called Knananites or Southists and the former Northists. Both of them belong the Syro-
For some unknown reasons at least from the 8th century until the end of the 16th century the Bishops of the Syro-
Because of the Portuguese colonisation of parts of India in the early 16th century and of the consequent ecclesiastical arrangements, from 1600 onwards European Bishops from the Latin Church were appointed by the Pope to govern the St.Thomas Christians. Their rule ended in 1896 in which year indigenous Bishops from among the St.Thomas Christians were appointed to the Church of St.Thomas Christians. By that time the ancient name “Church of St.Thomas Christians” had given way to the present name “Syro-
During the period from 1653 to 1887 many divisions took place in the Syro-
There was tension in the Church because the faithful wanted to keep the true faith but not under the Bishop who was appointed by the Portuguese crown. Some remained in schism while others came back to the obedience of the Latin Bishop. Those who remained under the “pseudo Bishop” later accepted the tradition of the Antiochean non-
There were continuous attempts for reestablishing the lost communion. But nothing succeeded mainly because of the opposition from the European missionaries. It was to obtain permission for receiving this group into the Catholic Church that Fr. Joseph Kariattil and Fr. Thomas Paremmakkal, two priests from the Church of St.Thomas Christians, went to Rome in the 18th century. Fr.Kariattil was ordained archbishop of the St.Thomas Christians, and had received a mandate to receive the dissident group with its bishop to the Catholic communion. Unfortunately Bishop Kariattil on his way to Kerala died in Goa in 1786. Finally, in 1930 a group of them under the leadership of their archbishop called Mar Ivanios reestablished their communion with the Catholic Church and the Holy See accepted it as a separate Catholic Church with the name of Syro-
Those who remained in communion of Pope after the Coonan Cross Oath later came to be known as the Syro-
Ever since the Syro-
Various ways are prescribed for providing pastoral care for these migrant Eastern Christians. The first one is to set apart a priest in the Latin Parish for the care of Eastern Christians. If that does not ensure proper care, then vicar general under the local Bishop is to be appointed. If that too becomes ineffective because of any reason, particularly because the number of the faithful to be taken care of is too big,then a diocese should be established for them.
The Knanaya community had their own parishes and in 1911 a separate vicariate apostolic, Kottayam was erected for them. Bishop Kuriakose Kunnacherry is their present bishop. He has jurisdiction over all the Kananaya faithful within the provinces of Ernakulam , Changanacherry, Trichur and Tellicherry. The auxiliary bishop of Kottayam as Syncellus or representative of the Bishop of Kottayam resides at Kannur in Northern Kerala and looks after the needs of the Kananaya faithful in the Northern Kerala.
At the time of the Coonan Cross Oath many of the Kananaya parishes also had accepted the “pseudo bishop” ordained by the twelve priests. In the course of time they too accepted the Antiochean way of worship and customs. When the reestablishment of communion came about in 1930 some of the Kananaya parishes also followed the same. However instead of joining the Syro-
The St. Thomas Christians in India were under the rule of the Latin bishops from 1600 to 1896. In 1887 the St. Thomas Christians were given two separate ecclesiastical circumscriptions called Apostolic vicariates. They were Trichur and Kottayam. In 1896 there took place a reorganization as a result three vicariates, namely Trichur, Ernakulam and Changanacherry came into existence. Three Syro –
Canon Law foresees only four categories of sui iuris Churches and the Syro-
In November 1996 Cardinal Padiyara resigned from his office as Major Archbishop. In his place instead of allowing the synod to elect a new Major Archbishop the Pope appointed an Administrator in the person of Archbishop Varkey Vithayathil, C.Ss.R. He was a priest belonging to the Redemptorist Congregation. In December 1998 he was appointed Major Archbishop by the Pope. In February 2001 Archbishop Vithayathil was created a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II.
According to the Oriental Canon Law the Major Archbishop is the head of the Syro –
The Major Archbishop of the Syro-