Lancaster: Two Syro-Malabar Catholic parishes established

Syro-Malabar parishioners with Archbishop Peter Smith at last year's Migrants Mass in Southwark

Syro-Malabar parishioners with Archbishop Peter Smith at last year's Migrants Mass in Southwark

Two Syro-Malabar Personal Parishes have been established in the Diocese of Lancaster.

The Personal Parish of Saint Alphonsa (placed within the Preston Deanery of Our Lady and St Wilfrid) will serve Syro-Malabar Catholics within the Preston area and now has exclusive use of St Ignatius Church and presbytery, Preston. The Personal Parish of Saints Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Euphrasia, (placed within the Blackpool Deanery of St Kentigern) will serve Syro-Malabar Catholics in the rest of the Diocese and will continue to use the various parish churches and facilities around the Diocese that already extend hospitality.

Both will be served by Parish Priest Fr Mathew Jacob as Parish Priest. Bishop Michael Campbell has established the parishes, by canonical decree, effective from 23 March 1015, after consultation with the Diocesan Council of Priests, in response to a request (made in January 2015) by the Major-Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Cardinal George Alencherry.

A statement from the diocese says: "Thought to be the first Personal Parishes for the Syro-Malabar Church in Europe, the two parishes, will make an invaluable contribution to Church life within the Diocese. The granting of the request by the Bishop is motivated by the need to have a spiritual care of souls and the unity of the Diocese with the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

Members of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church throughout the Diocese are delighted by the news of the establishment of the Personal Parishes. "We are very pleased and very grateful to the Bishop," Father Mathew Jacob said: "It is recognition by the Diocese of the place of the Syro-Malabar Church here."

Fr Jacob said that the erection of the Personal Parishes provides a clear reference point and strong sense of identity and historical development of our people - particularly important in this time of rapid social and cultural change.

Fr Jacob said the Bishop's promulgation of the decrees, following the decision (of January 2015) of the Bishop to give St Ignatius church and presbytery for the use of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church signifies that the Syro-Malabar faithful are an important part of the Diocese and are 'here to stay'. "What was the chaplaincy to the Syro-Malabar faithful in the Diocese was originally created in 2004 by Fr Jose Thaiparambil SJ and Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue and this was an important first step.

"The establishment of the Personal Parishes gives further recognition, security and stability to our people," he said.

It hoped that at some point in the autumn there will be an Inaugural Mass for all these initiatives (in the Syro-Malabar rite) at St Ignatius church, Preston with both Cardinal Alencherry and Bishop Campbell.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is a Major Archiepiscopal Church in full communion with the Catholic Church. The Church is headed by the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Mar George Alencherry. The members of the Church are known as Mar Thoma Nasranis or Syrian Catholics. It was established by St Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century in southern India. According to the Pontifical Yearbook there are about 4.9 Syro Malabar Catholics worldwide.

Source: Diocese of Lancaster/ICN

Tags: Diocese of Lancaster, Fr Mathew Jacob, Our0D0ALady and St Wilfrid Syro Malabar St Ignatius Church and presbytery, Personal Parish of Saint Alphonsa, Preston, Saints Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Euphrasia, Syro Malabar Catholics, Syro Malabar Personal Parishes

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