The 3rd Apostolic visit of His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch & All the East to INDIA

 

THE  CHURCH  IN  INDIA

THE  CATHOLICOS  OF  INDIA
&
 THE METROPOLITAN TRUSTEE OF THE JACOBITE SYRIAN CHURCH IN INDIA
ABOON  MOR  BASELIOS  THOMAS  I

Introduction 

The Christian Community of Kerala (India) traces back its origin to the advent of St.Thomas, the Apostle to India, who reached the Cragnanore Port in AD 52, and its subsequent spiritual stabilization and growth. 

It is believed that the Apostle started his gospel mission in India, from a small town called "Malayankara"  on the sea coast of 'Paravur' Taluk in Kerala, at a short distance away from Cranganore Port.  It is thus that, when about 400 Christian Settlers from Syria came over in AD 345 under the leadership of Thomas Kana, they, for want of anything better, started referring to all their surroundings as "Malankara" (Phonetically similar to 'Malayankara').  In course of time, as the settlers spread out, all of the Malayalam speaking areas together become 'Malankara' (Rhymes well with the local language, Malayalam too).  This has been recorded in the writings of Mor Youseph, an emissary of the Holy See of Antioch, sent over to administer the needs of the Syrian Christian settlers.   

With the migration of these Christians from Syria in AD.345, the early Christian converts (St.Thomas Christians) as well as the new Christian settlers (Knanaya Christians) came to be known as 'Syrian Christians', as the entire Malankara Christian community thereon adopted the rites & liturgies of the Syrian Church of Antioch and became a part of that ancient Patriarchal See.  

From such small beginnings, the Christian Community of Kerala grew up to its present stature against heavy odds aided, among other providential factors, by the continued tolerance and hospitality of many a neighborhood, the good will of the local rulers and chieftains and others.  However in due course, for various reasons, the Church in Kerala, founded by the Apostle and nurtured by the 4th century Syrian Christian settlers, split into a number of denominations; the Orthodox Churches, the Catholic Church, the Nestorian Church and various other Episcopal as well as non-episcopal protestant churches.   

The Syrian Orthodox Church, which in India (Malankara) also referred to as Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, though in its long history, had to put up with stiff challenge, trials and tribulations; by God's grace, it continues to practice the true Apostolic faith taught by its Holy fathers and be a part of the ancient Universal Syriac Orthodox Church with its distinct identity. 

H.E. Mor Julius Kurikose Metropolitan
The first secretary to His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch

 

Church Administration 

The administration of the Jacobite Syrian Church is considered to be a perfect blend of Episcopal and democratic system, which is a continuation of the tradition followed by the Indian Church from a very early period.  

The Patriarch of Antioch & all the East is the spiritual supreme of the Indian Church, but its temporal powers rests with an independent body (Jacobite Syrian Christian Association), elected from among the representatives of Parishes of Malankara. The head of this association & the local Church is the Catholicos who is also the Metropolitan Trustee. While the Chief Prelate (Catholicos) of the Indian Church has powers to administer the general affairs of the Church, he or the Metropolitan of the dioceses under him have only a limited authority over individual parishes.   

Each of the parishes has its own elected body which takes decisions related to temporal matters; no external body like the diocese or the Church can interfere in their internal administrative structure unless requested by an overwhelming majority. The Metropolitan's primary role is to give spiritual guidance and also to some extent to look after the diocesan properties; but again there is an elected diocesan council to help the Metropolitan for looking after the diocesan properties.

Thus a proper mix of Episcopal & democratic system exists in the Jacobite Syrian Church which makes it administrative structure so unique.  The present form of administration came into existence in the Mulanthuruthy Synod which was held under the auspices of the late lamented Moran Mor Ignatius Peter IV the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East, in A.D. 1876.  

Besides this, there are other dioceses/associations, independent of each other that came into existence in the last century as per the desire of the faithful and are under the direct jurisdiction of the Patriarch. These are the Simhasana (Thronal) churches, the St. Antony's congregation and Honawar Mission (based at Mangalore, founded by Mor Julius Alwarez),  the Evangelical Association of the East ('Pourasthya Suvisesha Samagam') and the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Greater India (comprising of Outside Kerala dioceses-in India). All of these are administered by Metropolitans appointed by the Patriarch of Antioch. Also there is a separate Knanaya diocese that was established in early 20th century for the 4th century Knanaya migrants and is under the administration of a Metropolitan from the community.  All of the above dioceses have their own associations and decisions pertaining them are taken by themselves, but with the approval of the Patriarch of Antioch.  

 

Theological Seminary & the Church HQ.

For the training of the clergy, a Theological Seminary functions at Udayagiri (Vettickal, near Mulunthuruthy), located 20 km from Cochin.  

The first phase of the Patriarchal Centre at Puthencuriz is now nearing completion and is to be consecrated by His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch during the Apostolic visit in September 2004. The Catholicate office and the administrative headquarters of the Indian Church will hereon function at Puthencuriz.

 

 

The Church in India:

             Church History

1. Christian Community of Kerala (India):   http://MalankaraChurch.org

2. History of the Indian Church:   http://www.malankarachurch.org/malankara/MalankaraChurch2.htm

 

Links to a few of the Parishes & Monasteries of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in India

Church Links: http://syriacchristianity.org/

 

The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Prelates of India

            1. Catholicose Mor Baselios Thomas I:  http://saintgregorios.org/PARUMALA/Catholicos_ThomasI.htm

            2. Metropolitans of India:  http://syriacchristianity.org/bio/MalankaraPrelates/MalankaraBishops.htm

            3. 'Malankara Malpan' Very Rev. Kurien Corepiscopa: http://syriacchristianity.org/bio/Kaniamparambil.htm

 

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@ MSCR  -  Malankara Syriac Christian Resources

http://SyriacChristianity.org

 email: mscrp@live.com