Post its independence, India saw a vast and decisive interregional migration, seeking employment and better prospects of life, to major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nasik etc. and other parts of the country. Some of the Syro-Malabar Catholics who were part of this demographic passage migrated to the major cities and other different parts of the State of Maharashtra. Hundreds of thousands of Syro-Malabar Catholics who thus migrated were in unfamiliar religious and spiritual circumstances in the local Latin parishes, whom they depended on for their spiritual needs in the absence of Syro-Malabar priests. Though a good number of them were frequenting to the Latin parishes, they always sought to preserve their ecclesial traditions and heritage intact and to faithfully hand over them to their children. Since they found lacking spiritual, liturgical and ecclesial formation of their Mother Church, they began organizing several spiritual exercises and celebrations such as Holy Eucharist in Malayalam, the feast of St. Sebastian, the Lenten retreats, confessions, prayer meetings, etc.
In 1959, the Catholics of Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and Latin churches who followed Malayalam were brought together under the umbrella of Kerala Catholic Union (KCU) by Fr. Urban OFM Cap., keeping Kirol as the centre of administration and began liturgical celebrations in Malayalam. Simultaneously, in other parts of Mumbai, Kerala Catholic Association (KCA) had a great role in uniting the Catholics from Kerala and in organizing various spiritual and social activities for them. There were other Capuchin fathers who continued to minister among the Kerala Catholics for many years. Some of them were Fr. Maximos, Fr. Gerald, Fr. Mathew, Fr. Thomas, Fr. Gilbert, Fr. Abraham, Fr. Jose Kollannoor and Fr. Paul Mathew.
After the Vatican Council II that was very vocal about the liturgical and spiritual needs of the migrants just as about the individuality of different sui iuris Churches, many such discussions were initiated especially by Mar Joseph Powathil in CBCI. Articles and memoranda prepared and published by Rev. Fr. Placid Podippara, Rev. Msgr. Mathew Vellanickal and Rev. Fr. Xavier Koodapuzha gave theological and historical perspectives to those discussions. The conclusions, suggestions, recommendations of all India seminar on “The Church in India Today” were adopted by the CBCI and to study the matter in depth, the Committee for Rites was formed.
On 21st August 1976, at the request of the Archbishop of Bombay, the Syro-Malabar Bishop’s Conference sent four priests for the pastoral care of the Malayalee Catholics. They were Fr. Primus Alapat (CMI), Fr. Joseph Pulickan from the Archdioceses of Trichur, Fr. Joseph Nagaroor from the Archdiocese of Changanacherry, and Fr. Sebastian Thuruthel (MST). Later when Syro-Malabar Church entrusted this ministry to CMI congregation, Devmatha Trichur province in 1984, many CMI priests such as Fr. Celsus Kanjirathingal, Fr. Pastor Joseph Neelanakavil, Fr. Paul Kadicheeni, Fr. James Orumpakatt, Fr. Peter Thomas Kandavanathil, Fr. Mani Kuzhikandathil, Fr. Job Vallipalam, Fr. L. F. Jose Padinjarepeedika, Fr. Sebastian Kallarackal, Fr. Mathew Panthiruvelil, Fr. Raphael Perincherry, Fr. Andrews Athapilly served the Catholic faithful from Kerala in Mumbai.
In the Diocese of Poona, in parishes like Kirkee, Dehu Road where there were good number of Catholics, the Malayalee Catholics organized themselves into various Associations. Fr. Eugene Mangooran CMI (1943 -1951), Fr. Theophilus Njaliyal CMI (1956-60), Fr. Eustace Thottan CMI (1972-1974), other Carmelites (CMI), priests from ‘Order of the Imitation of Christ’ (OIC) who have their study houses in Ramwadi and the priests who were studying Papal Athenaeum attended to the pastoral and spiritual needs of these faithful. The Kerala Catholic community in Poona took a decisive step in 1983 with the establishment of the association ‘St. Thomas Catholics of India’ (STCI) under the guidance of Rev. Fr. Gabinus Petta CMI. The memoranda sent by the association to the Bishop of Poona and SMBC and the discussions in CBCI at Trichinopoly and at Goregaon prompted Bishop Valerian D’Souza of Poona to request the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy (SMBC) for priests in the pastoral care of Syro-Malabar Catholics in his Diocese. At his request, the SMBC entrusted this ministry to the Missionary Society of St. Thomas (MST) who in 1984 sent Rev. Frs. George Kavukatt (MST) and Lonappan Arangassery (MST) as chaplains of Syro-Malabar Catholics in Poona, Nashik and Ahmednagar region. More priests from MST joined in Pastoral ministry which intensified growth of more Syro-Malabar Communities in the region.
On 8th September 1978, Pope John Paul I appointed an Apostolic Visitor, Mar Antony Padiyara, to study the spiritual situation of the migrant Syro-Malabar Catholics in Mumbai. Fr. Xavier Koodapuzha served as the secretary of the Apostolic Visitor. Mar Antony Padiyara who reached Mumbai on 3rd February 1979, was welcomed and given all necessary assistance by Kerala Catholic Association. After a series of eighteen meetings with the Syro-Malabar faithful in different parts of Mumbai from 4th to 18th February 1979, a report was submitted on 5th January 1980 on the spiritual situation of the faithful, especially of the Nurses, who formed a good part of this community. The report was further discussed at various levels in CBCI from 1982 to 1985. Meanwhile, in the Synod Bishops held at Rome in 1985, the Bishops from the Oriental Churches spoke strongly on the rights of the Oriental Churches in India.
After various discussion in SMBC about the stability of the pastoral ministry for the Syro-Malabar Catholics in Bombay and subsequent creation of an Eparchy for them, SMBC requested Bishop Joseph Kundukulam of the Archdiocese of Trichur to send priests from there, since a good number migrants in Bombay was from the civil district of Trichur. On the 14th May 1987, Msgr. Paul Chittilapilly along with Fr. Jacob Porathur, Fr. George Vadakkethala and Fr. George Edakulathoor took up the ministry among the Syro-Malabar Catholics in Mumbai.
The historical and ecclesiastical developments both at global and in the State of Maharashtra had a happy ending on 1st Feb. 1986, when Pope John Paul II addressed the Bishops of India in Delhi, he assured them of an earlier settlement of the problems of the migrant Catholics and elicited the co-operation of all concerned. This assurance was materialized with the appointment of a high level Pontifical Commission, on whose report, came the all-important letter of Pope John Paul II to the Bishops of India on 28th May 1987, where he stated that given the number of Catholics of the Syro-Malabar Rite in the Bombay-Pune region of India, the situation is considered as mature enough for the establishment of an Eparchy of the Syro-Malabar Rite. On 30th April 1988, Pope John Paul II created the Eparchy of Kalyan for the Syro-Malabar Catholics and appointed its first Bishop. The Eparchy of Kalyan has its jurisdiction over 15 civil districts of Maharashtra and has territorial co-extension with five Latin dioceses: the Archdiocese of Bombay, the Dioceses of Vasai, Poona, Nashik and Sindhudurg. On 24th August, 1988 at Don Bosco Grounds, Matunga, Bombay, the Eparchy of Kalyan was inaugurated and Msgr. Paul Chittilapilly was consecrated and installed as its first Bishop.
Soon after the inauguration of the Eparchy, more priests from different Dioceses in Kerala and from different Religious Congregations volunteered to look after the spiritual and pastoral needs of the Syro-Malabar faithful in the Eparchy. Some of them were ascribed to the new Eparchy, just as many seminarians who were in their different stages of their priestly formations opted to join the new Eparchy. Besides, the Eparchy recruited many seminarians for the Eparchy of Kalyan in the Minor Seminaries of many Dioceses in Kerala. Many religious women congregations from Kerala and from elsewhere in India started convents in different parts of the Eparchy to assist in the pastoral ministry and to fulfil their charisms through educational and other social and charitable institutions.
The new Eparchy under the able leadership of Mar Paul Chittilappilly laid strong foundations for its pastoral development by organizing various pastoral activities for the Syro-Malabar faithful with the help of the Latin Dioceses, using the premises of the Latin Parishes. The faithful in the Eparchy wholeheartedly accepted the new ecclesiastical arrangement and worked with much enthusiasm for attaining infrastructural self-sufficiency. They, together with the priests and the religious took up many challenges to reach the goal of having their own parish churches. Since there were a few incidents of resistance from a group of the faithful to join the new Eparchy, ‘Indult of privilege’ for continuing in the Latin parishes were granted to them on September 18, 1993.
In order to make sure of the Christians presence and services in all 15 civil districts of the Eparchy, 10 of them were entrusted to MST, VC, MCBS and CMI religious congregations. On May 1st, 1990 Sangli, Kolhapur, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri districts were formed as St. Thomas Mission of MST Congregation. On 11th September 1991, Ahmednagar district was made Vincentian mission of Vincentian Congregation. On 4th October 1992, Satara and Solapur districts were formed as MCBS Mission. On 2nd February 1993, Jalgao and Dhule districts were made Chavara mission of CMI Congregation.
After nine years of dedicated pioneering work in the newly born Eparchy, Bishop Paul Chittilapilly was transferred to the Diocese of Thamarassery in Kerala on December 18, 1996 and took charge on February 13, 1997.
Mar Thomas Elavanal, the second Bishop of Kalyan was consecrated on February 8, 1997 at Vikhroli, Mumbai. Under his committed and motivating leadership, the Eparchy is progressing to its heights with clarity of vision, keeping its spiritual and ecclesial identity together with its involvement in social and charitable activities. The Eparchy marks its presence in the Catholic Church for its swift and steady progress. St. Thomas Minor Seminary at Panvel, inaugurated on 1st July, 2006 and Animation and Renewal Centre (Diocesan Pastoral Centre) at Panvel, inaugurated on 2nd October, 2012 are just two examples of the many milestones the Eparchy has achieved. The Eparchy celebrated its Silver Jubilee on 10th November, 2013 on Somaiya Ground, Sion, remembering thankfully the efforts of all who contributed in pastoring it in right direction and for its structural developments especially in the construction of the numerous Churches and the integral development of the people of Maharashtra. The Eparchy has spread its wings to reach to the needy in different strata of the society to touch their lives for Christ and to bring to them integral development through its Social Action Forum, especially the Karunya Trust. The Eparchy continue witnessing Jesus in the mega cities of Maharashtra through their genuine and disciplined ecclesial living and spreading of God’s Kingdom.
IMPORTANT EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE SYRO-MALABAR CHURCH
42 – 46 AD First Visit of St. Thomas, the Apostle came to North India.
52 Second Visit of St.Thomas, the Apostle came to India and established Christian Communities.
03 July 72 Martyrdom of St.Thomas at Mylapore.
325 Mar John, the Metropolitian of India took part in the 1st Ecumenical Council at Nicea.
345 Thomas Cana landed at Cranganore.
340 Special privileges to the leaders of the Syrian Christians
545 According to Cosmas Indicoplastus (Christian Topography, 118-19), there was a Bishop at Kalyan (Calliana) appointed from Persia.
849 By the Thareesapalli Copperplates, Ayyanadikal granted a number of Privilegesand 72 stately positions to the Church and churchmen of Kerala.
1498 Vasco de Gama came to Kerala.
1542 St. Francis Xavier came to Kerala.
1597 The last of the Persian Bishops for the Thomas Christians, Mar Joseph died.
20-26 June 1599 Synod of Diamper (Udayamperoor)
4 Aug 1600 The Supremacy of the Portuguese King (Padroado) over the Marthoma Christians is imposed.
3 Jan 1653 In protest against the Portuguese rule of the Church, the Marthoma Christians took the Coonan Cross Oath at Mattanchery, Cochin.
1661 Bishop Joseph Sebastiani reaches Kerala bringing with him the special powers and instructions from the Pope.
31 Jan 1633 Bishop Palliveetil Chandy is consecrated the first Vicar Apostolic of Malabar by Bishop Joseph Sebastiani.
20 May 1887 Two Vicariates, Trichur&Kottayam, established for Marthoma Christians, by Pope Leo XIII.
26 July 1896 The two Syrian Vicariates reconstituted into Trichur, Ernakulam & Changanacherry Vicariates.
21 Dec 1923 Establishment of the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy with Ernakulam as the Metropolitan See and Trichur, Changanacherry & Kottayam as suffragan Sees.
1947 India gets independence. Migration of Malayalees to various parts of India especially to Bombay (Mumbai) increases.
HISTORICAL MILESTONES IN THE FORMATION OF THE EPARCHY
1959 In Bombay an association with the name of Kerala Catholic Union and later as Kerala Catholic Association was formed with the help of priests and lay leaders.
1959 – 1976 Religious priests of OFM spiritually guided the KCU.
8 Jan 1961 The KCU was formally inaugurated at St Xavier’s Ground Parel by His Excellency Rt Rev. Dr. William Gomez, the Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay.
21 Aug 1976 At the request of Cardinal Valerian Gracias the Archbishop of Bombay, the Syro-Malabar Bishop’s Conference sent two priests: Fr. Primus Alappat CMI and Fr. Sebastian Thuruthel who were received by KCU.
1978-14 Sep 1981 Fr. Joseph Nagaroor guided the community and the association as General Spiritual Director and Chaplain. Then Fr Joseph Pulickan became the General Spiritual Director.
8 Sept 1978 Appointment of Archbishop Mar Antony Padiyara as the Apostolic Visitor by Pope John Paul I, to study the pastoral problems of the Syro-Malabar emigrants outside Kerala and to propose practical solutions.
4-18 Feb 1979 Mar Antony Padiyaramade his historic visit and conducted eighteen meetings in the different parts of Mumbai and Pune.
5 Jan 1980 Mar Antony Padiyara, Apostolic Visitatorsubmitted the Report to Rome.
13 Jan 1981 Visit of His Eminence Wladislaw Cardinal Rubin, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, on his way back to Rome from Kerala. A memorandum was handed over to the Cardinal the general secretary of KCU on the occasion stating the pastoral problems and needs of the migrants from Kerala.
9-16 Jan 1982 CBCI discussions at Trichinopoly.
24-28 Aug 1983 Theological discussion at the Goregaon Seminary, Bombay.
1983 STCI was formed in Pune by the initiative of Fr. Petta CMI with the help of OICs.
1984 At the request of Bishop Valerian D’Souza, SMBC entrusted the Pune Region to the priests of MST.
9 June 1984 Fr. George Kavukattand Fr. Lonappan Arangassery took over in Pune, Nasik, and Ahmednagar areas.
1984 The pastoral care of the Kerala Catholics was entrusted to the priests of the CMI congregation and Fr. Celsus CMI took charge as General Spiritual Director assisted by Fr. Andrews Athappilly and Fr Peter Thomas CMI.
1984 CBCI discussions at Nagpur.
1985 CBCI discussions at Goa.
Oct 1985 Appeal of the Oriental Bishops at the Bishop’s Synod in Rome.
1 Feb. 1986 Papal Assurance to the Bishops of India at Delhi.
1987 Pope John Paul II appointed a Pontifical Commission to study this question with 7 members under the Presidency of the Cardinal Secretary of State, composed of the Cardinal Prefects of the two Roman Congregations directly concerned in the matter such as Congregation for the Oriental Churches and Congregation for the Propagation of Faith, the apostolic Pro-Nuncio in India, Archbishops representing the three Rites in India, and others.
12 May 1987 As directed by Syro-Malabar Bishops Conference, the Diocese of Trichur sent Mgr. Paul Chittilappilly, the then Vicar General of Trichur, and a team of three more priests for the pastoral care of the Malayalees of Bombay.
14 May 1987 Mgr. Paul Chitillapilly, Frs. Jacob Porathur, George Vadekethala, George Edakulathur reached Mumbai and took up the charge as Malayalee Chaplians.
08 Aug 1987 His Eminence Simon Cardinal Lourduswami, the prefect of the Congregations for the Oriental Churches attended the concluding functions of the Centenary celebration of the Diocese of Trichur. A warm welcome was organized by Mgr. Paul Chittilapilly and his team including lay persons at the Mumbai Airport.
28 May 1987 Letter of Pope John Paul II to the Bishops of India on.
April 1988 Agreement arrived at the CBCI meeting held at the St. Thomas Ap. Seminary, Vadavathoor.