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The Syro-Malabar Church is an Apostolic Church which traces its origin to the Apostolate
of St. Thomas who, according to the tradition, landed at Cranganore in 52 AD and founded
seven Christian communities at Palayur, Cranganore, Kokkamangalam, Kottakavu (Parur),
Quilon, Niranam, and Chayal. It is one of the 22 sui iuris Oriental Churches in Catholic
Communion with its own particular characteristics expressed in worship, spirituality,
theology and disciplinary laws. The early Christian community in India was known as St.
Thomas Christians. In the course of history this Church entered into life-relation with
the Christian communities which came to be known as the East Syrian Church. This
relationship made the Thomas Christians share the liturgical, spiritual and other
ecclesiastical traditions with the East Syrian Church. At the same time St. Thomas
Christians kept their distinctive character especially in Church administration and
socio-cultural and ascetico-spiritual life. In the 16th Century with the arrival of the
Portuguese, a new era began in the life of this Church, i.e., the latinization of its
liturgy and the efforts of the St. Thomas Christians to free itself from this situation.
In the Nineteenth Century this Church was designated as the Syro-Malabar Church in the
documents from the Roman Curia under which name it is known today.
In 1887 the St. Thomas Christians were re-organized under two Vicariates, Kottayam and
Trichur. In 1896, when the St. Thomas Christians obtained bishops of their own rite and
nation, they were further reorganized into three Vicariates, Trichur, Ernakulam and
Changanacherry. On December 21, 1923, the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy was established with
Ernakulam as the Metropolitan See and Trichur and Changanacherry and Kottayam
(established in 1911 for the Southists) as suffragans. In 1956 Changanacherry was raised
to the status of a Metropolitan See. On December 16, 1992, Pope John Paul II raised the
Syro-Malabar Church to the status of Major Archiepiscopal sui iuris Church with the
title of Ernakulam-Angamaly. Mar Antony Paidyara, the then Metropolitan of Ernakulam was
appointed its Major Archbishop with Mar Abraham Kattumana as the Pontifical Delegate who
discharged the duties of the Major Archbishop. Archbishop Kattumana died unexpectedly
during his visit to Rome in April 1995 and Mar Padiyara was given the powers of the
Major Archbishop. In November 1996 Cardinal Padiyara resigned from his office as Major
Archbishop. In his place Archbishop Varkey Vithayathil, C.Ss.R. was appointed as the
Apostolic Administrator. 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.
At present there are five Archdioceses - Ernakulam-Angamaly, Changanacherry, Trichur,
Tellicherry and Kottayam and 13 eparchies - Idukki, Kothamangalam, Kanjirappally, Palai,
Thuckalay, Belthangady, Bhadravathi, Mananthavady, Mandya, Thamarassery, Irinjalakuda,
Palghat, and Ramanathapuram within the proper territory of the Major Archiepiscopal
Church and 11 eparchies outside - Bijnor, Gorakhpur, Sagar, Satna, Ujjain, Klyan,
Rajkot, Adilabad, Chanda, Jagdalpur and Shamshabad; 6 eparchies outside jurisdictions -
Faridabad, Hosur, Mississaugua, Melbourne, Chicago, and England. There are 41,89,349
faithful, with 7,252 priests (3,617 diocesan and 3,635 religious), and 34,769 women
religious and 4729 men religious.
The history of the Diocese of Kalyan is very much intertwined with the history of the
Syro - Malabar Church itself in India. Having its roots in the Apostolic Ministry of St.
Thomas the Apostle himself who established seven communities of the Christian Church in
Kerala in the first century itself. These Christians migrated to different parts of
India. They concentrated mainly in the big cities of India. In Bombay, Pune and Nasik
regions, they are found in large numbers. The spiritual care of these regions are
assisted by lay association like Kerala Catholic Association (Bombay). St. Thomas
Christians of India (Pune), etc.
On September 8, 1978 Pope John Paul II appointed His Eminence Antony Cardinal Padiyara,
the then Archbishop of Changanacherry as the Apostolic Visitor to study the situation.
The visit of Pope John Paul II to India in 1986 gave him a first hand experience of the
living faith of the Syro - Malabar Christians of India. A Pontifical Commission was
appointed and on the basis of its report came the all-important letter of the Pope to
the Bishops of India observing that the present situation in Bombay - Pune region is
mature for the Churches to take necessary steps in this regard. Finally on May 19th
1988, His Holiness Pope John Paul II made the announcement of the establishment of a new
diocese for the Syro - Malabar Christians of Bombay - Pune - Nasik regions, the Diocese
of Kalyan, and the designation of Mgr. Paul Chittilapilly as its first Bishop. The Bill,
however, was signed by the Pope on April 30, 1988. Thus the birth of the diocese and the
appointment of the first Bishop took effect from April 30,1988. The Episcopal Ordination
and the official inauguration of the diocese took place on August 24, 1988 at the Don
Bosco Grounds, Matunga, Mumbai.
After nine years of dedicated and pioneering work in the newly born diocese, Bishop Paul
Chittilappilly was transferred to the diocese of Thamarassery in Kerala on December 18,
1996 and took charge on February 13, 1997. His successor and the second bishop of Kalyan
Diocese was Mar Thomas Elavanal, whose consecration was on February 8, 1997 at Kannamwar
Nagar, Vikhroli, Mumbai.