History of the Syro-Malabar Church, Cork, Ireland
The Syro-Malabar Church traces its origin to the missionary works of St. Thomas the Apostle who landed on the Malabar Coast in AD 52. Thus, it is clear that the Church has a long tradition and originated at the same time as did the first Christian thought. St Thomas Christians are the Christians rooted on Indian soil, and the Syro-Malabar Church is the church that took root on Indian soil. Most of the Syro-Malabar Catholics live in Kerala, the cradle of Christianity in India.
The first, reported, Syro-Malabar Malayalam Mass was celebrated by Fr. Joy Panjikkaran MST, at St. Mary’s Church, Cork City, on 20th August 2005 with the permission of Fr. Simon Roche, a Dominican priest, who was a missionary in India for many years. There were about 35 members to attend the Mass. Seeing the enthusiastic presence and need of our people (Syro-Malabar Catholics), Mr. Thomaskutty Eyyalil approached Rev. Fr. Sony Sebastian Palathara CMI, a PhD student in Dublin, to offer Malayalam Mass in Cork. He accepted the invitation and celebrated Mass on 22nd January 2006. The response of the people was very encouraging. About 100 people attended this first official Mass in St. Joseph SMA Church, Wilton. Having realized the pastoral needs of the community Fr. Sony Sebastian agreed to come and offer Holy Mass on every second Sundays in Cork. It really was a turning point in the history of the Indian Christian community in Cork. Here we specially acknowledge the dedication and hard work of Miss. Bindhu Antony, Miss. Roshni George and Mr. Mathew P Jose, for the smooth functioning of our Sunday gatherings and all the other activities. Gradually, the Syro-Malabar community in Cork began to have Holy Mass and other religious activities more frequently, in an organized way. We gratefully remember the encouragement and support we have received from Rev. Fr. Cormac Breathnach SMA and Rev. Fr. Denis Collins SMA, priests in charge of SMA Church. It is their constant support and encouragement that made our dream a reality.
However, a turning point in the history of the Syro-Malabar community in Cork took place on 12th August 2006. On that day Fr. Mathew Arackaparambil and Fr. Thankachen Paul Najallieth, the chaplains of Indian community in Dublin Archdiocese, celebrated Holy Mass at St. Joseph Church Wilton SMA in Syro-Malabar Rite in Malayalam, and constituted the first official church committee.This committee included 12 members, representing the various areas from Co Cork.
The formation of the committee helped us to put in order our functions and make it more effective. As a result, Mr. James Zachariah made special efforts in organizing the Sunday-school catechism for our children, and Mr. John Panicker helped us to get the data base of the members of our community. Having felt the urgent need of a Chaplain for the Indian community in Cork, we officially requested Bishop Most Rev. John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross, and Bishop Most Rev. Gregory Krotembrel, Bishop of Rajkot, and in Charge of the migrants in Europe, to appoint a chaplain for us. Thus, in November 2007, our dream become true, and we were rewarded with the appointment of a full time priest in-charge, Fr. Johnson Chalissery from Kerala, to lead our community as one family. With gratitude we extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has helped us in making our dream a reality within a very short time. We are indebted to Most. Rev. John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross, and Mar Gregory Krotembrel, Bishop of Rajkot, and in Charge of migrants in Europe, for their constant support and encouragement.
With a view to strengthen the bond of unity and fellowship among the Syro Malabar community, the community has been grouped into Family Units, each functioning under a Saints name. These Family Units, arrange regular monthly prayer meetings in any one of their families. The members of the community are encouraged to be sensitive to the social needs of the people among whom they live and prosper, by sharing our wealth and talents within the affordable magnitude.