Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Palai

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Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Palai
St. Thomas Cathedral, Pala.jpg
Ecclesiastical provinceChanganassery
Area1,166 km2 (450 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2009)
326,747 (47%)
Established25 July 1950
CathedralCathedral of St Thomas in Palai
Patron saintImmaculate Conception
St Thomas the Apostle St. Alphonsa
Current leadership
Major ArchbishopGeorge Alencherry
ܡܸܛܪܵܦܘܿܠܝܼܛܵܐ ܘܬܲܪܐ ܕܟܠ ܗܸܢܕܘܿ ܡܵܪܲܢ ܡܵܪܝ ܓܝܼܘܲܪܓܝܼܣ ܡܸܛܪܵܦܘܿܠܝܼܛܵܐ
BishopJoseph Kallarangattܡܵܪܝ ܝܵܘܣܹܦ ܐܲܦܸܣܩܘܿܦܵܐ
Metropolitan ArchbishopJoseph Perumthottam
Auxiliary BishopsJacob Muricken
Bishops emeritusJoseph Pallikaparampil Bishop Emeritus (1981-2004) website = Website of the Eparchy

The Eparchy (Diocese) of Palai is a Syro-Malabar Catholic eparchy with an area of 1166 km2[1] comprising the Meenachil taluk and a few villages of the neighbouring taluks in Kottayam, Ernakulam, and Idukki districts of central Kerala in South India. The faithful of this eparchy, numbering 326,742, belong to the ancient St. Thomas Christian community. The seat of the bishop is the St. Thomas Cathedral based in the town of Palai. The current bishop is Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, serving since March 2004. Mar Jacob Muricken has been auxiliary bishop since 2012.

Pope Pius XII established the eparchy bifurcating then Eparchy of Changanacherry, and out of the territory covered by the then foranes of Palai, Muttuchira, Kuravilangad, Anakkallu and Ramapuram on 25 July 1950. Initially, the eparchy was erected as a suffragan of the Acheparchy of Ernakulam. The then apostolic nuncio to India, Archbishop Leo P. Kierkels, installed Mar Sebastian Vayalil as the first bishop of the new eparchy. Eparchy of Changanacherry was elevated to the status of Archeparchy and constituted the new ecclesiastical province of Changanacherry on 22 August 1956. Thus, the eparchy of Palai became one of its suffragans.

Rite of Renewal of Holy Leaven (Malka) by Joseph Kallarangatt and Co Celebrant: Malpan Malpane Koonammackal Thoma Kathanar at Beth Aprem Nasrani Dayara at Kuravilangad


Pope Pius XII, by the Bull "Quo Ecclesiarum", issued on 25 July 1950, bifurcated the eparchy of Changanacherry and out of the territory covered by the then Foranes of Palai, Muttuchira, Kuravilangad, Anakkallu and Ramapuram erected the eparchy of Palai as a suffragan of the Archeparchy of Ernakulam. Leo P. Kierkels, the Apostolic Internuncio in India, published the Bull in the St. Thomas Cathedral Palai on 4 January 1951 and installed Sebastian Vayalil as the first bishop of the new eparchy. On 22 August 1956 when the Holy See by the Ap. Const. ‘Regnum Coelorum’ raised the eparchy of Changanacherry to the status of an archeparchy and constituted the new ecclesiastical province of Changanacherry, the eparchy of Palai became one of its suffragans. Joseph Kallarangatt is the current bishop of the eparchy. Jacob Muricken was appointed as auxiliary bishop in 2012.

Saints and causes for canonisation[edit]

Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception[edit]

Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception was beatified along with Kuriakose Elias Chavara at Kottayam, on 8 February 1986 by Pope John Paul II during his Apostolic Pilgrimage to India. During his speech at Nehru Stadium, the Pope said that: "From early in her life, Sister Alphonsa experienced great suffering. With the passing of the years, the heavenly Father gave her an ever fuller share in the Passion of his beloved Son. We recall how she experienced not only physical pain of great intensity, but also the spiritual suffering of being misunderstood and misjudged by others. But she constantly accepted all her sufferings with serenity and trust in God, … She wrote to her spiritual director: "Dear Father, as my good Lord Jesus loves me so very much, I sincerely desire to remain on this sick bed and suffer not only this, but anything else besides, even to the end of the world. I feel now that God has intended my life to be an oblation, a sacrifice of suffering" (20 November 1944). She came to love suffering because she loved the suffering Christ. She learned to love the Cross through her love of the crucified Lord."[2] On Sunday, 12 October 2008, Pope Benedict XVI announced her canonization at a ceremony at Saint Peter's Square. Indians from across the world, especially people from Kerala, gathered at the ceremony in Rome. Among them was a 10-year-old Kerala boy Jinil Joseph whose clubfoot – a birth defect – was, in the judgment of Vatican officials, miraculously healed after prayers to Alphonsa in 1999. In the homily, Pope Benedict XVI recalled Alphonsa's life as one of "extreme physical and spiritual suffering." "This exceptional woman … was convinced that her cross was the very means of reaching the heavenly banquet prepared for her by the Father", the pope stated. "By accepting the invitation to the wedding feast, and by adorning herself with the garment of God's grace through prayer and penance, she conformed her life to Christ's and now delights in the 'rich fare and choice wines' of the heavenly kingdom." "(Her) heroic virtues of patience, fortitude and perseverance in the midst of deep suffering remind us that God always provides the strength we need to overcome every trial", the pope stated before the ceremony ended. The grave at St. Mary's Forane Church in Bharananganam where the Franciscan Clarist Sister was buried had a chapel built there, which houses her mortal remains.

Thevarparampil Kunjachan[edit]

Thevarparambil Kunjachan (born Augustine) was a priest who dedicated himself to the spiritual and temporal welfare of a marginalized set of people who were poor and exploited for generations. Augustine was born on 1 April 1891, at Ramapuram in Travancore (present-day Kerala, India). He was the son of Itty Iype and Eliswa of the Thevarparambil clan, which was a branch of the Kuzhumpil lineage. Augustine received his primary education at a school sponsored by the government of Travancore. He advanced to St. Ephrem's School in Mannanam where his religious faith intensified, compelling him to pursue a career as a priest. After completing in secondary education at St Ephrem's School, Augustine embarked on a jounery on foot from Ramapuram to Changanacherry in order to enroll in St Thomas Minor Seminary. After receiving his major seminary formation at Puthenpally Seminary in Varapuzha, Augustine was ordained as a priest on 16 July 1915. In Ramapuram, Kunjachan witnessed an entire caste of people deprived of dignity, respect, and the basic necessities of life. He would devote his entire life towards the upheaval of the downtrodden. After a brief period of serious illness Kunjachan died on 16 October 1973 at the age of 82. At his death the children and others told that "a saint has passed away." At his funeral the priest who preached the panegyric, spoke well of his holiness in life, apostolic zeal, kindness of heart, love for the poor and other outstanding virtues. And towards the end of the speech he said to the surprise of all, "we are participating in the funeral of a saint. We have one more mediator in heaven." Kunjachan had the reputation of a holy man even while he was alive. People irrespective of caste and religion, used to approach him in their manifold needs and they got favours through his prayers and blessings. Within a few days after his death his tomb at Ramapuram became a centre of pilgrimage for people from far and wide. The process of Beatification and Canonization started on 11 August 1987 at Ramapuram, bestowing upon him the title, 'Servant of God'. The `Positio super vita et virtutibus' was completed after ten years and was submitted at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 12 February 1997. The 'Positio' on the heroic practice of virtues of the saintly priest was approved by Pope John Paul II on 22 June 2004 and he was declared 'Venerable'. Meanwhile, the process of the miraculous cure of the clubfoot of a boy was undertaken, and the findings were sent to Rome for consideration. After a thorough investigation of the miraculous nature of the cure, made by competent personnel in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI approved it, opening the way for beatification. Kunjachan was beatified by Cardinal. Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church on 30 April 2006 at the very same village Ramapuram where he was born, worked, died and buried. The Papal Nuncio to India Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), and other bishops and priests participated in the ceremony. The Feast of Blessed Kunjachan is celebrated on 16 October every year. Kunjachan had his last times at family house Thervarparampil Ramapuram.[3]

Mathew Kadalikkattil[edit]

Mathew Kadalikkattil, ardent devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a man of compassionate heart. He was born on 25 April 1872 as the second son of Cherian and Rosa of a Syrian Catholic family Kadalikkattil at Edappady belonging to the diocese of Pala. The family atmosphere of Kadalikkattil was so religious that it instilled in the boy the noblest qualities of compassion to the poor, selfless love, an inclination to prayer and other Christian virtues. Right from his younger days he had the opportunity to grow in the devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. As he wanted to dedicate himself fully to the service of the church, he joined the seminary conducted in the Syrian Carmelite monastery at Mannanam and was ordained priest on 17 February 1901. He was a true follower of the good shepherd in search of the lost sheep very much like 'Cure De Ars'. He spent long hours in the confessional and brought about changes in the lives of many sinners. To experience and share the compassionate love of the Sacred Heart to the poor and the destitute he started a new religious community on January 1, 1911 in a small house with four members and consecrated it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He had become an apostle of devotion to the Sacred Heart to the extent that he used to sign himself under the title 'The servant of Sacred Heart'. Many families were inspired by his devotion to the Sacred Heart to lead a fervent Christian life. Thirty four years of physical strain, continuous attention to difficult work, frequent rheumatic and diabetic complaints have been exhausting his energy. After a month of very painful illness he yielded his soul to the loving Heart of Jesus on 23 May 1935. The cause for the beatification and canonization of Mathew Kadalikkattil was started on 24 January 1989. After completing the process of study, Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree promulgated by the Congregation for the Cause of Saints concerning the heroic virtues of Mathew Kadalikkattil, raising him to the status of 'Venerable' on 27 June 2011.[4]

Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar[edit]

Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar (1736–1799) is the father of Indian nationalism and author of Varthamanappusthakam (1790), the first ever travelogue in an Indian language.[5] He was Administrator (Governador) of the Archeparchy of Cranganore from 1786 till his death.

He was also a polyglot, an efficient administrator and priest of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, who tried to bring about unity in the church and also to maintain its unique heritage.

Thomma Kathanar made tireless efforts to bring about unity in the church in Kerala which had split following the Coonan Cross Oath. He also strived to get bishops from among the members of the Catholic Church in Kerala, and also to retain the rich heritage of the Malabar Church. In order to achieve those goals he undertook a hard and perilous journey to Rome in 1778 along with Kariattil Ousep Malpan.

Although the headquarters of Archdiocese of Kodungallur was at Pookkaatt, Aripalam muri of Mukundapuram taluk before their journey, the new Governador administered the affairs of the church establishing his headquarters at Angamaly. In 1790, the headquarters of the Archdiocese had to be shifted to Vadayar because of the attacks of Tippu Sultan. In the last four years of his life, Thoma Kathanar managed church administration from his own parish, Ramapuram.

Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar remained the Governador for thirteen years. He died on 20 March 1799.


Joseph Kallarangatt[edit]

Joseph Kallarangatt, the third bishop of the Eparchy of Palai, was born on 27 January 1956 at Kayyoor. After his schooling, he joined the Good Shepherd Minor Seminary, Pala for ecclesiastical studies. He completed his Major Seminary studies at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary Vadavathoor and was ordained priest on 2 January 1982 by Joseph Pallikaparampil. After having served as assistant parish priest at St. George Forane Church Aruvithura and St. Augustine's Forane Church Ramapuram, he was sent to Rome for higher studies in 1984. He studied at the Pontifical Greorgian University, Rome and took doctorate in theology. His doctoral thesis was "The Holy Spirit, Bond of Communion of Churches: A Complete Study of the Ecclesiology of Yves Congar and Nikkos Nissiotis". In 1990, he was appointed Professor of theology at Paurastya Vidyapitham and St.Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor. In 2001, he was appointed the President of the Paurastya Vidyapitham, Vadavathoor and continued in the office till his appointment as the Bishop of Palai on 18 March 2004, at the retirement of Joseph Pallikaparampil. The Episcopal Consecration of Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt was on 2 May 2004 by Joseph Powathil and was enthroned by Varkey Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop at the solemn liturgical ceremonies held at Arunapuram, Pala. Joseph Kallarangatt had published more than 35 scholarly books on theology and oriental liturgy. Kallarangatt had participated and presented papers in different theological conferences in and outside the country. Ever since the beginning of his teaching ministry as a prolific writer he has been writing on various theological and secular topics in different international, national and local journals. At present, he is also serving as the Chairman of CBCI Doctrinal Commission; Chairman Syro Malabar Commission for Doctrine. In 2007, he celebrated his Sacerdotal Silver Jubilee. In February 2012, he is appointed as a member of the Catholic delegation of the Joint Commission for Dialogue with the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church and the Malankara Syrian Church. He attended XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the transmission of Christian Faith, held at Rome from 07-28 October 2012. Under his patronage and leadership, the 31st Plenary Assembly of Catholic Bishop's Conference of India (CBCI) was hosted by the Eparchy from 05 to 12 February 2014 at Alphonsian Pastoral Institute, Arunapuram, Pala. He, as the delegate of Syro Malabar Synod, attended XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Family held at Rome from 04-25 October 2015.[6]

Jacob Muricken[edit]

Jacob Muricken was born on 16 June 1963 at Muttuchira. After completing his M.A. degree in Economics, he joined Good Shepherd Minor Seminary, Palai. He completed his ecclesiastical studies at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Kottayam. He was ordained priest by Joseph Pallikaparampil on 27 December 1993 at his home parish Muttuchira. After a short period of service as Assistant Vicar at St.Mary's Forane Church Kuravilangad, he was appointed Rector of Savio Home Boarding House, attached to St.Joseph's EMHS, Neeloor. Later he served the diocese in various capacities as Professor at the diocesan minor seminary, Secretary of Corporate Educational Agency, Vicar at Chakkampuzha and Neeloor parishes. He was declared Auxiliary Bishop of Palai on 24 August 2012 while serving as the diocesan Pastoral Coordinator. His episcopal ordination was on 1 October 2012, Feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux at St. Thomas Cathedral, Palai. On 19 September 2013 he, along with the other newly appointed bishops from around the world, was received in audience by Pope Francis at the Vatican. As the General Convenor, he was instrumental in the successful conduct of the 31st Plenary Assembly of Catholic Bishop's Conference of India (CBCI) which was hosted the Eparchy from 5 to 12 February 2014.[7]

Joseph Pallikaparampil[edit]

Joseph Pallickaparampil celebrates Holy Qurbana at St. Peters Tomb Vatican

Joseph Pallikaparampil was born on 10 April 1927 at Mutholapuram. After his University studies in St. Berchman's College Changanacherry, St.Joseph's College Trichinapolly and Loyola College Madras from where he took his M.A. in Economics, he joined the St. Thomas Petit Seminary, Changanacherry. For his Major Seminary formation he was sent to St. Joseph's Major Seminary Mangalore and then to the Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide, Rome. He was ordained priest on 23 November 1958 in Rome. After the ordination, he began his research work for a doctoral thesis in Philosophy, related to the Marxian thought. While doing his doctoral studies, he was appointed the Vice-Rector of the Malabar College Rome, where Placid Podipara CMI was the Rector. After taking his Ph.D. from the Pontifical Urban University Rome, in 1962 he came back to the Diocese. He was appointed professor of Philosophy in the St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary Vadavathoor, Kottayam. While serving the seminary as its rector in 1973 he was nominated as Auxiliary to Sebastian Vayalil and was ordained bishop on 15 August 1973 by Cardinal Joseph Parekattil. Following the resignation of Sebastian Vayalil he was appointed as the Bishop of Palai on 6 February 1981. On 25 March 1981, he was installed at the St. Thomas Cathedral Palai. After serving the diocese for 23 years, he handed over the charge of the eparchy to his successor Joseph Kallarangatt on 2 May 2004.[8]

Sebastian Vayalil (First Bishop)[edit]

Sebastian Vayalil was born on 28 January 1906 at Pala. He had his ecclesiastical studies in the St.Joseph's Seminary Mangalapuzha, Alwaye and was ordained priest on 21 December 1935. He was the Headmaster of St.Thomas Training School Pala, till he was appointed the Bishop of Palai, on 25 July 1950. He was consecrated as a bishop by Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, the then Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches, on 9 November 1950 at St. Theresa's Church Rome and was installed in Palai Cathedral by Leo. P. Kierkels, the apostolic internuncio, on 4 January 1951. He attended all the four sessions second Vatican Council. Chicago's De Paul University conferred upon him in 1966 the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) in recognition of his outstanding achievements as an educationist. His sacerdotal silver jubilee was celebrated on 21 December 1960. The Holy Year 1975 was of special significance to the diocese and to him as it coincided with its own silver jubilee and the silver jubilee of the episcopal consecration of the bishop. After thirty years of strenuous service, he handed over the charge of the diocese to his successor Joseph Pallikaparampil on 25 March 1981. After a period of 5 years of active life of retirement, he died on 21 November 1986. In addition to the various pastoral and missionary achievements, during his tenure the diocese stood first in the world with families having the highest rate of priestly, religious and missionary vocation. True to his motto, "The Lord is my light", he placed unbounded trust in divine providence and worked untiringly for the people of God committed to him.


  1. ^ Diocesian Curia, Palai (2016). Directory. Palai: St. Thomas Press.
  2. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ "Blessed Kunjachan - Fr. Augusthine Thevarparampil Ramapuram Kunjachan". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  4. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ "Nazrani History and Discourse on Early Nationalism in Varthamanapusthakam". 27 January 2013.
  6. ^ Diocesian Curia, Palai (2016). Directory. St. Thomas Press.
  7. ^ Diocesian Curia, Palai (2016). Directory. St. Thomas Press Palai.
  8. ^ Diocesian Curia, Palai (2016). Directory. Palai: St. Thomas Press.

External links[edit]