2015-03-26 12:05:00

Pope erects new Dioceses for the Syro Malankara Church in India

The Holy Father on Thursday, has erected the new Eparchy (diocese) of St John Chrysostom of Gurgaon and a new Apostolic Exarchate (Vicariate) of St Ephrem of Khadki, both of the Syro-Malankara Church in India. The Pope has also appointed Msgr. Jacob Mar Barnabas Aerath, OIC, until now titular Bishop of Bapara and Apostolic Visitor for the Syro-Malankars of India out of its territory, as the first Eparchial Bishop, and Msgr. Thomas Mar Anthonios Valiyavilayil, OIC, as the first Exarch and Titular Bishop of Igilgili hitherto Curia Bishop of the Syro-Malankara Church.

The Eparchy stretches across the northern part of India, embracing 22 of the 29 states of the country. The southern boundary of the eparchy is formed by the four central states: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. In addition to these states, the faithful are distributed widely, especially in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal.

Gurgaon is the seat of the Eparchy, because in this metropolitan area is the most substantial concentration of the faithful, distributed in nine parishes. In the region there are two colleges and ten schools run by the Syro-Malankara Church. In the pastoral, educational and charitable works there are 15 priests, including eparchial and regular, and about 30 religious.

The first eparchial bishop has his residence and chancery at the Mar Ivanios Bhavan in the district of Neb Sarai, where there is also the church of St. Mary, which will serve as the cathedral.

Mons. Jacob Mar Barnabas Aerath, OIC, the new Bishop of St John Chrysostom of Gurgaon, was born in Karikulam in the archeparchy of Tiruvalla on December 7, 1960. He entered in Order of the Imitation of Christ, was ordained priest on 2 October 1986. He holds a doctorate in moral theology from the Alfonsianum in Rome. He knows and speaks English, German, Italian, in addition to Malayalam.

After his ordination he has held the following positions: Procurator of his religious Institute; Vice-Rector (in charge of pre-novices); Rector and Superior of the Major Seminary of the Institute; Professor of moral theology at various seminaries in India; Provincial Superior (for two consecutive terms); and Master of Novices of the Navajyothy Province at Alwaye.

On February 7, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Apostolic Visitor of the nature of a Bishop for the Syro-Malankars of India out of its territory and had been assigned to the Titular See of Bapara.

The Exarchate (Vicariate) of St Ephrem of Khadki, extends throughout the southern part of India so far devoid of ecclesiastical districts of the Syro-Malankara Church, that of entire states of Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, together with the States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The mission of the Syro-Malankara outside the territory just began in 1955 with the founding of Bethany Ashram in Poona for the pastoral care of migrants. Today the Syro-Malankara presence in the region is divided into 27 parishes Exarchate or missions. There are twenty-one priests dedicated to pastoral care, thirteen convents of nuns and a dozen schools, including a college of higher education.

The majority of the faithful are located on the outskirts of Mumbai and Pune, in the western state of Maharashtra. The first Exarch will have his residence and Chancery in the city of Khadki, in the complex that includes St. Mary's Malankara Catholic Church which will serve as a cathedral.

Msgr. Thomas Mar Anthonios Valiyavilayil, OIC, the new Apostolic Exarch of St Ephrem of Khadki for the Syro-Malankars, was born on November 21, 1955 at Adoor, in the Archeparchy of Trivandrum. He is a religious belonging to the Order of the Imitation of Christ, where he made his first profession on January 15, 1974 and perpetual profession on December 9, 1980. He was ordained a priest on December 27, 1980. Subsequently, he obtained a doctorate in canon law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Apart from English and Malayalam, he speaks Italian, German, Hindi, Syriac and reads greek and latin.

After his ordination, he held the following positions: Superior of various convents; Director of the boarding school, Kottayam; Master of the Postulancy; Treasurer; Chaplain and pastor; Professor at the St. Mary's Malankara Major Seminary in Trivandrum and other major seminaries; General Councillor of his Institute and postulator of the cause of the beatification of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios; Chancellor of the curia of the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Church.

Mons. Thomas Mar Anthonios was elected Bishop of the Curia on January 25, 2010 and he was assigned to the Titular See of Igilgili.

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