Preston, UK : Fr. Joseph Srampickal was ordained and enthroned as the first Bishop of the Syro Malabar Eparchy of Great Britain at a colourful solemn ceremony at Preston’s North End stadium ground in the presence of around 12,000 people, including 25 bishops, a large number of priests, nuns and local dignitaries. Worshippers travelled from all over the world even as far away as Australia for the event.
The ceremony started at 1:30pm BST, with a prayerful procession accompanied by specially written hymns for the occasion by the choir. Around 150 priests of Syro Malabar Rite dressed in their celebratory vests joined the procession accompanied by traditional ornate umbrellas (known as Muthukuda).
Cardinal George Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church was the main celebrant of the consecration. Bishop Michael G Campbell OSA, the hosting Bishop of Lancaster and Joseph Kallarangattu, the Bishop of Palai were the co-consecrators at the colourful hours-long ceremony.
The papal decree was read both in Latin and English, which was followed by the episcopal ordination prayers in Malayalam and English.
Bishop of Lancaster, Rev Michael Campbell described the establishment of the new Eparchy as “a clear indication of the care of the Holy See for the thousands of Syro-Malabar Catholics who have settled in Great Britain”.
The event was well coordinated with support from local government authorities who were also represented in the felicitation ceremony afterwards. The Mayor of Preston, Councillor John Collins, was on the podium and congratulated the new Bishop and extended the support of the local government in his endeavours.
In his speech, Cardinal George Alencherry thanked the Pope for his recognition of the spiritual needs of Syro Malabar expats in UK. He also reminded the congregation about the importance of the union with the Catholic Church of Great Britain, while maintaining the unique spiritual tradition of the mother church.