Syro-Malabar Church gets three bishops

With these appointments, the number of the bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church has risen to 61

New Delhi: The Syro-Malabar Church that ended its biannual synod on September 1 appointing three bishops.

The appointment made with the permission of Pope Francis was announced at a press conference at the Oriental Church’s headquarters in Kochi, Kerala, a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India press release said.

The Church’s synod, which concluded its 10-day meeting on September 1, appointed Father Tony Neelankavil as the auxiliary bishop of Trichur archdiocese. He is currently the rector of Marymatha (Mother of God) Major Seminary in Trichur.

The synod also appointed Father Joseph Pamplany as the auxiliary bishop of Tellicherry archdiocese. He was the secretary of the Doctrinal Commission of the Church at the time of the appointment.

The synod has also appointed Father Sebastian Vaniyapurackal of Kanjirapally as the curia bishop. He is the vice chancellor of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia in Kochi.

Bishop-elect Neelankavil was born on July 23, 1967, at Valappad, in Trichur archdiocese. After the school studies, he joined Trichur minor seminary in 1984. He did his priestly studies at Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor and was ordained a priest on December 27, 1993. He began his pastoral work as assistant at Ollurand Palayur.

He went to Leuven, Belgium, for higher studies and obtained doctorate in theology in 2002. The same year, he joined Marymatha Major Seminary as a professor and served the institution as animator, dean of studies, lecturer of Systematic Theology, director of Mary Matha Publications and spiritual father. He was appointed rector in March. He is also member of the Theology Commission of the Syro-Malabar Church and of the Liturgical Research Centre.

Bishop-elect Pamplany was born on December 11, 1969, at Charal in Tellicherry archdiocese. After the school studies, he joined St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary, Tellicherry in 1986. After priestly studies at St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Alwaye he was ordained a priest on December 30, 1997. He began his priestly works as assistant at Peravoor and was parish priest at Deepagiri. He too did higher studies on Sacred Scripture and obtained doctorate from Leuven University. On his return, he was appointed Director of Bible Apostolate in the archdiocese in 2006. He is the founder director of Alpha Institute of Theology.

Bishop-elect Vaniyapurackal was born on March 29, 1967, at Mulamkunnu, in Kanjirapally diocese. After his school education he joined minor seminary and had his philosophical and theological formation in St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor. He was ordained priest on December 30, 1992. After ordination he served as assistant parish priest at St. George Forane Church, Kattappana and director of Yuvadeepti.

He was sent to Rome for higher studies in 2000 where he took his doctorate in Oriental Canon Law from the Holy Cross University, Rome. On his return he was made judge of the diocesan tribunal; in 2005. He was appointed Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Vice Chancellor in 2014.

Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alencherry gave the bishops-elect their appointment orders at a function in St Thomas Mount, Kakkanad.

Archbishops Andrews Thazhath of Trichur and George Njaralakatt of Tellicherry and Bishop Mathew Arackal of Kanjirappally presented the bishops-elect with the insignia of Episcopacy.

Archbishop Mathew Moolakkatt of Kottayam felicitated the new bishops. All the bishops attending the synod of the Syro-Malabar Church were present on the occasion, according to a communication.

The dates of the Episcopal ordinations of the bishops-elect will be decided later.

Fr. Vaniyapurackal is the second curia bishop of the Church. The first was Bishop Bosco Puthur, who now heads the diocese of Melbourne in Australia.

With these appointments, the number of the bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church has risen to 61, the communication added.

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