Pope’s centenary gift to Syro-Malabar: new eparchies, wider jurisdiction
By Smitha George
Vatican City: Pope Francis on October 10 erected two new Eparchies (dioceses) for the Syro-Malabar Church and granted its major archbishop and synod jurisdiction all over India.
Until now, the authority of Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Oriental rite, and the bishops’ synod was limited to Kerala, the southern Indian state where the Church is based.
The announcements were made simultaneously in the Vatican and at various places in India. The Pope’s gesture comes as a gift to the Syro-Malabar Church that on the centenary of the establishment of the Pontifical Congregation for the Oriental Rites by Pope Benedict XV.
The new dioceses are Shamshabad in Telangana and Hosur in Tamil Nadu.
The pope also nominated Bishop Raphael Thattil as the first Bishop of Shamshabad and Fr Sebastian (Joby) Pozhaliparambil as the first bishop of Hosur.
The news was published in Rome at 12 noon (3:30 pm in India).
The papal order also included a directive for the extension of boundaries of Ramanathapuram and Thuckalay dioceses to include areas not covered by the Hosur diocese.
The new diocese of Shamshabad is situated 25 km from Hyderabad, capital of Telagana state. It comes under Ranga Reddy district. According to a press release from the Syro Malabar Church, Shamshabad has 11 parishes where the church has made arrangements for priests to stay. Church constructions are in progress in seven other places. The diocese is also blessed with a children’s home.
Bishop Raphael Thattil was born on April 21, 1956, at Trichur, Kerala, in the Our Dolours Parish popularly known as Puthenpally. He had his priestly formation at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor. He was ordained a priest on December 20, 1980, for the diocese of Trichur.
After his ordination, he served as assistant parish priest in Aranattukara and Father Prefect of minor seminary. He completed his Bachelor of Theology and Doctor of Canon Law from Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome. On his return, he served as Vice Chancellor of Curia, Vice Rector of Minor Seminary, Director of Diocesan Biblical Catechetical Liturgical Centre , Chancellor and Eparchial Judge and Syncellus and Protosyncellus.
Bishop Thattil was the first rector of Mary Matha Major Seminary in Thrissur. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Trichur on January 18, 2010, and was ordained bishop on April 10 that year. On January 11, 2014, Pope Francis appointed him the Apostolic Visitor for the Syro-Malabar migrant faithful in India, residing outside the jurisdiction of the existing 29 Syro-Malabar Eparchies.
Fr. Sebastian (Jobby) Pozholiparampil was born on September 1, 1957, at Pullur, in Irinjalakuda diocese in Kerala. After his school education, he joined the St.Mary’s Minor Seminary, Thope, Thrissur. He had his philosophical and theological formation at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottayam. He was ordained a priest on December 22, 1982, for Irinjalakuda diocese.
After ordination, he served as assistant parish priest at Aloor, and parish priest at Kaipamangalam, East Chendrappini, Cheelor, Padiyoor, Meladoor, Parappukara Forane, Thottipal and Cathedral Church.
He was rector of the Spirituality Centre, Eparchial Finance Officer, Vice Rector of the Minor Seminary, director of Santisadanam, director of Legion of Mary and secretary of the Presbyteral Council.
He was formerly the coordinator of Chennai Mission. He was currently Syncellus of the Irinjalakuda diocese and rector of St. Paul’s Minor Seminary and Vocation promoter and holds a Licentiate in Theology from the Angelicum, Rome.