About Our parish
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is a Major Archiepiscopal Church in full communion with the Apostolic See of Rome. The Church is headed by the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Mar George Cardinal Alencherry. It is one of the 23 sui iuris (autonomous) Eastern Catholic Churches in the Catholic communion. It is the second largest Eastern Catholic Church, the largest being the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The Syro-Malabar Church follows the East-Syrian liturgy which dates back to 3rd century.
Known for its deep-rooted spirituality and high rate of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, the Syro-Malabar Church is perhaps the most vibrant Catholic Church in the world, with over four million believers and a rich and fascinating history.
Syro-Malabar Catholics, also called “St. Thomas Christians”, trace their origins and faith to the missionary efforts of St. Thomas the Apostle, who landed at Kodungallur in Kerala, India, in 52 AD. St. Thomas was martyred at Mylapur, Chennai, India, in 72 AD, after preaching and establishing Christian communities in different parts of India.
Until the late 16th century, Bishops were appointed and sent by the Patriarch of the East Syrian Church, who governed the St. Thomas Christians. However, the arrival of the Portuguese in India marked a new era in the life of the Church. Hierarchically they were brought under the rule of the Latin Bishops after the Synod of Diamper.
In 1653 in the infamous ‘Coonan Cross Oath’ at Mattancherry, many St. Thomas Christians vowed to disobey the Latin hierarchy. Thus began a rift among St. Thomas Christians, who were one Church until that time. Eventually, some returned to the jurisdiction of the Latin rule to be in communion with the Pope, while others stood firm in their stand of opposition to the Portuguese.
Those who continued under the Latin rule formed the community that became the Syro-Malabar Church. Those who remained opposing the Portuguese encountered the Jacobite Patriarch and eventually became Jacobites, of which a fraction reunited with the Catholic Communion in 1930;they are now known as the Syro-Malankara Church.
Finally, after 230 years of Latin governance, the Syro-Malabar Church hierarchy was established in India, in 1923.
Since then it has grown rapidly, and in 1992 Pope John Paul ll elevated it to the status of a Major Archiepiscopal Sui iuris Church with the title of Ernakulam-Angamaly. It is one of the four Major Archiepiscopal Churches, the other three being the Syro-Malankara Church, Ukrainian Church and the Romanian Church.
The contribution of the religious, charitable and educational institutions managed by the different dioceses of the Church, to the welfare of Kerala and other states of India, is immense. The widespread diaspora of the Indian community outside the continent has also seen the Syro-Malabar faithful spread to regions outside Kerala, and it has a large presence in Australia.
On 23 December 2013 Holy Father Francis established The Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle, Melbourne for Australia, the second Eparchy outside the territory after Chicago, USA. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Bosco Puthur, then Curia Bishop of Major Archiepiscopal Curia, Kerala, as the first Bishop/Eparch of the new Eparchy. Bishop Bosco Puthur was installed on 25 March, 2014 in Melbourne.
Brisbane witnessed many Malayalee families migrating from India and various other parts of the world soon after the millennium. In 2004, a few Malayalee Catholic families under the leadership of Fr. Thomas Areekuzhy M.C.B.S. began Malayalam masses in St Ignatius Church Toowong regularly. Fr. Areekuzhy travelled all the way from Toowoomba to nurture and nourish the faith of people through monthly mass, prayer meetings, house visits etc. The year 2007 saw a high rate of migration of Malayalee Catholics to Queensland. Most of the migrants were health professionals and students. The migrants began to settle in different suburbs of Brisbane. The increase in numbers, geographical conditions, and the distance they needed to travel for their pastoral requirements demanded Syro Malabar Catholics to establish two main pastoral areas – Brisbane North and Brisbane South.
In 2009, the appointment of Fr. Antony Vadakara as assistant parish priest of Mary Immaculate Church Annerley gave a sense of identity to the Syro-Malabar faithful on southern suburbs of Brisbane. The Brisbane South community had the privilege to celebrate their first Good Friday service in 2009 at Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley and the first Easter service in 2010 at St. John Fisher church Tarragindi by the visiting priest Fr. Joseph Thottankara MCBS. In South Brisbane catechism classes were started at the private residence of one of our members. As the community had grown, the number of children attending the catechism class also increased. This forced the community to think about moving the catechism class to church premises.
Currently St Thomas, the Apostle Syro Malabar parish has around 300 Syro-Malabar families residing in and around Brisbane South which is a solid congregation of about 1000 members i.e. around 600 adult members and over 400 young children and teens. There are more than 250 registered children and 15 teachers currently in our Sunday school. Within our community we have an active unit of Mathrujyothis, Vincent De Paul and Parish Youth. In order to facilitate the education of our mother tongue, the parish organises Malayalam classes on every Sunday. We also celebrate the Feast of our patron saint, St Thomas the Apostle on the first Sunday in July every year with great devotion and piety.
Fr Peter Kavumpuram has taken charge as Chaplain for the community in July 2014 and the community has become a parish in 2015.