Syro-Malabar Catholic Mission of Arizona was established to preserve the faith and liturgical tradition of the Syro-Malabar Catholics living in the Arizona The Mission, part of the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic diocese of Chicago, was officially established in 2006.
For a couple of decades, the Kerala Catholics in Arizona, Phoenix area have been celebrating Holy Masses in Malayalam in the Syro-Malabar Rite every week. After the erection of the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar diocese in 2001, this Mission was established by the diocese to fulfill the need of the faithful for a full service parish that can meet all their spiritual needs as well as preserve and perpetuate the faith, traditions and culture for the coming generations.
Holy Family Syro Malabar Catholic Church, as we see today, is the outcome of the selfless service of a few devoted priests and the determination of the faithful. Scattered all over Arizona, the Malayalee Catholics in Phoenix were not organized until 2005. A group of zealous people who could identify the spiritual needs of the community began to organize Malayalee Catholics to abide by the rich Catholic heritage of Kerala. Initially they started a prayer group consisting of 10 families under the spiritual direction of Fr.Augustine Kattady.
In 2005-2006 there was an influx of Syro Malabar Catholics to Phoenix and the leaders began to think of the options for Malayalam Holy Mass. With the gracious permission from the Bishop of Phoenix, Fr Andrew Kollonoor celebrated holy Mass in Syro Malabar rite once a month at Our Lady of Fatima Church, Phoenix. Fr. Joseph Pottamel too served the community for a short period.
Meanwhile, there raised a great demand from the community to make regular arrangements for the celebration of Holy mass and sacraments in the traditional Syro Malabar liturgy. In 2007 Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath, approved the community as Holy Family SyroMalabar Catholic Mission affiliated to the St.Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago. Fr.Mathew Plathottom was appointed as the first director in charge of the community. His efforts in building up the Syro Malabar community in Phoenix were extremely remarkable. Convincing the members the relevance of Syro Malabar liturgy, he initiated catechism classes for children and setup a building fund for the construction of a new church.
In November 2008 Chicago bishop appointed Fr.Mathew Munjanatt as the full time director of the Mission. Being a great spiritual architect, he renovated our community with a great vision and mission. His spiritual insight, prayerful life and hard work to own a church, was ultimately realized. By the providence of God we could occupy a simple, but elegant building for the church in the Metropolitan city of Phoenix which was consecrated by Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath, on November 2, 2013. “O LORD our God, all this wealth that we have brought together, to build you a house in honor of your Holy name comes from you and is entirely yours” (1 Chronicles 29:16).
On completion of the successful mission of building a vibrant catholic community, Fr. Munjanattu handed over the spiritual lantern to Rev Fr. George Etttuparayil (Sonyachen) in August 2015. Ever since his office as the vicar, Sonyachen is guiding us “being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing” (Phili 2:2).
We have committed our mission to evangelize the world in full obedience to the universal church, proclaiming the rich liturgical heritage of Syro Malabar Catholics. Having more than one hundred registered families; Holy Family parish is the biggest Indian Christian community in Arizona and contributes an exceptional role in the religious and cultural realm of Phoenix society. Our Sunday school is one of the best in Chicago Diocese, incorporating faith formation and cultural values. Various Catholic movements like Mission League, Thirubalasakhyam, Christeen, Jesus Youth, St.Vincent De Paul Society, and MathruVedi, are very dynamic in the parish. The worth mentioning theme is that all our social and charitable activities are focused on the spiritual wellbeing of the people.
We have a clear vision about the future too. We dedicate our prayerful sacrifices and hard work to our next generations. We will hand the baton of faith over to our children who will follow the footsteps of our forefathers, enlightening the world. We greatly appreciate the immense love and support from the Diocese of Chicago and Diocese of Phoenix to flourish our catholic community in Arizona.
A place of worship is a symbol of living faith. God will be constantly showering his immense grace, wherever there is faith, unity and love. This is the truth that is revealed to the world from the SyroMalabar faithful in Arizona. This small community with a short history of ten years has accomplished a great task to live up to their faith in their traditional liturgy. Holy Family Catholic church in Phoenix is the fulfillment of a historic event, in the sense that we are assigned to hand over the sacred traditions of our church to the coming generations and thus to protect and enrich the universal catholic faith.
Captured from the website.
The Syro-Malabar Church is an Apostolic Church which traces its origin to the Apostolate of St. Thomas who, according to the tradition, landed at Cranganore in 52 AD and founded seven Christian communities at Palayur, Cranganore, Kokkamangalam, Kottakavu (Parur), Quilon, Niranam, and Chayal. It is one of the 22 sui iuris Oriental Churches in Catholic Communion with its own particular characteristics expressed in worship, spirituality, theology and disciplinary laws. The early Christian community in India was known as St. Thomas Christians. In the course of history this Church entered into life-relation with the Christian communities which came to be known as the East Syrian Church. This relationship made the Thomas Christians share the liturgical, spiritual and other ecclesiastical traditions with the East Syrian Church. At the same time St. Thomas Christians kept their distinctive character especially in Church administration and socio-cultural and ascetico-spiritual life. In the 16th Century with the arrival of the Portuguese, a new era began in the life of this Church, i.e., the latinization of its liturgy and the efforts of the St. Thomas Christians to free itself from this situation. In the Nineteenth Century this Church was designated as the Syro-Malabar Church in the documents from the Roman Curia under which name it is known today.
In 1887 the St. Thomas Christians were re-organized under two Vicariates, Kottayam and Trichur. In 1896, when the St. Thomas Christians obtained bishops of their own rite and nation, they were further reorganized into three Vicariates, Trichur, Ernakulam and Changanacherry. On December 21, 1923, the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy was established with Ernakulam as the Metropolitan See and Trichur and Changanacherry and Kottayam (established in 1911 for the Southists) as suffragans. In 1956 Changanacherry was raised to the status of a Metropolitan See. On December 16, 1992, Pope John Paul II raised the Syro-Malabar Church to the status of Major Archiepiscopal sui iuris Church with the title of Ernakulam-Angamaly. Mar Antony Paidyara, the then Metropolitan of Ernakulam was appointed its Major Archbishop with Mar Abraham Kattumana as the Pontifical Delegate who discharged the duties of the Major Archbishop. Archbishop Kattumana died unexpectedly during his visit to Rome in April 1995 and Mar Padiyara was given the powers of the Major Archbishop. In November 1996 Cardinal Padiyara resigned from his office as Major Archbishop. In his place Archbishop Varkey Vithayathil, C.Ss.R. was appointed as the Apostolic Administrator. In December 1998 he was appointed Major Archbishop by the Pope. In February 2001 Archbishop Vithayathil was created a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II.
At present there are five Archdioceses - Ernakulam-Angamaly, Changanacherry, Trichur, Tellicherry and Kottayam and 11 eparchies - Bhadravathi, Belthangady, Irinjalakuda, Kanjirapally, Kothamangalam, Idukki, Mananthavady, Palai, Palghat, Thamarassery, and Thuckalay within the proper territory of the Major Archiepiscopal Church and 11 eparchies outside - Adilabad, Bijnor, Chanda, Gorakhpur, Jagdalpur, Kalyan, Rajkot, Sagar, Satna, Ujjain and the St. Thomas Eparchy of Chicago in the United States of America. There are 36,74,115 faithful, with 7,252 priests (3,617 diocesan and 3,635 religious), and 34,769 women religious and 4729 men religious.