Major Arch Bishop
Mar George Cardinal Alencherry
Mar George Alencherry was born on 19th April 1945 in the parish of Thuruthy in the archdiocese of Changancherry as the sixth child of the ten children of Mr. Philipose and Mary Alencherry of whom two others are priests (Fr. Jose Alencherry and Fr. Francis Alencherry, SDB) and one, a religious sister (Sr. Cherupushpam, S.A.B.S.). Geevarghese is his baptismal name. Mar George Alencherry had his primary schooling at St Mary’s School, Thuruthy and secondary education at St Berchmans’ High School, Changanacherry. He began his priestly formation in 1961 at the archdiocesan minor seminary at Parel, Changanacherry. While he pursued his studies in the minor seminary, he obtained his BA in Economics from St Berchmans’ College with second rank in the University of Kerala. After the minor seminary studies he was sent to St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Aluva where he completed his philosophical and theological studies. On 18 December 1972 Cardinal Antony Padiyara, the then archbishop of Chanagancherry, ordained him priest at St Mary’s Church, Thuruthy, for the archdiocese of Changanacherry. Later he continued his higher studies at the Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy from where he obtained his master’s degree in Theology in first rank.
While Mar George Alencherry was pursuing higher studies at Aluva he served also as pro vicar of the filial church at Periyarmugham in the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. After completion of studies at Aluva Mar George Alencherry was appointed as assistant vicar at the Cathedral church of Changanacherry and later Director of the Archdiocesan Faith Formation department. Thereafter, he served three years as secretary of the Commission for Catechism of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC). After his tenure in KCBC he was sent to Paris for higher studies. There he pursued his studies at Catholic Institute and Sorbonne University from where he obtained his Higher Diploma in Biblical Studies (DSEB) and doctorate in biblical theology.
On returning to India in 1986 Mar George Alencherry served a short period as Secretary to Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil and then was appointed Director of the pastoral Orientation Centre (POC) at Palarivattom and deputy secretary of KCBC. He served the Church in Kerala in that capacity until 1993. Simultaneously he had served also as professor at St Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor. He continued to teach at Vadavathoor until 1997. From 1994 to 1996 he was the protosyncellus of the Metropolitan of Changanacherry.
When Pope John Paul II established the diocese of Thuckalay on 11th November 1996 Mar George Alencherry was appointed its first bishop. He was ordained bishop on 2nd February 1997 at Thuckalay by Mar Joseph Powathil, the then archbishop of Changanacherry.
As bishop Mar George Alencherry served the Syro-Malabar Church in his capacity of the secretary of the Synod of Bishops and chairman of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Commission for Catechism. He has also served as chairman of the Commission for Laity of the catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). Mar George Alencherry has to his credit a Book with the title Morality Today and Tomorrow in Malayalam and a number of articles on various topics in English and Malayalam. The new major archbishop is proficient in Malayalam, Tamil, English and French.
On 26th May 2011 the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Synod elected Mar George Alencherry as the father and head of more than 40 lakhs Syro-Malabar faithful living all over the world. His enthronement as the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and as the Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly took place at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, Ernakulam on 29th May 2011. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI nominated Mar George Alencherry a member of the college of cardinals on 6th January 2012. At the consistory on 18th February 2012 he was raised to the dignity of a cardinal. He is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and of the International Council for Catechesis. His Beatitude participated in the Conclave which elected Pope Francis.
Mar Jacob Angadiath
Mar Jacob Angadiath, Bishop of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago, was born on October 26, 1945 at Periappuram in Elanji Panchayat of Ernakulam District, in the State of Kerala, India. His parents were Ulahannan and Mariam Angadiath.
His home parish is St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Periappuram, in the diocese of Palai. He has two brothers, A. Andrews Angadiath and A.U. Joseph Angadiath who are at Periappuram and one sister, Mrs. Aleykutty Augusthy Champamalayil at Matholapuram. His father died in 1948 and thereafter his mother and immediate family raised him.
St. Antony’s L.P. School, Kalluvettamada, Mulakulam was his first school were he received formal education for two years. Then he was transferred to Namakuzhy Government High School where he completed his high School in 1962. He was very active in literary practices of the school and catechism and Mission League activities of his parish.
He joined the Good Shepherd Minor Seminary, Palai to study for priesthood. He attended St. Thomas College, Palai, for Pre-university course and completed his Minor Seminary Program and joined the St. Thomas the Apostolic Seminary Vadavathoor. Kottayam, for his Philosophy and Theology courses in 1965. He had his Major Seminary formation under Very Rev. Msgr. Kurian Vanchipurackal, the First Rector and then under His Excellency Mar Joseph Pallikaparampil, the Second Rector. His spiritual director was very Rev. Msgr. Mathew Mankuzhikary, the well-known Spiritual guide.
His Excellency Mar Sebastian Vayalil, the first bishop of Palai, on January 5, 1972, ordained him a priest at St. Mary’s Church, Lalam Old, Palai. He had the privilege of receiving his First Holy Communion and Confirmation from the same bishop. His first assignment was at St. Joseph’s Church, Kudakkachira, under the veteran Vicar Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Alumkal. It was the year of 1972 known for its “College Strike”. His initial zeal enabled him to work hard. He was transferred to St. George Forane ChurchAruvithura, in 1973. There he served as an assistant Vicar for four years under two experienced Vicars, Very Rev. Fr. Jacob Thazhathel, the Founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Thomas and Very Rev. Fr. Jacob Gnavallil, an exemplary pastor. He was instrumental in starting the Georgian College of Aruvithura. He was appointed Vicar of St. John’s Church, Amparanirappel, in 1977 and there he served for more than three years. It was at this time he completed his Bachelor’s degree in English literature. Then he was appointed as the professor at Good Shepherd Minor Seminary, Palai. Besides teaching, he had the duty of the Spiritual Director and Vice Rector of the Seminary. He served the diocese as Secretary to the Association of the Diocesan Clergy in Palai. Mar Joseph Pallikaparampil, Bishop of Palai, who was in charge of the Overseas Mission of the Syro-Malabar Church, sent him to Dallas, Texas, USA to serve the Syro-Malabar faithful in that region. He was the first Syro-Malabar priest officially appointed to begin a Syro-Malabar ministry in USA, in 1984.
Most Rev. Thomas Tschoepe, Bishop of Dallas, welcomed him and appointed him as assistant pastor at St. Pius X Catholic Church, Dallas, with Rev. Msgr. Thomas W. Weinzapfel being the pastor. Rev. Robert Crisp, Rev. Arthur Mallinson, Rev. Msgr. Joseph Erbrick and Rev. Dennis O’Brien, M.M. were the other priests who served at St. Pius X Church while he was there. He came to Dallas in 1984 and started the Syro-Malabar Mission and established the St. Thomas the Apostle Indian Catholic Church in 1992 in Garland for the Syro-Malabar faithful. He attended the University of Dallas and completed his Masters in Theology program in 1995. In 1997 he was transferred from St. Pius X Church, to St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Garland, as assistant pastor. Rev. James Sharp was the pastor. He purchased a house in Garland for the rectory for the St. Thomas the Apostle parish.
He took charge as the Director of the Mar Thoma Sleeha Syro-Malabar Mission in Chicago on July 1, 1999. The parish community was growing fast and various ministries were organized. He was a consultant of the Migration Committee of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB).
It was on March 13, 2001, the first Syro-Malabar Diocese outside India, namely, St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago was established and he was appointed the first Bishop of this newly formed diocese, by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II. His Episcopal ordination took place in Chicago on July 1, 2001, during the Second Syro-Malabar Convention. His Beatitude Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil was the main celebrant of the Consecration ceremony; Mar Joseph Pallickaparaupil, Bishop of Palai, and Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry, Bishop of Kottayam, were the co-consecrators. His Eminence Francis Cardinal George was the homilist during the Holy Qurbana. Mar Jacob Angadiath’s diocese is extended all through the USA and he is the Permanent Apostolic Visitator to Canada.
Mar Joy Alappatt
Mar Joy Alappatt was born at Parappukara, in Thrissur district, Kerala, India, on September 27, 1956 as the second son of late Mr. Varghese and late Mrs. Rosy Alappatt. He has two brothers and two sisters. His baptismal name is John and he is named after the patron saint of his parish, St. John Nepomucene. He is commonly known as Fr Joy Alappatt. He had his primary School at St. George Lower Primary School, Puthenpally, Varapuzha; his Upper Primary School at A.U.P.S.,Parappukkara, and his high school at P.V.S. High School, Parapukkara.
He joined the St. Mary’s Minor Seminary, Thope, Thrissur, after his high school. He completed his major seminary at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottayam. He was ordained priest by Mar James Pazhayattil on December 31, 1981 for the diocese of Irinjalakuda. He served as Assistant Parish Priest at Chalakudy, Mala, and St. Thomas Cathedral, Irinjalakuda. He earned his Masters in Theology from St. Joseph’s Pontifical Institute, Aluva. He completed his Masters in Sociology from Andhra University. He served as a Chaplain and Mission Director of Syro Malabar community in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India for six years from 1987 to 1993.
He came to the United States in 1994 and served as Associate Pastor in Staten Island, New York and New Milford, New Jersey. He completed his Clinical Pastoral Education Program and worked at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, as a certified Chaplain. He was invited by Mar Jacob Angadiath in 2001 to serve in the St. Thomas SyroMalabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago and he was appointed as the Director of SyroMalabar Mission of Garfield, Newark and Administrator of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Garfield. He was the Convener of Syro Malabar Convention 2003, New Jersey. He has been serving as the Pastor (Vicar) of the Mar Thoma Sleeha Syro Malabar Catholic Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois since August 2011.
He was appointed as the Auxiliary Bishop of St. Thomas Syro Malabar Diocese of Chicago on July 24th, 2014. He has written lyrics for several Christian devotional songs and published a few music albums. He is a known retreat preacher, an effective pastor with efficient administrative skills.