Ecclesiastical History

Ecclesiastical History

Historical Sketch:
The Syrian Catholics, mostly the Syro-Malabar Catholics, from various parts of Kerala had started migrating to different areas of Tamilnadu years back, i.e., in the first half of the 20th century, for the purpose of job, business etc. The Syrian Catholics who thus came in the beginning were going to the churches of the Latin Rite for fulfilling their spiritual needs. But as the territory of the undivided eparchy of Trichur was extended on 29th April 1955 with the decree Saepe fidelisto the areas of Tamilnadu, co extensive with those of the diocese of Coimbatore they got opportunity to get their spiritual needs fulfilled according to their own Mother rite. It was the late Mgr. Zacharias Vazhappilly, the Vicar General of the eparchy of Trichur at that time, who was appointed to coordinate the pastoral care for the Syro-Malabar migrants in this area. Under the leadership of Mgr. Zacharias a team of priests and religious who were zealous, dedicated and hardworking continued their pastoral care.

Eventually the number of migrants increased and it led to the arrangement of more infra-structures as the part of the pastoral coordination. In that way, the first Forane in this area, i.e., Coimbatore Forane was formed centralizing Ramanathapuram, in the Month of November 1973. That forane comprised of all the parishes and stations in the extended area of Tamilnadu of the eparchy of Trichur. It was a milestone in the history of the pastoral care of the Syro Malabar migrants and the erection of the epachy of Palghat.

The Erection of the Eparchy of Palghat:
The Eparchy of Palghat which was erected on 20th June 1974 with the decree from the Apostolic See Apostolico Requirente and inaugurated on 08th September 1974, bifurcating the then existing Eparchy of Trichur and adding some parishes from the then eparchy of Tellicherry, had the total area of 28,515 sq.kms. with 16 parishes, 08 stations, 14 priests and 20, 810 faithful in the beginning. It comprised of the civil district of Palakkad in the State of Kerala and the civil district of Coimbatore and a part of the district of Trichy in the State of Tamilnadu. The district of Coimbatore was later divided and the district of Erode was formed. Meanwhile the district of Trichy was also divided and thus the district of Karur was created. The district of Coimbatore was further divided in 2008 and the district of Tiruppur was formed. Thus the Eparchy of Palghat at the time of the erection of the new Eparchy of Ramanathapuram had jurisdiction over the Syro-Malabar faithful spread over the entire district of Palakkad in Kerala and the entire districts Coimbatore, Erode, Karur and Tiruppur in Tamilnadu with 93 parishes, 56 stations, 130 priests and 69,057 faithful.

Urgency of the Need:
The area under consideration being industrial has been fast developing. Unless the people were given effective and timely pastoral care they would drift away from faith and become indifferent, sign of which has been very conspicuous. The 3000 strong student community of our Church needed to be taken special care of. The pastoral care needed to be given to the people taking into account their life situation and that of the students.

The request of the Clergy and Laity:
Very often the clergy and laity in the area of Coimbatore used to request the bishops about the need of the erection of an eparchy in the area. Immediate step was taken in this regard, following the resolution passed in February 2008 by the representatives of the clergy and the laity of the parishes in Tamilnadu with the request to expedite eventual erection of an eparchy in the area.

The Formation of Coimbatore Region:
As the craving for a new Eparchy became stronger H.E. Mar Jacob Manathodath, the Bishop of the undivided Eparchy of Palghat bifurcated Coimbatore Forane into three: Ramanathapuram, Gandhipuram and Erode and formed a region called Coimbatore including these three foranes and appointing Mgr. George Narikuzhi as syncellus in charge of this region. This arrangement was made by His Excellency with a view to the eventual erection of new eparchy for the region.

The New Eparchy:
In the light of the application of H. E. Mar Jacob Manathodath, the Bishop of Palghat, the XVIth Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church held at Mount St. Thomas, Kakkanad in August 2008, after having considered the great distance from the eparchial headquarters at Palakkad and the geographical, linguistic and cultural differences of the faithful in both areas, unanimously gave its approval for the erection of the eparchy of Ramanathapuram. Thus, after due consultation in the Synod of Bishops and having obtained its consent and the assent of the Apostolic See, and having  fulfilled  everything  required  by  law,  as  per  the  decree  of  18th January 2010 with Prot. No 57/2010, His Beatitude Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, then Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, by virtue of the authority vested in him and in accordance with CCEO c. 85#1, erected the Eparchy of Ramanathapuram, bifurcating the eparchy of Palghat. Thus the new eparchy has its territory comprising the four civil districts of Tamil Nadu namely, Coimbatore, Erode, Karur and Tirupur and its See in the City of Rmanathapuram in the civil district of Coimbatore. Fr. Paul Alappatt, a priest from the Archeparchy of Trichur was appointed as its first Bishop the same day (Prot. 58/2010). He was ordained bishop by His Grace Mar Andrews Thazhath, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Trichur, on the White Sunday, the 11th April 2010 at Ramanathapuram (Alvernia school ground). His Grace Mar Jacob Thoomkuzhy, Archbishop emeritus of Trichur and His Excellency Mar Jacob Manathodath, Bishop of Palghat were the co-consecrators in the Ordination ceremony. The eparchy was inaugurated the same day. About 12,000 faithful including bishops, civil dignitaries, priests, religious and laity were present on the occasion.

Extension of the territory:
As part of granding All India Jurisdiction to the Syro-Malabar Church from the part of the Apostolic See, Rome “pastoral care of the Syro-Malabar faithful and evangelization ad gentes”, the territory of the eparchy of Ramanathapuram was extended to ten more civil districts of the Fedreal State of Tamilnadu on 9th    October 2017 with the decree from the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Rome (Prot. No. 38/2010)
Accordingly, the existing territory of the Syro-Malabar eparchy of Ramanathapuram has been extended to ten more Civil districts (in addition to the existing four districts of Coimbatore, Erode, Karur and Tirupur, Selam, Namakkal, Thanjavur, Perambalur, Thiruvarur, Tiruchirapalli, Pudukattai, Nagapattinam, Ariyalur and Dindigul were also added.) of Tamilnadu. Accordingly, now its territory is having a territory co- terminus with that of 14 civil districts of Tamilnadu.

                                                                                             EPARCHY OF RAMANATHAPURAM