Pope Francis had announced the new diocese in October to provide pastoral care to India’s SMC ‎faithful outside their dioceses.‎
 

By Robin Gomes

India-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (SMC) on Sunday inaugurated a new diocese that Pope Francis had announced last year to provide pastoral care to India’s SMC faithful living outside their existing dioceses.  Shamshabad Eparchy in Telengana state, became the 31st diocese of the eastern rite Church on 7 January with a Holy Mass and ceremony that included the installation of  its first head, Bishop Raphael Thattil.

The event was attended by 55 bishops from across India, including Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church, Cardinal Baselios Clemis, the head of the Syro-Malankara Church, Vatican officials and hundreds of priests, nuns and lay people from across ‎the country.‎  

Bishop Thattil the Auxiliary bishop of Trichur Archdiocese from 2010, has been serving as ‎Apostolic Visitor since 2014 to SMC faithful outside existing dioceses.   He told the gathering, “my ministry is to spread the gospel and it ‎shall be done in communion with all.” ‎

At Sunday’s inauguration ‘Premmarg’, a charitable trust was also launched. 

Pope’s measures

In a letter to all the bishops of India dated 9 October 2017, the Pope ‎had announced the creation of Shamshabad Diocese and appointed Bishop Thattil as its first bishop, restoring the ‘all ‎India jurisdiction’ of the Syro Malabar Church. ‎

The Holy Father also created the Diocese of Hosur and appointed as its bishop Fr. Sebastian ‎‎(Jobby) ‎Pozholiparampil, and extended the jurisdiction of the existing dioceses of Ramanathapuram and Thuckalay.

The territory of Shamshabad Diocese comprises 23 states excluding of the 30 already existing ‎SMC dioceses out of which 14 dioceses are outside Kerala, covering two thirds of the ‎country. Bishop Thattil will serve about 1,20,000 faithful spread across 100 cities in the ‎country and has 11 functional churches and seven under construction with around 88 ‎priests and a few hundred nuns.‎

Church in India

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) is the apex body of the Catholic Church of ‎India, ‎that comprises three ritual  Churches:  the Latin rite and two ‎eastern rites – the ‎Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara ‎Churches, which claim their origin from St. Thomas the Apostle.  Of ‎the 172 dioceses in India, 132 belong to the Latin rite.  ‎The SMC also has four dioceses outside India in Australia, Britain, Canada and the US.‎

Fruitful harmonious cooperation among rites

In his letter to the Indian bishops, Pope Francis urged for “a fruitful and harmonious cooperation” among the bishops of the ‎three ritual Churches of India, as they reach out to provide pastoral care to their respective faithful ‎spread out in various parts of the country. 

The Pope noted problems and tensions among the ritual dioceses due to overlapping jurisdiction.   “In a world where large numbers of Christians are forced to migrate,” he said, “‎overlapping jurisdictions have become customary and are increasingly effective tools for ensuring the ‎pastoral care of the faithful while also ensuring full respect for their ecclesial traditions.”  “In India itself, overlapping jurisdictions should no longer be ‎problematic, for the Church has experienced them for some time, such as in Kerala,” the Pope wrote.

The smaller Syro-Malankara Church already has the provision to provide pastoral ‎care to its faithful throughout India.  Pope Francis has now extended the provision ‎also to the Syro-Malabar Church‎. 


Teachings of Christ

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Nativity of the Mother of God

Your nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, * heralded joy to all the world; * for from you has dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * and, having annulled the curse, He gave the blessing * and by destroying Death He granted us eternal life. (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Through your holy nativity, O Immaculate One, * Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness, * and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. * Delivered from the guilt of sin, your people celebrate this as they cry out to you: * "The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God, the Nourisher of our Life." (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8th.

Random Proverb

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." (Proverbs 11:24 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give you rest.'

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ