U.S. Syro-Malankara Church
Bishop Thomas Naickamparampil gives Communion to a woman following his installation at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, N.Y., on 3 October. He was installed as the first bishop of the newly established exarchate for the Syro-Malankara Church in the United States. (Photo: CNS/Mary Iapalucci, Long Island Catholic)
Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Vatican’s permanent observer at the United Nations, called the Syro-Malankara “a very dynamic church in the Catholic communion” and said the universal church is strengthened by it. He said the establishment of a new exarchate “shows Pope Benedict’s paternal care and pastoral solidarity for Syro-Malankara Catholics in the United States.”
Bishop Naickamparampil said the identity of the Syro-Malankara Catholics is Indian in its basic cultural allegiance, guided by Gospel values and expressed in an Eastern way, reflecting its ancient Malankara Syrian ecclesial patrimony.
“All these cultural, religious and ecclesial elements take their concrete expression in the complex American social context,” he said.
The bishop said it is his duty to help Syro-Malankara Catholics give Christian witness and enrich the American culture with their ecclesial presence. He said they should pursue a mission of unity in their families, parishes, churches and “with every element in this beautiful universe.”
Describing the challenges of establishing the church community in a new country, he said: “The values and lifestyle of our first-generation immigrants have to be respected and attended to. At the same time, we have to be deeply aware of the cultural context in which our second- and third-generation faithful are growing up and defining their value system.”
He pledged to cater to the needs of youths, saying the future of the exarchate depends on their involvement.
“It would be a sin to live within narrow ghettoes” in a country that welcomes every culture, every religion, every ideology and every tradition, he said. He urged the congregation to “assume the maximum possible openness to everything that is good around us” and be at the service of all that is “good and human.”
Syro-Malankara Catholics began to migrate to the United States in 1984, settling first in the New York area. Today, the church has 16 parishes and 15 missions in North America, served by 30 priests and 34 women religious.