Indian Christians Revive Faith in Preston


Preston in North East England witnessed a unique event. When the churches are getting empty day by day across the country, an event to mark the ordaining of a new bishop held at a football ground to accommodate the followers….reports Asian Lite News. Pics by: Sony Chacko, Manchester

The Ordination Mass of Fr Joseph Srampickal at Preston
The Ordination Mass of Fr Joseph Srampickal at Preston

The first bishop of a new cathedral for Indian Catholics in Preston has been ordained at the home of Preston North End. More than 12,000 people attended the Ordination Mass of Fr Joseph Srampickal.

Pope Francis created the new diocese – or eparchy – in July, making it one of only three worldwide.

The Grade II-listed St Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, which shut in December 2014, was designated as a cathedral. It reopened to serve Syro Malabar Rite, an Indian branch of the Roman Catholic Church, BBC reported.

Twenty-five bishops and more than 200 priests and many nuns attended the service.

The Ordination Mass of Fr Joseph Srampickal at Preston
The Ordination Mass of Fr Joseph Srampickal at Preston

The Indian community are from the Syro Malabar Rite, which claims to have been founded by St Thomas The Apostle in India and is one 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in unity with the Pope.

St Ignatius was built in 1836, seven years after the legalisation of Catholicism in England, and was staffed by the Jesuit Order.

More than 38,000 Syro-Malabar faithful, who have emigrated from Kerala, India over the past 30 years, now reside in England, Scotland and Wales. They are present in twenty-seven dioceses, concentrated mainly in the big cities: London, Birmingham and Liverpool.

There are 23 Syro-Malabar priests engaged in pastoral care, coordinated by Dr. Thomas Parayadiyil, MST. In addition to the liturgical celebrations, training programs have been established in the faith according to the Syro Malabar tradition.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis appointed Dr. Fr. Joseph (Benny Mathew) Srampickal, a member of the clergy of the Eparchy of Palai, until now Vice-Rector of the Collegio De Propaganda Fide in Rome, as the first bishop of the Eparchy in July, 2016.

Msgr. Joseph (Benny Mathew) Srampickal was born on May 30, 1967 in Poovarany, in the Eparchy of Palai. He entered the minor seminary and he studied philosophy at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, and theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, where he obtained a licentiate in biblical theology. He continued his studies at Oxford (England). He knows: Malayalam, English, Italian and German.

Ordained a priest on August 12, 2000, he has held the following positions: Professor at the minor seminary and Ephrem Formation Centre of Pala; Director of the Mar Sleeva Nursing College, Cherpumkal; Director of the Evangelization Programme; Secretary of the Bishop; Pastor at Urulikunnam. From 2013, he is Vice Rector of the Pontifical Urbaniana College of the Propaganda Fide, Rome.