8/8/12 | 701 views
Syro-Malabar Catholic Community Has New Home at Wesley Hills Parish
More than 500 people filled St. Boniface Church in Wesley Hills Aug. 1 to celebrate the inauguration of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church at St. Boniface. Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, traveled from Cochin, India, to preside at the three-hour evening celebration.
The liturgy marked the move of the Rockland community Syro-Malabar Catholic mission to St. Boniface parish. Until July 1, the group had worshiped at Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel at the Rockland Psychiatric Center.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church based in the southwest Indian state of Kerala. It traces its founding to the evangelization efforts of St. Thomas the Apostle.
Syro-Malabar Catholics began immigrating to the United States in the 1960s. There are currently more than 90,000 Syro-Malabar church members in the United States. They are united in a single diocese, St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago. More than 800 Syro-Malabar Catholic families worship at two parishes and a mission in Rockland, Westchester and the Bronx.
In his homily, Cardinal Alencherry said, “You have been welcomed by the church here. You are part and parcel of the Church in the United States, united in spirit and in action, working for the glory of God.”
He urged the congregation to “be the gifts of God to our Church and to others.”
Archbishop Alencherry was joined at the altar by more than 20 priests and bishops, including Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh, vicar for clergy for the archdiocese and episcopal vicar of the Rockland, Central Westchester, South Shore and Yonkers vicariates; Bishop Jacob Angadiath of the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic diocese and Bishop Joseph Kunnath of Adilibad, India.
Bishop Walsh said, “What a blessing to this parish to welcome our sisters and brothers of the Syro-Malabar rite to St. Boniface to add members and parishioners to this great community of Catholic faith.”
He called the new arrangement “a wonderful ecclesial marriage.”
Bishop Walsh also acknowledged the pastoral talents of Father Thadeus Aravindathu, who is both administrator of St. Boniface and vicar of St. Mary's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
“Father Thadeus will respectfully bridge the two communities and encourage the growth and faith of all the parishioners of St. Boniface,” he said.
“Here, some will worship in the Roman rite and be instructed in those traditions and others will worship in the Syro-Malabar rite and be instructed in its traditions. Each community will complement and encourage the other in our one faith in Jesus Christ and his one holy, catholic, apostolic Church.”
Paraphrasing Blessed John Paul’s observation about the universal Church, Cardinal Alencherry said, “The parish of St. Boniface breathes with two lungs: one Eastern and one Western.”
Bishop Angadiath asked the Syro-Malabars to “make every sacrifice to build our faith community here and make every effort to bring all our children to (religious education).”
“Whatever sacrifice we make is a gift to God,” he said.
Recognizing that the faith is passed on as a gift from parents, “we have a responsibility as the first generation here” to share the faith with the children, he said.
The Mass was preceded by an outdoor procession on the grounds of St. Boniface. To a steady drumbeat, Cardinal Alencherry and other clergy walked a route lined with sari-clad women holding plates of flowers. Inside the church, they passed through a floral tribute formed by men and women holding long-stemmed white roses in an arch across the length of the main aisle.
The liturgy was celebrated in spoken and intoned Malayalam, a language common in southwestern India. It was followed by a traditional Indian dinner in the church hall.
Father Hugh Grace, who recently retired as pastor of St. Boniface parish, and Msgr. Edward Weber, director of priest personnel for the archdiocese and former regional vicar of Rockland County and former pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in West Nyack, were among those honored for their generosity to the Syro-Malabar Catholic community.
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