Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church that traces its origins to 42 AD, will formally dedicate the Shamshabad diocese to the Church on January 7 at a function here that will be attended by over 55 bishops and many other dignitaries.
The Pope Francis had announced the creation of the largest Syro-Malabar diocese in the country--the Eparchy of Shamshabad in Hyderabad on October 10 last year.
The diocese has jurisdiction over all the Syro-Malabar Christians in 23 states and two Union territories, excluding those in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and in the jurisdictions of the Kalyan and Faridabad dioceses, making it the largest in the country, the officials of the new diocese said here today.
The other key dignitaries attending the function will be Catholics Bishops Conference of India president Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, over 55 bishops and the sitting Supreme Court judge Kurien Joseph, it said.
The Syro-Malabar Church has 31 dioceses in the country and four outside-in the US, Canada, Australia and Britain- serving over 5 million faithful.
"The new diocese which will be officially inaugurated with the enthronement of its first bishop, Raphael Thattil, will be held at 0930 hrs on January 7, and will serve its 1,30,000 faithful spread in almost 100 cities. It has 11 functional churches and seven under construction and 88 priests," the church said.
Though there are more Syro-Malabar dioceses in the country such as Ujjain, Gorakhpur, Chambal and Satna among others, they are considered mission eparchies managed by Syro-Malabar priests and nuns.
The Syro-Malabar Church is one of the most ancient among the Catholic Churches globally, founded by Apostle Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, who arrived in Kerala in 52 AD.
This church is also the third-largest church under the Vatican after the Latin Church and Ukrainian Catholic Churches and the name Syro-Malabar is coined from the words Syriac, referring to the East Syriac liturgy and Malabar, the historical name for Kerala.
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