On January 11th, 2014, Pope Francis established the Syro Malabar Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Melbourne. This is the fifth eparchy in Australia. The Syro Malabar Catholics from India join the Ukrainian, Maronite, Melkite, and Chaldean Eparchies. The Syro Malabar Church, with over 4 million followers, is the second biggest Eastern Catholic Church in the world. The first is our Ukrainian Catholic church. There are 22 Eastern Catholic Churches. The head of the Syro Malabar Church is Major Archbishop George Cardinal Alencherry.
On Tuesday March 25th, the Papal Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, installed Mar (Bishop) Bosco Puthur as the first Bishop of the new Australian Eparchy. There are about 40,000 faithful in Australia.
Bishop Puthur was born on May 28th, 1946, in India. He was educated in India and Rome. He has served in many ministries within the church. He has been a parish priest and Rector of Minor and Major Seminaries. He will join Bishop Peter Stasiuk in having his Cathedral in Melbourne. The other three Australian Eparchies are based in Sydney.
The Syro Malabar Church is one of the oldest catholic churches in the world. It was started by Saint Thomas the apostle, in the first century. It is also a church with a history of persecution and martyrdom. It is based in Kerala, India. It has 29 eparchies in India, and another in Chicago. Syro Malabar faithful use the Malayalam and English language in their prayer services.
The installation ceremony was held in a packed St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. There were about 30 Bishops and 100 priests present. Our Ukrainian Eparchy was represented by the Reverend Fathers Kenez, Struk, Kelty and Kalka, and Bishop Peter.
The following is the letter of greeting from Bishop Peter which was printed in the official program:
“Praised be Jesus Christ!
It was with the greatest of pleasure that I received the notice of the establishment of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle. It is with joy that we witness the will of God coming into being. The Syro-Malabar faithful will now have their own pastor and shepherd and clergy. This means that the spirituality of the Thomas Christians will now grow in Australia.
The Eparchy of Saints Peter and Paul is very much looking forward to your installation as Eparch here. We are all very excited to be a part of this historic event. This indeed will be a lifetime event for all who will be a part of it.
I assure you of our prayers and support in this historic and indeed deeply spiritual event, which is the answer of many of your faithful here in Australia and who wish to pray in the spiritual tradition of their ancestors. Many people around the country will now share in the ancient and rich spirituality of the Syro-Malabar tradition.”