MAR ALOYSIUS PAZHEPARAMBIL (1847 - 1919)
Born on 25 March 1847 at Pulinkunnu, Aloysius was ordained priest on 4 December 1870. On 11 August 1896 he was appointed titular bishop of Tiumand and first Vicar Apostolic of the newly constituted Vicariate of Ernakulam. In the same year, on 25 October, Mar Aloysius was consecrated bishop at the Papal Seminary, Kandy, by the Most Archbishop L. Zalesky, the Delegate Apostolic. On 5 November 1896 he took charge of the newly erected Vicariate of Ernakulam. Although he had to begin from the scratches, his indefatigable labours, coupled with the hearty co-operation of the clergy and laity brought the Vicariate, within a few years, to a position of eminence. He continued to govern the Vicariate ably and successfully till his death on 9 December 1919. His mortal remains were interred in the sanctuary of the Metropolitan Church, Ernakulam and transferred to the sanctuary of the new Basilica in March 1974.
MAR AUGUSTINE KANDATHIL (1874 - 1956)
Mar Aloysius Pazheparambil was succeeded as Vicar Apostolic by the late Most Dr. Augustine Kandathil. Born on 25 August 1874 at Chempu, he was ordained priest at the Papal Seminary, Kandy on 21 December 1901. On 29 August 1911, he was appointed titular bishop of Arad and co-adjuctor of Mar Aloysius, with the right of succession and was consecrated on 3 December. On 18 December 1919 he took charge of the Vicariate. On 21 December 1923, he was nominated Archbishop of Ernakulam, when the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy was established by the Apostolic Bull "Romani Pontifices" of Pius XI. His grace received the Pallium on 16 November 1924 at the Cathedral, Ernakulam from His Excellency the late Mgr. Lepicier who had been sent to INDIA as Visitor Apostolic. Archbishop Kandathil made his "Ad limina" visit in the Jubilee Year of 1925. In 1926 the Silver jubilee of his Sacerdotal Ordination and in 1936 that of his Episcopal Consecration were celebrated with great solemnity. Archbishop Kandathil, not only followed the holy and progressive footprints of his illustrious predecessor, but also opened new avenues of apostolate in keeping with the changing times. As a token of special consideration and appreciation the Holy Father conferred upon him the titles of "Assistant at the Pontifical Throne", "Domestic Prelate" and "Roman Count". In 1951 his Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee was celebrated with befitting solemnity.
The illustrious prelate passed away to his eternal reward on 10 January 1956, after having received the last rites from the hands of his auxiliary Rt Dr. Joseph Parecattil. On 12 January his mortal remains were interred in the sanctuary of the Metropolitan Church and thence transferred to the sanctuary of the new Basilica in March 1974.
MAR JOSEPH CARDINAL PARECATTIL (1912 - 1987)
Mar Joseph Parecattil was born at Kidangoor on 1 April 1912. He did his ecclesiastical studies in the Papal Seminary, Kandy, where he took a licentiate in Philosophy and doctorate in Theology with distinction. He was ordained priest on 24 August 1939. He served as assistant parish priest at Narakkal and N. Parur and as Parish Priest at Chunangamvely. Thereafter he served as the editor of "Sathyadeepam", until he was nominated titular bishop of Arathusa and Bishop Auxiliary to His grace, Most Mar Augustine Kandathil, on 28 October 1953. He was consecrated bishop by His Eminence Eugene Cardinal Tisserent at the Cathedral on 30 November 1953. On the demise of Mar Augustine Kandathil on 10 January 1956, bishop Parecattil was elected Administrator. He was appointed Administrator Apostolic on 27 January 1956 and nominated archbishop on 20 July 1956. His Grace took charge of the archdiocese on 9 January 1957.
He was Appointed Consultor to the Sacred Oriental Congregation in 1961. During the fourth session of the Vatican Council II archbishop Parecattil was appointed member of the International Episcopal Synod. On 20 October 1966 he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of INDIA. On the occasion of the visit of H.E. Maxmilian Cardinal Fürstenberg on 27 February 1968, he was declared Member of the Sacred Oriental Congregation. H.H. Pope Paul VI made him Cardinal in 1969. He was nominated member of the Secretariat for Christian Unity in 1976; was elected Chairman of C.B.C.I. in 1972; was appointed President of the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Oriental Canon Law in 1972; was made Member of the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Latin Canon Law in 1972 and was re-elected President of C.B.C.I. at its Calcutta session 1974. He was appointed member of the Secretariat for Non-Christians in 1974. He was for many years President of the Syro-Malabar Bishop's Conference, in which capacity he was also the Chancellor of the Dharmaram Pontifical Institute for Philosophy and Theology, Bangalore and of the Oriental Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Kottayam. He was the President of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council for over six years in which capacity he was also Chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Alwaye. He retired from office on 1 April 1984. His Eminence had the singular privilege of participating in the two conclaves which elected Pope John Paul I and John Paul II. His Eminence passed away on 20 February 1987. His mortal remains were interred in the sanctuary of the St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica on 22 February 1987.
MAJOR ARCHBISHOP ANTONY CARDINAL PADIYARA (1921-2000)
Antony Cardinal Padiyara was born at Manimala on 11 February 1921. After completing his ecclesiastical studies in St Peter's Seminary, Bangalore and Salem, he was ordained priest on 19 December 1945 for the diocese of Mysore. He served as assistant at Kodivery and as Parish Priest at Kollegal and Ooty. In 1952 he was made Rector of the Minor Seminary, Mysore and in 1954 was appointed Professor at St Peter's Pontifical Seminary, Bangalore.
On 3 July 1955 he was nominated bishop of the newly formed diocese of Ootacamand. On 25 September 1955, he assumed charge of the diocese. He was consecrated bishop on 16 October 1955.
He was promoted archbishop and transferred to the Metropolitan See of Changanacherry, of which he took charge on 15 August 1970. He received the Pallium on 7 August 1970. In 1976 he was elected Vice President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of INDIA and in 1983 President of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council. In 1984 he was elected President of the Syro-Malabar Bishops' Conference. Consequently he was also the Chancellor of the Paurasthya Vidyapitham, Kottayam, and the Dharmaram Pontifical Institute for Philosophy and Theology, Bangalore. On 8 September 1978 His Holiness Pope John Paul I appointed him Apostolic Visitator to the Syro-Malabar Catholics living outside Kerala. The Holy Father Pope John Paul II transferred Mar Padiyara to the Metropolitan See of Ernakulam on 18 May 1985. He took charge on 3 July 1985.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II nominated Mar Padiyara a member of the College of Cardinals on 29 May 1988. At the Consistory on 28 June 1988 he was raised to the dignity of a Cardinal. On 20 October 1988 His Holiness appointed Cardinal Padiyara a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and of the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of the Code of Oriental Canon Law. As a crown to his glory, he has been appointed the first Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church on 16 December 1992. The Holy Father Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of His Em. Card. Padiyara on 18th December 1996. He spent his retired life at Cardinal Padiyara Nature Cure Centre, Kakkanad. His Eminence passed away on 23rd March 2000 and his mortal remains were interred in the sanctuary of the St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica on 25th March 2000.
MAJOR ARCHBISHOP VARKEY CARDINAL VITHAYATHIL C.Ss.R. (1927-2011)
Born on 29th May 1927 of Thresiamma and Justice Joseph Vithayathil at North Parur, Archbishop Varkey Vithayathil had his school education at North Parur and Thiruvananthapuram, and his college education at University College Thriuvananthapuram and St Joseph's College, Trichy. Joining the Redemptorist Order, Varkey Vithayathil professed as its member on 2nd August 1947, and after completing his studies in Philosophy and Theology he was ordained Priest on 12th June 1954. In 1955 he went to Rome for his studies in Canon Law at the University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) from where he took his doctorate in 1959 on "The Origin and Progress of the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy."
After coming back from Rome, Dr. Varkey Vithayathil served as professor of Canon Law for about 25 years at the Redemptorist Major Seminary, Bangalore. In 1972 he took his Master's Degree in Philosophy from Karnataka University. He also taught different subjects in several other Seminaries in Bangalore. He served as the Provincial Superior of the Redemptorist Order from 1978 to '84, and as president of the CRI from 1984 to '85. He was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Benedictine Monastery in Bangalore (1990-96) by His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
On 18th December 1996 Dr. Varkey Vithayathil was nominated Titular Bishop of "Antinoe" and the Apostolic Administrator of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church and of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. He was consecrated bishop in Rome by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on 6th January 1997. He assumed charge of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church and of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam - Angamaly on 18th January 1997. On 23rd December 1999 His Holiness Pope John Paul II appointed Mar Varkey Vithayathil as the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and as the Archbishop of Ernakulam - Angamaly. His enthronement as the Major Archbishop took place at St. Mary’s Basilica, Ernakulam on 26th January 2000.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II nominated Mar Varkey Vithayathil a member of the college of cardinals on 21st January 2001. At the consistory on 21st February he was raised to the dignity of a cardinal. The sacerdotal golden jubilee of the Major Archbishop Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil was celebrated under the auspices of the Syro-Malabar church on 8th November 2003. The jubilee was inaugurated on 12th June 2003 and was concluded on 12th June 2004.
He is a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of unity of Christians. He participated in the funeral rites for Pope John Paul II and in the Conclave which elected Pope Benedict XVI. H. E. Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil is elected president of CBCI in 2008.
Major Archbishop His Beatitude Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil expired on 1st April 2011. As all the bishops of the Syro-Malabar Synod were in Rome for Ad Limina visit, the mortal remains of Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil were interred in the specially preapared sanctuary of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica only on 10th April 2011.
MAJOR ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS MAR GEORGE CARDINAL ALENCHERRY
Mar George Alencherry was born on 19th April 1945 at Thuruthy in the archdiocese of Changancherry as the sixth child of the ten children of Mr. Philipose and Mary Alencherry. Geevarghese is his baptismal name. Mar George Alencherry had his primary schooling at St. Mary’s School, Thuruthy and secondary education at St Berchmans’ High School, Changanacherry.
He began his priestly formation in 1961 at the archdiocesan minor seminary at Parel, Changanacherry. While he pursued his studies in the minor seminary, he obtained his BA in Economics from the University of Kerala. He completed his philosophical and theological studies at St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Aluva. He was ordained a priest on 18th December 1972 at St. Mary’s Church, Thuruthy, by Mar Antony Cardinal Padiyara, the then archbishop of Chanagancherry. Later, he continued his higher studies at the same Institute and obtained his master’s degree in Theology.
During his higher studies at Aluva, he served also as pro-vicar of Periyarmugham in the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. He was, later, appointed assistant vicar at the Cathedral church of Changanacherry and Director of the Archdiocesan Faith Formation department. For three years he served as secretary of the Commission for Catechism of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC). After his tenure in KCBC he was sent to Paris for higher studies. There he pursued his studies at Catholic Institute and Sorbonne University from where he obtained his Higher Diploma in Biblical Studies (DSEB) and Doctorate in Biblical Theology.
On returning to India in 1986 Mar George Alencherry served a short period as Secretary to Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil and then he was appointed Director of the Pastoral Orientation Centre (POC) at Palarivattom and deputy secretary of KCBC. He served the Church in Kerala in that capacity until 1993. He was also professor at St Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor until 1997. From 1994 to 1996 he was the protosyncellus of the Metropolitan of Changanacherry.
When Pope John Paul II established the diocese of Thuckalay on 11th November 1996 Mar George Alencherry was appointed its first bishop. He was ordained bishop on 2nd February 1997 at Thuckalay by Mar Joseph Powathil, the then archbishop of Changanacherry.
As a bishop, Mar George Alencherry served the Syro-Malabar Church in his capacity as the secretary of the Synod of Bishops and chairman of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Commission for Catechism. He has also served as Chairman of the Commission for Laity of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).
On 26th May 2011 the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Synod elected Mar George Alencherry as the father and head of more than 40 lakhs Syro-Malabar faithful living all over the world. His enthronement as the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and as the Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly took place at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, Ernakulam on 29th May 2011. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI nominated Mar George Alencherry a member of the college of cardinals on 6th January 2012. At the consistory on 18th February 2012 he was raised to the dignity of a cardinal. He is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Congregation for the Eastern Churches and the International Council for Catechesis. His Beatitude participated in the Conclave (2013) which elected Pope Francis. Pope Francis on 15th April 2016 appointed His Beatitude a member of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity