MAJOR ARCHBISHOP 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.