History, whether it be that of a nation, society or church is a treasure house of things past. Remembrance of things past is a conscious and rewarding journey down memory lane. This journey is never tedious, but it is enriching to the core, because it is a journey along the way our predecessors have traversed. The foot prints left by the bygone generations bear witness to the rich tradition and heritage they have garnered for us. The invaluable repository of experiences and lessons they have handed over to us should inspire and goad us in the journey forward. A careful going back in time is inevitable, in order to learn from the past and transmit our rich legacy to the successive generations.

The prestigious St.Thomas Cathedral, the premier church and pride of Pala has to its credit a rich and rewarding history of Ten centuries and Two decades. It is the proud history of a renowned community of faithful, deeply rooted in the spiritual ethos and vibrancy of the apostolic tradition of St.Thomas after whom the Cathedral is known. The Cathedral is the spiritual abode of a vast community of believers who have assimilated and faithfully follow the Marthoma Margam the Christian way of life taught us by apostle Thomas. The sprawling parish is spread over the fertile banks of river Meenachil and the neighbouring areas. The origin, the gradual but steady and progressive development of the parish to the present stature of a full -fledged Cathedral is worth recollection. It is also necessary that we record and preserve the noble heritage of the Cathedral for the perusal and information of the coming generations.

The Church: Historical Backdrop

In A.D 52 Mar Thoma, apostle of Jesus Christ landed in Cranganore (Kodungallore) Fort, known as Muziris in those days, an urban centre on the Malabar coast and the first emporium of trade in India. Apostle Thomas’ arrival in the Malabar coast was quite congenial to his apostolic mission because in those decades a group of Jews had settled down in the coastal areas of Kerala, a locale absolutely conducive to trade and commercial relations with the Roman empire. The apostles of Christ as faithful disciples of the Lord avidly carried on the mission of establishing the kingdom of God among all people in all possible lands far and near. As the bold and devoted messenger of the Word of God Apostle Thomas chose the farthest land of the time and became the apostle of India and eventually the father of faith in Christ through the Gospel to the Christians known after him as Marthoma Nazranis. The renown enjoyed by India especially Kerala in the Mediterranean world, the interest shown by the Romans in the trade of spices, the existence of convenient trade – routes connecting Alexandria with Malabar coast, the presence of Jews in the focal places of Kerala, due to the Roman captivity and hegemony and other assuring factors facilitated the Indian mission of apostle Thomas. The Mar Thoma Christians of Malabar in the ancient and medieval periods lived their faith received from Apostle Thomas and they were always proud of holding their apostolic tradition and spiritual heritage in tact, which in turn resulted as a point of conflict with the foreign ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the modern world (16th century).

As a result of the two missionary journeys of St.Thomas to India, there were different Christian communities in India, in the apostolic period. But in the medieval period, this all India Church was shrunk to the Malabar coast. In Romani Pontifices (1923) the apostolic constitution erecting the Hierarchy of Syro- Malabar Church by his Holiness Pope Pius XI we read “…the Church holds a noble position among the Oriental Churches , because it traces its origin back to the most ancient Christian communities which received the light of the Gospel from the apostle Thomas…..” Again in Quae Maiori promulgated in 1992 his Holiness Pope John Paul II proclaimed: “Syro-Malabar Church owed its origin to the preaching of the apostle Thomas and having been enriched by a proper, venerable and spiritual patrimony, has grown up to a firm stature by tiding over crises of every kind throughout the course of centuries, it seemed to us, quite opportune to upgrade the same as a Major Archiepiscopal Church.

These two Papal Bulls are indubitable testimonials to the antiquity of our apostolic tradition and the authenticity of the spiritual patrimony we inherited from St.Thomas which have been credibly transmitted over the centuries. The Syro-Malabar Church, which is one among the 24 Catholic Churches of the Christendom, is the most active, living and rapidly flourishing Eastern Church which can be rightly called doubly Eastern or properly Eastern as it is Eastern both liturgically and geographically.Today,the Syro-Malabar Church, with 34 Eparchies is heading other Oriental Churches, in christian life, parish activities ,youth ministry, vocations to religious life, organization and management of ecclesiastical, charitable, health care, educational institutions and active involvement in various social upliftment projects.

Eparchy of Pala: An Overview

Through the Papal Bull Quo Ecclesiarum his Holiness Pope Pius XII bifurcated the Changanassery diocese and founded the diocese of Pala on 25 July 1950.Mar Sebastian Vayalil was anointed as the first bishop of the new diocese on 4 January 1951. With the emergence of the new diocese St.Thomas church was elevated to the status of a Cathedral. On 15 August 1973 Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil was anointed as the auxiliary bishop, who with the retirement of Mar Sebastian Vayalil assumed office as the next bishop on 25 March 1981. The third and the present bishop of the diocese is Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, an eminent theologian of international repute. Mar Jacob Muricken was anointed as the auxiliary bishop on 24 August 2012.

1. The First Church: Its Historical Milieu

Tradion and historical records inform us that Apostle Thomas who came to India in A.D 52 founded seven Christian communities in Malabar. The descendents of the families baptized and brought to faith by the apostle spread to different parts of the country and successfully established their settlements. Historical evidences tell us that 12 descendents of those baptized by Apostle Thomas migrated to the present Meenachil Taluk. It is from this group of Christian migrant settlers that we can undeniably trace the later Christian communities here. The new settlers were keenly intent on pepper cultivation and the lure of covetable profit from the export of pepper, quite popular in those days captivated them. Apart from the inducement of profit from pepper business, they had their eyes keen on other spices and products of coconut, for which Meenachil area was renowned in those days. The wide and deep river Meenachil (unfortunately much of its glamour has vanished) provided congenial facilities of transportation and the tempting fertile soil on the banks of the river, rich in humus caught the attention of people from various parts of the country to the Meenachil area. Consequently there was a hectic inflow of migrant settlers who in course of time accepted the Christian way of life and faith and were baptized.

Before the erection of St.Thomas church, St.George church Aruvithura served as the parish church for the Catholic community of Pala. Inspite of the staunch faith and earnest desire of the faithful, because of the lack of adequate transport facilities, it was hazardous for them to reach Aruvithura for Sabbath observance. To solve this impediment, which caught the immediate attention of the Catholic community here, four Catholic families of Pala at that time (Vayalakombu, Tharayil, Koottumkal and Erakonni) considered the issue seriously and by God’s grace, without much delay, obtained from Meenachil Kartha – the local ruler – official sanction to construct a church in Pala. Under the guidance and warm patronage of the Kartha, a convenient site was located. The foundation stone for the first church in Pala was laid on the southern bank of river Meenachil on 3July1002 A.D and the construction progressed successfully. Historical records testify that the benevolent Kartha himself took initiative to ward off obstructions and challenges put up by some influential rebels of the locality to discomfit the construction of the church. Fortunately, the implacable rebels were shrewdly handled by the efficient Kartha. He brushed aside the rioters and quelled their protests. By the providence of God, the completed church, named after St.Thomas was consecrated on the Easter Sunday of April 1003.

This church modelled on temple architecture, with roofs sloping to all sides was a beautiful structure, but was comparatively small in size and couldn’t house a large group of worshippers. In course of time the aforementioned four Catholic families of Pala, who voluntarily took the initiative for the erection of the church multiplied in number and developed into different branches. When they put up independent settlements of their own, the parish naturally increased in strength and expanded much to the hinterland as well. In the centuries that followed the local expansion was accompanied by a tremendous inflow of migrants from places far and wide in Malabar to the fertile Meenachil area. Apart from the proximity of river Meenachil and the fertile land in the vicinities, the presence of a church in the locality was an added fascination for the migrant settlers. As the community of faithful multiplied in strength, their economic means also improved unprecedentedly. The favorable fiscal well-being encouraged the Catholic community of Pala to demolish the small old church and construct a new one larger in size which could accommodate a greater number of faithful. Along with this project, they took special care to promote the construction of chapels in the neighboring areas, as the circumstances demanded. In course of time the various chapels which were established as the wings of the church of Pala developed into various parishes in the 18th and 19th centuries.

After the arrival of Portughese invaders, who settled down in Kerala in the 16th century the existing church building was demolished and reconstructed in tune with Portughese architectural design. But, unfortunately in the 17th century, this church a piece of artistic marvel was destroyed in fire and had to be rebuilt. The church was rebuilt and renovated twice in the 17th and 18th centuries, in the Portughese style with hard laterite stones and lime mortar, blended with sugar cane jaggery, egg white and varal fish extract.

1.1 Elevation of the church as Valiyapally

His Holiness Pope Pius VII honoured the church of Pala with the honorable title Valiyapally and granted it the special privilege of Plenary Indulgence in 1788. The parish had generously offered fiscal and moral support to Paremakkal Thomakathanar in his laborious voyage to Rome with the ecumenical mission of the reunion of Churches. As a token of gratitude Paremakkal Kathanar voluntarily became instrumental in obtaining to the church the honorable privilege of Plenary Indulgence.

1.2 The church of the Magi

Before the construction of the present church (St.Thomas Cathedral) at the same site, in the east-west direction there existed the Cheriyapally, the foundation stone of which was laid on 13 October 1818.The construction of this Cheriyapally, known in those days as the church of the Magi was accomplished under the meticulous supervision of Kattakayathil Kochuchandy Malpan.This church was demolished in the second half of 1970s, to build the present Cathedral. It was the growing devotion of the parishioners to the Magi and their urge to organize a devotional procession in association with the celebration of the Rakkuli Thirunal that motivated the Malpan to build a church in honor of the Magi. Goaded by the enthusiasm of the parishioners, using bamboo sticks and bamboo mats, the Malpan himself improvised a special small mountain shaped structure almost in the shape of the one that exists today. Later the Malpan artistically beautified the structure he gave shape to, with colorful paintings. On the feast of Rakkuli on 6 January 1819, this stunning edifice, though crude in form was ceremoniously carried in procession from the Cheriyapally.This auspicious event marked the beginning of the marvellous procession of the stately small mountain on the feast of Rakkuli, as we do today. Later when Kattakayathil Ouseph Malpan assumed charge as the Vicar of the parish, an impressive edifice of a small mountain was carved in wood. It is this very famous stately wooden edifice, which became a talk of the people far and wide that we find in the church today.

In keeping with the Syrian tradition, the first altar in the church had only murals painted with vegetable and stone dyes. As the Portughese influence became stronger, a new altar was built in 1853 during the Vicarate of Kattakkayam Ouseph Malpan .The work was artistically done in wood gilted with 24 carat gold. Valuable pieces of artistic splendor and relics in the church include the relic of Apostle St.Thomas, the 22 carat gold cross. “the mountain” (already specified) and the various holy statues taken in different devotional processions, the Islamic style Belgian chandeliers and the four enormous paintings on wood in the sacristy. The magnificent altar in the Pazhayapally built in 1853 is a very impressive structure inlaid with intricate carvings and numerous statuettes. This gold-plated structure is now considered a heritage edifice, and is the attraction of many tourists. In 1888 when Kattakayathil Cheriyachan became the Vicar of the church, under the able and meticulous supervision of Vadakkayil Varkey Kathanar, the Cheriyapally was demolished and rebuilt quite artistically. It was in this Cheriyapally that the expired priests of the parish were entombed for eternal rest.

1.3 The Pulpit and the Seminary

The impressive pulpit erected on the southern wall of the Cheriyapally was accomplished by Kattakayam Ouseph Malpan. It was built out of a single log of wood that came afloat, once when river Meenachil was heavily flooded. Ouseph Malpan obtained the official sanction of Mar Paulose Aquinas Metropolitan, the administrative head of the Archdiocese of Kodungallore, at that time, to set up a seminary for training aspirants to priesthood. Under the aegis of the church, the seminary was founded in 1823.The seminary was shifted in 1827 to a newly constructed three storeyed building on the northern side of the church. Later the seminary ceased functioning and for some years the building was set apart as the Vicar’s residence. With the passage of time, the building was demolished.

1.4 Vadyapurakal

Two small but attractive wooden houses facing each other were constructed in front of the old church. They were set apart for the group of musicians and vocalists during feast days. These houses were also utilized for conducting catechetical instructions on Sundays. Unfortunately we do not have sufficient records to date the exact year in which the Vadyapurakal were constructed. The magisterial court held in association with the feast of Rakkuli functioned in the Vadhyapurakal. As the name indicates the Vadyapurakal were primarily meant for the band and it was also reserved as a rest house for them during feast days.

1.5 Stone Cross

During the Vicarate of Kattakkayam Kochu Chandychan a huge stone cross was erected in 1869 at the centre of the open ground below the steps in front of the Pazhayapally. Around the stone cross there was facility for the faithful to observe the devotional practice of pouring oil and lighting it.

1.6 Pazhayapallimeda

The two-storeyed building that still exists on the southern side of Pazhayapally was constructed during 1852-53 period, as a residential building for priests. Mar Sebastian Vayalil stayed there till the construction of the Bishop’s house. Quite a few dignitaries of the Catholic Church like the Apostolic Internuncio V.Rev.Peter Kiarkals, Cardinal Tisserant, Internuncio V.Rev.Martin Lukose, Cardinal Valarian Gratius and so on stayed in this parsonage, on their official visit to the diocese.

1.7 The Old Cemetery

In the years following the construction of the Pazhayapally burial of the deceased was done inside the church itself.But, as the parishioners increased in number, the facility and the exigency of a cemetery attached to the church became a serious concern. Consequently a burial ground was arranged on the western side of the stone cross, and till 1957 the deceased parishioners were buried there. As the years went by, the parish expanded much in strength and an extensive burial yard became a pressing necessity. Thus came into existence the present cemetery a calm, beautiful abode of final rest, easy of access from the church.

1.8 Marthoma Press

Under the masterly stewardship of Kalapurackal Anthrayos Malpan, a printing press functioned admirably at the southern side of the church of the Magi. In the beginning of the 20th century, this press was instrumental in the printing and publication of many valuable books related to ecclesiastical history.

1.9 The Eparchy of Pala and St. Thomas Cathedral

As mentioned earlier, the extensive eparchy of Changanassery was bifurcated and the eparchy of Pala was founded through the papal Bull Qua Ecclessia on 25July 1950. Mar Mathew Kavukattu and Mar Sebastian Vayalil took charge as the newly appointed heads of Changanassery and Pala dioceses respectively. Following the foundation of the diocese of Pala the Valiyapally was elevated to, the dignity of a Cathedral. In the colourful, august ceremony held in the courtyard of the Cathedral on 4th January 1951, Mar Sebastian Vayalil took charge of the bishopric of Pala. Till the construction of a new house for the Bishop the parsonage adjacent to the Cathedral served as the headquarters of the diocese.

1.10 The Bell Tower and the Old Parish Hall

In 1954 Shri Joseph Augusthy Kayyakkakam brought five huge musical bells from Ireland. They were installed in a specially constructed tower on the western side of the old church. Shri Joseph Kayyalakkakam himself took the initiative for the construction of the bell tower.

Though an open hall with not much facility the church built a parish hall of its own in 1956. After a few years the open hall was modified and enclosed with walls on all sides, with doors and proper ventilation. Later on this hall was demolished for the construction of the Teacher Training Institute. (T.T.I.)

1.11 The New Cathedral

From the very time of the formation of the diocese of Pala, recurrent discussions, steered by Mar. Sebastian Vayalil, to construct a stately Cathedral were on the anvil. His Beatitude Cardinal Tisserant the prefect of the Congregation of Oriental Churches, in the presence of Mar Sebastian Vayalil and the parish community as witnesses laid the foundation stone for the new Cathedral on 1st December 1953. But, unfortunately no progress was made to execute the massive plan for the new Cathedral. After a prolonged interim of 23 years, on 4 January, 1977 the construction project began to take shape. The day was specially auspicious, because the same day, Mar Sebastian Vayalil had completed 26 years of his Excellency’s meritorious service as the Bishop of the diocese.

In February 1977 monitored by the careful supervision and leadership of the vicar of the time Rev. Fr. Jacob Maliyekkal, the mortal remains of the priests and of the renowned epic poet Kattakkayam CherianMappilai were collected from the tombs and transposed to the specially devised tombs on the southern side of the Pazhayapally with the demise of Rev.Fr.Jacob Maliyekkal, Rev.Fr.Mathew Madathikunnel took charge as the vicar. Under his masterly supervision, in order to arrange site for the new cathedral, on 15 June 1977, Cheriyapally and the two storeyed building on its northern side were demolished. On 8 September 1977, the solemn day of the Nativity of Virgin Mary, Mar Sebastian Vayalil laid the cornerstone of the new church, at the very spot where the demolished Cheriyapally existed. After a period of three laborious years, the dream of a spacious Cathedral became a reality on1st January 1981 his Beatitude Mar Ladislavus Ruban, the prefect of the Congregation 0f Oriental Churches officiated the consecration ceremony of the new Cathedral. Inspired by the National Cathedral in Washington D.C, U.S.A. the building blends the western and Kerala architectural styles. The nave of the church is 150 ft long and 55ft wide, the façade 106 ft high and the transept 30 ft wide. The ceiling is panelled with white cedar and teak wood. The twelve feet high statue of Christ is hand carved in local kumbil wood. Following the consecration on 25 March 1981, Mar Sebastian Vayalil bade farewell to his long period of fruitful official service in the diocese and the same day, the Aux. Bishop Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil took charge as the next bishop of the diocese. Following the construction of the new Cathedral, the 18 ft high, stupendous stone cross and the lamp stand at the bottom of the steps in front of the Pazhayapally were beautified with carvings. After the artistic renovation the stone cross with the 28 encircling lamps was erected in front of the Cathedral. Before long, in 1984 a 60 ft high flag post was erected in front of the Cathedral. Mar Thomas Menamparambil the second Bishop from the parish blessed the flag post and his Excellency was the first to hoist the flag.

1. 12 Bishop Vayalil Memorial Parish Hall

The parish community always cherished gratefully the 31 year long committed, widely spread out services of Mar Sebastian Vayalil to the diocese. His Excellency was indeed a foster mother who nourished and sustained the diocese in its bleak infancy, beset with trials and tribulations. In order to pay due homage to his Excellency’s meriotorius service in miscellaneous fields and also to set his life as an exemplary model and inspiration for the coming generations, the parish community craved to set up a fitting memento for him. Moreover their desire had a genuine claim, because Mar Sebastian Vayalil was an inmate of the Cathedral parish. The parish committee gave prime focus to this project in the agenda of the next plenary session. In the meeting, the palliyogam, unanimously decided to celebrate his Excellency’s sacerdotal Golden Jubilee on a grand scale and to construct a monumental parish hall as jubilee memorial. Following the decision of the palliyogam on 23 December 1985 his Excellency’s Sacerdotal Golden jubilee was celebrated in the Cathedral and the foundation stone for the proposed parish hall on the southern bank of river Meenachil was laid, by his Excellency himself on the same day. Though the foundation stone was laid with grand celebration, the economic status of the parishioners was not satisfactory at that time. So the project did not progress as expected. When his Excellency passed away to his eternal abode on 21 November 1986, seeing not even the initial stages of construction, it immersed the parish community in deep regret and bereavement. To resolve the fiscal hurdles and begin the proposed construction Rev. Dr.George Plathottam, the vicar of the Cathedral, at that time took some blood steps. The chief source of capital sum for the construction was procured by selling to Pala municipality, the Kottaramattam esplanade, a property owned by the Cathedral. On 20 December 1990, Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil, accompanied by the priests from Cathedral parish celebrated the requiem for Mar Sebastian Vayalil and blessed the parish hall constructed in memory of late Mar Sebastian Vayalil.

1. 13 Millennial Celebrations (1002-2002)

History provides irrefutable evidence that the cathedral parish founded on 3 July 1002 has marked a breakthrough in the ecclesiastical history of Kerala. The church successfully completed on 3 July 2002 a millennium of holistic service to the society. The memorable accomplishment of this long span of unbroken service was celebrated in the most auspicious manner by the combined efforts of the clergy and the parishioners. The year from 3 July 2001 to 3 July 2002 was marked off as a period of special observances to commemorate the millennial year. The parishioners recall proudly that the millennial celebrations had actually begun a decade ago. The parish committee meeting held on 13 December 1992, with Rev. Fr. George Choorakkatt at the helm of affairs unanimously decided to devote a decade (Millennial decade) as a befitting prelude to the celebrations in 2002. The millennial decade was initiated after the midnight Mass on 25 December 1992, when Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil lighted the Jubilee candle and injuncted the priests of the parish to light the candle every Sunday during Eucharistic celebration. The ceremonious lighting of the candle as per the instruction of the Bishop was carried on till the valedictory function of the jubilee celebrations.

Meanwhile, as part of the general transfer of the clergy in the diocese, Rev. Fr. George Choorakkatt who was steering the hectic preparations for the millennial celebrations was transferred to the parish of Kaduthuruthy on 19 February 2000. Rev. Fr. James Kattackal, the newly appointed vicar of Cathedral parish took over the baton. His able guidance allied with the commitment of the parish community made the millennial celebration a grand and memorable event. The formal inauguration of the millennial celebration was officiated by His Beatitude Mar Varkey Vithayathil, the Major Arch Bishop of Syro Malabar Church on 21 August 2001. The valedictory function was inaugurated by Shri. M.M. Jacob, the Governor of Meghalaya on 1st May 2002. The valedictory meeting was presided over by Rev. Dr. Lorenzo Baldizeri, Vatican Ambassador to India. To commemorate the festive occasion, a grand arch gate was constructed for the Cathedral. Besides, a chapel named after St. Thomas, the patron saint of the parish was constructed opposite St. Thomas High School, in the plot owned by the Cathedral. To sustain the memory of the fruitful completion of a millennium, under the auspices of Pithruvedi (Association of the fathers of the parish) a massive scheme for funeral fund was set up.

1.14 Santhom Complex

In addition to the care of the spiritual well-being and faith renovation of the parishioners, initiatives have been taken to implement socially oriented ventures as well. To promote social welfare, it was decided by the parish committee (Palliyogam) to construct a shopping complex at a prominent site in Pala. The committee located the land owned by the parish, opposite to the private bus terminal at Kottaramattom, as a convenient site for the complex. When Rev. Fr. George Choorakkatt was the Vicar of the parish, the foundation stone for the building was laid by Mar Joseph Pallickapambil on July 1998. But the construction project could be begun only after the lapse of 7 years. In the parish assembly of 2005 Rev. Fr. Joseph Kuzhinjalil the Vicar of the parish that time was unanimously elected as the president of the construction committee. On 2 July Mar Joseph Kallarangattu administered the formal, inauguration of the construction project in the presence of Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil, Bishop Emeritus of the diocese. By God’s grace the project was successfully completed within 2 years. On 24 March 2007 at the colorful function held in the courtyard of the complex building, the blessing ceremony was officiated by Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt and shri. K. M. Mani M.L.A. inaugurated the function. The construction of the shopping complex named after St. Thomas has without doubt contributed immeasurably to the all-round development of Pala, especially in the socio-economic spheres.

1.15 The new building for St. Thomas T T I

When the Ministry of Education sanctioned Higher Secondary section to St. Thomas High School, the old building of T.T.I. was set apart for it and as per the norms and stipulations of N. C. T. E. a new multi storeyed building with Assembly hall and modern infrastructure was constructed not far from the church. The construction work of the school building was commenced by Rev. Fr. George Choorakkatt, the vicar of St. Thomas cathedral. Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil, Bishop of Pala blessed the new school building on 31 Jan 2000. On Sundays this building began to be utilized for catechetical instructions.

1.16 The New Parsonage

The dilapidated condition of the parsonage and the inadequacy of proper amenities turned the attention of the Palliyogam to the pressing need for the construction of a properly furnished new residence for the parish priests. On the basis of this observation, under the efficient supervision of Rev. Fr. Alex Kozhikkott, the vicar of the parish and with the sincere, whole hearted cooperation of the faithful, without much delay, the construction of the new parsonge began. The foundation stone of the building was laid on 24 Nov 2010 and on 27 March 2012. Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt blessed the building.

1. 17 Construction of the Mondalams

Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, a great visionary, who upheld Oriental traditions, pointed out the need for a mondalam for both the churches. The suggestion was whole heartedly welcomed by the parish assembly and Rev. Fr. Sebastian Kollamparambil, vicar of the time, took initiative to implement the project. The construction was completed within a surprisingly short time and on 15 August in the presence of Mar Jacob Muricken auxiliary Bishop of the diocese and Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil Bishop Emeritus and the parish committee as witnesses, Mar Joseph Kallarangatt blessed the mondalams. In addition to the magnificent porticoes, a stone cross was built and erected in front of the old church, at the bottom of the steps, with facility for the devotional act of pouring oil.

1.18 E – Catechism

The first and foremost mission of a parish is to impart proper catechism and facilitate veritable transmission of faith. Keeping an eye on the need for implementing tech- savvied method of teaching, relevant to the technological advancement of the changing times a new multi- media room and digital library were set up for the children of the parish. The project was engineered under the masterly supervision of Rev Fr. Sebastian Vettukallel and Rev.Fr. Joseph Maniangatt, the Vicar and assistant vicar respectively. The advanced methods of E-learning indicate the holistic development the parish has accomplished for the new gen folks. The project is geared to the boost intellectual aptitude of the inquisitive younger generation. The new room set apart in the parasonage for

E- Catechism, with its related accessories and equipments was blessed by

Mar Joseph Kallarangat on 2 July 2019. The same day His Excellency blessed the new house built for a homeless family, accomplished by means of the fiscal source of from the feasible charity scheme Oru roopaku oru veedu.

1. 19 New construction projects

Near St.Thomas High School a new venture of the parish-St.Thomas Mall-is under construction. The foundation stone of the mall was laid when Rev.Fr.Sebastian Kollamparambil was the vicar of the Cathedral. The new building complex for St.Thomas Higher secondary School is also progressing steadily. The foundation stone of the building was laid by Mar Joseph Kallarangattu. The new construction projects are carefully monitored and managed by Rev.Fr.Sebastian Vettukallel, the vicar, assisted by Rev.Fr.Joseph Maniyangattu and Rev.Fr.Mathew Thuruthipally ,the asst.vicars.

2. The chapels of St. Thomas Cathedral

When the diocese of Pala was formed in 1950 it had five Forane churches under its jurisdiction. St.Thomas Cathedral, the first and foremost among these Foranes have at present 17 parishes under its jurisdiction. These churches and most of the other churches under the jurisdiction of neighboring Foranes were once the chapels of the present St.Thomas cathedral. During the period from the 17th to the 20th century, all these chapels flourished and grew up to the status of independent parishes. But even today some of them exist as chapels and they serve as beacons of spiritual synergy to the community of faithful.

2.1 Amalolbhava Chapel (Immaculate Conception) 1837

When the broad and deep river Meenachil got flooded several times every year, the parishioners who resided on the northern part of the river could not cross the turbulent river and come to the parish church for liturgical celebrations. As a practical solution to this issue, the two chapels facing the west was constructed in 1837 and initially it was named after St.Thomas. The Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary preserved from original sin was promulgated as a dogma by His Holiness Pope Pius IX in 1854. When the Golden Jubilee of the event was enthusiastically celebrated all over the world in 1904, a new chapel facing the east was built in Pala as a memorial of the jubilee celebrations and a magnificent statue of Virgin Mary brought from France was installed there in 1904. From that momentous day onwards, the chapel came to be known as Jubilee chapel (Jubilee Kappela). Thereafter at the town chapel, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary began to be celebrated jubilantly every year and became famous as the Jubilee feast of Pala. The chapel built in 1904 was replaced by a magnificent new chapel with its lofty tower made of 14,444 chiselled stone slabs, atop which stands the single-stone marvelous holy state of Christ, keeping watch over the whole town of Pala and showering incessant blessings. The foundation stone for this new chapel was laid by Mar SebastianVayalil, Bishop of the diocese on 21August 1955. It took about two decades for the successful completion of the stupendous structure and the chapel was blessed by Mar Sebastian Vayalil on 7 December 1977 and a majestic statue of Christ Jesus, twelve and a half feet in height was erected atop the chapel tower on 9 February 1978.

The Jubilee chapel stands at a focal point in Pala town as a token of the Mariological faith of Mar Thoma Nazranis, (St Thomas Christians) and a symbol of the innate Marian cult ingrained in the very being of the people of Pala. It is quite a refreshing and rewarding sight to observe people who pass through the town on foot or by some vehicle, irrespective of cult or religion devotionally paying obeisance to Virgin Mary. The hyperdulia paid to Virgin Mary has become a distinct tradition of the people of Pala. The town chapel, an icon of the staunch faith of the former generation of people and a rare and excellent specimen of stone architecture and sculpture stands as a superb mark of the pride and prestige of the people of Pala .In recent years its administration is conjointly managed by Cathedral, Lalam and Puthenpally parishes.

2.2 The church at Kannadiyurump(1850)

The first chapel (Kurisupally) in Pala was built in 1850 in the piece of land donated from his patrimony by V. Rev. Yohannanachen of Punchakunnel family. The chapel was named after St. Francis of Assisi. When a branch of the Franciscan Clarist congregation was launched in the locality, the chapel with the land attached to it was consigned to their care. The chapel was renovated in 1918 and Venerable Kadalikkattil Mathaiachan stayed there for many years contributing his dedicated service to the parish. During the Vicarate of Rev. Fr.Alex Kozhikott, this chapel was reconstructed in 2011. Rev. Fr Jose Keeranchira was in charge of the reconstruction work and on 30 July 2011 Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, blessed the chapel and opened it for the community of faithful. At present Holy Mass is celebrated there on every Sunday at 8.30 a.m and children up to the fourth standard are given catechesis there.

2.3 The Chapel (Kurisupally) at 12th Mile (1908)

At 12th mile a chapel named after Infant Jesus was constructed in 1908 conjointly by Varghese Punchakunnel and Joseph Thumpasseril.The feast of Infant Jesus is celebrated very devotionally in the chapel on the last Sunday of December every year.

2.4 St. Sebastian’s Chapel Parapally

For the Catechetical instruction of children from Catholic families at Parapally a Sunday school was set up there in 1930. By the onslaught of time, when this building was dilapidated a new building was constructed and blessed on 25December 1995. After two decades when it became practically in- convenient and difficult for the aged to reach the Cathedral for Sabbath observance, members from 72 Catholic families in the locality submitted a representation to Bishop Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil on 21 Dec.1995. After carefully studying and verifying the report forwarded by the Vicar of Cathedral, the Bishop granted sanction to celebrate Holy Eucharist in the school building on Sundays. Along with the sanction the Bishop gave injunction to the authorities concerned, to construct a church at a convenient place, accessible to the aged. Following the Bishop’s instruction the existing Sunday school building was modified to a chapel and from 17 March 1996 Holy Eucharist began to be celebrated there on Sundays. The various responsibilities regarding the maintenance and administration of the chapel were entrusted to the assistant vicars of St.Thomas Cathedral.

Meanwhile the community of faithful at Parapally area proceeded with the initiative to construct a new chapel there. They persisted in their earnest desire that the chapel be built at Parapally the birth place of Mar Sebastian Vayalil, the first bishop of the diocese. The plot owned by Scaria Varkey of Puthiyakunnel family was identified as a convenient site for the chapel.Fr George Choorakkatt the vicar of Cathedral laid the foundation stone for the new chapel on 1st Feb 1998. Within a surprisingly brief period of 10 months the construction was successfully completed and on 21 November 1998, the twelfth death anniversary of Mar Sebastian Vayalil, Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil blessed the chapel and the holy statue of St.Sebastion was installed in the chapel. The next day, a Sunday, Fr George Choorakkatt celebrated Holy Mass in the chapel at 6.30 a.m and the Rev. Priests from the Parapally region joined him as con-celebrants in the liturgical celebration. Thereafter, Holy Mass began to be celebrated in the chapel at 6.30 a.m every Sunday.

2.5 Millennium Memorial St. Thomas Chapel

To retain the memory of the fruitful completion of a millennium in 2002, a chapel named after St.Thomas the patron saint of the parish was constructed opposite St.Thomas High school in Pala. The foundation stone blessed by the Papal Nuncio most Rev.Lorenzo Baldisseri, was laid by Rev. Fr. James Kattackal, vicar of Cathedral parish. Under the supervision of Rev. Fr. James Kattackal the construction work began on 25 October 2002 and on completion, was blessed by Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil on 4 January 2003.The construction of the chapel was accomplished by means of the fiscal contribution benevolently furnished by Shri.K.T George Kumbukkal family, a wing of Tharayil family.

The various chapels at the focal paces of Pala proudly bear testimony to the deep rooted faith, hard work, perseverance and commitment of the community of faithful. The chapels serve to keep the believers as an integral part of the mother Parish. The chapels not only adorn the town of Pala as tokens of material and cultural progress, but also serve as lighthouses to enlighten the faithful to lead an authentic spiritual life anchored in the Word of God.

3. Prominent feasts of the Parish.

Feasts are an integral part of the tradition of the Catholic Church. Devotional celebration of various feasts is ingrained in the history of any Parish. Festal celebrations may rightly be considered as an open manifestation of the faith proclamation of the parish and their spirit of communion and solidarity. The feasts of St. Thomas Cathedral are no exception to this norm. The celebrations are never garish. On the other hand they are the devotional observance of the community of faithful. Tradition and historical evidences is point out that from very early times feasts were solemnly celebrated by the parishioners. The following list serves to have an idea about the main feasts and celebrations of the parish.

3.1 Denaha (Rakkuli)

The feast of Epiphany is the foremost among the various feasts celebrated in the parish. Denaha, which means manifestation, is the term more commonly used by us. In Oriental Churches it is an anamnesis of Jesus Christ’s Baptism in river Jordan, by which he was revealed to the world as the son of God, with whom the father is well pleased (Mk1,12; Mt 3,13-17; Lk 3, 21-22) Commemorating the Jordan Baptism of Christ Jesus, in ancient days the Catholics observed the practice of taking a good immersion in river Meenachil. This dipping was considered as a prelude to the participation in the celebrations of the feast. It is from this tradition, born of rustic faith that the feast came to be called Rakkulithirunal. The holy birth of infant Jesus in a manger at Bethlehem was accompanied by the heavenly Gloria of the angel brood. This was followed by the visits of the three Magi from the east, who were blessed with the graceful sight of divine Revelation in the manger. Their laborious journey to Jerusalem beset with all sorts of hurdles, the final accomplishment of their mission and their devotional offerings of precious gifts to infant Jesus are also commemorated in the feast of Denaha.

The beginning of the feast is officiated when the Vicar of the parish hoists the flag on 28 December. With the memorial mass for the repose of the souls of the dead, the celebration comes to a fitting finale on 7 January. The requiem for the expired parishioners is followed by the holy statue of St.Thomas being carried in devotional procession from Pazhayapally to the Cathedral. The main celebrations of the feast are held on 5th and 6th January. The histrionic presentation of infanticide on 5th January and the celebration of taking in procession the enormous wooden mountain, symbolizing the manger, on 6th January are the highlights of the celebration. People from far and wide flow to the venue to witness this fantastic event, probably the only one of its kind in the Christian community of Kerala.

3.2 Feast of Dukhrana

From days of old the memory of the martyrdom of St.Thomas is observed most solemnly on 3 July by the Marthoma Nazaranis all over India, especially in Kerala. The very word Dukhrana comes from Udhrana which means remembrance or commemoration. The Cathedral of Pala named after Apostle Thomas celebrates Dukhrana in all solemnity due for its patron saint. The celebrations commence with the Raza followed by a Novena for nine consecutive days preceding the main feast day. On 3 July, the main feast day the parishioners celebrate Raza in Aramaic (the language spoken by Christ and his Apostles) presided over by the Bishop of the diocese. It is followed by a grand solemn procession after which the parishioners are given chance to pay devotional kiss to the relic of St.Thomas.

3.3 The Feast of Immaculate Virgin Mary

The feast of Immaculate Virgin Mary aptly called the Jubilee feast of Pala has assumed the grandeur of the national festival of Pala. The chapel of Amalolbhava Matha, located at the heart of Pala has gained wide attention as if it is an icon of the town of Pala itself. The festal celebrations commence on 1st December when the Vicar of the cathedral hoists the flag in the courtyard of the chapel. The celebrations come to a close on 9 December when the holy statue of Immaculate Virgin Mary installed in the decorated pavilion for dulia is installed back in the chapel. The devotional processions on 7 and 8 December attract people from far and wide. The liturgical celebrations on the main feast day, 8 December are presided over by the Bishops of the diocese. To make the festivities colorful and to foster a gala mood variety entertainment programmes like tableaux based on Scriptural incidents and two-wheeler fancy dress shows are held on a competitive basis. Dramatic performance by professionals enhances the exuberance of the celebrations and attracts many and the venue is thronged by an influx of lively, enthusiastic spectators. It is a matter of pride and christian unity that the feast of AmalolbhavaMatha is organized and monitored collaboratively by the three parishes – Cathedral, Lalam Pazhayapally and Lalam Puthenpally. But the honor of the custodianship of the chapel rests with St.Thomas Cathedral.

3.4 Feast of the Magi.

St. Thomas Cathedral is the only parish in the diocese which celebrates the feast of the Magi. It is surprising and curious that there never existed here a church named after the Magi, still we commemorate and celebrate the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the holy child. The feast is celebrated on the second Sunday in October. For nine consecutive days preceding the feast, Holy Mass is celebrated, followed by Novena seeking the spiritual guidance of the Magi so that we may not go astray and move off the track in our spiritual journey to the heavenly abode. The tradition of prayerfully taking in procession the sceptere and crown of the Magi is even today a popular act of devotion among the parishioners.

3.5 White Sunday and the Feast of Divine Mercy.

The commemoration of the faith proclamation of Apostle Thomas (My Lord, My God. Jn 20, 28) and the observance of our veneration to St. Foustina, ambassador of divine mercy are conjointly celebrated in the parish on the first Sunday after Easter. The Raza on the day is followed by a ceremonious procession in which the divine mercy chaplet is chanted piously by the parishioners.

3.6 The Nativity feast of Virgin Mary.

The faithful of the Cathedral parish are always in the forefront in offering hyperdulia to Virgin Mary, Mother of God. The feast of the Nativity of Virgin Mary is observed on a grand scale in the parish from 1st to 8th September every year. Apart from the Raza on these days Novena is observed for nine days preceding the feast day. To enhance a spirituality rooted in the Gospel proclamation of the Word of God to the parishioners by eminent preachers are arranged on these days. In the procession of rosary devotion on 8th December, the feast day, the parishioners involve wholeheartedly, offering their devotion and prayers to Mother Mary.

3.7 Other Feasts of the parish.

In the chapels at 12th mile and Kannadiyurump, the Cathedral parishioners who reside there celebrate solemnly the feast of the circumcision of Infant Jesus on the last Sunday of December, every year. In October, the month specially devoted for rosary devotion, in the churches at Kannadiyurump and Parapally rosary devotion is observed for 10 consecutive days and on the rest of the days of the month, rosary devotion is observed in the cathedral under the leadership of the priests and sisters. Though many feasts are celebrated in the parish every year, garish superficial festivities are carefully kept away and thrust is given to devotions and observances that enhance the faith and spiritual growth of the faithful. Conscious effort is taken to conduct the celebrations in accordance with the teachings of the Word of God.

4. The Lay Organizations in the Parish

4.1 Forum of Fathers (Pithruvedi)

Under the guidance of the parish priests, a forum of the fathers of the parish functions in an exemplary manner. They organize many socially oriented activities to foster the general welfare of the society and families. With this noble objective in focus the Pithruvedi was founded in the parish on 17 Oct.2000. Under the auspices of this forum a very helpful funeral aid fund has been set up. The office bearers of Pithruvedi manage and monitor this scheme very smoothly.

4.2 Forum of Mothers (Mathrujyothi)

A wing of Mathruvedi the formal organization for the mothers of the Eparchy of Pala was instituted in the Cathedral parish on 18 June 1994. The members of the forum assemble once in a month. The forum motivates the housewives to a life of prayer and equips them to work for the holistic welfare of children. The forum furnishes a flexible and open platform for mothers who are otherwise confined to the four walls of the house. It facilitates a forum for exposure and community life through sharing and discussions. They are also given a chance to voice their problems in everyday life and find viable solutions to their troubles and difficulties.

4.3 Society of St. Vincent de Paul

It is an international organization for the laity founded by Frederic Ossanam and his colleagues in Paris in 1883.The organization pays its immediate attention to extend help to the down-trodden and marginalized section of people in the society. It is a matter of pride that a unit of this charity oriented organization functions commendably in Cathedral parish. On every Sunday, the members of the unit assemble, discuss and evaluate its activities and chalk out future programmes to be implemented in the service of the poor and needy brethren.

4.4 Legion of Mary

Legion of Mary, evidently a prayer fellowship was instituted in the parish under the leadership and guidance of Rev.Fr.Augustine Chilambikunnel, himself a member of the Cathedral parish and a teacher at St.Thomas high School Pala. Men, Women and children irrespective of age are members of the organization. They sincerely participate in the activities of this prayer fellowship and are committed to promote devotion to Holy Mother Mary. They whole heartedly participate and give exemplary leadership to almost all the pious activities akin to devotion to Mother Mary, like rosary devotion and so on.

4.5 All Kerala Catholic Congress (A.K.C.C)

A unit of A.K.C.C founded in 1921 functions commendably in the parish. The organization is intended to work for the common good and stands to defend and protect the interests of the Catholic community of Kerala. The organization sensitizes the members to feel with the Church and mould a genuine christian life in tune with magisterial teachings. It aims to make the faithful aware of the challenges faced by the Church, in the contemporary scenario, marked by noxious anti-Church, anti-christian tendencies. It trains the faithful to lead a spirit –filled life rooted in the Word of God.

4.6 Syro-Malabar Youth Movement (SMYM)

The A and B units of SMYM in the parish function with the objective to nurture the wholesome personality development of the youths. The organization also has the noble objective of moulding the youths to become an asset to the family, the church and the society at large. The members extend brisk and cheerful readiness in organizing various camps, seminars, competitions and routeing on foot to pilgrim centres.

4.7 Catholic Mission League (CML)

In whole hearted response to the Lord’s commission “Go into the entire world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (MK 16:15) CML aims to train children to grow up as authentic disciples of the Lord. They uphold the core values of love, sacrifice, service and mortification and work for mature development of personality through generous mission work. The yearly activities of the association begin usually every June, with the formal commencement of Sunday Catechesis. All the Catholic students from standard 5 to 12 are members of Mission League. Every member is entitled to be a subscriber of the journal Knjumissionary. They are encouraged to read it avidly and also be a propagator of the journal. Their manifold activities entail monetary contributions to mission work, updating the manual with entries of tasks undertaken, lively participation in liturgical celebrations, house visit, and observance of Mission Sunday and so on. They involve in these activities with a keen missionary spirit.

4.8 Thirubalasakhyam

Children up to the fourth standard who have not received the First Holy Communion are enrolled in this organization. Various competitions, seminars and personality development programmes are organized and conducted in the parish for the wholesome welfare of the little ones. Above all the children are carefully trained and spiritually monitored by the catechetists, for receiving First Holy Communion.

4.9 Marian Sodality

Marian Sodality helps to inculcate a passionate affinity for the Holy Eucharist coupled with the devotion to Virgin Mary. The organization aims to train the children to grow in faith and deepen their spiritual fervor and thereby lead an exemplary christian life. Children up to the 10th standard are the members of the association and their get together is scheduled to be held on every Saturday. Participation in the prayer sessions and other activities of this organization enable and equip children to live for the Lord and work for Him and feel with the Church.

4.10 Cathedral Self-help Organizations

Under the auspices of the Social Welfare Society of Pala, a self-help group functions smoothly in the parish. The organization is tailored to promote economically self-sufficient families by motivating and training them to develop thrift and accompanying saving habits.

4.11 The Choir of the Parish

Cathedral parish has to its credit a well organized choir monitored by the assistant vicars of the church. The choir includes catechetists and talented Sunday school students proficient in singing. It is a matter of pride and honor that the choir is well versed in chanting songs in Aramaic language and they mellifluously assist the liturgical celebrations in Aramaic on feast days presided over by the Bishop of the diocese.

5.0 The Educational Institutions of the Parish

Compared to the other states of India, Kerala stands heads and shoulders over them in literacy and empowerment through education. Our state is in fact an exemplary model for them in the educational field. The lion share of the credit definitely goes to the various Christian Churches in Kerala, especially the Catholic Church. To whichever place the Catholics migrated and established settlements, they first constructed a church for Sabbath observance and it was followed by the construction of schools to educate their children. The legacy of St. Thomas Cathedral is not different. The three outstanding well run aided schools of Pala belong to the Cathedral parish.

5.1 St. Thomas High School (1896)

When St. Thomas High School was established in 1896 classes were held in the parsonage adjacent to the Valiyapally of Pala. After 13 years in 1909 the school was shifted to the building owned by the church near the chapel in Pala. In the next year itself classes began to be held in the building where it functions at present. The fourth forum equivalent to the present-day standard VIII was initiated in 1919. By 1921 the school had developed unprecedentedly and gained the status of a full-fledged High School. The Higher Secondary session was initiated in 1998. The three storeyed magnificent school building constructed according to the architectural design of the British was once an enormous architectural marvel in Travancore, winning the attention and admiration of the passers-by. During its long span of 120 years the institution has gained the good fortune to be the almamater of many illustrious persons who have imprinted their mark in the socio-political, cultural and other walks of life.

5.2 St. Thomas T.T.I.

The basic requirement to mould a generation anchored in civic and ethical values is to have teachers who embody the same value system. It is from this awareness and conviction that the Cathedral parish ventured to open an institution for the training of teachers. The institution was established in 1934 when Rev. Fr. George Vechianickal was at the helm of the administration, as the Vicar of the parish. Later, to impart experiential training to the future teachers undergoing training a primary school was started, adjacent to the Training Institute. When Fr. Mathew Madathikunnel was the manager of the school, it was upgraded as U.P school in 1982. The headmaster of the training institute was in charge of the L.P. and U.P. sections as well. It is refreshing to recollect that before being anointed as the first Bishop of the diocese Mar Sebastian Vayalil had contributed immense service as the third headmaster of the school.

5.3 St. Joseph U.P. School Kannadiyurump

Attached to the F.C.C. convent Kannadiyurump a Malayalam School was founded on 7 June 1918. It was upgraded as U.P. in 1953 and Shri. Ouseppachen Madapatt was the first manager of the school. After his death the office of the manager began to be vested with the Vicar of Valiyapally, Pala. Later, when Fr. Joseph Koippuram became the Vicar of the parish, the office of the local manager was assigned to the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, Kannadiyurump. The inception of St. Mary’s High School can rightly be traced to St. Thomas parish. The first English Medium School of Meenachil taluk was founded at Kannadiyurump in 1921. It was later shifted to a building near Lalam Pazhayapally. In due course of time this institution developed commendably and flourished to the present-day St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School. It is enriching to recollect that the initial endeavors for the establishment of St. Thomas College, Pala, the first Higher Education Institution in the diocese was also steered by the Cathedral parish committee (Palliyogam) in 1937.

6. The Religious Houses in the Parish

6.1 S.H. Provincial House

Venerable Kadalikattil Mathaiachan, an inmate of the parish and who served as the assistant Vicar, is the founding father of the Sacred Heart congregation. With four members dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mathaiachan started it on 1st January 1911. The same year in July he started the construction of a nunnery in the Vazhayil piece of land, which he bought for money. Thereafter the house came to be known as Vazhayil Convent. Today the house has developed to such praiseworthy status that it has become the Provincial House of the S.H. Congregation. As a testimony to the socially oriented committed services of Venerable Mathaiachan, an Orphanage, a Tailoring Unit, a Nursery School, a Homeo Clinic, a Training Institute for pre-primary teachers and a Computer Centre function commendably offering unremitting service to many. These institutions are conveniently adjacent to the Provincial House and are monitored and run by the nuns of the S.H. community.

6.2 F.C.C. Convent, Kannadiyurump

The honour of the initial locale of the service of F.C. Congregation in Kerala rests with the F.C.C. House at Kannadiyurump, founded in 1875. Eight devoted women from Catholic families relinquished the comforts of the world, took monastic vows and received religious habit from Mar Charles Lavingue, Bishop of the diocese of Kottayam on 14 December 1888, and thereby initiated the foundation of Franciscan Clarist Congregation in Kerala. But a nunnery proper for the congregation could be constructed at Kannadiyurump only in January 1909. The U.P. School at Kannadiyurump is run under the management of F.C.C. By the passage of time, the F.C.C. House at Kannadiyurump has become a prominent branch of the F.C.C. province of Pala.

6.3 Jayamatha Provincial House

The Carmelite religious order founded by St. Chavara Kuriakose is the first indigenous religious congregation for women in India. The first wing of this congregation was opened at Mutholy in 1888 and it was attached to the first chapel at Mutholy under the jurisdiction of the Valiyapally Pala. The provincial house of the CMC known as Jayamatha Provincial House comes within the purview of the Cathedral parish.

6.4 Christ Hall

The Servant of God Mar Thomas Kuriyalacherry, when he was a priest founded the SABS religious congregation at his native place Champakulam in 1908. The congregation upholds as its focus a way of spiritual life anchored in the Blessed Sacrament and offers incessant adoration to the Holy Eucharist. In the diocese of Pala a house for SABS congregation was established at Nelliyani in 1955. Christ Hall, the present Provincial House of the congregation comes under the Cathedral parish.

6.5 SMS Generalate

With the benedictory sanction of Mar Sebastian Vayalil, V. Rev. Fr. Abraham Kaipanplackal founded, Snehagiri Missionary Society on 24 May 1969. The congregation is pledged to extend benign service, support and protection to the miserably marginalized strata of fellow beings in the society. The first Generalate House of the congregation was the Snehalayam at Parumalakunnu. After buying a piece of land in Cathedral parish, they started the construction of a new Generalate House in the parish in 1990. Bishop Joseph Pallickaparambil blessed the new house on 30 January 1996. The Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the SMS Congregation was formally inaugurated by His Beatitude George Cardinal Alencherry, the head of the Syro- Malabar Church on 24 May 2019.

6.6 St. Martha’s Convent (SMC)

With the blessings of Mar Sebastian Vayalil and with the warm support and help of Shri Mathew Kalappura SM Congregation was founded at Moolamattam on 11 March 1958. Upholding “Gods glory in humble service” as their motto the Congregation has chosen St. Martha of Bethany as their heavenly patron. Imbued with the spirit of service of their patron saint Martha, the nuns of the Congregation endeavor to practice in their religious life the spirit of service discernible in the house at Bethany, where Jesus was welcomed and served ardently by the sisters of Lazarus. A branch house of this service oriented religious Congregation was established in Cathedral parish on 24 September 1997.

6.7 Mary Immaculate Secular Institute

The Institute of Lay Oblates was founded by Rev. Fr. Augustine Chilambikunnel of Cathedral parish. Organizing a few women who were members of the Legion of Mary in its initial period, this institute exclusively for lay religious persons was started in 1962. The headquarters of the Secular Institute is the Legion Home, within the purview of Cathedral parish. The members are not identified by any of the usual formal religious habit or external signs of other religious congregations. Without following such usual norms, they follow a pattern of life marked by simplicity and prayer. They live in the midst of ordinary folks and commit themselves to extend the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to everyone around them.

6.8 Santhom Convent Pala

The Santhom Convent located opposite to St. Thomas Press Pala is a branch house of S.H. Provincial House. It stands for the promotion of extensive miscellaneous social service programmes. It provides multifarious job-oriented training programmes. Thereby it fosters self-esteem and enhances self-confidence in the down trodden less fortunate women in the society and enable them to be economically self-sufficient. The media centre owned and managed by the S.H. Provincial House is located in this building.

6.9 Rani Maria Study House, Kannadiyurump

It is the wing of F.C. Congregation. This house close to the chapel at Kannadiyurump was founded in 2003. The study house exists to cater to the needs of the helpless girls of the society, who lead a deplorable life. The un remitting services offered to them promote the noble cause of uplifting their condition. They are enabled to be an integral part of the main stream of the society.

7. Rev.Priests who served as Vicars in Cathedral Parish

A. Vicars before 1800

  1. Vayalakombil Itti Iype Kathanar

  2. Vayalakombil Kochandi Kathanar

  3. Thommanal Valyachan

  4. Kattakayam Abraham Malpan

B. Vicars after 1800

  1. Thuruthipallil Kunjeph Kathanar

  2. Vadakkel Thomman Kathanar

  3. Naganoolil Mathai Kathanar

  4. Kattakayathu Kochu Chandi Malpan

  5. Njaralakattu Mathew Kathanar

  6. Kudakkachira Varkey Kathanar

  7. Palakeel Itty Kathanar

  8. Kattakayathu Ouseph Kathanar

  9. Kuttickal Thoma Kathanar

  10. Thayyil Ouseph Kathanar

  11. Njaralakattu Thomman Kathanar

  12. Kattakayathil Cheriyachan Kathanar

  13. Puthenpurayil Ouseph Kathanar

  14. Thayyil Ouseph Kathanar

  15. Vayumattathil Devasya Kathanar

  16. Kottarathil Ouseph Kathanar

  17. Thalachira Mathai Kathanar

  18. Madapattu Ouseph Kathanar

  19. Thayyil Kunjouseph Kathanar

  20. Thottumkal Thoma Kathanar

  21. Marauthukunnel Thoma Kathanr

  22. Thayyil Kunjouseph Kathanar

  23. Ayyanganal Kathanar

  24. Chamakkalayil Kathanar

  25. Kattakayathu Chacko Kathanar

  26. Vechiyanickal Ouseph Kathanar

  27. Kulamkuthiyil Devasiya Kathanar

  28. Murinjakallel Thoma Kathanar

  29. Mecherikunnel Emmanuel Kathanar

  30. Valiyil philipose Kathanar

  31. Mattathil Devasiya Kathanar

  32. Koippurathu Ouseph Kathanar

  33. Maliyekkal Jacob Kathanar

  34. Madathikunnel Mathai Kathanar

  35. Plathottathil George Kathanar

  36. Choorakkattu George Kathanar

  37. Kattackal James Kathanar

  38. Rev.Fr.Joseph Pampara

  39. Rev.Fr.Joseph Kuzhinjalil

  40. Rev.Fr.Alex Kozhikottu

  41. Rev.Fr.Sebastian Kollamparambil

  42. Rev.Fr.Sebastian Vettukallel

C. Asst.Vicars who served in the parish over the last 100 years

  1. Vadakkayil Nechikattu Ousepachan

  2. Rev.Fr.Mathai Kadalikkattil

  3. Rev.Fr.Joseph Kizhakkekara

  4. Rev.Fr.Thomas Parathanam

  5. Rev.Fr.Joseph Kurickattu

  6. Rev.Fr.Jacob Earthayil

  7. Rev.Fr.Joseph Chakkankulathu

  8. Rev.Fr.Kurian Kachiramattom

  9. Rev.Fr.Mathew Vadana

  10. Rev.Fr.Sebastian Elamthuruthiyil

  11. Rev.Fr.Joseph Chowattukunnel

  12. Rev.Fr.Joseph Mannanal

  13. Rev.Fr.Thomas Kattakayam

  14. Rev.Fr.Zacharias Karingozhackal

  15. Rev.Fr.Joseph Thoomkuzhiyil

  16. Rev.Fr.Mathew Mannukusumbil

  17. Rev.Fr.Paul Pallathukuzhy

  18. Rev.Fr.Joseph Ousephparambil

  19. Rev.Fr.Kurian Vanchipurackal

  20. Rev.Fr.Paul Pallathukuzhy

  21. Rev.Fr.Kuriakose Mampuzhackal

  22. Rev.Fr.Francis Kandathil

  23. Rev.Fr.Thomas Vallomkottu

  24. Rev.Fr.Philip Kottukapally

  25. Rev.Fr.Thomas Ettackakunnel

  26. Rev.Fr.Mathew Mampuzhakunnel

  27. Rev.Fr.Alexander Kozhikottu

  28. Rev.Fr.Joseph Payyanimandapam

  29. Rev.Fr.Joseph Kochayyaganayil

  30. Rev.Fr.John Luke Thuruthipally

  31. Rev.Fr.Mathew Mattapally

  32. Rev.Fr.Cyriac Velamkunnel

  33. Abraham Pezhumkattil

  34. Rev.Fr.John Potheettel

  35. Rev.Fr.Josep Vallompurayidom

  36. Rev.Fr.Abraham Thuruthiyil

  37. Rev.Fr.Joseph Paryathu

  38. Rev.Fr.Mathew Kadookunnel

  39. Rev.Fr.Zacharias Thottuvelil

  40. Rev.Fr.Mathew Kalayil

  41. Rev.Fr.Jose Musariyettu

  42. Rev.Fr.George Vettukallel

  43. Rev.Fr.James Kudilil

  44. Rev.Fr.Kurian Kottayil

  45. Rev.Fr.Augustian Koottiyani

  46. Rev.Fr.Joseph Ambasseril

  47. Rev.Fr.Thomas Brahmanavelil

  48. Rev.Fr.Mathew Kavanadimalayil

  49. Rev.Fr.Mathew Puthiyidom

  50. Rev.Fr.Mathew Punnathanathukunnel

  51. Rev.Fr.Augustian Koonammaruthumkal

  52. Rev.Fr.Michael Ousephparambil

  53. Rev.Fr.Thomas Panackakuzhy

  54. Rev.Fr.Joseph Keeppallil

  55. Rev.Fr.Michael Vadakkekara

  56. Rev.Fr.Joseph Arackal

  57. Rev.Fr.Sebastian Chencheril

  58. Rev.Fr.Vincent Moongamakkal

  59. Rev.Fr.George Pullukalayil

  60. Rev.Fr.George Parakunnel

  61. Rev.Fr.Jose Keeranchira

  62. Rev.Fr.Joseph Meyickal

  63. Rev.Fr.Thomas Puthukulangara

  64. Rev.Fr.Martin Kuttiyanickal

  65. Rev.Fr.Antony Thayyil

  66. Rev.Fr.Christy Panthalany

  67. Rev.Fr.Lukose Kottukapallil

  68. Rev.Fr.Gervasis Anithottathil

  69. Rev.Fr.Thomas Olayathil

  70. Rev.Fr.Joseph Maniyangattu

  71. Rev.Fr.Mathew Thuruthipallil

8. Rev. Priests and the Religious from Cathedral Parish

The Cathedral parish is always in the forefront in vocations to priesthood and religious life. Unfortunately the details regarding the Priests who served in the parish in the eleventh century, when the first church was founded are not available. By God’s grace, we have credible documents regarding the priests during the last three centuries. It is a matter of pride and honor that the parish has nurtured and contributed to the Catholic Church a host of committed priests and dedicated women who embraced religious life. The two renowned religious congregations F.C.C and S.H congregation have their moorings in this parish. There are innumerable religious vocations from the parish over the by-gone years and many of them have carved a mark for their unremitting missionary work in different parts of India and abroad. Venerable Kadalikkattil Mathaiachan, Kalapuackal Anthrayose Malpan, Kattakkayam Abraham Malpan Governador, Kattakkayam Valiya Chandichen, Kattakkayam KochuChandichen, Kudakkachira Anthonichen, Mar Sebastian Vayalil the first Bishop of the diocese are illustrious sons of the parish who have carved a niche in the annals of the parish. A list of the Rev. Priests and the religious of the parish who live today is given below.


Mar Thomas Menamparambil (Archbishop of Guwahati).


  1. Rev.Fr.Kurian Mathothu

  2. Rev.Fr.Mani Kandanattu

  3. Rev.Fr.James Podimattathil

  4. Rev.Fr.Sebastian Vettickal

  5. Rev.Fr.Thomas Kalappura

  6. Rev.Fr.George Menamparambil

  7. Rev.Fr.Michael Menamparambil

  8. Rev.Fr.George Elavumkunnel

  9. Rev.Fr.Mathew Thayyil CMI

  10. Rev.Fr.George Joseph Neeliyara CMI

  11. Rev.Fr.Thomas Tharappel CMI

  12. Rev.Fr.George J Vayalil CMI

  13. Rev.Fr.V.C.George Vadakkekunnel SDB

  14. Rev.Fr.Augustian Neeliyara SDB

  15. Rev.Fr.Joseph Madhavathu CMF

  16. Rev.Fr.George Nedumpalakunnel

  17. Rev.Fr.Jose Mathew Vayalilkalapura SJ

  18. Rev.Fr.Sunny Vettickal MSFS

  19. Rev.Fr.Rehel Kudakkachira OCD

  20. Rev.Fr.Mathew Thomas Chalil CMI

  21. Rev.Fr.Devasiya Aikkara IMS

  22. Rev.Fr.Mathew Theruvil SJ

  23. Rev.Fr.James Porunnolil

  24. Rev.Fr.Kurian Polakattu

  25. Rev.Fr.George Theruvil

  26. Rev.Fr.Joseph Theruvil

  27. Rev.Fr.George Nellickal

  28. Rev.Fr.George Kottarathil

  29. Rev.Fr.George Kuruppassery

  30. Rev.Fr.Scaria Menamparambil

Religious Brothers

  1. Bro.Jovinas Kazhuthuveettil

  2. Bro.Joseph Puthiyaparambil


  1. Sr.Clemence Porunnolil FCC

  2. Sr.Flowerlit Madhavathu FCC

  3. Sr.Vinaya Mukkolikunnel FCC

  4. Sr.Gracy Paruvilagal FCC

  5. Sr.Athaneshya Manikombel Kalapurackal FCC

  6. Sr.Philomina Pulickayil FCC

  7. Sr.Ananshyettu Theruvil FCC

  8. Sr.Baptist Moolayil Thottathil FCC

  9. Sr.Luimaria Vettickal FCC

  10. Sr.Rosily Puthumana FCC

  11. Sr.Jissy Jose Chollakkal FCC

  12. Sr.Annie Jose Chollakkal FCC

  13. Sr.Clare Maria Vayalilkalappura FCC

  14. Sr.Roslit Podimattathil FCC

  15. Sr.Anupa Vettickal FCC

  16. Sr.Roshan Joseph Kalloorathu FCC

  17. Sr.Molly Thomas Madhavathu CMC

  18. Sr.Francis Theresa Porunnolil CMC

  19. Sr.Thresiamma Elavumkalkottukapally CMC

  20. Sr.Dona Maria Kizhakkan Chalil CMC

  21. Sr.Ciciliya Jose Puthoor CMC

  22. Sr.Tessin Maria Porunnolil CMC

  23. Sr.Leela Rose Moozhayil DSP

  24. Maria Theresa Madhavathu SAC

  25. Sr.Reny Joseph Tharappel SAC

  26. Sr.Berchmans Porunnolil SC

  27. Sr.Mavis Jose Panthalaniyil SC

  28. Sr.Ophiliya Mathew Nanthikattu SC

  29. Sr.Olinda Mathew Nanthikattu SC

  30. Sr.Annamma Joseph Panthalaniyil SIMI

  31. Sr.Elsy Moozhayil IBMV

  32. Sr.Ancy Paruvilakal IBMV

  33. Sr.Biya Treesa Moozhayil SES

  34. Sr.Navila Nedunghel PSA

  35. Sr.Ancina Kandanattu SABS

  36. Sr.Ann Mathew Ambattu SH

  37. Sr.Jovan Kalariyamakkal S H

  38. Sr.Annie Podimattathil SABS

  39. Sr.Alice Purayidam SABS

  40. Sr.Theresa Kandanattu SABS

  41. Sr.Salomy Kandanattu SABS

  42. Sr.Elsy Kolliyil SABS

  43. Sr.Lissy Kothacheril HSM

  44. Sr. Benija Purayidom SMI

  45. Sr.Deepa Kalariyamakkal PHJC

  46. Sr.Pius Thomas HC

  47. Sr.Mary Ursula Vayalilkalapura DM

  48. Sr.Kumari Thayyil DSS

  49. Sr.Mary Evelyn Parippikunnel MW-iL

  50. Sr.Bindu Joseph Chollakkal

  51. Sr.Latha Kollabayil

  52. Sr.Linet Vayalilkalapura

  53. Sr.Merlin Malamakkal SABS

  54. Sr.Leena Malamakkal SABS

  55. Sr.Ambrose Pennickal

  56. Sr.Sabin Thyparambil

  57. Sr.Alosiyus Adapallil

  58. Sr.Lili Puthumana

  59. Sr.Mini Puthumana

  60. Sr.Treesa Martin VadakkanVellapattu CMC

  61. Sr.Alosiyus VadakkanVellapattu CMC

  62. Sr.Mary Salas VadakkanVellapattu CMC

  63. Sr.Ancilla Thayyil SH

  64. Sr.Tessy Koottamakkal

  65. Sr.Mary Sheela Koottamakkal

  66. Sr.Mary Madhavathu CMC

  67. Sr.Beede Pullattu

  68. Sr.Ancina Kandanattu

  69. Sr.RoseMary Paimpillil OCD

  70. Sr.Therasitta Paimpillil OCD

  71. Sr.Jessy Paimpillil

  72. Sr.Stella Vellapaniyil SH

  73. Sr.Lisan Maniyanchira CMC

  74. Sr.Jovan Maniyanchira CMC

  75. Sr.Jyothy Thomas Maniyanchira

  76. Sr.Lucina Pazhukunnel SH

  77. Sr.Job Mathew Pazhukunnel SH

  78. Sr.Tessin Maria Kizhakkekara CMC

  79. Sr.Mary Dominic

  80. Sr.Ansa Elappathinal SH

  81. Sr.Little Flower Murikallel SH

  82. Sr. Mercy Koottiyaniyil MMS


The great historian Arnold Toynbee has observed.”History is a vision of God’s creation on the move”. The present write up sheds light on the move of a great Christian community on the banks of river Meenachil. A knowledge of the past will not only enhance an awareness of our historical and religious heritage, but also will motivate us to recognize the marvellous ways in which God has been guiding us over the centuries, in the development of the parish to its present stature.

But, it has steps still to ascend and has to give shape to new vistas of holistic wellness programmes. The parish has also many challenges to face, inorder to witness the Lord everywhere, especially in the multi-religious society of Pala. It has on its shoulders the tremendous task of leading a life in conformity with the Scripture tradition and the dogmas of faith. It has to shoulder the task to radiate the spirit of tolerance, charity and service.

The Cathedral parish is hopefully marching ahead in its journey enroute time and history. The parish has measured out praiseworthy, unremitting service to countless generations of believers and continues to serve as a beacon of hope and enlightenment to millions in the journey of faith on earth. The parish church is a veritable icon of repose for about 6500 believers in about 1300 families in course of their pilgrimage to the heavenly abode. Let our parish sustain its grandeur, as a befitting sanctuary to many generations to come in the noble path of faith and morals, brotherhood, peace and solidarity. May the Lord shower his choicest blessings on everyone of the parish community to lead a genuine christian life steeped in the Word of God. Let us stand united and work together to preserve the sublime heritage and tradition of the parish.

St. Thomas Cathedral, Eparchy of Pala.

St. Thomas church built on the southern bank of river Meenachil is the premier church and pride of Pala. Deeply rooted in the spiritual ethos and the apostolic tradition of St. Thomas, it has to its credit a rich and rewarding history of a millennium and two decades. The first church was constructed in 1002 A.D. After the arrival of Portughese invaders who settled down in Kerala in the 16th century, the existing church building was demolished and reconstructed in tune with Portughese architectural design. This church was rebuilt and renovated twice in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Portughese style with hard laterite stones and lime mortar. His Holiness Pope Pius VII honoured the church of Pala with the honourable title Valiyapally and granted it the special privilege of Plenary Indulgence in 1788. Through the Papal Bull Quo Ecclesiarum His Holiness Pope Pius XII bifurcated the Changanacherry diocese and founded the diocese of Pala on 25 July 1950 and Mar Sebastian Vayalil was anointed as the first Bishop of the diocese by His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Ladislavous Rubin the Prefect of the Congregation of Oriental Churches on 4 January 1951. With the formation of the diocese, St. Thomas church was elevated to the status of a Cathedral. As the community of faithful multiplied in strength, the church couldn’t house a large number of worshippers. A new, spacious and impressively beautiful church was built in its place and consecrated by His Beatitude Cardinal Ladislavous Rubin on 1st January 1981. The new Cathedral a magnificent edifice, was built blending Western Vasthuvidya, Indian Thachusastram and Eastern Silpakala.