Photo: Bishop Thomas Eusebios Naickamparambil, center, during his installation to lead the Exarchate for the Syro-Malankra Catholic Church in the United States in 2010. (Mary Iapalucci photo)
By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has erected a new Syro-Malankara eparchy for the United States and Canada. The pope also named Bishop Thomas Eusebios Naickamparambil, who served as the apostolic exarch for Syro-Malankaran Catholics in the United States, as its first bishop.
The new diocese is called the Eparchy of St. Mary, Queen of Peace, and will be based in Elmont, in the Latin-rite Diocese of Rockville Centre, at St. Vincent de Paul Malankara Catholic Cathedral.
In its announcement Jan. 4, the Vatican noted the presence of 11,500 Syro-Malankaran Catholics in the United States, particularly in Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C. The eparchy includes 19 parishes and missions as well as three women’s religious institutes situated in 10 convents in the two countries. There are 17 priests assigned within the eparchy, and another 16 Syro-Malankaran priests ministering in Latin-rite dioceses.
Bishop William Murphy offered warm congratulations to Bishop Naickamparambil and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in the United States. Bishop Naickamparambil and Bishop Murphy have worked together since 2010 to deepen the bonds between the two Catholic churches, one of the east and the other of the west. Both cooperated with their parishioners in a process that enabled Saint Vincent de Paul parish in Elmont to continue its life as a Roman parish while effecting a transfer of the church and rectory to Bishop Naickamparambil so that the Eparchy could have a cathedral and a bishop’s residence of its own.
The U.S. communities were formally organized as missions in 1984, according to a 2014 decree on governance issued by Bishop Naickamparambil. St. John Paul II appointed the first apostolic visitator to U.S. Syro-Malankaran Catholics in 2001.
Born in Mylapra, India, June 6, 1961, Bishop Naickamparambil was ordained in 1986. He worked in several parishes in India as well as a professor and dean of philosophy at St. Mary’s Malankara Major Seminary in Kerala, India.
In 2010, he was named titular bishop of Lares and the first apostolic exarch of Syro-Malankaran Catholics in the United States. He also served as an apostolic visitor for Syro-Malankaran Catholics in Canada and Europe prior to his elevation.
Bishop Naickamparambil is a member of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Subcommittee for Asian and Pacific Island Affairs.
The Syro-Malankara rite was established in India. Indian Catholics hold that St. Thomas journeyed to India to spread the Gospel, although no definitive evidence has been found to verify that. It is one of 22 Eastern churches in communion with Rome. Its headquarters is in Thiruvananthapuram, India.
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Contributing to this story was Mark Pattison in Washington.