The proper territory of the Syro-Malabar Church comprises the Eparchies in Kerala and some areas of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Outside the proper territory, the Syro-Malabar Church has 10 Eparchies in India. Of these, it is only the Eparchy of Kalyan that functions with multiple jurisdictions in the territory of the Latin dioceses of that region.
Faridabad also will be an Eparchy of the same nature. This is the 16th diocese erected outside Kerala for Syro-Malabar Catholics.
The Diocese of Faridabad comprises the National Capital Territory of Delhi, the States of Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu-Kashmir as well as the Districts of Gautam Buddh Nagar and Ghaziabad that belong to the State of Uttar Pradesh. The newly created diocese has 950,000 square kilometers of area. The first Bishop is taking charge of the pastoral care of about 150,000 Syro-Malabar Catholics in this area.
Hindi, English and Malayalam are in use in the diocesan territory.
Though the migration of Syro-Malabar Catholics to the Capital City of India began from early fifties after independence and was augmented by the late seventies, the pastoral care of the Syro-Malabar faithful in the Archdiocese of Delhi was formally begun only in 1991. Rev. Sebastian Vadakumpadan was designated by the Syro-Malabar Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of the Syro-Malabar Catholics outside Kerala and was appointed Chaplain of the Syro-Malabar Catholics in the Archdiocese of Delhi by Archbishop Alan de Lastic on June 1, 1991.
There were 3 Syro-Malabar Religious Congregations for Men having their own houses in Delhi that time i.e. CST at Mayur Vihar, CMI at Harinagar and VC at New Krishna Park. A priest belonging to the MST congregation was staying in a house at Faridabad owned by the Syro-Malabar Bishop's Conference. The SD Sisters had their convent at Jeevodaya Hospital at Ashok Vihar and an extension programme at Jahangirpuri. There were occasional Syro-Malabar Masses at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Thomas Church at R.K.Puram, Punjabi Bagh, at the three religious houses mentioned above and at the residence of MST priest at Faridabad.
Syro-Malabar Catholics claim that there are 100,000 Catholics in Delhi archdiocese. However due to lack of sufficient interest from the part of the hierarchy to help them preserve their ancestral traditions and due to their own preoccupations of immigrant life, most of them lost touch with their individual church. After having begun special pastoral care of Syro-Malabar faithful almost 50 percent of them have availed the opportunity and wholeheartedly welcomed and accepted it.
A part of the other half are still satisfied with being in the Latin rite and services. Though they have nothing against the Syro-Malabar pastoral care, for convenience sake they continue to be in the Latin rite. This is mostly because of their attachment to the institutions and structures of the archdiocese. Among this group, some of them feel that there is no need of Syro-Malabar pastoral care in Delhi. There is still another good portion of the faithful, who are living a life of lost identity in the big crowd of this metropolitan city. They are yet to be identified and brought back to the Church in a spirit of Christian charity to renew their Christian spirit.
Syro-Malabar pastoral care aims at bringing all these groups of faithful under the same umbrella according to the teaching of the Vatican Decree on Catholic Eastern Churches that exhorts: "All the members of the Eastern Churches should be firmly convinced that they can and ought always preserve their own legitimate liturgical rites and ways of life, and that changes are to be introduced only to forward their own organic development. They themselves are to carry out all these prescriptions with the greatest fidelity. They are to aim always at a more perfect knowledge and practice of their rites and if they have fallen away due to circumstances of times or persons, they are to strive to return to their ancestral traditions".
Father Vadakumpadan began celebrating mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Delhi from 1991 onwards. The Archdiocese of Delhi under the leadership of Archbishop Alan de Lastic was supportive and encouraging him to carry out his mission. In consultation with the parish priests and with due permission from the Archbishop, Father Sebastian began organizing holy masses in Syro-Malabar rite in different centres. Though Mass Centres were organized and masses were celebrated in Syro-Malabar rite, the faithful are entrusted to the pastoral care of the Archbishop of Delhi through respective parish priests of the area. It has to be noted here that there was resistance from some of the parish priests for the celebration of separate Syro-Malabar liturgy.
The Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly was generous enough to supply with sufficient number of priests each time as per need. The religious congregations also contributed their share in providing their personnel, time and money to support the mission in Delhi. So far there have been around 40 priests and 250 nuns served and serving in the mission in different periods and in different capacity from 1991. While there were only two religious houses for women in the beginning, now there are 42 houses for the Syro-Malabar women religious.
Pastoral committees have been organized in all the Mass Centres to see to the smooth functioning of the activities in each Centre. The Syro-Malabar faithful with a tradition of generous contribution of their time, energy and material to their Church were enthusiastic in the formation of communities. In all struggles and trials, they stood for their Church and its institutions and were ready to sacrifice anything for its building up.
In order to have a uniform Syro-Malabar pastoral care in the whole archdiocese, a Syro-Malabar Central Committee was formed with three members each from all Mass Centres, representatives from religious congregations and priests engaged in pastoral care. The Central Committee meets at least twice a year. It analyses the situation of the people and mass centres, their needs, active participation in liturgy and other sacraments, common celebrations etc.
With the aim of Gospel witnessing, Father Vadakumpadan initiated humanitarian activities for the poor and needy in Delhi. Under the leadership of the priests and nuns, the community began undertaking various activities such as working men's and women's hostels, nurseries, dispensaries, educational institutions and homes for the disabled, street children and orphans. The institutions for the disabled at Sanjopuram, Chandpur is unique in its kind under the banner of St. Joseph's Service Society.
On the way, there were misunderstandings and apprehensions on separate pastoral care for the Orientals whether this would create confusion in the faith witnessing in spite of definite guidance by the Church teachings. The Archdiocesan Synod, held in October 2002, was a turning point for the pastoral care of Orientals in the archdiocese. There were detailed discussions on the issue of separate pastoral care and the archdiocese decided to go ahead with policies that might prevent the gradual growth of this particular church in Delhi. There were negative reactions against the way the Synod was conducted and resolutions taken.
However, the archdiocese was generous enough to establish 6 personal parishes - Faridabad, Myurvihar-Trilokpuri, Palam-Janakpuri-Dwarka, Pushpvihar-Hauz Khas, Sanjoepuram and Vikaspuri-Harinagar - for the Syro-Malabar faithful in the archdiocese in 2003. Rev. Father George Manimala was appointed by the archbishop as the Episcopal Vicar of the Archdiocese of Delhi to facilitate the administration of the Oriental Churches within the territory of the Archdiocese.
The promulgation of the personal parishes was an added encouragement for the mission as there were possibilities of flourishing of the church in the Archdiocese of Delhi. The faithful in those parishes welcomed the move enthusiastically and most of the Syro-Malabar faithful opted to register their names in the personal parishes.
Rev. Sebastian Vadakumpadan, the first chaplain of Delhi Syro-Malabar Mission, went back to Kerala after 13 years of pastoral service in Delhi in November 2004 as the director of Little Flower Hospital in Angamali. Rev. Father Jose Edassery was appointed in place of Rev. Father Sebastian Vadakumpadan, as the Chaplain and coordinator of the Delhi Syro-Malabar Mission on Dec. 22, 2004.
On June 15, 2005 Archbishop Vincent Concessao established 8 other personal parishes - Alaknanda, Ashokvihar-Rohini, Dilshad Garden, Dwarka, Gurgaon-Kanhai, Harinagar, Okhla and R.K. Puram - for the Syro-Malabar Catholics in the archdiocese.
On July 23, 2006, Sacred Heart Syro-Malabar Personal Parish was created in Gurgaon. On August 1, 2007, eight more personal territorial parishes were established - Karol Bagh, Geeta Colony, Tagore Garden, Radio Colony, Burari, Lado Sarao, Rohini Sector III, Sagarpur. Now there are 23 personal parishes and 12 mass centres in Delhi Syro-Malabar Mission (including Mass Centres under the personal parishes and independent Mass Centres). By this declaration, almost two thirds of the Syro-Malabar Mass Centres have been covered under personal parishes.
Pope Benedict XVI has erected the new Diocese of Faridabad of the Syro-Malabars (India), and has appointed as it's first Eparchial Bishop Mar Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, conferring on him the title of Archbishop ad personam.
This provision was made public in Rome on Tuesday, March 6, 2012, at noon local time, corresponding to 16.30 hours, Indian Standard Time.