St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Mission Parish: A JOURNEY!
Every success story has a history. And it has the dedication and hard work of a group of committed people behind it. It is no different in the case of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Mission Parish.
Malayalees started migrating to Canada in the late 60’s in very limited numbers. By the 70’s the numbers grew and they started to get together to fulfil their social and spiritual needs. As the number of Catholic families grew, they started to congregate themselves based on their Catholic beliefs in various places for prayer and worship
On 18th February, 1977, Fr. Thomas Thottunkal was appointed as the Chaplain of Malayalee Catholics in Toronto by the Arch-diocese of Toronto. The number of Catholic families in and around Toronto grew further in the 70’s and 80’s and there was a need for better religious guidance for the community. The Arch-diocese of Toronto realised need and aspirations of the Malayalee Catholics to have a formal place of worship and leadership.
On November 22, 1982 their dream became a reality and a Mission Church was born in St Augustine’s Seminary, Toronto. On November 28, 1982, His Eminence Cardinal Carter officially declared St. Thomas the Apostle Mission as a parish for the Malayalee Catholics. The first Holy Mass was said at St. Timothy Catholic School in Toronto. And Fr. Joseph Kannath was appointed as the first Pastor of the Church.
In December 1983, our place of worship was moved to Precious Blood Church in Scarborough with regular Sunday services at 4:30 pm. It remained as the venue for our parish activities and community events.
We were moved to Holy Cross Church in East York, Toronto as the CMI Pastors took over the administration of Holy Cross Church. Fr Varghese Pudussery CMI was our Pastor at the time.
We moved back to Precious Blood Church for our Sunday services. The East Region is still conducting their Sunday services at Precious Blood Church. Fr. Joseph Kannath (1983-1985), Fr. Anthony Kozhuvanal (1985-1986) and Fr. Thomas Kalarathil (1986-1988) who is now Monsignor in the Arch-diocese of Toronto served as Pastors in the 80’s.
The Priests from the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), Fr. John Pynadath (1988-1989), Fr. Cletus Plackal 1989-1990), Fr. Joseph Kuntharayil (1990-1996), Fr. Varghese Puthussery (1996-2000), Fr. Augustine Mampilly (2000-2001), Fr. Paul Moonjely (2001-2004), Fr. Jose Thaiparampil (2004-2009) and Fr. Issac Tharayil (2009) served as Pastors until the end of 2009.
The number of families grew beyond hundreds and in to the thousands. The geographical areas of residence were far and wide. An official request was made to the Arch-diocese of Toronto for permission to conduct Sunday services in Mississauga. In July 2007, the first Holy Mass was celebrated at St. Francis Xaviour Catholic Church on a monthly basis on Saturday evenings.
On October 28, 2008, regular Sunday Mass at 10:00 am was started at St. Veronica Elementary School.
Thus the parish was known as St. Thomas the Apostle Mission Parish, East Region (Scarborough) and the West Region (Mississauga).
Now the Sunday service is being conducted at 10:00 am on a regular basis at St. Michael Goetz Catholic School in Mississauga. Regular Sunday Catechism classes were also started in 2008 by Fr. Jose Thaiparampil. Today, hundreds of students attend Catechism classes regularly on Sundays.
The Syro- Malabar Diocese of Chicago took over the responsibilities of Spiritual matters of our Parish and renamed the church as St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Mission Parish. Family Units were also organised in 2009 in both Regions with regular monthly unit meetings.Today there are 19 Family Units in the West Region and every unit is very dynamic in the activities of the church.
On May 12, 2009, a decision was taken in a General Body Meeting of the Parishioners held at the Parish Hall of Nativity of our Church in Etobicoke to start the process of building a church. One of the parishioners, Mr and Mrs Thomas Kannampuzha has generously offered to donate 6 acres of land for that purpose at the North-East corner of Britania and Credit View Road in Mississauga. Zoning efforts are underway with the city of Mississauga.
On January 6th 2010, Fr James Cherickal took over the pastoral duty of our parish and continued the church building project. Fr. Cherickal served as the pastor until 2012.
Fr Kurian Puramadathil served as the Associate Pastor from 2010-2012
And Fr Mathew Periapuram was the Pastor from 2012 till 2013
The purchase of the Mission Centre in Mississauga (1434 Torrington Drive) in 2013 was a remarkable milestone in the history and growth of our Parish which currently serves 592 registered families in the West Region.
After an interval of not having a regular Pastor for the Parish, Fr. Jose Kalluvelil became the Pastor on September 06, 2013 with a firm commitment to mobilise the community and continue the building project.
Immediately upon taking charge, Fr Kalluvelil convened the General Body Meeting, re-kindled desire of the community to continue with the building project, revamped the Family Units and conducted elections to the Parish Council and Family Units.
Tomy Kokkat and Suresh Thomas were elected as the first ‘Kaikarans’ of the Parish.
Under the strong leadership of Fr. Jose Kalluvelil, we had a fund-raising project, the Mega Show name called ‘Sargasandhya’, which was taken place on May 24, 2014 for the purpose of building a church. It was a sold-out event. Surgasandhya was a memorable milestone in the history of our church as it was the financial foundation of our church.
What we have achieved so far and who we are as a parish community are the cumulative effects of the efforts and dedication of all the pastors and parish council members who served our parish over the years. It is also result of the hard work and commitment of the various volunteer groups and members of the parish community at large.
Under the strong pastoral leadership of Fr. Jose Kalluvelil, the community purchased a building at 6630 Turner Valley Road, Mississauga to function as a place of our own and named it as St. Alphonsa Syro Malabar Catholic Church. This was the realization of a long-cherished dream, unceasing prayers, untiring efforts and community spirit.
This was one of the most important years in the history of Syro-Malabar Catholics in Canada.
On August 6, 2015, His Holiness Pope Francis announced the formation of the Apostolic Exarchate for Syro-Malabar Catholics in Canada and Fr. Jose Kalluvelil as the first Exarch. Mar Jose Kalluvelil’s Episcopal Ordination was conducted on September 19, 2015.
Rev. Fr. Thomas Valummel served our community as the Associate Pastor and Pastor. His leadership in organizing the Episcopal Ordination ceremony was outstanding. Rev. Fr. John Mylamvelil served as the Vicar for a three-month period from March to June 2016. In June 2016 Rev. Fr. Sebastian Arikatt joined as the Pastor. He took on the initiative of renovating the building to accommodate the growing number of people and classrooms for the catechism. Fr. Sebastian Arikatt’s inspiring homilies and Bible study initiatives were remarkable. The number of parishioners and family continued to increase during his time as pastor. Mar Jose Kalluvelil elevated the church in Mississauga to a Cathedral.