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Church opening a milestone for Syro-Malabar Catholics

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Australia’s newest Catholic church has been consecrated following the transformation of a Holden supplier warehouse at Elizabeth South into a place of worship for the Syro-Malabar parish of Adelaide North.

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More than 1000 people gathered in St Euphrasia Church on Sunday 20 to celebrate its blessing and consecration by His Excellency Mar Bosco Puthur, Bishop of Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St Thomas Melbourne.

It is only the second dedicated Syro-Malabar church in Australia and the first to be purpose-built (the other was established in a former Methodist church in Queensland) and has been hailed as a significant achievement for the rapidly growing Eastern rite Catholic Church which now has three parishes in Adelaide and 60,000 faithful across Australia.

St Euphrasia parish priest Fr Francis Pullukattu said a vision for a Syro-Malabar presence in the north of Adelaide began several years ago with a small group of Catholic immigrants from Kerala, India, who wanted to make a “touchable and lasting impact on our community; protecting our faith, traditions and heritage”.

The community, which has been worshipping in the Holy Family School church at Parafield Gardens, is made up of about 80 families totalling 300 people.

Fr Francis said community members, most of whom were employed in the medical or IT sectors, had each donated one month’s salary to kick start the $1.25 million project which was funded through a loan from the Archdiocese’s Catholic Development Fund.

With plans to redevelop the outside of the modest warehouse in Wiley Street, parishioners also agreed to a regular contribution from their salary.

“By the grace of God the people are very cooperative,” Fr Francis said. “We don’t put a burden on them, they are happy to do it (contribute).”

The internal fit-out of the church incorporates traditional Syro-Malabar liturgical design and was completed within a year.

Two containers of religious artefacts, including a 350kg baptismal font, were shipped from southern India.

Mass is celebrated in Malayalam, the language of Kerala, and will be more frequent now that the parish has its own church.

Bishop Puthur paid tribute to former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson for his involvement in the establishment of a Syro-Malabar eparchy in Australia through his role as president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

“I would like to acknowledge with deep gratitude the Adelaide Archdiocese and especially Archbishop Wilson for all he has done for our community in Adelaide and Australia,” he told the congregation, which responded with loud applause.

“I invite all of us to pray in a special way for Archbishop Wilson, remembering the pain he has undergone in the last few years, both mental, moral and psychological and now physical…”

Administrator Delegate Father Philip Marshall said it was a privilege to be able to welcome “this sister community” within South Australia on behalf of Archbishop Wilson and Apostolic Administrator Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ.

“We have grown in friendship and love for each other from early days; we have seen you grow with strength, faith and courage,” he said.

“We sit back in admiration of your catechesis with your children, the strength of your faith, the vigour of your participation both in the Latin Rite communities and now in your own Syro-Malabar community.

“For us this is a joy and a grace which doubly blesses our Archdiocese.”

Congratulating the community, Fr Marshall said he was “moved almost to tears by the beauty of what you have achieved in this place, a sign both of your fervour for your faith and your commitment to it”.

“We pray that it will continue to be a place of grace and faith, Eucharist and celebration from which the light of the Gospel will shine ever more brightly in our city and State.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one of the 22 Eastern (oriental) Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome and is the second largest Eastern Catholic Church after the Ukrainian Church.

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