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March marks anniversary of first church

120-km walk retraces journey undertaken by its first missioner to the region

March marks anniversary of first church
Retracing Father Payyappilly
George Kommattathil, Kadalundi

February 16, 2011

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More than 1,000 people joined a 120-kilometer trip to mark 75 years since the establishment of the first Syro-Malabar Church in India's Malabar region. The Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), the Oriental Church’s first religious congregation for men, organized the February 13 march, which retraced a journey undertaken by its first missioner to the region. Father Athanasius Payyappilly reached Calicut diocese after walking 120 kilometers from Trichur archdiocese in 1934. Two years later, he established the first Syro-Malabar Church in Kadalundi. Italian Jesuit missioners running the Calicut Latin rite diocese had asked CMI priests to come and serve Syro-Malabar Catholics who had migrated to Malabar from central Kerala. Participants celebrating the anniversary walked and traveled on special buses to cover the distance in four hours. “It was an enriching experience remembering a great missionary and traveling all his way,” said Jose Chakkaramakkil. Retired Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy of Trichur, a native of Malabar, credited Father Payyappilly for nurturing the Syro-Malabar Church in the region. He “lived with migrants facing the threat of wild animals and deadly diseases.” Bishop Remigious Inchananiyil of Thamarassery said CMI missioners have contributed immensely to the social and educational advancement of the Malabar region ever since. Related report Church mourns death of Malabar monsignor IB13312.1641
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