Jan. 7: Pope named 22 new Cardinals, including Major Archbishop George Alencherry, whose profile is described below. Late Cardinal Valerian Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, was the first Indian to become a cardinal in 1953. Other Latin rite cardinals from India are Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy, Simon Pimenta, late Lawrence Picachy, Ivan Dias, Telesphore Placidus Toppo and Oswald Gracias, the present Archbishop of Bombay. The new cardinal-designate said his appointment was a recognition for the country and the Syro Malabar Church and said he would follow the examples of his syrian rite predecessors, cardinals Joseph Parecattil, Antony Padiyara and Varkey Vithayathil.
The CSF congratulated him and those who would want to do so, may do so at
Cardinal Mar George Alencherry
Major Archbishop’s House
Ernakulam, Kochi - 682 031,
P.B.No. 2580, Kerala, India
Investiture on 18th February
Pope Benedict XVI yesterday appointed Major Archbishop George Alencherry, head of the Syro Malabar Church in Kerala, an announcement which was made simultaneously at the Vatican and at the headquarters of the Syro Malabar Church in Kochi. Bosco Puthur, Curia Bishop of the Syro Malabar Church, made the announcement in the presence of a large gathering of priests and nuns. The investiture of George Alencherry, the 11th Indian and the fourth Syro Malabar prelate to become a cardinal, will take place in Rome on February 18.
The initiation & part of KCBC
Alencherry, 66, was born in the parish of Thuruthy in the archdiocese of Changanacherry as the sixth child of the 10 children of Philipose and Mary Alencherry, of whom two others are priests (Jose Alencherry and Francis Alencherry) and another a religious sister (Sr Cherupushpam). Alencherry whose baptismal name is Geevarghese, had his primary schooling at St Mary’s School, Thuruthy and secondary education at St Berchman’s High School, Changanacherry. He began his priestly formation in 1961 at the archdiocesan minor seminary at Parel, Changanacherry. While he pursued his studies in the minor seminary, he obtained his BA in economics with second rank from St Berchman’s College. After the minor seminary studies, he was sent to St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Aluva where he completed his philosophical and theological studies.
In 1972, Cardinal Antony Padiyara, the then archbishop of Changanacherry, ordained him priest at St Mary’s Church, Thuruthy, for the archdiocese of Changanacherry. Later he continued his higher studies at the Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy from where he obtained his master’s degree in first rank. While pursuing higher studies at Aluva he also served as vicar of the filial church at Periyarmugham in the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. After completion of studies at Aluva, Alencherry was appointed as assistant vicar at the Cathedral church of Changanacherry and Director of the Archdiocesan Faith Formation department and was secretary of the Commission for Catechism of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) for three years.
He goes for further studies
After his tenure at KCBC, he was sent to Paris for higher studies where he pursued his studies at Sorbonne University and the Catholic Institute from where he obtained his doctorate in biblical theology. On returning to India in 1986, he was appointed director of the Pastoral Oriental Centre (POC) at Palarivattom and deputy secretary of KCBC. He served the Church in Kerala in that capacity until 1993. Simultaneously, he also served as professor at St Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor. He continued to teach at Vadavathoor until 1997. From 1994 to 1996, he was the protosyncellus of the metropolitan of Changanacherry. When Pope John Paul II established the diocese of Thuckalay in 1996, he was appointed its first bishop. He was ordained bishop on February 2, 1997 at Thuckalay by Mar Joseph Powathil, the then archbishop of Changanacherry.
Following his predecessors
As bishop, he served the Syro-Malabar Church in his capacity of the secretary of the Synod of Bishops and chairman of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Commission for Catechism. He has also served as chairman of the Commission for Laity of the catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). Mar George Alencherry has to his credit a book titled Morality Today and Tomorrow in Malayalam and a number of articles on various topics in English and Malayalam. The new major archbishop is proficient in Malayalam, Tamil, English and French. He was elected the spiritual leader of the more than 4mn Syro-Malabar faithful living all over the world in 2011, and became the first elected head of the church. He succeeded Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil who died last year.
- By ashraf padanna