Ordination of Syro-Malabar Bishop20 June, 2023
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church traces its origins back to the preaching of St Thomas the Apostle. In full communion with the Pope, it is one of the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches, which along with the much larger Roman Rite, make up our Catholic Church. With the coming of the migrants of the 20th Century, a number of the Eastern Churches have enriched our lives. The Syro-Malabar is the second largest of these to have come to Australia. We have the privilege of two priests of this church serving in our diocese – Frs Sijo and Shaiju. Recently they, along with Bishop Michael, attended the ordination of their new eparch (bishop) Rev. John Panamthottathil, CMI. They have kindly given an account of this celebration. Bishop John Panamthottathil CMI is also a member of their religious congregation, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, which makes them even more delighted.
From Fr Shaiju CMI and Fr Sijo CMI
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
With praise and profound gratitude to Almighty God, the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, Melbourne, joyfully witnessed the Episcopal Ordination and Solemn Installation of Rev. John Panamthottathil, CMI.
John Panamthottathil was born in Peravoor, Kerala, India. John entered the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate and on 26 December 1997 he was ordained a priest by Archeparch George Valiamattam. He did his studies at Dharamaram College, Bangalore for Philosophy and Theology along with a Master of Arts in English Literature and a Master in Education. He also was a parochial priest, educator, and provincial superior and while he was the Provincial of St. Thomas Province of the C.M.I. Congregation, has visited Sacred Heart Church, Lawrenceburg, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, United States in 2008, and in 2015, he moved to Australia to serve in the Latin Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane until 2020. In Brisbane, he served at an assistant pastor at the Cathedral of St Stephen and at Saint Bernardine Church, Regents Park. He then served at Our Lady and Saint Dympna’s Church, Aspley as its parochial pastor. During his time serving Latin Congregations, he also served the Syro Malabar community in Australia. In 2020, he returned to India where he joined the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Mananthavady and served as the parish priest of Saint Elias Church, Nirvilpuzha until his appointment as bishop.
On 14 January 2023, Major Archbishop George Alencherry announced the appointment of Bishop John Panamthottahil as the 2nd Eparch of Melbourne after Pope Francis accepted Bishop-Emeritus Bosco Puthur‘s resignation after he reached the age of 75.
The Syro-Malabar Church is the second largest Eastern Rite Catholic Church in the world, with the Melbourne Eparchy being established in 2013 with approval of Pope Francis. The Eparchy’s jurisdiction covers all of Oceania and currently includes 13 parishes and 53 missions across Australia and New Zealand.
On 31 May 2023, He was installed by Major Archbishop George Alencherry in the presence of Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge, and Bishop-Emertius Bosco Puthur and Bishop Remigius Inchananiyil, the Bishop of Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Thamarassery, at Our Lady Guardian of Plants Chaldean Catholic Church in Campbellfield, Melbourne.
The grand ceremony was a remarkable display of faith and devotion, because hundreds of people from near and far gathered to witness and to celebrate the ordination of Bishop John Panamthottathil CMI as the second shepherd of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St.Thomas the apostle in Melbourne and offered their prayers and support for the newly ordained Bishop John Panamthottathil.
This solemn ceremony was attended by Bishops from India, Europe, and the United States, as well as 20 members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Cardinal George said, “The Eparchy of Melbourne got a new pastor in the person of Bishop John Panamthottathil”; noting that the new bishop’s May 31st birthday coincided with his “birth as a bishop”.
Archbishop Coleridge who invited Bishop Panamthottathil to serve in the Archdiocese of Brisbane from 2015 to 2020, in his homily preached the difficulties and challenges of Syro-Malabar Church in a different culture and advised to walk through a difficult, but wise and sensitive middle path.
With humility, devotion and love for God’s people, Bp. John Panamthottathil assumed his Episcopal duties and tasks in his ministry within the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, with the help of God.
It was really a proud moment for all CMIs to have a new Bishop from the CMI Order for the Melbourne Eparchy. We, Fr Sijo and Fr Shaiju, belonging to the CMI Order, were delighted that we were able to join with our fellow CMI priests and members of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church for this significant occasion.
Let us keep our newly ordained Bishop John Panamthottathil CMI in our valuable prayers to serve deeply the people of God and to minister the vibrant Syro-Malabar communities across Australia and beyond.
Fr Shaiju CMI and Fr Sijo CMI