Diocese of Calicut


History - Diocese of Calicut

Calicut diocese came into existence on 12th June 1923. Established by Holy Father Pope Pius XI of happy memory separating Malabar from the Diocese of Mangalore and Wayanad from the Diocese of Mysore, it was spread out into the six Districts of North Kerala extending from Shoranur to Kasargod.  People of different culture, language and heredity, the descendants of Europeans, Portuguese, Dutch, French and British, Anglo- Indians, Konkani speaking settlers from Goa and Mangalore, Tamilians who came in  seeking job opportunities, Tribals who were converted to Christianity, Dalit Christians, natives of the place, orthodox Christians who were accepted into the Catholic fold, Marthomites, Protestants and Latin Catholics who came from other dioceses belonged to this diocese. The period from 1926 saw the immigration of Syrian Catholics from  Travancore  and they settled down along the high ranges of the western ghats and its vallies along the Malabar area. They were welcomed and looked after by the Diocese of Calicut till the formation of the Diocese of Tellicherry in the year 1954. The Diocesan priests and the Jesuit fathers in Calicut Diocese rendered valuable and whole hearted support to these Syrian Catholics to acquire land at low costs and saw to their all around development in spiritual, social, educational, cultural and financial conditions. Health care and free medical facilities were made available to these people who were attacked by malaria and other contagious diseases. In the fields of education, culture, social commitment and inter-religious dialogue Calicut Diocese holds high influence in the city of Calicut, the cultural centre and capital of North Kerala.

Evangelization in Malabar.

Though the Diocese was erected as the 25th Diocese in India, and has completed just 81 years  Catholic Church in Malabar has a long history of about 500 years. There are no evidences to show that a catholic community lived in North Malabar before that. When Vasco-De-Gama landed in Kappad beach in Calicut on 20th May 1498. There was with him Rev. Fr. Pedro De Covilam, a member of the Trinitarian Religious Order. While Vasco-Da-Gama was settling trade relationship with the Zamorin Raja of Kozhikode Rev Covilam did the work of Evangelization. It was recorded by a Co-traveller Alvaro Wehoe, in his diary. The historians like Fr. De Feroli had pointed out that the First missionary of Malabar Rev. Fr. Covilam died on July 31st 1498.

Along with Navy Captain Alvares Cabral there  were eight (8) Franciscan Priests and eight (8) Diocesan priests and they landed in Calicut on 13th September 1500 . The Zamorin then reigning in Kozhikode gave permission to the Portuguese to build store houses along the shore and also allowed the missionaries to have evangelization in his territory. In Calicut the missionaries converted a Brahmin to Catholic religion giving him the name Michael De Sancta Maria. He was the first converted Catholic in Malabar. On 16th December 1500 about fifty (50) Portuguese men were got killed in a clash between the Portuguese and the Zamorins and their store house were destroyed. During this fight Rev. Fr. Gasper, Pedro Netto and the Masse were killed.

In the year 1501. under the leadership of Joao De Nova the Portuguese Naval Company reached Kannur. The Raja of Kolathiri(Kannur) gave them a warm reception and permitted the four missionaries who were in the group to do the work of evangelizaiton there. It was in the year 1501 that the first Catholic Church was built in Kannur in North Malabar. The records show that in the year 1504 four bishops of the Eastern Syrian Church who came along with the Portuguese from Persia offered sacrifices in this chapel.

The Portuguese Viceroy Francis Seseo De Almeida built the famous St. Angelo Fort in Kannur and along with it he got ready St. James Chapel inside the fort in the year 1505. There were 344 (three hundred and forty four) Catholics in Kannur in the year 1514. It was found recorded among the Archeological collection preserved in the Palace of Lisbon. In the year 1516 Alphonse -de- Albuqarque built a godown and a chapel on the shore of the  Kallai river in Calicut. The vicar of this church was Rev. Fr. Diego Moroeas. Vettathuraja of Tanur gave permission to build a church at Chaliam. St. Francis Xavier visited Kannur on 25th December in 1543 and Calicut on 7th March 1549.

It was the Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinian religious Priests who served in Malabar are during the 16th Century.

Church in the social and Educational field’s:-

It was the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who were very active in the mission work in Malabar during the 17th century. In the year 1596 a church was constructed at the same spot where the Mother God Cathedral Church now stands by (Rev. Fr. Francis Aquosta S.J. and Antonio Shiphani S.J. acquired permission and help from the Zamorin Raja of Kozhikode. They entered into a diplomatic relationship with the Raja and Influenced him to enter into peace negotiation with the Portuguese and the Muslims and took up the leadership to finalise the peace deal between them. Rev. Fr. Jacomo Fenichi S.J. better known as ‘the Apostate of Calicut’ was the vicar of the Cathedral Church from 1603 to 1611. At the beginning of the 18th Century Rev. Frs. Miranda S.J. Fr. Earnest Haxon Laden S.J. the well known ‘Arnose Padiri’ had greatly contributed in the development process of ‘Malayalam’ as a language, Fr. Broglea S.J, Fr Brendoline S.J. were the persons who left a generous and valuable contribution in the social, cultural and educational sphere of the place at that time. It was a remarkable contribution of the Jesuits in the Malabar Mission.

In the 16th Century itself the Portuguese had given shape to a third trading centre with Tellicherry as its head quarters. The church there was under the jurisdiction of the Arch Diocese of Goa till the year 1609. During the time of the Portuguese a trading merchant named Dominico Rodriguez had constructed a church there and named it Holy Rosary Church in honour of the Queen of the Holy Rosary. In the year 1708 when the British East India Company re-built the fort at Tellicherry, the Jesuit fathers rebuilt the church at Tellicherry. It was Rt.  Rev. Dr. Reberio the Archbishop of Kodungalloor who gave the necessary permission to rebuild the church. The four tombs that were built in the cemetery adjacent to the church are still there intact.

In the year 1722 a French army had encamped at Mahe. Rev. Fr. Dominic OCD used to come from Pondicherry to render spiritual ministry to the soldiers living in Mahe. He, with the permission of the Raja of Badagara reigning at that time built a Church in Mahe with bamboos and coconut leaves in the name of St. Teresa of Avila in the year 1736. The church has now turned into a very famous pilgrim centre in South India. During the years between 1730 and 1745 Mahe was struck down with small pox thrice and caused death to thousands of people. Rev. Frs. Dominic O.C.D. and Mathias O.C.D., who were performing spiritual ministry there got the help of more Religious from the Carmelite Monastery at Varapuzha, built hospital and nursing centres in Mahe and treated and looked after the afflicted people and cured many who were attacked by small pox. In the year 1785 when the church in Mahe was reconstructed by Abe Dueschan, the parish priest got the full cooperation and support of the people of Mahe. The church with its tradition of about 270 years of service stands as a symbolic tower of religious tolerance and social friendship in Malabar even now. It was the boundless zeal and all embracing serviceable attitude of the missionaries that made the Catholic Church in North Malabar an emblem of religous tolerance, human brotherhood and mutual love & service. Together with the religous and community apostolate, the missionaries gave their valuable contribution in the field of education. Rev. Fr. Gabriet Gonsalvez, the parish priest of the Catholic Church in Calicut which was under the jurisdiction of Cranganoor (Kodungalloor) opened St. Josephs Boys’ High School, Calicut in the year 1793. It was  one of the first schools in South India. He started two schools in the same compound, one with English as the medium of Instruction and the other as Malayalam as its medium. Both were for Boys only. St. Michael’s School in Kannur was opened in 1807. Rt. Rev. Dr. Bishop Michael Antony of Mangalore Diocese opened St. Joseph’s Girls High School in Calicut in the year 1862 with English as medium of instruction which was later handed over to the Apostolic Carmel sisters. Mother Veronica the foundress of the Apostolic Carmel congregation was the first Mother Superior and Head Mistress of the convent and school. She was a religious member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. Admissions were opened to all the girls of any caste and creed. It was the first school for girls in Malabar.

The Basil Mission that reached Calicut in the year 1834 opened educational centres in Malabar on 11th October. Sirs Heback, Laner and Grinner in calicut, Dr. Herman Gundert in Tellicherry improved the education in Malabar. Today under the Diocese of Calicut and Kannur there are about 162 (one hundred and sixty two) educational institutions ranging from Nursery to Technical schools and there are 45000 (Forty five thousand) students studying in these institutions. The best and well known schools in North Kerala are run by the Diocesan management or through the religious congregations of the Diocese.

Mission centres of Evangelization

When the British started coffee and tea plantation estates in the high range regions of Wayanad, a chapel was opened in vythiri for the use of the Europeans and estate labourers about a century and half years ago. On march 4th 1872 another small chapel was erected at Meppadi near the bazzar for the use of the Tamil speaking labourers, the place being donated by the East India Trading Company. Later on churches were constructed in Manantavady and Sultan Battery. In these mission centres the ministry was rendered by the Religious priests who belonged to the Paris Mission Society from the Diocese of Mysore. The Parishioners of these churches were the coffee & Tea estate owners, the British and Anglo Indian officers and the estate labourers from Tamilnadu and Karnataka.

On the later part of the 19th century Rev. Fr. Adiguard began the evangelical apostolate among the aborigins of Wayanad especially among the Kurichyars, Karumbars and the Paniyar Tribals. That resulted in yielding fruits with in a decade when hundred and forty Kurichir were converted to catholic religion. In order to make evangelization work more accelerative Bishop Eugine Kayiner the Apostolic Vicar of Mysore sent Rev.Fr. Armond Jean Marie Jefrino a religous of the Paris Mission Society to Wayanad. He travelled on foot to all the places from Manantavady to Vythiri to do the evangelization. He made Kaniyampetta, the place where the Kurichiyars lived together the centre of his activities. He relieved the sufferings of the people lived there fighting with wild animals and Malaria. He gave them houses to live in, land to do cultivation, seeds to sow, financial aid and raised them up to a respectable status in the society. He cleared the debts of those who borrowed money on a high rate of Interest and stopped that system of lending money. When he was elected president of the District Board he worked for the welfare of the people. In the year 1922 he opened a primary school for the education of children. During the years from 1909 to 1923 his work in Kaniyampetta and Pallikunnu as enormous. There are now about 2000 Catholics now in these parish. On 20th October 1909, Rev. Fr. Jeffrino established the church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Pallikunnu which now has become one of the famous pilgrim centres in South India.

In the year 1921 Rev. Fr. Paul Rozario Fernandez opened a mission centre in Kolayad near Koothuparamba among the aborigins of that place. This was the second milestone in the field of evangelization. Through the work of mercy and charity he lavished on the poor the all embracing love of Jesus. The people were given what they needed most-houses to live in, medicine and land for cultivation and their lives were made stable. To facilitate education for the children, he opened the St. Xaviers school at Kolayad.

The mission station at Kanhangad which was started by Rev. Fr. Austine Aranha became the centre of mission activities soon. During that period Malabar which was part of the Mangalore Diocese was under the jurisdiction of Jesuit fathers who belonged to Italian Province of Venice.

Formation of calicut Diocese:

On 12th June 1923  Malabar was separated from the Diocese of Mangalore and formed the Diocese of Calicut. The first Bishop appointed was Rt. Rev. Dr. Paul Perini S.J. The prime Catholic centres then were Calicut, Tellicherry, Kannur, Vythiri and Manantavady Besides these there were chapels in Shoranur, Malappuram, West Hill, Chalil, Dharmadam, Thayyil, Pallikunnu and Kolayad. The Church in Mahe was under the Pondichery Diocese. Now there are 69 churches including Parishes and Mission  centres. When the Diocese was erected there were only about 6000 Catholics. The Catholic population of the Diocese now are about 35, 213.  12 Jesuits and 4 Diocesean priests did the work of shepherding the flocks. Now there are 103 priests both Religous and Diocesan priests serve in the Diocese. The Apostolic Carmel was the only religious congregation for women in the Diocese and they had three convents and fifty sisters doing service in the educational of field. Now there are 58 convents of various congregations and 700 sisters render their service in the schools, hospitals, nursing homes and orphanages. In the place of 12 schools there are 115 schools in the Diocese now. Bishop Paul Perini gave priority to the development process of the Diocese during his episcopate. His Lordships brought Sisters of Charity from Mangalore to render charitable service in the Diocese. On 21st October 1923 St. Vincent’s Home was opened in Calicut and admitted homeless children and women there. With the blessing and cooperation of the Bishop, Brother Aloysius Spinelly S.J. established St. Vincent’s Industrials in Calicut which rose to the level of a first grade Industry in South India. The institute gave technical training to the poor and jobless labourers and made job opportunities for many. In order to achieve self sufficiency for the Diocese His Excellency bought the Chellotte Estate and turned it into a coffee- and tea plantation estate. Mr. W.F. Gifford was appointed as the first superintend of the Estate. His Lordship Bishop Perini S.J. who wished to set up a strong foundation for the Diocese passed away in Bangalore on 28th June 1932. After the demise of the first Bishop, the administration was looked after by Rt. Rev. Fr. Benyamin Maria Ranzani S.J.  He was able to bring the Sisters of the Ursulines of Mary Immaculate to the Diocese in the year 1934 and the Sisters of the Bridgetine order in 1937. He the Holy Redeamer Church at Marikunnu and the church of Our Lady of Lourdes at Perintalmanna.

The Mission centre at Chirakkal

On 13th  March 1938 Rt. Rev. Dr. Leo Proserpio S.J. was consecrated as the second Bishop of Calicut. His Lordship was a resourceful teacher, an eloquent speaker and a famous writer. As he was elected Bishop he went to the Carmelite Monastery in Paveratty and stayed there for three months to learn Malayalam language. His Lordship gave his whole hearted cooperation to the mission field of Chirackal that was started by Rev. Fr. Andrew Peter Caironi S.J. It was a mission began for the upliftment of the society and the scheduled tribals and the dalits in the Kannur-Kasargod area. it was the largest mission centre in Kerala. The aim of the Mission was to raise the living condition of the Dalits socially, educationally and financially. The mission tried very hard to give the families a home to live, and land for cultivation and thus raise their position in the society as honorable and recognisable citizens. Training centres and job opportunities were opened for them to make them self sufficient. In Vadakkebhagam near Thavam twelve people were converted to Catholic religion. On 28th  october 1937 Rev. Fr. Peter Caironi S.J. baptised them. On June 1938 thirty five people became catholics due to the tireless efforts of Rev. Fr. John Sequiera the selfless evangelization apostolate of Rev. Fathers Joseph Taffirel S.J. James Montanari S.J Aloysius Del Sotto S.J. and Michael Vendramin S.J. deserve special attention and gratitude. The last link in the chain of Missionaries is Rev. Fr. Lenus Maria Zucole S.J. who still active and alive in the Mission works. During the four decades of his dedicated life in the mission he has donated more than 5000  uses for the homeless ones in chirakkal Region. There are now about 28000 catholics spread out in 60 parishes in the five vicariates of the Diocese of Kannur. A large number of schools and children’s Homes are in the Diocese and they do tremendous service to the people and the Church. The lay apostolate leaders are active in all the various activities of the Church. All India Dalit Catholic Federation vice president Sri. P.R. Louis, the Backward Catholics Co-operation Director Sr. C.A.Moses, All India C.L.C. leaders Sri. E.V. Joseph and K.S. Markose are persons of high positions who belong to the Chirakkal Mission.

Malabar mIgration:

The migration of catholics from Travancore that began in 1930 intensified in the forties. Rev. Dr. Leo Preserpio S.J. who presided over the All Kerala Catholic Conference at Kanjirappally in the year 1943 promised full support of Calicut Diocese to those who wished to come and settle down in Malabar. His Lord ship helped the settlers to buy land and to settle their disputes and cases. He himself took up the initiative to see to their spiritual and temporal needs and was very much concerned about their life and progress in the new strange land for them. Bishop visited the places of their settlement on foot. He saw to the construction of churches and places of worship for them, and also opened schools for their children and job for the elders. His lord ship gave his first attention to their welfare, in the social, cultural, educational and financial spheres of the immigrants. He did all he could do for their peaceful settlement and that was praise worthy. Fro he was able to do a lot for the setters to make them progressive in their life  during the short span of seven years of this episcopate of His Lordship who was very efficient in every way had passed away in St. Marthas Hospital, Bangalore on 8th September 1945.

On 27th June 1948 Rt. Rev. Dr. Aldo Maria Patroni S.J. was consecrated as the third Bishop of Calicut in the Mother of God Cathedral church, Calicut. His Lordships 32 year of service as Bishop was considered as the golden era of the Diocese. His Lordship together with his priests and faithfully of the Diocese transfused enthusiastic support and encouragements to the immigrants who had settled down all along the hill tops, valleys and mountain ranges of Wayanad and western ghats, confronting with Malaria fever and wild animals, insects and snakes. When sufficient number of priests were not available in the Diocese to minister to their spiritual needs His Lordship invited more priests from other Dioceses and Religious Institutions and entrusted them to take care of the needs of the settlers and their welfare. His Lordship made Rev. Fr. C.K. Mattam as the Episcopal Vicar of the settlers. In the year 1952 His Lordship appointed Rev. Fr. Joseph Edamaram S.J. as the Vicar General of the Diocese and gave him the special charge of the Syrian settlers. When their number reached about a lakh and more Bishop Patroni had sent his request to the Holy See along with the map of Malabar where the immigrants had made their settlement and requested Rome to create a separate Diocese for the Syrians in Malabar. When Cardinal Tisserant visited Kerala in the year 1953. Bishop Patroni Discussed with the Cardinal at the Bishops House in Malaparamba, pointing out the need of having a separate Syrian diocese in Malabar and made the suggestion that the best place suited for its Head quarters would be Tellicherry. The map is still preserved on the wall of the Bishops House at Malaparamba. This shows the nobility Bishop Patroni S.J. It was not accidental that this map was prepared by no other Person than Rev. Fr. Maxell V. Noronha who later on succeeded Bishop Patronias Bishop of Calicut.

When the Diocese of Tellicherry was established in the year 1954. Calicut Diocese handed over 30 parish churches to the new Diocese besides the chapels adjacent to the parishes, L.P. and U.P. Schools of that parishes and two high schools there constructed by Calicut Diocese at its own expense and all the other welfare centres to them.

Father of the Poor

Bishop Patronis Contributions towards the development of the community based on social, cultural, educational and financial progress deserve special mentioning. The hospital at Marikunnu which was started in the year 1940 was elaborated by Bishop Patroni S.J. His Lordship opened hospitals in Vythiri, Cherukunnu and Pallikkunu and 30 dispensaries in the Malabar area.

Rehabilitation centre for the lepers at Meppadi took shape under his leadership. The centre for the treatment of the leprosy patients near Cherukunnu hospital was inaugurated by Cardinal Valarian Gracions. The broad vision of the Bishop contributed to relieve the sufferings of the poor and afflicted ones. The interest and initiation taken by the Bishop led to the opening of the Karuna Speech training school  for the deaf and dumb at Eranhipalam. It was also His Lordship who approved, blessed and helped Sr. Petra Morningman to start the D.S. S (Deena Seva Sabha) a new Religous congregation at Pattuvam whose main apostolate was tending the sick, the old and poor. It was begun as a Diocesan congregation that started its first house in the diocese. It has now more than 600 religious sisters who do works of mercy to the poor, afflicted and discarded people. Bishop Patroni gave houses and to the homeless ones, scholarships to the jobless and financial help to girls at the time of their marriages. His  Lordship was very much interested and gave encouragement to open more schools in the diocese. One of his policy was not to demand or accept donations from staff members at the time of appointment in any of the diocesan institution. His Lordship has left his personal identity in all the social and cultural stages..

His Lordship was always in the frontline to assimilate and put it into effective practice in the diocese all the modern changes and trends that were taking place in the universal Church. It was His lordship who took upon himself to translate all the Latin liturgical services into Malayalam and brought about 18 books for the performance of all the sacraments,  liturgical prayers and hymns for the use of all the Latin dioceses in Kerala. His Lordship also took the leadership to have a complete Bible in Malayalam and arranged for financial for the printing and publishing. Not only in the liturgical renewal  but also in the proper and solemn way of liturgical celebrations Bishop gave guidance.

Ladder of Progress:-

After serving the Diocese for 32 years bishop Patroni resigned from his office. The Jesus fathers, who were in charge of the Diocese from the time of its creation in the year 1923 handed over the administration of the Diocese to the hands of the priests of the Diocese. On September 7th 1980. Rt. Rev. Dr. Maxwell V. Noronha was consecrated  as the fourth Bishop of Calicut by Bishop Patroni S.J. at Mananchira Maidan. Being a person of Holiness, unassuming and a scholar, he guided the Diocese for 22 year and led it to the path of progress. His simple lifestyle, clamourless behaviour, serviceable attitude endeared the people and to all he was agreeable, and lovable. Bishop  Maxwell threw open to the Diocese the up to date observances and insisted on the partnership and support of the people of God in all the shepherding ministry of the Diocese. About twenty commissions and Boards were established in the various centres of the Diocese to help in the apostolic mission. Bible, Catechetical and Liturgical commissions were started in the Diocese and they see to the faith formation, renewal of life programmes and infused into the young a desire for mission work. The organization of Family Apostolate, social service centre, and Basic Christian Communities are leading the faithful along the path of liberation and service mindedness and leading to progress. The laity who participates in all the activities of the church is Bishop Maxwell’s achievement. The 35 Pastoral Council and the various parish assemblies are putting their efficient service in the church’s mission.

Navajyothis renewal centre, construction of the Pastoral centre, of Tejas communication centre at Marikunnu, of churches and chapels was guided by the Bishop. In the year 1981 there began to celebrate ‘Bible Day’ in the Diocese Choosing the consecration day of the Bishop for the celebration. The parish, forane and diocese level programmes were conducted. This Bible Day is the first of this kind in all the dioceses in India.. Erection of Kannur Diocese

His Holiness Pope John Paul II has created the Diocese of Kannur by bifurcating the Diocese of Calicut on December 09, 1998. The new Diocese consists of revenue districts of Kannur and Kasaragod.

. Consecration of Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Kalathiparambil.

Dedicated service:-

There are about 106 rendering their selfless service in the Apostolate of the Parishes in the Diocese. These resourceful and learned priests are doing their dedicated services in the parishes and Institutions and are diligent to lead the flock along the modern ways in the spiritual, social and financial field of development. Rev. Mgr. J.B. Rodriguez whose praise worthy service in the sphere of education. Rev. Fr. Joseph Kizhakebhagam who opened numbers of schools in Wayanad and Rev. Fr. George Pathiyil,  a state and National award winner of the best teacher are persons of remarkable achievements. In the diocese Priests and Brothers who belong to 9 Religious orders serve in the Parish apostolate, Education Institutions and in centers of works of mercy.

20 Religious congregations of sisters are serving the Diocese efficiently. About 700 sisters living in 58 convents in the different parts of the Diocese serve in the educational, charitable institutions and homes of work of mercy. The Apostolic carmel congregation which began its service in Malabar about a century and quarter years ago are having twelve educational institutions including a college for women and secondary Teacher’s training school. The congregation of the Sisters of Charity has 12 convents in the Diocese and is rendering their service in the Parish Apostolate, schools and orphanages and Homes for children and women in the Diocese. The ursuline sisters of Mary Immaculate who Opened its first house in the Diocese in the year 1934,  the Birdgetine congregation that came in the year 1937  and the Sisters of Bethany (Mangalore) who arrived in the year 1938 are rendering efficient service among the people of God in the Diocese. The congregation that took shape in the Diocese at Pattuvam in the year 1968, D.S.S. (Deena Seva Sabha) is serving the poor and the destitute in Malabar. They have conducted leprosy survey in Calicut, Kannur and Kasargod among ten lakhs of people and treated and cured about four thousand leprosy afflicted people. The Congregation of the Canadian sisters who began their services in the Diocese in the year 1946  at Cherukunnu and the Sisters of St. Ann’s in Nilseswaram are rendering valuable service in the parish, hospital and school Apostolate in Kannur Diocese. On the occasion of the jubilee celebration of Sr.Antonetta Sale on her 60 years of service in the Diocese as a Canosian sister, the diocese paid a special tribute to her for her loving service to the people of God of the undivided sisters of  Diocese.

The Congregation of the Sisters:- Venerini, Demesse, Daughters of Mercy, Presentation, are rendering their efficient and effective services in the parishes and educational institutions according to their special charism.

The Brothers and sisters of the Missionaries of Charity which was founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta are working in the Mercy home and looking after the poor, the afflicted and the unwanted members of the society.

The sisters in the diocese are giving their dedicated services in the various apostolate of the liberation of the dalits, aborigines, women and farmers, fishermen and laborers who work in the coffee and tea estates and all the working class society of people.