Eparchy of Great Britain, a Witness to the Faith Journey of the Western Church – Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti

“The whole glory and richness of the East Syriac liturgical tradition of the Syro-Malabar Church relived once again”, this is what exactly happened during the concluding ceremony of the year of Saint Joseph (8th December 2020 to 8th December 2021) in the Catholic Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Great Britain, at Saint Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough, Great Britain, on 4th Saturday 2021. The whole day was centred on the Holy Qurbana; His Excellency Mar Joseph Srampickal, the bishop of the Catholic Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Great Britain, presided over the Holy Qurbana; His Grace Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain preached the homily; His Excellency Dom Cuthbert Brogan, Abbot of Saint Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough, Monsignor John Kallarackal, the first councillor of the Apostolic Nunciature in Great Britain, Very Rev. Dr. Antony Chundelikkatt, the Protosyncellus; Very Rev Fr. George Chelackal, Very Rev. Fr. Jino Arikkatt MCBS, the two syncelli, Rev. Fr. Josh, Secretary to the Nuncio as well as 20 priests of the Eparchy of Great Britain concelebrated at the Holy Qurbana.

A couple of words about this day’s Holy Qurbana: The most attracting element in the Holy Qurbana was the traditional East Syrian chanting in Syriac and English. An amazing choir of 35 members, under the able guidance of Rev. Fr. Jose Anchanickal, the Chairman of the Eparchial Commission for Church Choir, having an age group between 9 to 21 sang the heavenly melody. It is as if the whole band of angels in heaven came down on earth and sang God’s praises and glory. The altar servers also captured the attraction of the whole congregation; certainly, the capable training given by Very. Rev. Dr. Varghese Puthanpurakkal, the Chairman for the Eparchial Commission for Liturgy, contributed very much to the stunning watchfulness of these children. Thus, the ancient dictum of the liturgy seemed to be fulfilled: The celebration of the Holy Qurbana is ‘Heaven on earth’.  When this beautiful rite was performed at Saint Michael’s Abbey chapel, Farnborough, an eclectic flamboyant gothic style by the renowned French architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, it turned out to be a historic milestone of the spiritual fulfilment of the migrant Catholic Syro-Malabar eparchy in Great Britain. All those who had the opportunity to witness this Holy Qurbana certainly would have struck by its frank appeal that it made to the senses. The central characteristics of this Divine Liturgy were the chanting and choral singing; the incense; the golden colour decorated vestments; the ritual movements of the celebrants, the deacon, and the altar servers; and the ringing of the traditional sanctuary bell (Mashkaneetha).

The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, was eloquent on the glorious and magnificent traditions of the Syro-Malabar Church. He reminded the congregation of the faithful presented at the Service that the Syro-Malabar liturgy is one of the most precious jewels in the Catholic Church. He mentioned that he remembered his travels back to Kerala where he always witnessed a vibrancy in the faith of the Catholic Syro-Malabar Church: a church full of promising children and the youth; in this regard, the Catholic Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Great Britain has a great role in the faith journey of the Western Church. He underlined that the Western Church is going trough a severe faith crisis; this crisis is all about losing its own Christian history and culture. However, the Catholic Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Great Britain, is genuinely trying to search for the lost glory of the Catholic Church; its ancient traditions; and engaging in a serious attempt to regain and relive all of them, today, in this almost secularised and relativized Western context. The Apostolic Nuncio also urged the faithful to be aware that this initiative of the Eparchy to go back to the glorious Christian roots is simply a Grace of God.

The well-appreciated event which was coordinated by Very Rev. Fr. Jino Arikkatt MCBS, the Syncellus of the Eparchy, ended with a sumptuous meal around 1:15 pm. “If we had another opportunity to gather once again for such a wonderful event…”, this was the only sentiment that echoed in everyone’s heart at the end of the day.

Bishops Office
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