THE MAR THOMA CHURCH, KURIANNOOR
A BRIEF HISTORY
Old undated photo of the old Kuriannoor Mar Thoma Church and the present church building. (Images from Nalloor Library Archives)
St. Thomas, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, came to India in A.D.52 and established 7 churches in the Malabar Coast of Kerala, in South India. Niranam St. Mary’s Church was one among them. Believers in and around Niranam, Changanassery, Edathua, Chambakulam, Chengannur, Maramon, Kalloopara, Chennithala, Paliyekkara and Puthiyakavu used to worship in that Church. Members of the Niranam Parish, who were staying in Maramon area, found it extremely difficult to attend church services in Niranam regularly. In those days, country boats (Kettuvallams) were the only mode of transportation (there were no road transport facilities). This led the believers in the Maramon area to establish the Maramon Church on 28 August A.D.1440. Our forefathers worshiped in the Maramon Church until a Mar Thoma Church in Kuriannoor was established in 1879.
The year 1837 bore witness to a spiritual reformation in the Mar Thoma Church, mainly under the leadership of Palakkunnathu Abraham Malpan Achen (1796-1845). The reforms included translation of liturgy into Malayalam, emphasis on the study of the Holy Bible, family worship, and evangelization of the Gospel. Abolition of prayers for the dead and some unscriptural practices, such as statues, invocation of saints and some unhealthy veneration of sacraments were banned.
As there were no proper roads, the journey from Kuriannoor to Maramon was difficult and tedious, especially for funerals during the monsoon season. The Neelethu Pallikkoodam, a shed on bamboo poles, thatched with coconut leaves that was being used as a prayer hall cum school, was altered as the Mar Thoma Church, Kuriannoor in the year 1879 by Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan (1837-1893 The Mar Thoma XIV). Rahoor Scariah Kathanar was the first Vicar of the Kuriannoor Church. Two of the Mar Thoma Metropolitans, viz. Titus I Mar Thoma (Dethose Kathanar (1843-1909) and Titus II Mar Thoma (P.J. Dethose Kathanar (1866-1944) were vicars of our parish when they were achens. Due to an increase in the membership/population, St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church was formed in 1897 and Salem Mar Thoma Church in 1902.
Rev. M.C. George, (1874-1923) Maliyekkal was the first full time priest for Kuriannoor from 1903 as former vicars were in charge of Maramon Church as well. The English School, Kuriannoor was started in 1921 thanks to the leadership of Rev. M.C. George. Rev. T.M. Mathai (1883-1970) Punnathundiyil was our vicar from 1924. During the reign of Titus II Mar Thoma, a beautiful church building was constructed under the leadership of Vicars Rev. K.I. Varkey (1877-1948), Kizhakkethalakkal, Edathua, Rev. K.M. Mathai (1899-1959), Kuttamathayyethu, Puthenkavu, and Rev. Abraham Mathew (1902-1960), Elamittethu, Moovattupuzha Valakom. Our forefathers spent about eight years and a sum of Rs. 3150/- to complete their ardent desire of a place of worship. It was dedicated on 12th April 1940.
All the three Mar Thoma Churches in Kuriannoor were under the Vicarship of a single Achen till 1963. Rev. M. V. Abraham, Ashtamudy was the first Vicar who was solely in-charge of our parish. He managed to purchase 28 cents of land for a parsonage for Rs. 7500/-. Our first parsonage was completed in 1969 under the leadership of Rev. C. M. Thomas (1907-2001), Cherukara, Ayroor and Rev. K. A. Joshua, Mallassery.
The Centenary of the Church was celebrated during the year 1979 under the leadership of Rev. P. M. Samuel, Nelladu. Twenty cents of land adjacent to the church compound was purchased in December 1977, and the Centenary Hall was built there, which was consecrated on 6th May 1979.
Construction of the present, spacious and beautiful church building, with a parish hall underneath, was commenced during the year 2001, the plan of which was approved during the tenure of Rev. James M. Koshy Veeramala as Vicar. Rev. Achenkunju Mathew, and Rev. M.V. George (1952-2012) subsequent Vicars of the parish, worked tirelessly to complete the Church building, which was consecrated on 3rd September 2005 by His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Metropolitan in the presence of Dr. Joseph Mar Irenaeus Suffragan Metropolitan.
Rev. M. V. George laid down the idea for the present parsonage in the year 2008, which was completed during the tenure of Rev. M. Mathew as Vicar. The new parsonage was consecrated by His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan on 23rd March 2010.
Rev. M.C. George (1874-1923), Maliyekkal, Rev. T.M. Mathai (1883-1970), Punnathundiyil, Rev. C.M. Thomas (1893-1956), Kochuparampil, and Rev. C.M. Abraham (1923-2008), Cheriyavadakkedathu, who were strong pillars of the Mar Thoma Church in the past belonged to our parish. Ambattu Varkey Upadeshi, Poozhikkalayil Ipe Mathen (1796-1890) Poozhikkalayil Thomma Upadeshi (1830-1912), Cherukattu Geevarghese Upadeshi, Thanathodathil Mathen Upadeshi, Kolabhagathu Geevarghese Ashan (1855-1938), Eruthikkal E.V. Philip Sar, Nalloor Joseph Sar (1910-1992) etc. were strong lay leaders of our parish in the past.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
~ Jeremiah 17:7-8 | NIV