Perth witnessed many Malayalee Catholic families migrating from India and other various parts of the world at least since 1970s. It included Catholics of various rites, including Syro-Malabar rite. They integrated themselves into their respective Suburbian parishes. As Malayalee priests of Syro-Malabar parentage migrated to Perth, they offered Qurbana in the Syro Malabar Liturgy, on a voluntary basis on mutual demand, as an inherent expression of love and fellowship. By 2008, this progressed to Qurbana being celebrated once in a school term, quarter. This formed the basis for the organised gatherings as prayer communities in different localities. There was a significant increase in the arrival of Syro-Malabar families to Perth, from 2008. This coincided with the arrival of Syro-Malabar ascribed Vincentian priests, setting up their Australian mission based first at St. Aloysius Parish, Shenton Park, and then Holy Family Parish, Maddington.
2008-The year of challenge and change
Realising the necessity of a spiritual leadership for the Syro-Malabar community in WA, the Vincentian priests came forward to take the lead and Fr Varghese Parackal VC was mandated to provide immediately the leadership to foster the community in their faith. Perth Arch-Bishop His Grace Barry James Hickey approved the Syro-Malabar services to St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Shenton Park, and later to Holy Family Catholic Church, Maddington.
The milestones of growth
The Western Australian congregation was formally blessed on 28th November 2009 by the pastoral visit of Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel, as the KCBC Chairman of Pastoral Care of Migrants. And Archbishop Hickey made the first pastoral visit and confirmed the Congregation at the Qurbana celebrated on 7th November 2010.
In 2010 we had the first St. Thomas Feast Day, followed by the feast of St Alphonsa. First Catechism Classes commenced on 4th September 2010 with over 70 students, which has grown to 800 students, and over 60 teachers in four Centres.
The Family-Fest April 2010 was the first cultural gathering for Malayalee Catholics expressing their talents with Bible themes. This is a one-day celebration for the families with games, activities and stage programs with Kerala style food.
The first pastoral visit by the National Co-ordinator for Syro-Malabar church in Australia Fr. Francis Kolenchery was on the St. Alphonsa’s Feast on 5th August 2012. Year 2012 was a year of blessings for the faithful with the pastoral visit of the Major Archbishop His Beatitude Mar George Alencherry. On December 4th, 2012. His Beatitude celebrated a solemn Syro-Malabar Qurbana at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Perth co-celebrated with the Most Reverend Donald George Sproxton the Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of Perth.
Year 2014 was another year of blessing; a new Eparchy for the Syro-Malabar Catholics in Australia was established by His Holiness Pope Francis. Mar Bosco Puthur was appointed as its first Bishop.
In May 2015, Syro-Malabar community of Perth purchased a 6-acre land in Orange Grove for constructing a New Church.
St. Joseph Syro-Malabar Parish, Perth-A Dream Come True
From 2009 to 2016 Fr. Varghese Parackal VC was the Chaplain of the Syro-Malabar Catholics, catering to the spiritual needs of the faithful and building up the community.
On 1st January 2017, the Holy Family Syro-Malabar Community was raised to a Parish with a new name, St. Joseph Syro-Malabar Parish, Perth with its boundaries from Jurien Bay to Mandurah and Kalgoorlie to Fremantle/the coast of Indian Ocean and Fr. Anish Ponneduthakallel VC was appointed as the First Parish Priest by Mar Bosco Puthur.
A Flourishing community of love
The Syro-Malabar Community in Perth is a flourishing community both in number and in unity and faith. Currently we have 24 family prayer units across Western Australia with more than 600 registered families and we also cater the spiritual needs of faithful at regional areas. The Church activities are supported by a parish council under the direction of the Vicar. Family Unit leaders, as leaders of the community play an important role in keeping this community together in love and unity.
Syro-Malabar Catechism Department of our Parish has grown immensely through these years into four catechism centres, Maddington, Embleton, Willetton and Joondalup with more than 800 students and 65 catechists. SMYM-the Youth movement of the Syro-Malabar Church was started here in 2016 and a good number of youth are participating in monthly gatherings and other activities. Mathruvedhi-Mothers’ organisation was inaugurated in January 2018 with the aim of gathering the mothers in prayer and conducting charitable, social and ecclesial activities.
At present, the parish is engaged in the process of building a Parish Church at 347 Kelvin Road, Orange Grove. With grateful hearts we look forward to worshipping the Lord as a community of love in our own church.
Fr. Anish James VC
Diocesan Pastoral Council Members:
Dr John Joseph