Patroness: Holy Mary, Mother of Christ and Image of the Church
Second Patron: St. Geevarghese Sahada
The Diocese of Thuckalay was erected by the papal Bull "Apud Indorum" on November 11, 1996. It was erected separating the area of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry that extended over to the state of Tamilnadu. The then Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry Fr. George Alencherry was appointed the first bishop of the new Eparchy. The establishment of the diocese and the appointment of the first Bishop were promulgated on December 18, 1996. Very Rev. Fr. George Alencherry was ordained Bishop on February 2, 1997. Mar. George Alencherry was elected as the Major Arch Bishop of Syro Malabra Church, as a result the Rev. Fr. Philip Kodianthara was appointed as the eparchial administrator of the diocese. On 24th August 2012 Fr. George Rajendran sdb, was declared as the next Bishop of the Diocese, his Episcopal Ordination & Installation took place on 16-09-2012 at Sacred Heart Church, Padanthalumoodu. The total number of the catholic faithful in the diocese is 30,000.
Location of the eparchial centre:
Thuckalay, the eparchial centre is erstwhile capital of the Thiruvithamcore state, in the muncipal town of Padmanabhapuram 55 k.m. south of the international Airport Thiruvananthapuram (capital of the state of Keralam) and 35 k.m. northwest of Kanyakumari southern, tip of India.
Area of the Eparchy:
This diocese is granted jurisdiction over the whole Kanyakumari District and the Taluk of Shenkottai of Tirunelveli District. Total area will come to 1793.94 sq. kms. Kanyakumari is the southernmost part of India. This District was formerly a part of Thirukkochi State. A few years back it was separated from Kerala and added to Tamilnadu State. The language of this place is Tamil. Some do speak Malayalam also. The Diocese has its Liturgy in Tamil language.
There are a few historically important places in this District:
Padmanabhapuram: Erstwhile capital of Venad (later Thiruvithamcore). The palace of the king built here is a very magnificent one attracting many a tourist. The fort surrounding this palace too is worth seeing.
Udayagiri Kottai: It is prominent due to the tombs of Dutch Admiral E. De Lannoy and his family. He was caught as a prisoner in the battle between Dutch soldiers and the military of Thiruvithamcore. Later he became the Commandant of Thiruvithamcore Army. He was instrumental in the conversion of a Hindu soldier namely Devasahayampillai whose martyrdom was renowned with miracles. He belonged to this District. The process of his beatification is on progress.
Araippalli: A church believed as founded by St. Thomas the Apostle at Thiruvithamcode. It is believed that St. Thomas the Apostle of India had founded seven and a half' churches in India (Keralam) and the one at Thiruvithamcode is the half church. Presently this is an Orthodox Church.
Kattady Malai: This place is near Aralvaimozhy. Devasahayampillai died a martyr here. Here electricity-producing windmills are installed.
Colechal: This was a port town. The battle between Thiruvithamcore and Dutch military took place here. In this battle De Lannoy was defeated and caught a captive.
Kanyakumari: This place is specially noted for the confluence of three seas namely the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. It is a very popular tourist centre.
HISTORY OF THE DIOCESE
On April 29, 1955 the Holy Father Pius XII by the Bull "Multorum Fidelium" extended the territory of the Diocese of Changanacherry beyond the river Pamba in Kerala up to Kanyakumari, the southernmost boundary of India. Then onwards the Bishop of Changanacherry sent priests to be pastors of the Syro-Malabar faithful who has settled in different parts of the extended area. Among the parishes and mission stations instituted by these priests, there were the five Catholic communities of Arukani, Pathukani, Netta, Penu and Anamukham in the district of Kanyakumari. The faithful of these communities were mainly Syro-Malabar Catholics who had migrated from Central Keralam. From 1960 onwards priests from the Archdiocese of Changanacherry started mission work in the area of the Kanyakumari District. As a result of this missionary work people by and large got converted to Catholic faith. The missionaries trained them in Syro-Malabar Liturgy and spirituality and by and by these developed into parishes and mission stations mainly in the Vilavancode and Kalkulam Taluks in Kanyakumari District. From 1967 onwards the priests from the Congregation of Mary Immaculate (C.M.I.) also joined the Syro-Malabar mission work in Kanyakumari District. Religious Sisters came forward together with the Diocesan and C.M.I priests to start convents and auxiliary mission service. Their service dates back to 1965 when a convent of the Sacred Heart Sisters was founded at Manjalummood, which was later, shifted to Mukkoottukal.
The Bishops who have contributed to the mission work in Kanyakumari District up to the formation of the diocese are Archbishop Mar Mathew Kavukatt, Archbishop Mar Antony Padiyara and Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil.
When Kanyakumari District remained a mission territory under the Archdiocese of Changanacherry no mission work was taken up in the Taluk of Shenkottai in the District of Tirunelveli, although it was also part of the extended territory of the Archdiocese. As an exception one can say that a house of the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (M.C.B.S.) was established there just one year (two years) before the inauguration of the Thuckalay Diocese.
In 1997 the Bishop sent Very Rev. Fr. Thomas Muttathukunnel (Protosyncellus), Very Rev. Fr. Philip Kodiyanthara, and Very Rev. Fr. Philip Vaikkathukaran to Shenkottai as explorers to find out the possibilities of the mission work in that area. As the team suggested, the Bishop sent two priests - Rev. Fr. Mathew Kuzhinjalil and Rev. Fr. Peter Kizhakkeyil - to Shenkottai.
Shenkottai is 160 kilometers away from Thuckalay. On August 10, 1997 Fr. Mathew Kuzhinjalil started his work in a rented house at Puliyarai. This village is 8 kilometers away from the town. On September 5th of the same year Fr. Peter Kizhakkeyil joined him for mission work. He too lived with Fr. Mathew Kuzhinjalil.
On 30th of January 1999 first baptism was administered to a grown up lady. Some Catholic families also are here. Now five priests are working in the area, two diocesan priests and three MCBS pirets. There are six mission stations in Shenkottai Region.
Archbishop Mar Mathew Kavukatt: Founded the Kanyakumari Mission in 1960
Archbishop Mar Antony Padiyara : Nurtured the Mission (1970-2985)
Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil : Steered the erection of the diocese in 1996
PIONEER OF THE MISSIONS
Rev. Fr. Zacharias Kaithara was the pioneer missionary of Kanyakumari Mission launched by the Archdiocese of Changanacherry. He is the founder of 12 missions in this area which are now established parishes in the diocese of Thuckalay. He worked here during his two terms of service (1960-1976, 1985-1987)