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st.Therese Church Kandanvilai

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st.Therese Church Kandanvilai

Post  Admin on Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:12 pm

Roman Catholics in India

The Latin Catholic Christians constituted the largest Christian community. Under the patronage of Portuguese Padroado and the selfless service of the Jesuits there was a constant increase in the converts from other religions to Christianity. This made Kottar the most populous catholic diocese in India. It is a well augmented fact that St. Thomas (52- 68 AD) one of the Disciples of Christ introduced Christianity in India in the early centuries. Almeida opened the sea route to India around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498 which heralded a new era for Christian missionary in India. Pope Paul III established the Diocese of Goa in 1534 and ascertained his jurisdiction over the whole of the eastern world.

During the time of Reformation Movement in Europe, St. Ignatius was anxious to reform the church and put an end to vicious and shady practices of the then Christians. It was in 1539 that the Pope gave St. Ignatius oral approval to form an Order and in 1540 the “Society of Jesus” was formed. St. Ignatius framed the constitutional rules and regulations for the Society of Jesus.

The Jesuits made much to education and insisted upon prolonged training in philosophy and theology for their priests. They produced many notable scholars. St. Francis Xavier the pioneer in the missions in the South East Asia and the fringing islands was one of the morning star of the Catholic Reformation and an active member of the Society of Jesus. St. Xavier had spent only a decade in the East, from 1542 to 1552, but during this period he spread Christianity in several places, introduced the faith to Japan, and passed away on his way to China. He had come to South- Eastern part of India learned their language to impart Commandments and some of the prayers. He concentrated on children’s education, encouraged them to teach their elders. He baptized whole villages. He appointed catechists and trained them. Due to his relentless work, the economic status and education of the downtrodden communities came up. St. Xavier himself directly came to Kottar to spread Christianity. The Church at Kottar is named after him and it is one of the Basilicas in South India. The catholic mission has been very active in Kanyakumari district. The church at Kottar is one of the main worshipping centres of Catholics of South India.
Formation of Catholic diocese

Gregory XVI, the Pope of Rome, agreed to the division of the vacariate of Verapoly into three for administrative convenience - Mangalore in the North, Verapoly in the center and Quilon in the South. The new pro-vicarate of Quilon was provisionally formed on 12th May 1845 and the territory of the present diocese of Kottar became a prominent part of this ecclesiastical unit.

In 1904 the coadjutor Bishop of Quilon Aloysius Maria Benzigar sent his proposals to Rome for the creation of the new diocese of Kottar, Trivandrum and Quilon. The positive response came from Rome. Kottar diocese is the Southern most diocese of India, comprising the district of Kanyakumari in the state of TamilNadu . Kanyakumari (Cape-Comorin) the lands end of India, is a parish under Kottar diocese. The unique feature of the new diocese is the fact that out of the 32 priest working in the parishes of the diocese at the time of its erection, 28 were secular priests and all of them were native Indians. Out of these 28, seven were hailing with in the area of the new diocese itself. Another Unique feature was that Kottar was the third diocese in India to be entrusted to the native clergy, and her first Bishop, Lawrence Pereira, was the third native Indian, who occupied the post of Bishop.
Daily Mass and Prayers

Mass is held everyday at 06:15 am in the church except on Thursdays. People come to the church to participate in the litany services or whenever they are free to offer prayers.
Weekly worship

Mass on Sundays held at 07:00 am in the church and it is spiritual duty of the members of the parish to attend the mass. On Tuesdays there is Novena Celebrations of St. Antony at 2:30 pm. On Thursdays, 6:30 pm there is rosary prayer, adoration for St. Therese, followed by special prayers. Parish members take joy in beautifying the altar, preparing the lectern, the theme of the mass etc. Prayers are often offered for the unity of the whole human race, the salvation of the souls irrespective of religion, cast and race.
Monthly Ceremonies

On the first Friday of every month there is a adoration of the Holly Communion at 6.00pm and the last Sunday of every month there is a evangelical convention at 6.00pm.
Worships of liturgical year

New Year brings with it new hopes and dreams to be fulfilled. People throng the church to seek Christ’s blessing on New Year’s Day at the 7:00pm Mass and along with it there are various celebrations which people rejoice as a church. January 14th is celebrated as the harvest festival called ‘Pongal’ by the people of Tamil Nadu. The church also joins in the celebration as a thanksgiving to the almighty for making the land yield its fruits for man. January 26th the Republic Day of India is celebrated with national fervor.

On second of every February the presentation of Jesus Christ Special Mass is performed by the people and the “Palar Sabai,” which means ‘the congregation of children.’ February 11th is observed as remarkable day in memory of Mother Mary of Lourdes. The mass and the celebrations are performed at the grotto.

The parish members observe the Ash Wednesday the commencement of Lent. During the Holy week people confirm themselves to fasting, special abstinence etc. On Good Friday special prayers are offered and significant events are the adoration of Holy Eucharist, Veneration of Crucifix etc. Easter Sunday is celebrated with jubilation as the Lord is raised. The first of May is observed day of labors and also as the feast of Joseph. August 15th is celebrated, one to remember the Independence Day of India and another, the day of Assumption of Mary. The last week of September is glorious as the Feast of St. Therese begins by people thronging in great numbers for the hoisting of the Holy flag and the grand finale of celebrations of the feast is commemorated on October 1st. The day of evangelism is observed on 18th October and the offerings collected are used for the cause of evangelism. All Saints is observed on 1st November when special prayers are offered and the saintly lives of the saints are remembered as holy ensamples to be followed in the world today. All Souls day on 2nd November bring to mind to all, not of the inevitability of death in man’s life but of the hope of resurrection on the day of Christ’s coming. The tombs are blessed and special masses are conducted. December 8th is celebrated as the day of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and a splendid mass is organized at the grotto. People join in the celebration of the birth of Christ on 25th December. Impressive cribs and colorful decorations adorn the houses and the spirit of joy; peace and love reverberate across the church and its people.
" KANDANVILAI " Name History

There was a time before 75 years when the kandanvilai village was attached to the Karankadu parish under the Diocese of Quilon. During this time Mr. Packianathan donated his land to Diocese and requested the Bishop that a church may be built in Kandanvilai. The Bishop of the Diocese of Quilon, Most Rev Fr. Aloysius Maria Benzigar OCD consented and together with the parish priest of Karankadu came down to Kandanvilai to select a site for the Church.

The suitable place was selected after visiting many sites. The bishop found a miraculous consistency as the place he dreamt of and place selected were one and the same. The bishop, the priest and the people were overjoyed and confirmed the site for the Church. In Tamil the vision was interpreted as “kanavil kanda Vilai.” The actual name of the place was, “ Mukattu Kathirvilai".

In the year 1923, the Bishop partook in the celebration of canonization of St. Therese and requested to Pope Pious XI, to set upright the Church for the mediation of St. Therese. In the year of 1925 on May 17th, partaking the Mass of St. Therese on promulgating her as Saint, proclaimed that the first Church set upright for the blessings of St.Therese would be at Kandanvilai.

Building the Church was taken with much reverence and the work was initiated in the year 1927, under the leadership of Rev. Fr. Ignatius Maria. To begin with a basement of 6½ feet length and 3 feet breadth was laid. The mason Aloysius was essentially instrumental in the construction. A beam of 27 feet of single Palmyra tree was cut from Kalldithattuvillai which was donated by Mr. Gnana Prakasam was used for the roof. In memory of him, his initials D. G was inscribed on it. The stucco used for the walls were a mixture of limestone and Palmyra juice which is considered to the strongest combination for construction. Mr. Gabriel of Pandaravillai contributed for the pillars in the altar. Mason Alangar used his technical prowess for the construction of the Church. Mr. Masilamani of Chthanthopue, Varuvel, Gabriel of Pandaravillai and Maria Gnanam collected donations from Pondichierry, nearby villages and people gave in plenty and the construction work progressed.

People of different castes participated in the construction in a time different castes was considered a taboo. Mr. Magieswaran who belonged to Kriishan Vaha donated many Palmyra trees. The fisher folk donated in joy and called St. Therese the “Queen of the Seas.” The coolies gave in their mite too as they presented a car used for the procession at the time of the feast. The timber workers of Chithanthoipue and many others who were involved gave a Big car to the church. The people of Chithanthopue and Pandarvilai gave with thankful hearts towards the construction of the Church.
Completion of Church Construction

The construction was completed after a period of 18 months and the owners of 8 tiles factories donated tile for the floor and the roof. People of Kandanvilai took care of the artistic stone work.

In 1929, the first phase of the construction work came to end. In the same year, the new Church was blessed and the Feast was also celebrated. Thus the first Church ever built in the world was at Kandanvilai in the name of St Therese of Infant Jesus, and it was made a substation of KaranKadu Parish.

From 1929 to 1944, Rev. Fr. Ignatius Maria, Varghese, D.C. Anthony put in position served the spiritual welfare of the parish meticulously. In the year 1944 on November 5th, the Kandanvilai substation became a separate parish and Rev. Fr. V.J. Stephen took charge as the parish priest.

As this was the first church in tribute of St. Therese after the declaration of her as Saint, the Sisters of St. Therese donated two bells to the church and people from the birth place of St. Therese, Lisieux also contributed bell. The following words are inscribed on the bells:

Michiels A.Tournai 1931 My name is Therese of the Infant Jesus and I will call all Indians to Kandanvilai to honour the little flower.

Michiels A.Tournai Fondeur. My name is John of the Cross and I will ring in honour of my sister in heaven saint Therese of the Infant Jesus.

It is located at the left side in the belfry, The bells ring and echo the message that the “ St. Therese invites all the Indians to Kandanvilai and to make them aware of the holy virgin life of St. Therese of Infant Jesus ”.

In the northern side of the Church, a grotto of Mother Mary was established in memory of the appearance of Mother Mary to Bernadette at Lourdes. The grotto was blessed on 5th November 1944 and resembles the grotto at Lourdes. Special masses are held on the Feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Heart and on the Feast of Lady of Immaculate Conception.

An indicative part of the Church is the Flagpole which is cut out from a long, single piece of rock. Artisans of Paruthivilai carved the flagpole. The flagpole was put in position for use on 24th September 1948 during the period of Rev. Fr. V J Stephen.

In 1949, the then parish priest Rev Fr. Pius Morris acquired land on the southern side and called it Rosary Mount. Later, Rev. Fr. Hillarious erected a ‘Stupa.’ In 2000, during the celebration of the Great Jubilee, Rev. Fr. Yesuratnam expunged the ‘stupa’ and started the construction of a chapel.

The construction work continued during the period of Rev. Fr. Maria Michael and Rev. Fr Vincent Raj. With the contributions of the parish people the Rosary Mount was completed. From the mount one can get a brilliant view of the mountain ranges nearby, the coconut groves, the Arabian Sea at Muttom etc. Along the way to the mount from the Church there are 14 stations to denote the Way of the Cross, which have been splendidly embellished.

On the southern side of the Church, near the road a steeple has been constructed for worship and when people sought intercession of St. Therese. It was established by Rev. Fr B J R Alexander in the year 1967.
Rejuvenation in the year 1968

In 1968, Rev. Fr. Gregory extended the front portion of the Church by installing a basement and stone pillars. In 1972, he left due to certain infirmities. His task was undertaken by the priests N J George, C N Venseslas who took charge of the parish.

In 1976, Rev. Fr. T Yesudasan Thomas became the parish priest and by whose hard work and dedication the steeple was constructed and on 5th October 1979 , the second phase of the Church came to completion.

During the period of Rev. Fr. Arul, the parish pastorate council and the catholic society of kandanvilai took efforts to build an auditorium, at the east end of the campus. It was completed in the year of 1991 and is used for special occasions, festivals, prayer meets etc. It also serves as an arena for people of Kandanvilai to showcase their talents on various occasions.
Rejuvenation in the year 1992

In 1992 Rev. Fr. Solomon who took over as parish priest motivated the parish to renovate the interior and exterior of the Church. The munificent people came forth to put in their all for renovation. The stately newly completed Church was completed on 23rd September 1999. The Bishop of Kottar, the Most Rev A Leon Tharmaraj blessed it.

In the year 1996, the general body of Kandanvilai parish harmoniously decided to construct a Community Hall for public functions, retreat, wedding functions, etc.

And Rev Fr. Russal Raj laid foundation. In 1997 the first phase was completed in the period of Fr. Yesiu Ratnam. The second phase was completed by Fr. Maria Michael and it stands for the eminence of St. Therese.

There are two cars at present in the Church that bears the icons of Jesus, Mother Mary and the Holy Cross. On the 9th day of the Feast, these Cars are decorated and eliminated with superb tapestries, light and are taken in procession around the Church at night and it is continued on the 10th day of the feast.

People believe that if they attend devotionally in this procession, some miracle may happen in their life. To witness this procession people from various place of Kanyakumari arrive at Kandanvilai at the time of feast. And, special transport specialties are been arranged for the feast.

The need for a public cemetery was thought of, as people buried the dead in their own lands. Hence, with the donation of the trust a 1.5 acres of lands was purchased and since then has been used as Public Cemetery. And masses are held on All Souls Day.
Sub Stations

During the period of Rev Fr Yesudhasan Thomas, the region beyond Pandaravilai which had 250 families separated and started functioning as a substation. It has five Christian communities. The patron saint is Mother Mary. Every Sunday mass is conducted at 5:30 am and on Mondays at 6: 00pm. The feast of this Church is celebrated in the month of August. The parish council takes care of the parish.

Eraniel substation came into function at the same time when the kandanvilai parish was started. The patron saint is St. Thomas . The mass is held at 9:00 am on Sundays and at 6:00pm on Fridays. The feast is celebrated for ten days. There are three basic communities. The parish council administers the Church.


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