St. Alphonsa Church Kankanady has completed 25 Glorious years. 25 years is a short period in the history of any institution. But it is an important milestone from where we can take a look back and have a vision of the years to come.
A look back into the history of St. Alphonsa parish presents to us the gallery of the past with memorable events and unforgettable characters. The flash back compels us to gratefully acknowledge the providential hand of God guiding the destiny of our parish and showering innumerable blessings on us all these years. The first name that comes to our mind is Mar Sebastin Vallopilly the first Bishop of Talassery Diocese. Certainly it was his vision and insight, goodwill and support that enabled us to form this parish.
In the same way we are very much indebted to Rt. Rev. Dr. Basil D’souza, former Bishop of Mangalore. He helped the scattered Malayalees to come together in Milgres Church to have Mass in Malayalam on Sundays. Malayalee Fathers of OCD Congregation were entrusted with the pastoral care. It is Fr. Cassian Kachapally who took the lead to start Kerala Christian Association in 1975, bringing together all Kerala Christians under one umbrella.
Later on in 1983 Rev.Fr.Joseph Vattakunnel S.J became our shephered. He inspired us to think of having our own church for the Syro Malabar Community. With this idea the office bearers of Kerala Christian Association met Very Rev.Fr. K.M Peter who was the Episcopal Vicar of South Kanara Mission. Shortly Fr.Peter and the above office bearers met Mar Sebastian Vallopilly, Bishop of Talassery. The Bishop encouraged them to begin their efforts to build a new Church. He also suggested to them that the new Church when built should be named after Bl. Alphonsa, Fr.Peter was entrusted with the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Syro Malabar Community in Mangalore. Subsequently in April 1987, on Sunday after Easter, Holy mass in Syro Malabar Rite was first offered at Milagres Church by Fr. Mathew Ashariparambil. Thereafter Rev. Fr. Lawrence Mukkuzhy (now our Bishop) came from Belthangady every Sunday to offer Mass in Malayalam.
In the meanwhile the piece of land where we have our church today was purchased. We are deeply indebted to Rev. Fr. Dennis Moris present Vicar General of Mangalore Diocese for his valuable help to get this land at a modest price. Shortly Kerala Christian Association was dissolved and Blessed Alphonsa association was registerd in September 1988. Rev.Fr. Lawrence Mukkuzhy was its founder president; Mr. Joseph Varghese was the vice president and Mr. Thomas Chacko the secretary.
4th November 1988 is a memorable day in the history of St. Alphonsa Church. It was on this day Bl. Alphonsa Parish was started and Rev.Fr. K.M. Peter took charge as the founder vicar.
Foundation stone for the church building was laid on 21st May 1988 by Mar. Sebastian Vallopally. 12th November 1994 is a day to be written in Golden letters. On that day St. Alphonsa church was blessed and consecrated by Mar. Sebastian Vallopilly. Phenomenal growth and development marked the succeeding years. The people of the parish got themselves involved in the pastoral life and social activities through pious organisations like St. Vincent De Paul Society, Mathruvedi, and Alpha Youth. Sunday school, Mission League and Holly Childhood, also took roots in the parish. The parish began with 40 families and today the number of families has risen to nearly 350. According to estimates nearly 5000 Catholic students attend the services on Sundays and feast days.
May 1997 saw Fr. Lawrence Mukkuzhy taking the baton from Fr.Peter as the Episcopal Vicar and the parish priest. The new vicar paid his attention to make the faithful participate actively in the Eucharistic celebration and other services. He spared no efforts to make the Sunday school more effective. Mission league and Holy Childhood began to function more actively.
24th May 1999 is the most glorious moment in the history of the Syro Malabar Community of D.K Mission. The new diocese of Belthangady was formed. Rev.Fr. Lawrence Mukkuzhy was appointed the first Bishop of the diocese. It was an occasion of great joy and pride for the parishioners of St. Alphonsa Church because their own vicar was elevated as the Bishop.
Thereafter For a brief period of 9 months from 15th August 1999, Rev. Fr. George Vanderkunnel from Talassery diocese served as the parish priest Fr.Vanderkunnel was succeeded by Fr. Joseph Mampallikunnel also from Talassery. During his period a Comprehensive survey of Syro Malalbar Community was made. For the first time, a family album was prepared and a parish directory published. He was an exemplary priest of extraordinary simplicity, amiable nature and exceptional empathy towards all fellowmen. After two years of service Fr. Mampalkunnel was elevated as the Vicar General of the diocese of Belthangady.
It was during this period that the church which began as Alphonsa Study Centre was named St. Alphonsa Church. For this we are deeply indebted to our honorable MLA, Mr.J. R Lobo. He was at that time the Commissioner of the city Corporation and gave us the necessary permission to change the name.
Rev.Fr. Varghese Puthiyidath took charge as the new parish Priest. Sunday school received a new impetus under his leadership. The top floor of the church building was constructed mainly to house the Sunday school class rooms. He was the parish priest till Oct.21, 2004.
The mention of Sunday School brings to my memory a few names associated with Sunday School. They are Sr. Lizbeth. Mr. M.V James Mr. George and Joseph Thottupuram They ably supported by their dedicated colleagues organized and shaped the Sunday School to the present form.
On October 21, 2004, we welcomed Rev.Fr. Jose Valiyaparambil as our new Vicar. He formed different wards in the parish, started the prayer units, introduced the system of monthly contribution. It was during his time that we managed to buy 10 cents of cemetery land from the CSI parish of Jeppu. After 3 years of precious service Fr. Jose Valiyaparambil was appointed the Vicar General of the diocese. He continues to serve the people of God in that capacity even now.
Rev.Fr. Joseph Parekattil succeeded Fr.Jose Valiyaparambil as our Vicar in May 2008. He gave a new look to the Church through extension and beautification and also constructed the grotto of Mother Mary and St. Alphonsa.
The present parish priest of the church is Rev, Fr. Sebasian Chelackappally. He was our Asst. Vicar here earlier in 1999. He has been privileged to be here since May 2011 and lead the Jubilee celebrations. He has revamped the prayer units. He got the tombs constructed in the cemetery and brought out a new colourful edition of parish directory. He has been instrumental in developing a rubber plantation of 8 acres for the parish.
Assistant Vicars who served the church in the chronological order
- Fr. Tommy Kallikatt, Our first Asst.Vicar 1996
- Fr. Thomas Parekattil 1997
- Fr. Joseph Mattam 1998
- Fr. Sebastian Chelackappally 1999
- Fr. Mathew( Sunny) Alapatt 2000
- Fr. Joseph Ayamkudy 2001
- Fr. Mathew Valavanal 2002
- Fr. Tommy Madhavapally MST 2003
- Fr. Jose Vallappanatt 2004
- Fr. Devasia Vadakkeveetil 2005
- Fr. Mathew Vettamthadathil 2006
- Fr. John Malieckal 2007 & 2008
- Fr. Thomas Pullattu 2009 & 2010
- Fr. Thomas Puthiyara 2011
- Fr. Sebastian Poovathingal 2012
- Fr. Varkey Malikayil 2013
- Fr. Mathew Thazhekattil 2014
We have two religious congregations, Sacred Heart Congregation and Daughters of Sacred Heart of Jesus Congregation functioning in the parish. S.H Congregation started their invaluable pastoral service here in 1991 and D.S.H.J began their mission in 1997. Their active presence and service is visible in the liturgical services, Sunday School, Alpha Youth organization, Mathruvedi, Church Choir and Prayer units.