A Visitor from Australia:
‘We Are a Very Young Church’

Yesterday, the bishop of a young eparchy in Australia stopped by for a visit, and had a chance to share his thoughts about the unique challenges his church faces Down Under.

Bishop Bosco Puthur hails from the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle in Melbourne — an eparchy established by Pope Francis less than three years ago. Meeting with CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar, Bishop Puthur described a small group of faithful — about 50,000 Syro-Malabar Catholics live in a country of some 23 million people — but a group that is young and growing.

“About 85 or 90 percent of my faithful are below 45 years of age,” he said, “and almost 50 percent of those are below 15 years. It is a very young church, very promising. But unless we give proper faith formation to the children, they will get lost in the secular society.”

Bishop Puthur mentioned two primary challenges for his young eparchy: forming clergy and building churches.

“I had to bring in a lot of priests,” he explained. “We have 22 priests, but not all are fully working for me. Six are full time for our community and the others are shared with the Latin diocese. So our first challenge is to bring in priests.” He said a number of seminarians are now being formed in Kerala, and then transferred to Australia for theological training.

“Our second challenge,” he went on, “is getting facilities for eucharistic celebrations. There is a practical problem of getting time allotted in the Latin churches for our Sunday celebrations.”

But for all these challenges, he sees a church brimming with possibility and hope.

“To live a Christian life is challenging,” he explained. “My mission is to empower the people, so they live their Christian life in their families, in the parish communities, and share their Christian values with others. There is a mission dimension. There is evangelization involved.”

He added that part of his message to his flock is the necessity of giving back.

“I tell people, ‘One who only receives is a beggar.’ Unless we are able to contribute something to the society, and remain only on the receiving end, that is not a Christian human life.”

You can learn more about the new eparchy at its website. And to discover the rich history of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, read our profile in the pages of ONE.

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