On Tuesday, CNEWA welcomed a man who made history earlier this year: Major Archbishop George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, which is based in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
A native of Kerala, Archbishop George holds a unique place in the Catholic Church. He’s the first head of the Syro-Malabar Church to be elected by its synod of bishops — the result of a move by the Holy See in 2004 that granted full administrative powers to the church, including the power to elect bishops. Upon his election to lead the 3.8 million-strong church on 24 May, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed his election and extended communion the following day.
The engaging 66-year-old is visiting some of his 75,000-member flock in the United States — his next stop is Chicago — and stopped by to meet with CNEWA’s president, Monsignor John Kozar.
During his visit, Archbishop George spoke eloquently of his desire to “collaborate as one church” with different faiths and worried about continued discrimination toward newly baptized Christians in his homeland. But he also took pride in the great number of lay people who, despite many challenges, are involved in catechesis and pastoral work. In India, he noted, it’s a thriving vocation all its own, and one that’s continuing to grow.