Mar James Kalacherriyude Edayalekhanamgal Oru Padanam (Trans. Fr Sebastian Kalacherry)

Tuesday 14 July 2020

A Word

Remembering the 127th birthday and the 70th death anniversary of Mar James Kalacherry, the Second Bishop of Changanassery, I humbly take up this pleasant task of translating (free translation) the studies based on a few pastoral letters of Mar James Kalacherry. The volume containing his complete pastoral letters entitled “Mar James Kalacheriyude Edayalekhana Samhitha” and the study on some important pastoral letters entitled “Mar James Kalacheriyude Edayalekhanamgal Oru Padanam” are both published in Malayalam on 27th October 2017. They are collected and edited by Fr Sebastian Kalacherry. A word of sincere thanks to the distinguished prelates who furnished this book in Malayalam with their valuable messages, best wishes, appreciation and introduction.


Fr Sebastian Kalacherry

October 27,2019




These are  a few articles from “Mar James Kalacheriyude Edayalekhanamgal Oru Padanam” translated to English from the Malayalam version. It is a study on a few pastoral letters of Mar James Kalacherry. It is a free translation. Some passages and explanations are left out;so also foot notes, end notes and details about the authors. If anyone would like to get those details, he is advised to refer to the original articles in Malayalam. Though this is not a verbatim translation, I have taken great care to safe guard the content of each article. As reference I have given only the respective pages of each article as they appear in Malayalam version.

          This translated version is meant for our new generation living abroad or elsewhere to get in touch with Mar Kalacherry’s teachings and his multifaceted personality. His pastoral letters truly reveal his strong faith in God, commitment to the church and his people, his sharp intelligence, graceful and magnetic personality.

          Copies of the complete pastoral letters and a study on a few of his pastoral letters (2nded) are distributed among our Syro-Malabar bishops, a few parish libraries (Changanacherry Diocese) and to some priests of the diocese, a few lay persons and religious houses. Hope this humble tribute to Bishop Kalacherry will be of great use to many new generation youngsters.

Fr Sebastian Kalacherry


Bishop Mar James Kalacherry

A Brief Biography (1892-1949)

Mar James Kalacherry was born on 20th April at his maternal family Chavara at Kainakary in Alappuzha District, Kerala, India. Mr Chacko Kalacherry and Philomina were his parents. He had two younger brothers namely Thomichan and Varkeychan. Annamma, Eliamma and Sr Marthina  S.A.B.S. were his sisters.

It is after 80 years of the birth of Kuriakose Elias Chavara and 21 years after his death, James was born in that house. He was baptized on 27th April 1892. He was known by the pet name ‘Pappichan’ and baptismal name Jacob (James). He had his primary education at Kainakary and later joined the English school there. He continued his studies in Leo XIII School and St Joseph’s school at Pulincunnu. In 1904 when his uncle Fr Joseph Kalacherry was appointed secretary to Mar Louis Pazhayaparampil, James shifted his studies to St Alberts School, Ernakulam. It is during this time on December 12, 1906, his mother died.

Recognising his vocation to priesthood he moved to St Joseph’s School Thiruchirapally so that he could conveniently study Latin language also. In 1908 he successfully passed matriculation examination. In 1911 he returned to Ernakulam and joined for  the senior F.A. Mar Louis appointed him as his private secretary knowing his notable qualities. He had the good luck to accompany Mar Thomas Kurialacherry who was going to take part in the Eucharistic Congress at Mylapore. On his way James expressed his intense desire to become a priest to Mar Kurialacherry and his request was granted.

He joined the Puthenpally seminary for priestly studies in 1912. In 1915 he was sent to Rome for higher studies. On April 19, 1919, he was ordained a priest by Cardinal Pompili. He offered his first Holy Mass in Syriac in the chapel of Sacred Heart of Mary on his 27th birth day. He secured PH.D.D.D in Philosophy and Theology and returned to Changanacherry on September 8 and offered Holy Mass at Immaculate Mary Church, Parel. On September 14th, he had cordial reception at his Home Parish Kainakary.

On October 14th of the same year, he was appointed secretary to Mar Thomas Kurialacherry. Besides he had other responsibilities like Chaplain of Vazhappally convent, Latin professor in the minor seminary and Logic professor at S . B College. In 1922 Fr James’ father died. Msgr Jacob Kallarackal was the Main celebrant for the functions at home and the church.

Actually Fr James had only very little time to visit his family and members. He had such a busy schedule at that time. Even when he comes home his conversation was mainly confined to his younger brothers.

On March 18, 1925 Mar Thomas Kurialacherry left for Rome for official visit. Fr James accompanied the bishop. He got an opportunity to visit the Holy Father and to get acquainted with some cardinals. Unexpectedly to the grief of all, Bishop Thomas Kurialacherry died there in Rome on June 2, 1925. The letters which Fr James wrote to the then administrator and Vicar General Msgr Jacob Kallarackal about the disease and consequent death of the bishop are really heart - touching. On October 5, 1925 Fr James returned to Ernakulam with Archbishop Mar Augustine Kandathil and on October 8, to Changanacherry. Merciful God allowed Fr James to be at  the service of Mar Kurialacherry till he breathed his last.

On October 24, 1927 Fr. James was appointed bishop of Changanacherry. In the Papal Bull sent by Pope Pius XI appointing Fr James as the bishop of Changanacherry we read: The Holy Father with the apostolic authority vested on us and in consultation with Cardinals our respected brothers of the Roman Church select you and appoint you as the bishop and pastor of that diocese: you as a priest of that diocese specially adorned with knowledge, prudence, zeal and other qualities suitable for the rule of the faithful. (K . M Jacob Mappila – Biography of Mar Kalacherry, 1927)

His retreat in preparation for the Episcopal Ordination was on December 10, 1927 at Mannanam Ashram. Episcopal ordination followed on 21st December 1927. Dr Francis Vazhappally was the main consecrator and Bishop Bensigar of Quilon and bishop Alexander Choolaparampilof Kottayam Diocese were the concelebrants. The spiritual ‘motto’ of the new bishop was ‘Thy Kingdom Come’

The Episcopal ordination of the bishop designate was in the ‘Ettupattam’ specially prepared and beautifully decorated. A grand ‘Panthal’ was made near the Cathedral Church to accommodate the faithful. Among the Chief guests were Bishop Paul Perini of Calicut and first Catholic Divan of Tranvancore Mr. MorisWats. One Kilo Meter from the bishop’s house to Cathedral Church were beautifully decorated. The solemn reception from the bishop’s house to cathedral church with so many silver and gold crosses from various churches and ceremonial umbrellas moving in line with the vast crowd of people were very amazing to look at.

His first pastoral letter published in February 11, 1928 was a declaration of his policies. He explained well how the bishop and his faithful are related and he wanted their prayers and cooperation. He declared his intentions which he would like to work out in this first pastoral letter. He reminded the faithful ‘first to seek God’s kingdom and the rest will be given to you’. Throughout the space of 22 years of his episcopacy he gave unparalleled leadership to his faithful in manifold areas. 

His pastoral letters included many topics which helped his people to lead a good Christian life: to leave behind social evils,  to grow and move in a spiritual way and to stand firm for the cause of the church and for religion and educational freedom. His deep faith in God and his providence touched the hearts of the faithful. His weapons were prayer, fasting and alms giving. Together with these spiritual weapons his fearless nature and other human qualities made him immortal in our history.

The pastoral letters against Communism (1945) and school nationalisation (1945, August 15, September 14) were so strongly and correctly worded that they stand even now as a sign board for the new generation.

“VedapracharaMadhyasthan” started as the diocesan organ in 1928 facilitated the communication among the bishop, priests and laity. The establishment of CAC (Catholic Action Changanacherry) and description about catholic action (1937) was a big step in  laity’s participation in the activities of Catholic Church. He repeatedly emphasised the need for mission work and supported whole heartedly the reunion movement, and the Malabar migration of our people. His love for his predecessor Mar Thomas Kurialacherry prompted him to bring back the remains of his body from Rome to Changanacherry on 25th July 1935 and was solemnly laid to rest in the Madbaha of the cathedral church. His love and concern for the poor and destitute and the sick priests is quite evident. Mar Kalacherry celebrated his priestly silver Jubilee on 19th April 1944. He set aside the Jubilee fund collected to be distributed among the orphanages (1944).

There were different occasions in his life when he could contact and talk with his people and priests. His feast days, retreat days of priests, pastoral visit to parishes, special meetings with priests and so on. Above all through his pastorals which touched all aspects of Christian life. His sense of humour and mission spirit were well known. His episcopal ministry was so enriching because of his love for the mother of God and his deep faith in God.

Mar Kalacherry died on October 27, 1949 literally engulfing his faithful and people around in deep sorrow.


Article I


Mr. John  Kachiramattom, Former President AKCC


Mr. John Kachiramattom in one of his articles rightly qualifies the first pastoral letter of Mar James Kalacherry as the policy declaration of an entirely revolutionary bishop. It is because, he argues, the pastoral letter touches the very core aspects of Christian life and teaches how each Christian should act in the background of Gospel teaching. It is the presentation of the ideals and aspirations of Mar James Kalacherry which he nursed in his heart and mind. So naturally it is his policy declaration. The first pastoral letter was written on February 11, 1928.

          Mar James Kalacherry’s Episcopal ministry extended only to 22 years. He was the second Bishop of the diocese of Changanacherry. The spiritual motto he selected from the Holy Gospel is “Thy Kingdom Come”. His first message to his faithful was Jesus’ own words: ‘First you seek the kingdom of God and the rest will be given to you’ (Mt 6.33) Emphasizing that motto he states: “drunkenness, evil co-living, evil desires etc. are messengers of satan; keep away from them. Try to cooperate with God through love of others, humility, patience, poverty and the reception of sacraments.” He advises the faithful to meditate on the passion of our Lord and to pray for His grace. The bishop earnestly entreats the cooperation of his faithful to make meaningful his motto to the extent God wills it. He reminds the faithful to imitate St. Joseph the ideal and venerable saint in matters of prayers, poverty, love, charitable attitude etc. What strikes us most in this part of the pastoral letter is his intense desire to put into practice his ideal spiritual motto.

          Mar James Kalacherry’s zeal for mission work is clear from the fact that he established Mission Centers in places like Thiruvalla, Mallappally, Airoor, Kalloopara, Puramattom, Kurianoor, Maramon etc. in order to accomplish the conversion of non catholics. It is no other than Mar James Kalacherry who gave the top priority and leadership for conversion. He, thus, prepared the ground for reunion and sowed seeds for that.

          He was also the champion who relentlessly worked for the total well-being of those who migrated to Malabar. When these initial migrants had to face many hardships, the bishop wanted to give them support by providing Syro-Malabar priests, to lead and guide them.

          In this pastoral letter, he goes on to speak about the ways and means to bring about,‘His kingdom’ among the Non – Catholics, migrants, and the workers of reunion movements. It is first of all by non – cooperation with satan, and then by active cooperation with God and his missionaries. It is to be achieved through prayer, penance, and alms giving.

          Mar James Kalacherry was a compassionate person. It will be a good example to note that the money collected for his priestly Jubilee Fund, was distributed for charitable activities, as per his desire.

          He instructed his people that wealth is also an important factor in the spreading of the kingdom of God. He laments that a lot of wealth is spoiled by our people for liquor, drama, civil suits, banquets etc. It would have been very nice and appropriate if they had utilized that wealth for missionary work.

          Mar Kalacherry is pre-eminently known as the protector of the educational rights of the Catholics. His struggle for the right of the educational freedom of the primary private schools against the nationalization policy of Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyar, has become part of our national History.

          The strength and patrimony of the Syro-Malabar church was the unity existing among the bishops, priests and laity. The bishop wanted to motivate and strengthen it by establishing catholic action council which envisaged, laity’s active role in church activities. The first pastoral letter was prepared with all these factors in mind. He says: as we are united as body and head, your cooperation is inevitable to put into practice our thoughts, aspirations and suggestions.  I have great confidence in your cooperation.  In two ways you can help me for the glory and propagation of the kingdom of Jesus. First by non – cooperation with satan and his agents and secondly by active cooperation with God and his missionaries.

          The Bishop wanted a complete liberation of his people from all kinds of evil. Accordingly he wanted to go forward implementing suitable programme of action for them. That is what he expected from the faithful in his first pastoral letter.

          Considering all these factors mentioned above, it could rightly be said that the first pastoral letter written by Bishop James Kalacherry was the declaration of his policy.


Article II


Archbishop Thomas Mar Kurillos

Archdiocese of Thiruvalla

          In his learned article Arch Bishop Thomas Mar Kurillos of the arch diocese of Thiruvalla lauds Mar James Kalacherry as the guardian Angel of the Malankara Reunion movement. After the ‘Koonan Cross Oath’ in 1653, the incidents followed thereafter were really events which broke the hearts of the Malankara Marthoma Nazranees. It is none other than the disturbances and disunity in the True church. Many attempts have been made to prevent future disunity and division.  But on account of many historical, social and political reasons the afore said attempts for unity failed. Disunity eventually led to the emergence of non-catholic churches in Malankara. But still attempts for unity continued by those who wished for unity in the church. In this respect the role of the Syro – Malabar church and especially the Changanacherry vicariate and in a very special manner the Reunion attempts made by Bishop James Kalacherry is very commendable.

          When Bishop Thomas Kurialacherry took up the reigns of the diocese of Changancherry he made special pastoral arrangements for reunion developments. Rev. Fr. Dominic Thottasserry was entrusted with special portfolio for this apostolate. As a result the reunion movement in Aiyroor, Thelliyur, Kalluppara, Mallappally, Maramon and Thiruvalla became more dynamic and systematic. The unexpected demise of Bishop Thomas Kurialacherry resulted in a set-back for this movement.

          However later when Bishop James Kalacherry took charge of the diocese as his successor the reunion of the non-Catholics was taken up as an important mission of his ministry. He appointed Fr. Dominic Thottasserry as the Director of the mission work in the diocese and it triggered a new momentum for reunion movement. Bishop James Kalacherry himself personally took serious interest in establishing mission centers, schools, reading rooms, churches etc in the centers of puthenkoot areas and also started publishing guide lines to promote  this movement. As a result so many non-catholic families returned to Catholic Church and parishes were formed. 

          We can also notice two parallel movements aiming at this union movement. Fr P.T. Varghese MA the beloved disciple, friend and adviser of Vattasseril Gee Varghese Mar Divanyasos the Archbishop of Malankara Orthodox Church founded the Bethany Monastic society in 1919 with a vision to prepare the way for the reunion movement. In 1925 he was raised to the position of the Bishop of Bethany. He was known then onwards as Bishop Mar Ivanios of Bethany.

Discussions on reunion in the Orthodox Church

          In 1926 the Malankara Orthodox bishops Synod assembled in Parumala, appointed Mar Ivanios of Bethany to hold discussions with Rome for church unity. But in course of time many archbishops withdrew from that unification movement. But Mar Invanios went on to realize that goal through prayer and activities. Malankara reunion movement led by Mar Ivanios of Bethany and his auxiliary Bishop Mar Theophilus Episcopa gave  rise to the Malankara Reunion movement in 1930. It marked a new chapter in the Malankara history.

No doubt, the reunion activities of Mar James Kalacherry turned out to be a strong basis. In 1932 when the Holy See by the Encyclical “Christo Pastorun Principi” established Malankara Syrian hierarchy and Syrian rite, reunion movement received an added momentum.

The Malankara Catholic Church which was in its infancy, received strong backing and inspiring encouragement from bishop Mar James Kalacherry.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church and Holy Scripture and sacraments are her heart. The role of priests and seminary is important. Mar Theophilus had started on September 8, 1931 a priest study house by the name Infant Mary Minor Seminary in Thiruvalla. Two factors encouraged him for this endeavour. First, his own experience as a formator from 1925 to 1930. Secondly the wholehearted support and encouragement of Mar James Kalacherry. He made it possible not only by his moral support but by giving land and building for it. It is Bishop James Kalacherry himself who blessed it giving it the name of Mother Mary and he also provided formators and seminarians. The bishop also encouraged youngsters from the diocese of Changanacherry for mission work and leading them to reunion activities. In the first batch in 1931 the bishop gave ten young candidates and promoted the priestly formation in Malankara.

It was very generous of him to render the service of Fr Thomas Vadasserry to the diocese. So also the service of Fr Zacharias Vachaparampil was given to the new diocese. Msgr. Jacob Vellaringatt took charge as the first rector of Infant Mary Minor Seminary.

Bishop Kalacherry was very concerned about the reunion activities. His priests were given permission and blessing to work among non- catholics in Thiruvalla and Trivandrum. The contribution of Zacharia Vachaparambil, Dr. Mathew Varikayil, Fr. C.T Mattom, Msg. Jacob Vellaringatt, Mathew Chennatt for reunion movement in the initial stage are worth mentioning.

Bishop James Kalacherry stood in the forefront in encouraging reunited bishops and priests by prayer, advice, financial support, and cordiality. His contribution and ecclesial services in this field are immensely great and valuable. The Malankara Catholic Church will always remember him with deep respect, love and admiration.


Article III


Prof Thomas Kollakunnel

Prof. Emeritus Thomas Kollakunnel the head of the Department of Malayalam in St. Berchmans College in one of his studied articles upholds Bishop James Kalacherry as a valiant fighter against the social evils.

          According to the author the secret of success of Bishop Kalacherry was that he could encounter all the  obstacles in his time successfully with deep and enduring patience and genuine trust in God. His period of Episcopal ministry witnessed many unforgettable events in Indian as well as Kerala History. His graceful personality combined with love and affection was a point of attraction for everyone.

          Bishop Kalacherry strongly advocated his faithful to keep vigilance against social evils prevalent at that time in the society. He always insisted on the importance of holiness of life and the sanctity of a committed heart. His pastoral letter no 25 clearly manifest his adverse attitude to social evils. He asked his faithful to root out pride and unkind mental disposition which block the entry of Jesus into our hearts. He observes that the reason for the set back of the world is the proud mentality of men to lead a life bereft of God. Another evil is inordinate desire for liquor. He points out the sin of covetousness as another evil. This sin is rapidly growing and spreading among our young people. One should tread this sin as from a dangerous serpent.

          The Bishop point out another evil that prevents the entry of Jesus into our hearts is uncontrolled desire for money which is the root of all evils. It is a great stupidity to forsake heaven and eternal soul for the transitory wealth. So he exhorts faithful to settle matters with church without any self-deception and there by being just before God by giving what is due to God and to King.

          Pride, drunkenness, concupiscence, mode of dressing incompatible with good and modest example, stealing of others money and such evils are to be repented over and thus open each one’s heart to Jesus. The bishop warns the faithful that only a life based on values will be successful and enriching. The social evils which the bishop points out still do raise a threat to the world. The addiction to liquor and drugs is creating big havoc even today. This will lead to a dark and dangerous future to our families, localities and countries. A wild and crude culture adopted by a section of anti-social people who live with a kind of brutal mentality is developing today. Unlawful activities and bribery spread like an epidemic in the society.

          The urge of man to amass wealth prompts him to commit any act of injustice and crime. A moral degradation is visible in all areas. Many move away from moral uprightness. Growing terrorism hinders peaceful living of people. Narrow tribal thinking and narrow class consciousness lead to many street murders. The tendency to impose ones own stupid ideologies on others can be seen only with fear. To accumulate money by any means foul or fair and the desire to satisfy the needs and luxurious passions get strong and this attitude opens way for anarchy. Taking all these into consideration we find that the warning Mar Kalacherry pronounced is quite relevant for the day. The words of the Bishop will bear fruit only if we develop the noble attitude of love, tolerance, justice and so on. Craziness for imitation, lack of love, and other scandals are to be avoided.

           The bishop says that Indian women had a commendable dress code which attracted the appreciation even of foreigners. But in modern times the change in dress code of young men and women is immature and absurd. May be the tendency to imitate blindly westerners that our young women get fond of minimum dress. No doubt such aberrations are a cause of sexual anarchy we witness today. The Bishop strongly opposes this kind of behavior. He instructs that these women who come with such immodest dress should not be given Holy Sacraments of Confession and Eucharist. They should not be admitted to our schools.It could be rightly assumed that the bishop could foresee the moral degradations ahead of time.

          A life bereft of love, joy and unity either in family or society is a notable social evil. The earnestness to develop human unity by sharing selfless love exhibited by Bishop Kalacherry is indeed great and significant. The zeal for the salvation of souls is an important factor of the love of God. In his pastoral letter no. 79, he observes that the incarnation of the Saviour in to this world was to teach us God’s love and love of others.

          Owing to the lack of Christian love, a few families live in hostility continuously. He reminds us that catholic church our mother is a church of peace. In his PL 115 he affirms that it is unfortunate that brothers, followers of Christ act in hostility. Remember they are the disciples of Christ who taught them to love others and even their enemies.

          Another grave social evil Bishop points out is that selfish and ungrateful children who mercilessly abandon their parents in their old age.

          Youngsters go astray also because they read publications of antireligious and anti-church people. The bishop warns that such publications quite opposed to genuine catholic views are to be completely avoided. We should install Jesus in our hearts and we should offer our body, soul and freedom to Him. That will surely purify us (PL 61, 79). Bishop advocates good books which are equal to teachers imparting knowledge. Bad books are like dangerous friends. That will make as fall into pits of destruction.

          Addiction to liquor found among people make another big social evil. Drinking habit of the heads of families cause many families to live in proverty and troubles. Drunkards often spoil the whole wealth of the family and lead them to utter chaos. Hence in his pastoral letter no -115, he admonishes all to root out this evil from the society. The bishop strongly believes that an ideal catholic life firmly based on true faith is the most desirable thing.

          The bad situation which men confront today is the consequence of abandoning love, justice, truth, faith, peace and such values. No doubt the warning Mar James Kalacherry pronounced years back seem exactly and prophetically true at the present moment in our context. The erosion of human values is more pernicious than any other calamity.


Article IV


(Sr. Dr. Suma Rose CMC)

          It was an obvious fact that Jesus loved Bl. Mary who was holier than all human beings and a nobler creature than all angels. St. Beneventura rightly asserts that God can create innumerable universes more perfect and large. But he cannot create a status more noble and perfect than the status of the Mother of God.

          Mar Kalacherry is a very noble personality who loved Bl. Mother very heartily and imparted her to his people through his personal life-witness, as she could interiorize God who surpasses all heavens, in her mind, heart and body.

          In 21 out of his 145 pastoral letters he refers directly to Bl. Mother. It is doubtful if any of his pastoral letters does not make a reference to Mother Mary. In his thought about Bl.Mary one can see the grand position of Mary.

  1. Taking into consideration our sins, selfishness and disturbed hearts, she is a word of consolation for us to God, neighbor and to our hearts.
  2. She is a refuge for us sinners.
  3. She is a typical model of virgins and a guide in various aspects of humility, holiness and purity.
  4. The Bl. Mother quite silent in the way of the cross is a guide for those who sin themselves and cause the fall of others through blasphemy, bad words and calumny.
  5. Contemplating everything in her heart and leading a life fully immersed in God, Bl. Mother is an inspiring Tower standing before us so that we may surrender our heads for sober thoughts for the glory of God and for our salvation.

Mar Kalacherry quoting St. Alphons Liguori’ words reminds us that there is none other than this merciful mother who loves us more except God and there would be no one in future. Hence the Bishop exhorts his people to begin a new life agreeable to the Bl. Mother and her beloved son by abolishing sins thorough the sacraments of Reconciliation and receiving the Bread of life with a purified heart.

Let us therefore remember our mother and imitate her who lent her ears to the word of God and replied positively to the word of God in difficult and different situations. She said “Behold the handmaid of God”, never depending on human intelligence or rationalistic attitude. This humble posture, life of renunciation and submissiveness enabled her for special grace of God.

How much interest do we take to imitate those virtues of our mother to whom we pray incessantly for her intercession? To say “Behold here I am’ we must continuously listen to the voice of God and respond and our life must be set in order and led by the Holy Spirit. Our Bl.Mother was led by the spirit and she will help us lead such a life. As we go through the Holy scripture we can find how our mother was led by the Holy spirit on many occasions.

          Bl. Mary was different from all men because

  1. Her reason reflected only about God.
  2. Her heart turned into flames of God’s love.
  3. Her words became inspirations for love of God.
  4. Her acts enriched God’s love.
  5. She glorified God incessantly. Hence she became entitled for the central position of the sacred Heart. Hardship of life should exhibit the true colour of our love. We should imitate Jesus crucified and transmit discipleship of Christ in our Christian life. Immaculate Mary is a challenge to the modern world immersed in mundane and profane life style.

 It is this personal relationship with Bl. Mother that did shine forth as a Tower of light to Bishop Kalacherry in the faithful discharge of his Episcopal pastoral ministry. In a special way he reminds parents to help children become devotees of Bl. Mary right from their childhood. They should advise them and set good example to them. Help them participate in Rosary and monthly devotions to Bl Mary. Mary provides her devotees peace and courage in various vicissitudes of their lives; she helps them overcome the trials and temptations during the time of death. She consoles them during their sufferings. She encourages and strengthens them to suffer sorrow and grief patiently. The writer concludes her articles telling us to be also devotees of Bl. Mary and promoters of Marian devotions.


Chapter V


Mrs. Annamma Roy Mannamplackal M. Sc.

          When Bishop Kalacherry who lived and died before Vatican Council II speaks about mission we have to take into consideration certain important facts. The council decree gives more clarity and explanation about mission and missionary activities of the church in the decree Ad Gentes Divinitus. The Decree says is no 2 of the chapter 2, that the pilgrim church is missionary by its very nature. Because she takes her origin from the love of the son and the Holy spirit according to the plan of God the father. The decree quotes the basis of mission work namely the mission commandment (Mt 28:19) (MT 16.15). The missionary apostolate which is a speciality involved in the existence of the church which is the sacrament of Redemption. The whole people of God are missionaries. The bishops of the church are the successors of the apostles of Jesus Christ who preserve intact the faith patrimony received from the apostles and hand it over to the next generation. Mar Kalacherry was a minister of the church who exercised such responsibility most faithfully. Keeping ever vigilance over his service as a bishop, he was always careful in providing teachings and in pointing out relevant ways of action to his people. He had such extraordinary earnestness, vigilance and zeal in the activities of the mission.

Missionary activity

          This means a process of proclaiming gospel among non-christians and as they by their own will accept Christianity and thereby forming a church community. Those who were involved in this process actively were called missionaries. The gospel preachers sent by the church who proclaiming the gospel all over the world in order to plant church amidst societies or people where the church  is not grown yet so far. And the attempt they specially make for the above purpose is generally called missions (AG para 6). This is effected through mission works. This is mostly done in places recognized by the Holy See.

Mar Kalacherry pinpoints clearly in his pastoral letters about the basic mission works and the conversions that result from them and also about the need for such activities although not exactly as the Vatican Council enunciates it. He tries to grow such spiritual orientations among his people by continued teaching. Besides he does not intend to limit those mission activities to his diocese only.

Mission work is inevitable

          The Bishop insists this need in his pastoral letter no 52 explaining the vast number of people who die without knowing a loving God. Catholic population in the world is not big. Still to die without even knowing God is a very lamentable condition. All these souls are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Our continued prayer, hard work and penitence are required for their salvation.

He mentions that there are more than 500 large mission centers in the world where missionary work is going on.  All of us should pray that there would be sufficient priests to fulfil the need and also to get God’s blessing so that their efforts bear fruits. Church requests our financial support for these places. Every Christian wherever he is, supposed to bear witness to Christ by his personal life. We can see the basic truth that Jesus Christ is the unique saviour in the teachings of Mar Kalacherry.


Financial cooperation

To carry on the mission work successfully financial support is a must. Many newly baptized Christians do not attend the church function owing to the scarcity of clothes and of the churches in the neighbourhood. Lack of places or institutions of the diocese make it difficult for many people who would like to join the church but they cannot be enlisted in the church. The Bishop cordially invites the hearty cooperation of his faithful to get over this limitation. He also asks his people to pray for the reunion of non-Catholics (Pl. 35). In his P.L. No.27 he invites the attention of generous priests and lay men about the urgent need of building at least 10 churches on the hills of peerumedu.     

  His Universal Vision   

          The bishop maintained a wider vision that the message of the Immaculate church of Christ is also ours. He tells that we all should cooperate with the reorganization programme taken by the church after the war. Many churches, schools and institutions got destroyed in war in many countries (P.L no. 32)

Participation of Lay persons

          In the area of Evangelization Mar Kalacherry speaks about the service of Lay people very strongly. He suggests that Vicars should encourage people to establish catholic action societies. Also to start orphanages and home for destitutes in order to manifest the love and mercy of the church. It is a noble endeavour, the bishop affirms to serve the poor and needy and also to publish leaflets describing catholic religious teaching. It would be very useful to stage ideal catholic dramas and also to show cinemas that can attract the heart of the people (PL. no. 49). In his P.L. no.60 he gives a brief description of the mission activities carried out in different parts of the world. All these factors clearly indicate to his deep mission spirit that persuades him for his wider vision.

Proclamation of Gospel

          In his pastoral Letter No.118 The bishop emphasizes the need for the preachers of the gospel. What stand against the gospel preaching is the shortage of missionaries and the lack of genuine catholic life of the faithful. Priests and lay persons who are really zealous about the spreading of the kingdom of God and salvation of souls must try to work together. For mission work laity should go ahead united. For this speech (talk) alone is not enough. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving must be actualized more.

The bishop who roused the mission spirit

          The period of Mar Kalacherry’s episcopacy was a golden era in the matter of vocation for Indian Mission. Very many young men and women who were zealous and dynamic came forward to work for mission during his time. Dr. Mathias archbishop of Madras affirmed that bishop James kalacherry was a missionary bishop. He was so to say radiating an apostolic spirit in all his activities.

Missionary Society of the Blessed Sacrament (MCBS)

          It was during the tenure of Bishop Kalacherry that the missionary society of the Blessed Sacrament was started. This society was established on May 7, 1933 in Mallappally, in the diocese of Changanacherry. Whatever facilities were needed -for this society in its initial stage were provided very cordially and with paternal care. This no doubt, indicates the missionary spirit and insights of Mar Kalacherry.



Cherupushpa Mission League (CML)

          It was bishop Kalacherry who gave the official recognization of CML, the biggest missionary society of Asia in 1947. The innumerable vocations achieved through this organization actually raised the fame of the Indian mission as it stands today. it is truly the mission spirit which did shine forth in Bishop Kalacherry that made him provide great support to CML in its infancy.


 Mar Kalacherry was like a burning flame of the mission spirit. He was an ever vigilant custodian who correctly and continually knew the spiritual pulse of the church. He knew the heart beat of the universal church as well as his church. Though he was sometimes addressed the ‘Prince of the church’ during the years of kings rule, he was a brave fighter of the Catholic Church. He was very keen on absorbing the vision of the church deeply and keeps them intact and hand it over to the new generation. Holding on to the stand of the Catholic Church and faith traditions very firmly, he could give encouragement and a sense of spiritual orientation to the faithful. It is beyond doubt that the faith patrimony and missionary zeal of St.Thomas our father in faith, deeply influenced Mar Kalacherry in his Episcopal ministry.


Article VI


Koonamackal Thoma Kathanar

Remembering and respecting the ancestors is a virtuous act. It is again an inspiration to remember those who lived a life of dedication to society and church. If anyone would like to listen to the heroic voice of a particular period of time, it is enough to turn to the life and pastoral letters of Mar Kalacherry. His thoughts and deeds are typical example of a spiritual master.

          The name of Mar Kalacherry usually brings to the mind of the common people his two famous pastoral letters Nos. 123 and 124. Both of these are excellent signs of his leadership qualities. No doubt it brings to light his courage of action and readiness to suffer and sacrifice his life for church as a true successor of apostles. Literally he could create a shock to Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer and make him quit this state which is a well known fact to the students of history. Over and above we can find the reason why that spiritual master or Guru was enabled to write these two pastoral letters.

Such courage of action, sharp intelligence and unparalleled leadership qualities are not something achieved over night. Such well organized and colourful spirituality is acquired through a gradual process and it becomes fruitful with deep prayer life. His courage of action we notice is the final outcome of that. The boldness of action we find in the Bishop is only an initial chapter of the spiritual leadership and Mastership filled with the spirit of prayer. Bishop Kalacherry never failed to take up the challenge of his time courageously.

A Praying Spiritual Guru

          Though Mar Kalacherry stood firmly against Atheistic movement, when he took a strong position for the protection of the freedom of education his humility and readiness to suffering transformed him to a man of extra ordinary courage and conviction. He is convinced that “he the guardian of Israel” has done only his duty in a prayful spirit and it made him all the more enthusiastic. Prayer and fasting were his friends. We are prepared to undergo any suffering for the sake of the church, he declared. He was free from self- interests and contempt towards any legitimate authority. That was the reason why the government feared to arrest him. The right exercise of Apostolic authority would influence and conquer anyone and this incident will shine forth as a typical example in the historical horizon of the Syro – Malabar church. 

          Mar Kalacherry fairly deserves to be qualified as a man of prayer. He teaches that we should cooperate with mission work through means of prayer, fasting and alms-giving. We can hardly find any one of his pastoral letters without at least hinting at prayer and fasting. He tries to explain the prayer style enriched with virtuous acts. He strongly believed that it was such gospel foundation that formed the basis for his spiritual Mastership. He seems to have encouraged various types of prayer styles and devotional movements prevalent during that time. He advocated his faithful to grow in spirituality through continuous prayer.

          A praying shepherd and a praying sheep is a beautiful picture shining in all his pastoral letters. In general Mar Kalacherry promoted a style of prayer centered on Eucharist. He teaches the faithful to take part in liturgy frequently and to receive Holy Eucharist. He affirms that prayer is the key given to man by God to open the heavenly treasures. Prayer is not simply vocal prayer only but meditation, spiritual reading, reception of sacraments and any act with pure intention are all different phases of prayer. Prayer and penance are complementary in life. Prayer alone is not sufficient. To make it more fruitful penitential act, abstinence and other such virtuous acts should also be done. His prayer life enabled him to fight against social evils. He raises his voice against addiction to liquor, selling of liquor, and the consequent murders, moral sins and civil suits.

A Missionary who proclaims the Kingdom of God

His motto taken when he became a bishop was “Thy kingdom come” First you seek the kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33) He took this spiritual motto as the foundation for his Episcopal Ministry, and he lived up to that. He declared this aim of life in his first pastoral Letter: “we are convinced that our life is to be spent for the preservation and development of the kingdom of Jesus Christ”.

He has mentioned the apostolate of Mar Thomasliha our father in his 1st pastoral letter. He repeatedly teaches about missions, pastoral work, the need for gospel workers and the proclamation of the kingdom of God. He had strong belief in the intercession of St. Thomas. He decided to visit and pray at the tomb of St. Thomas our father, at Mylapur. What inspired Mar Kalacherry to form catholic action council (C.A.C) was his apostolic mission and the example of St. Thomas who said “Let us go and die with him”. He appeals to them that they who are his heroic children also should take such oath and move ahead to the field of catholic action. The bishop makes a mission appeal to the faithful placing before them a long list. They are the following: (1) establish church and schools among poor people (2) give food and clothing to the needy. (3) Serve the helpless through orphanages and rest places. (4) Distribute write-ups containing catholic doctrines. (5) Exhibit idealdramas and cinemas. (6) Preach Gospel to everyone, (7) personalise life style suitable for gospel message (8) practise fasting and asceticism (9) Receive sacraments frequently (10) Shun Alcoholic drinks and so on. In these matters Mar Thomasleeha is our intercessor.


          Mar Kalacherry used to teach continuously about mission work. The traditional firmness of faith of Mar Thoma Nazranees, sense of cast (denomination), personality awareness are proudly remembered by Bishop Kalacherry. In his pastoral latter no.108 (1944, Jan 1), we find in a second foot note the following details. The Rev. Vicars should send a list of our families from each parish living in Malabar, specifying the locality in which they live, to the bishop’s house. Mar Kalacherry was instrumental in the development of the Malabar migrants. In all Kerala Catholic meeting held at Kanjirappally in 1942, Mar Kalacherry announced publicaly: “We are prepared to send priests to the migrant areas of Malabar; give us permission”. But the Latin Bishop resented only. The visit of Cardinal Tisserant and the establishment of the diocese of Thalassery and the later development of the Syro-Malabar church are really prestigious enterprises.


          Any reader can observe that all of Mar Kalacherry’s pastoral letters are immersed in Holy Bible. Even today these pastorals exhibiting the skill of biblical interpretation are very fascinating. The author of this article in Malayalam has collected more than 350 biblical references spread out all through the pastorals. It is clear that Bishop Kalacherry who was gifted in quoting lavishly from the New and old Testaments used to be absorbed in reading Holy Bible continually. It is the New Testament that helps us very much to know and love Jesus. Thefaithful should be earnest to read at least one chapter of the N.T at home every day. In all libraries he insisted at least one copy of the New Testament be kept. Besides he ordered that hereafter on all Sundays, feast days and other days of obligations, gospel and epistle of the particular day must be read out in Malayalam for the laity. In Catechism classes N.T. Passages and its interpretation must be read and students are to be encouraged to learn them by heart.

          Mar Kalacherry was worried about the ignorance of many about Jesus. So he encouraged the reading of the Holy Bible. He himself was a biblical scholar grown by reading. This is clear from the majority of quotations and references in his pastorals.

The Spoke Person of Church and propagator of devotions

          It is not exactly correct to assess him only as a propagator of the devotions of that period. If we examine the state of the Latinized Syo-Malabar Church half a century ago, such things cannot be said superfluous. He was concerned about relating Marian devotion with the devotion of Mathoma Nazranees. He understood Sacred heart devotion in the background of Holy Eucharist. He had great sense of accuracy in the details of liturgical celebration. He insisted that the life of a priest must be of prayer and study. He teaches that celebration of Eucharist must be carried out very devoutly.


It must be because he was full of the spirit of mission that Mar Kalacherry encouraged reunion as a part of mission work. His motto “Thy kingdom come” meant for him mission work. He speaks about two aspects of mission work. One is to attract non- believers to church and the second is to keep in religion the former Christians. He argues that keeping Christians as Christians is also a task of the mission work. Mission work should begin first in families. Keeping faith itself is a mission work. It is a historical fact that Mar Kalacherry encouraged Reunion movement providing them with money, personnel and other vital facilities.


          We have described a few points of the manifold aspects of the personality of Mar Kalacherry. Leadership qualities of the spiritual Masters were shining in him. It is precisely owing to his continuous prayer habit that he could loudly speak truth and take position for truth without fear or favour. He tried to lead his people also in the same path of prayer. That he took up the message of Apostles was for the kingdom of God, made him brave in all his struggles. He argued that Mar Thoma Nazranees to whatever place they migrate should keep up the spiritual patrimony as the children of the church. He encouraged daily reading of the Holy Bible. The author wishes that Mar Kalacherry as an educational scholar his fore-sights should be made subject of further studies.


Article VII


Prof.  K.T. Sebastian Kurisunkal


          Bishops James Kalacherry (1927-1949) was a great genius who could divert the historical direction to the good of humanity. It was a time when the people of the old Tranvencore before Independence were undergoing a hazardous situation. During that period Bishop Kalacherry opposed the autocracy of Sir C.P. Rama swami Iyar, the then Divan of Travencore. He had only one main aim in mind namely to safeguard the freedom of Education of the Christian church. In that struggle the Divan had all physical powers of a ruler and the bishop had only spiritual and moral powers. The bishop declared without a shadow of doubt that the attempt of the government to take away the rights of the parents to give education to their children and to make it the right of the government is immoral and unjust.  It ended up in the beginning of a conflict between church and state. This conflict however influenced not only the contemporary history of the church but also the very future of the freedom struggle of Travencore. Besides the waves it created influenced the history of the church of past 50 years. The author remembers this struggle and the incidents followed as a young man. He asserts that the greatness of the bishop is mainly in his contribution to the freedom of education of the Christian church and its ongoing progress.



The relation between church and school is crystal clear. For the church from its beginning gives great importance to the apostolate of education. It is in response to the Lord’s command (MK 16, 16) go and teach all nations”. So whereever a church is established the next thought is naturally about the school. The duty of the church is not only to teach her children catholicism but all kinds of instructions which will ensure the integral growth of their personality. A Christian education cannot exclude language, history, maths, science and together with it to inculcate Christian view of life in the students.

          In government schools or Non-Christian schools such a Christian educational atmosphere may be lacking. Hence catholic church takes great interest to establish its own Educational institutions and insists on catholic pa

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