.- Pope Francis on Monday established a new eparchy for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in the United States and Canada, to serve several thousand Catholics of the India-based Church.
The eparchy was created Jan. 4 by elevating an existing apostolic exarchate.
The Pope named Bishop Thomas Mar Eusebius Naickamparambil as head of the Eparchy of St. Mary, Queen of Peace. Bishop Naickamparambil had been head of the preceding apostolic exarchate since it was established in 2010.
The new eparchy will be based at St. Vincent de Paul Malankara Catholic Cathedral in Elmont, New York on Long Island, Vatican Radio reports.
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church’s faith and customs are ancient. It dates back to the time of St. Thomas the Apostle’s evangelization of India in the first century. The Church celebrates the West Syrian, or Antiochian rite, as do the Maronite Catholic Church and the Syriac Catholic Church.
The Church was separated from the Holy See for several centuries because of disputes with Latin Rite missionaries, who sought to impose their own customs on the native clergy and faithful. The Church reunited with the Holy See in 1930. Over 400,000 Catholics are members of the Church, according to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
The Eparchy of St. Mary, Queen of Peace is the only Syro-Malankara eparchy or exarchate outside of India.
The new eparchy will serve 11,500 faithful, who mainly live in the states of Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Florida, and New York, as well as the District of Columbia. The eparchy has 19 priests in 19 parishes or missions, as well as three institutes of women religious.
Bishop Naickamparambil was born June 6, 1961 in the village of Mylapra in the south Indian state of Kerala. He was ordained a priest of the Syro-Malankara Archeparchy of Trivandrum in 1986. He earned a doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and has written a book on the Jesuit philosopher and theologian Father Bernard Lonergan.
In July 2010 Benedict XVI named him a bishop and appointed him first exarch of the Exarchate for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in the U.S. The bishop also served as apostolic visitor to Canada and Europe.
CNA contacted the new eparchy for a statement but did not receive a response by deadline.