The Syro-Malabar Apostolic Exarchate of Mississauga is God’s gift to the Syro-Malabar faithful in Canada who worked hard and prayed unceasingly trusting in God’s plan.
Catholics from Kerala, India started immigrating to Canada, from 1960’s, for higher studies or job. Most of them were single young professionals. Many were healthcare workers, who settled mostly in and around Toronto, Ontario while few others settled in other provinces. Their dedication and commitment to work were exemplary. Initially they had to endure extreme cold weather, struggle with new language and adjust to culturally different life style. However, by the grace of God, they succeeded in rendering excellent service in whatever sector they worked.
In 1970’s more Kerala Catholics immigrated to Canada; a good number of them were from Syro-Malabar Catholic families. Senior members of the community gratefully remember the pastoral services of Fr. Savio Pattara CMI and Fr. Chandy SJ who occasionally joined them celebrating Syro-Malabar Qurbana (Holy mass) in Malayalam and participating in traditional social celebrations. By the end of 1970’s, the community was blessed with the spiritual assistance of Fr. Thomas Thottumkal who was serving as Vice Rector of St. Augustine Seminary, Toronto and Fr. Thomas Plackal who was serving as a pastor in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Most Rev. Thomas Fulton, then Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, understood the spiritual needs and interests of this faith community and on February 18, 1977, appointed Fr. Thomas Thottumkal as the Chaplain of Indian origin Catholics in Toronto.
Most Rev. Bishop Aloysius Ambrozic, who was then in charge of the Catholic Ethnic Communities in Archdiocese of Toronto, realized the need for a specific Mission for Catholics from Kerala and recommended that to Archbishop His Eminence Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter. As a historical milestone for the Kerala Catholics, Archbishop announced the establishment of St. Thomas the Apostle Mission, Toronto on Nov 18, 1982 and appointed Fr. Joseph Kannath, as its first Pastor. It was formed as a mission for all Malayalam speaking Catholics from Kerala - Syro-Malabar, Latin and Syro Malankara Catholics - although Holy Mass was offered mostly in Syro-Malabar Rite.
On December 11, 1983 with the guidance of Most Rev. Richard Greco, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto Archdiocese, the Kerala Catholic community could move to Precious Blood Church for Holy Mass and other community activities. After Fr. Joseph Kannath, the Mission was entrusted to the pastoral care of Fr. Antony Kozhuvanal and Fr. Thomas Kalarathil.
In 1988, Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) congregation was entrusted with the pastoral responsibility of St. Thomas the Apostle Mission Toronto. During the years from then priests like Fr. John Pynadath, Fr. Cletus Plackal, Fr. Jose Kuntharayil, Fr. Varghese Pudussery and Fr. Augustine Mampilly served the community. In 1998, Toronto Archdiocese entrusted CMI congregation, the Pastoral responsibility of Holy Cross Church, Scarborough. The Holy Mass and community activities of the St. Thomas the Apostle Mission was also moved to Holy Cross Church for some time, though later it was moved back to Precious Blood Church. Youth of the community were involved in the mission activities through youth group, MCYA. The community was also supported by Fr. Jose Kuriedath, Fr. Isaac Chakalaparambil, Fr. Joy Ureth and Fr. Soju Varghese who were serving Precious Blood parish as pastors during those years.
On March 13, 2001 the Chicago Diocese was established for Syro-Malabar Catholic faithful in the USA and Most Rev. Jacob Angadiath was appointed as its first Bishop and as the Permanent Apostolic Visitator to the Syro-Malabar Catholics in Canada. Mar Jacob Angadiath realized the spiritual needs of the growing Syro-Malabar community here. With the full support of His Eminance Archbishop Cardinal Thomas Collins, other Archbishops and Bishops of local dioceses in Canada, Mar Angadiath could slowly arrange to provide required spiritual and liturgical services to the Syro-Malabar Catholics in Toronto and other dioceses.
2004 to 2009 was spiritual revival time for St. Thomas the Apostle Mission Parish. In 2004 Rev. Fr. Paul Moonjely, started Catechism for children who were receiving Holy Communion and Confirmation in the parish for the first time. In 2005, Rev. Fr. Jose Thaiparambil initiated regular Sunday Catechism that brought greater spiritual revival in the Mission. Regular Sunday Catechism classes increased tremendously the community participation of Sunday Holy Mass and faith fellowship activities. The Mission Celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2007. From July 7, 2007, the Mission started Holy Mass and Catechism classes in Mississauga for the faithful living in the West region.
In 2009 Rev. Fr. Isaac Tharayil CMI was appointed as the Pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Mission, Toronto. He laid a strong foundation for Family Units. He could guide and strengthen the community to deeper faith fellowship.
Considering the increase in the number of Syro-Malabar families who desired to celebrate Holy mass and other spiritual activities in their traditional rite, in 2010, His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, recognized the need to have a dedicated Syro-Malabar Mission in Toronto. St. Thomas the Apostle Mission was re-named as St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Mission.
As the Permanent Apostolic Visitator to Syro-Malabar Catholics in Canada, Bishop Jacob Angadiath was entrusted with the responsibility of guiding the SyroMalabar community in the liturgical matters as well as the appointment of clergy. Rev. Fr. James Cherickal, who was serving Archdiocese of Toronto as Pastor for few years, was appointed as the new Pastor of the Mission. Soon Rev. Fr. Kurian Puramadam was appointed as Associate Pastor for the mission, who guided the community spiritually through retreats and counselling. New Ministries were initiated to build stronger fellowship and support within the community. The desire to have an own a Church for Syro-Malabar Catholics was initiated during this period.
From January 2013, Rev. Fr. Mathew Periyapuram served as Pastor of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Mission. During this time a Mission House was purchased in the west region at Mississauga. Until Rev. Dr. Jose Kalluvelil took charge as the Pastor of the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Mission, Chicago Diocese took care of all spiritual and liturgical needs of the faithful in the Mission. Current Syro-Malabar Bishop of Chanda Eparchy Mar Ephrem Narikulam who was then teaching at St. Augustine Seminary, Toronto, guided the mission as its Chaplain and Rev. Monsignor Thomas Kalarathil supported the community during this period.
God slowly revealed His plans for Syro-Malabar faithful in other cities of Canada. As a result, soon missions were formed in Cambridge, London, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and many other cities in different provinces.
In September 2013, Fr. Jose Kalluvelil took charge as the Pastor of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Mission Toronto / Mississauga. The community was renewed and united in faith under his pastoral leadership. With his deep faith, great vision, selfless work style, positive attitude, merciful love and courage to do anything as per God’s will truly believing in the Word of God, Philippines 4:13 “I have strength for everything through Him who empowers me”, Fr. Kalluvelil worked hard tirelessly being lead by Holy Spirit and supported by many volunteers from the community. The community experienced greater spiritual revival. The mission could purchase another house and first Church in Scarborough, and a Church in Mississauga which serves as the Cathedral of the Exarchate. Fr. Thomas Valummel, as associate pastor, became a great support to Fr. Kalluvelil at the critical, decisive time
August 06, 2015, was the golden day God chose to reveal His amazing plan for the Syro-Malabar Catholics in Canada announcing the establishment of the Exarchate and appointment of Mar Kalluvelil as Exarch. The Episcopal Ordination ceremony of Mar Kalluvelil at the Canadian Coptic Centre in Mississauga, Ontario was on September 19th.