News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool

Cover July

The Syro-Malabar community in Litherland have inaugurated their own church thanks to the ‘generosity and hospitality’ of the Archdiocese


By Simon Hart


For one Catholic church in Litherland, the feast of Our Lady, Queen of Peace this month will hold a special meaning.


This, after all, will be the first feast day at the eponymous church since its inauguration as a centre of worship for the area’s Syro-Malabar community. The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church originated in the state of Kerala in southern India and 12 May brought the inauguration of Our Lady’s as only its second church in this country – a gift from the Archdiocese of Liverpool.


‘It is purely down to the generosity and hospitality of the Archbishop and all of the priests,’ said a grateful Father Jino Arikkatt, who is based there, in the wake of the inauguration Mass, which he concelebrated with Bishop Joseph Srampickal, the senior Syro-Malabar cleric in Britain, as well as the Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon. Bishop Tom Williams and Father Mark Madden were among the concelebrants


Archbishop Malcolm said:  ‘I was delighted to be able to give Bishop Joseph Srampickal and the Syro-Malabar community the Church of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, in Litherland to use as their centre in the Archdiocese. This is only their second permanent home in England following the opening of the Cathedral of St Alphonsa in Preston.


‘It was a privilege to be present at the inauguration,’ he added, ‘and to be able to formally welcome the community to the archdiocese. With over 200 families in the area they now have a home which will help them greatly in their worship and spiritual life.’


According to Father Arrikkatt, the presence of so many families means as many as one thousand people could use the church, which had previously been amalgamated with English Martyrs in Litherland. In his homily Archbishop Malcolm said the faith would flourish again at Our Lady’s which, as Father Arrikatt explained, will continue to host ‘three English Masses a week’. Its church and presbytery both underwent renovations ahead of the inauguration and Father Arrikatt added: ‘Work is now being done on the parish club. Every year we have festivals and on 8 July we will celebrate the feast of Our Lady, Queen of Peace so we have a special Mass on that day and a social gathering.’


It was in July 2016 that Pope Francis established the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Great Britain – only the third eparchy, or diocese, outside of India. The Cathedral of St Alphonsa in Preston was consecrated and Bishop Srampickal appointed. There are more than four million followers of the Syro-Malabar Church – with over 30 priests in this country celebrating Masses in local parishes with large Indian communities.


Father Arrikatt, from the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, is grateful for the welcome he received when he first came to Liverpool – and the support from the Archdiocese that has been ongoing up to now.


‘I’ve been here the last two and a half years and when I came here to Liverpool it was Vincent Malone, the emeritus auxiliary bishop, who came to pick me up at the railway station,’ he explained. ‘I was staying at St Joseph’s Convent with Myles Dempsey, of the Prince of Peace community, who has just sadly passed away. With the help of the Archbishop I was then given accommodation in St Leo’s presbytery in Whiston.’


Detailing the process that led to his community gaining their new church, he added: ‘During this time I was requesting a church for ourselves and in March 2017, the Archbishop called me to express his will to give us this church as a gift and it took us around a year to complete the process. I remember also the help of Bishops Tom Williams and Vincent Malone, the chancellor Canon Aidan Prescott, financial secretary, Father Sean Kirwin and the archdiocesan solicitor Mrs Veronica Clarke. We would like to extend our thanks to all of them.


‘When we came here to Litherland, Father Mark Madden was here and was so happy to welcome us.’


Father Madden was one of the priests who – following the Indian tradition – lit a lamp at the 12 May inauguration Mass, which also featured the confirmation of 10 schoolchildren.


Father Arrikatt added: ‘After lighting the beacon, we had the message from our head, Cardinal George Alamchery, and then we started the installation of the relics of saints and then the Mass. During the Mass the homily was given by the Archbishop.


The Archbishop said it was not his generosity but his responsibility to give us a church of our own. The church would have closed but it’s now a home for the people here to come every day for Mass, so through giving us this church it has kept the Church alive.

A gift to  help faith flourish

It is purely down to the generosity and hospitality of the Archbishop