Former parish may be transferred to Syro-Malabar community

FRAMINGHAM -- The Syro-Malabar Eparchy of the United States may soon establish its first parish in the Archdiocese of Boston, at the site of a former parish.

A priest from the eparchy will start residing at the rectory of St. Jeremiah Church in Framingham this month and he will be using the facilities to serve the Syro-Malabar community in the area.

Father Kuriakose Vadana, a priest from India who is a parochial vicar at St. Julia Parish in Weston and a priest for the mission of the Syro-Malabar eparchy, will also provide a Sunday Mass in the Latin rite at St. Jeremiah’s, according to a June 2 statement from the archdiocese.

The Syro-Malabar Church traces its origins to the Apostle St. James, who traveled to India in the first century. It is one of the Oriental churches in communion with the Catholic Church.

The archdiocese suppressed St. Jeremiah Parish in mid 2005 as part of the parish reconfiguration process. Although most parishioners moved to St. George Parish, some have been staging a vigil since the closing of the parish. Currently, the closing decision is under a canonical appeal to the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature.

Despite the parish closing, priests have been celebrating Sunday Mass at St. Jeremiah Church with the permission of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley. Baptisms and funerals have also been permitted at the church.

The statement explains that any final decision on the use of the property will not be made until “all canonical appeals have been concluded” and their results taken into consideration.

Sister Marian Batho, cabinet secretary for regional services has been involved in the process and told The Pilot that the Syro-Malabars had approached the cardinal recently about a more permanent location for their community.

The community has been celebrating Sunday Mass at the chapel of the Walter Fernald School in Waltham and meets for other events at St. Jude Church in Waltham.

“Their numbers are such that they needed a larger space, and they seem to be living close to the MetroWest area” she said.

“The Syro-Malabar diocese will be responsible for the operating expenses of the church and rectory,” the statement says.

According to their Web site, the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Chicago oversees the pastoral care of around 100,000 Catholics in the United States and Canada.

The archdiocese met with the group carrying out the vigil to inform them of the cardinal’s decision and, according to Sister Marian, the news was well received.

“The tone of the meeting was very respectful,” she said.

“All indications to me were that there would be cooperation moving forward with the Syro-Malabar using St. Jeremiah Church.”

A call to one of the leaders of the group was not immediately returned.

“This step is not intended to signal that St. Jeremiah Parish will reopen as a parish of the Archdiocese of Boston,” the statement says.

If, once the canonical process ends, conversations with the Syro-Malabar eparchy succeed, the new parish would not be a parish of the archdiocese but of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy in the United States.