ST. JOHN PAUL II SYRO-MALABAR
Catholic Parish,Regina,SK, Eparchy of Mississauga
Our Major ArchBishop
Cardinal Mar. George Alanchery
Mar. Jose Kalluvelil
The origin and history
The young and vibrant Syro-Malabar Catholic Community in Regina, the capital city of Saskatchewan, started growing from just two families in 2007 to more than 100 families in 2020. The Malayalee community’s beginnings in Regina took place when Fr. Jose Thomas Periyilkatte, the then pastor of Christ the King Church invited four families for celebrating Christmas in December of 2007. In the following years, the City witnessed more and more people of Kerala origin, mostly Syro-Malabar faithful, making Regina as their home.
The community began to celebrate Christmas, Easter, and St. Thomas Day since 2010 with traditional Kerala food and cultural festivities. The first ever Malayalam Mass in Syro-Malabar Rite was celebrated in the City of Regina by Rev. Fr. Georg Thattuparampil, popularly known as ‘Vakkachanachan’, with Rev Fr. Jose Kuruvilla as co-celebrant on July 16, 2012 at Holy Rosary Cathedral. More than hundred people had attended the Holy Mass and the traditional Kerala style dinner was served thereafter.
In response to the growing needs of the Malayalee Catholics, the then Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Regina, Late Most Rev. Daniel J Bohan, gladly accepted the request to celebrate the Holy Mass in Malayalam once a month starting from April of 2013. Since then, the Holy Mass in Malayalam had been celebrated by the Malayalee priests serving the Archdiocese of Regina on second Sunday of each month at Holy Cross Church, Regina until February of 2015. Then a remarkable event happened. Bishop of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Chicago and the Apostolic Visitator to Canada, Most Rev. Mar Jacob Angadiath visited Regina on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 as part of his Canadian trip and celebrated Holy Qurbana in Malayalam at Holy Rosary Cathedral followed by a reception and dinner.
On May 12, 2015, the Syro-Malabar Community was granted permission by Late Most Rev. Daniel Bohan, the then Archbishop of Regina to celebrate Holy Mass in Syro-Malabar Rite once a month and to start catechism classes. Archbishop Most Rev. Bohan appointed Rev. Fr. George Thattuparampil as the community’s Chaplain (Director). Bishop of Chicago St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy and Apostolic Visitator to Canada, Mar. Jacob Angadiath's earlier visit to Regina had been instrumental in obtaining this much awaited recognition from the local Latin Diocese.
Apart from the Malayalam Mass, couple of Retreats were also conducted to further nurture the spiritual needs of the community. The first ever Retreat in Malayalam, ‘Revive 2013’ focussing the youth was conducted by Jesus Youth Canada led by its animator Rev Fr. Jose Thaiparambil CMI from September 27 to 29, 2013 at Holy Trinity Church, Regina. Bro. Suresh Dominic, founder of Gethsemane Ministries of Toronto and his team conducted a family retreat in Regina on July 19 and 20, 2014 as part of St. Thomas Day celebration. More than hundred people including many faithful from the neighbouring cities of Saskatoon, Yorkton, Weyburn and North Battle Ford attended the Retreat. Several attendees had given testimony for the blessings and healings they received by attending this Retreat. The community was even more blessed with Gethsemane Ministries second Retreat in Regina on May 8 to 10, 2015. Shalom Festival in Regina on November 14 – 16, 2014 was another major event that uplifted the spiritual power of the community. Faithful from other cities and towns across Saskatchewan attended this spirit filled Retreat as well. Upon receiving inspiration from the success of Shalom Retreat, Regina witnessed another Shalom Festival taking place on April 8 to 10, 2016. Well-known preachers, Fr. Roy Palatty CMI and Dr. John D were the keynote speakers and about 120 people attended this Retreat. The year 2017 witnessed a very Spirit-filled family retreat, ‘Kudumba Naveekarana Dhyanam’ led by Rev. Fr. Paul Vellarackal, Professor, St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottayam on May 12 to14, 2017 at Holy Cross Church and Little Flower Church in Regina.
Apart from these events, the community conducted prayer meetings every weekend as well and the prayer team members had a chance to go for a pilgrimage to St Mary’s grotto at Rama, SK on August 15, 2015 to celebrate the Assumption of Mother Mary.
Rev. Fr. Sajy Thomas Chakkittamuriyil took charge of the first Vicar of St. John Paul II Parish on July 2, 2018 with a |Holy Mass celebrated by Rev. Bishop Mar Jose |Kalluvelil. The Sunday Masses were celebrated at Holy Cross Church until December 2017. Jose Martin Tom and Bestin Kurian were selected as the first ‘|Kaikkarans’ of the church by the priest and the community. After greater efforts by Fr. Sajy and the ‘Kaikkarans’ to find a church to celebrate daily Holy Mass, St. Athanasius Ukrainian Catholic Church opened its doors to celebrate Holy Mass every day at a reasonable monthly rent from January of 2018. The very first parish council was formed on March 2, 2018 consisted of the following individuals: Fr. Sajy Thomas (Vicar and Council Chairman), Jose Martin Tom (Kaikkaran), Bestin Kurian (Kaikkaran), Nithin Jose Paul (Council Secretory), Mathew Thomas (Accountant), Arun Rajan and Dr. Nevin Kannappilly (Membership and Resource Development), Jancy Mathew (Catechism) Neslin Elias, Dipu Issac and Jomi Joseph (Public Relations and Program Planning) Jaison James and Divya Nithin (Coir) Joseph Furnandus (Family Units), Lukose Luka and Saneesh Achandil Sunny (Internal Auditors). To impart catechism education and religious formation to our children, catechism classes were conducted regularly on every Sundays. About 55 students were registered for various grades in the year 2017 and it kept growing every year. Family unit gatherings kept the community united for prayer and other social activities. Rosary Prayer meets in the month of October and the Christmas Carols specially provided unique spiritual experiences to its members, children and adults alike. Christmas and Easter were celebrated every year with Holy Mass, cultural activities and traditional |Kerala dinner.
During Fr. Sajy Thomas’s tenure as vicar, religious organizations such as Knights of Columbus and ‘Mathruvedi’ were established and functioned effectively. Knights of Columbus, the popular Catholic laity organization, started in the parish as its own council in the year 2018 with more than 40 catholic men as its members and Agnel George being its founding Grand Knight. ‘Mathruvedi’ had started its activities in the year 2018 under the banner, ‘Women United’ and conducted various activities to strengthen the community especially single women and mothers. Nurses Ministry started functioning in the year 2020 and it conducts regular prayer meetings and provides care for the sick.
Queen Mary Ministries of USA conducted annual retreat ‘Athmabhisheka Kudumba Naveekarana Dhyanam’ led by Rev. Fr. Shaji Thumbechirayil and Bro P D Dominic in Regina from October 16 to 18, 2018. The annual retreat of 2019 was led by Rev. Fr. Saju Elanjiyil and team of Sehion Retreat Centre, Attappadi, India in the month of October of the same year.
In July 2020, Rev. Fr. Sajy Thomas has completed three years of his pastoral services and got transferred to another parish in the Eparchy. Rev. Fr. Daris Cherian took charge as the second vicar of St. John Paul II Parish in July of 2020.