(Former) St. John Chrysostom Long Island Church, History
Malankara Catholics were part of the Malayalees who immigrated to North America during the 60’s and 70’s and most of them settled down in the Greater New York area. They felt it as a necessity to keep their religious and cultural heritage in the immigrated land. The Malankara Catholics began to organize prayer meetings and occasionally celebrated Malankara Catholic Mass depending on the availability of priests who were visiting the US from time to time. The pastoral visit of Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios resulted in bringing a few Malankara Catholics priests to the US. Chor-Bishop John Melamparampil was appointed as the first Coordinator for the Malankarites in the US. He was instrumental in obtaining a worship place in the school basement of Guardian Angel Roman Catholic Church (21st street and 10th Ave, Manhattan). John Cardinal O’Conner, then-Archbishop of New York, gave his wholehearted support to all these endeavors. Later on Fr. John Kalloor, (Bishop Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom) who was residing in Washington DC, became the national coordinator and priest-in-charge of the Malankara Catholic community in America. In 1987 Fr. Geevarghese Mannikarottu took over the pastoral care of this community.
Chor-Bishop Geevarghese Mannikkarot got the approval from Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios to start a new mission center in New York. Thus St. John Chrysostom Malankara Catholic Church of Long Island came into existence on November 7, 1993. The initial worship place was the annex chapel of St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Franklin Square, Long Island. Originally it was intended to provide pastoral care for the Malankarites residing in the Brooklyn and Rockville Centre dioceses. Chor-Bishop Geevarghese Mannikkrott dedicated his time and talent in developing this community and gave his wholehearted attention to the Sunday School, MCYM and Prayer Groups of this church, when, at the same time he was taking care of the St. Mary’s Malankara Community in New York City.
When the community began to grow because of increased migration from Kerala, we felt the need of a larger worship place. Thus the lower chapel of St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church, Elmont and later the school auditorium of the Most Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, Roosevelt, Long Island became our worship places. For a brief period during this transition, Fr. Boban Zacharia and Fr. Saji George Mukkoottu took care of this community.
Official Establishment of the Mission:
Fr. Saji Mukkoot was instrumental in obtaining a semi-permanent place of worship on August 10, 1997 at 115 Greenwich Street Hempstead. On November 13, 1999 His Excellency Bishop John McGann and the chancellor Msgr. Francis J. Schneider of the diocese, joined our Sunday Liturgy and canonically established this community as a Mission. This enabled us to be listed in the Kennedy Directory of the Catholics in the US.
Establishment of Parish:
His Excellency the Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Mar Eusebius, Bishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Apostolic Exarchate in the USA established the St. John Chrysostom Syro-Malankara Catholic Parish (the first parish to be established canonically in the Exarchate) on November 13, 2011, on the feast day of the patron saint of this parish, during the solemn celebration of the festal Holy Mass at the St. Vincent de Paul Latin Catholic Church, Elmont. From that day onwards, this parish conducts its liturgical celebrations and other gatherings at the St. Vincent de Paul church. Rev. Fr. Abraham Lukose was appointed the first pastor of this parish.
After seven years of service, Fr. Saji Mukkott was transferred to Chicago and Fr. Jacob Varghese OIC took over the pastoral care of this community from 2003 to 2006, followed by Fr. Louis Charuvila Putthenveetil for a year in 2007. Fr. Joseph Nedumankuzhy served from 2007 to May 2011. On October 16, 2011 Rev. Abraham Lukose took over the charge of this Mission.
This community is blessed immensely due to the great services rendered by various bishops. Former Apostolic Visitators, Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Caholicos and Most. Rev. Joseph Mar Thomas who resided at the Malankara Mar Ivanios Center offered so many blessing due to the Center’s proximity to our parish.
The establishment of the new Exarchate for the Malnkaries in the USA on July 14, 2010 was a milestone in the history of the Malankara Church in the United States in general and Saint John Chrysostom parish in particular since our parish became the Pro-Cathedral of the Exarchate. We were happy to welcome Most Rev. Thomas Mar Eusebius, the first bishop of the new Exarchate to our community.
Visiting Prelates and Clergy: We cherish the memory of the pastoral visits of our late Major Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios Catholicos and all the other prelates of the Malankara Catholic Church.
With gratitude and appreciation, we recognize all the priests who served us on various occasion on a short time basis. Their names include Fr. George Oonnoonny, Fr. Samuel Assisi OIC, Fr. Bonaventure Thekkeveettil, Fr. Babu Michael OIC, Fr. Royston, Fr. Sunny Mathew Kavuvila and Msgr. Joseph Sundaram. We also express our gratitude to Fr. Pablo Rodriguez and staff of Our Lady of Loretto church for their generous and continued support.
The dedicated service of Bethany Sisters is vital to the growth of our parish. With deep gratitude and appreciation we recognize the service of Sisters Josepha SIC, Arpitha SIC, Mariam SIC, Ivan SIC and Slooso SIC. These missionaries extend their assistance to our community in every major celebration and daily spiritual activities.
We are grateful for the services of two of our seminarians, Bro. Lintu Markose and Bro.Michael Edathil for their dedication to our parish especially to the youth and the Sunday school children. This year we had the privilege of conducting the minor orders M'samarono and Kuroyo of Br. Michael and Br. Lintu at our parish by bishop Thomas Mar Eusebius.
With gratitude to Almighty God we are happy to say that our clergy, religious and laity worked very hard and sacrificed their energy and resources in order to bring our parish to the level of a full fledged Malankara Church. Catechism classes from 1st to 10th Standard, Father’s Forum, and Mother’s Forum (Legion of Mary) gather every Sunday morning at 9:00 AM, followed by morning prayers at 10:15 AM, and the Holy Qurbono at 10:45 AM. We celebrate the liturgy in English on the first Sunday of every month. Members of our Youth lead our Masses in both English as well as in Malayalam. The MCYM of the Long Island Church is very active. MCYM meetings are held on the first Sunday after the Holy Qurbono. Each member works to take leadership for special celebrations (such as Father’s day and Mother’s Day) and to initiate charitable services (such as “Rice Bowl” during the Lenten Season). We have regular monthly prayer gatherings, First Friday devotions and weekly Friday prayers at various homes. Christmas Caroling and Parish Family picnic give energy and enthusiasm to the parish. We have a monthly bulletin called “Golden Tongue” to publish activities of the month and to list names of birthdays and anniversary celebrants of the month. Our summer vacation Bible Oriented Course (BOC) is excellent, educative, and enjoyable with much fun and creativity. Children from our neighboring parishes (Queens, New Rochelle, Rockland and New Jersey) participate in the BOC. We also follow the traditional way of yearly first fruit collection and the practice of offering the first pay check on New Year’s Day during Mass.
Finally, we take this occasion to express our heartfelt gratitude for all the services we received from our former Apostolic Visitators, His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, the Most Rev. Joseph Mar Thomas and all former coordinators. We also extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our former vicars. We also offer our prayers and whole hearted support to our present bishop Most Rev. Thomas Mar Eusebius.