We are a Royal Priesthood,
A Holy Nation,
Torch Bearers of the Light,
Custodians of the Living Truth,
Entrusted with a Mission
To spread the Love and Light of our Lord
To the ends of the Earth, till our very last breath.
This is a truth that every man, woman and child born a Christian ought to remember, every one of his/her breathing moment. Hence, the gathering of this blessed knighthood in the Body of our Lord, the Church and their Worship ensures that the Gates of Heaven open, to pour forth blessings on its partakers.
As with all History, the History of a land is very intricately interwoven with the socio-religious background of its people. Thus the conception and growth of St.Mary’s Orthodox Valiyapally at Ullannoor holds a very prominent place in the growth and development of the spiritual life and life, in general, of the inhabitants of the land.
Ullannoor which derives its name from its three syllables – Ull – en – Oor was a small village, cradled between Kulanada and Aranmula, blessed with luscious natural habitat and paddy fields.
Agriculture was the primary occupation of the inhabitants of the land. The 60 or more Christian families of Ullannoor at the time, derived their spiritual nourishment from partaking in the worship and sacraments conducted at Maandalirpally ( Maandalir Church), which was quiet a long way off.
With distance being the factor limiting the keen interest and participation of the Ullannoor Christians in the Church related activities, the residents on the banks of Njetoor sent a request to the Government for a plot of land to build a Church on.
In the year, 1898, during the Harvest Month of September on aWednesday morrn ,the 9 heads of the 60 Christian families assembled and bought a piece of land for 120 Rashi Pannam ( money of equivalent value) ,equally contributed by the 60 families from Ullannoor Muriyil Kottaykattu Korala Mathunni, Kottaykattu Korala Varughese and Korala Thomas . The heads of the Families who contributed towards the buying of the plot were:
- Vengatoor Mathunni Mathunni
- Kaleekal Padinjaatathetil Varughese Mathan
- Ilanjilethu Easow Mathunni
- Puliyerathu Koshy Kunjummen
- Cherukarottu Idukala Chandy
- Alaykattu Vadakethil Idukala Varughese
- Kottaykattu Kizhakethil Chacko Varughese
- Padinjattidathu Mathunni Korala
- Plavilayil Kunjummen Kochu
The Conditions on which the Church was established were:
The existing Families were to ensure that if a need for a bigger Church were to arise, due to the addition of new members to the Church, either by future generations or by marriage or joining of Members from other Parishes, they would be equally responsible for providing the required financial support for the same. Also, if any member were to stray from upholding the True Faith proclaimed by the Church, he would have no position in the Church henceforth.
LAYING OF THE FOUNDATION STONE
The Christians of Ullannoor considered it their great privilege to have our beloved Parumala Thirumeni lay the foundation stone for the Church on 27 January 1899. The grandeur and joy with which the people of Ullannoor, irrespective of religion, received Parumala Thirumeni on the day was beyond anything that the land had ever witnessed. He was received on a Palanquin by a huge procession accompanied by Music, a Spirit of Unity, unbridled enthusiasm and Joy.
The Holiness that shone from His Presence made the people forget their hardships and they praised God for this God-given honor. The Spirit of Thirumeni resides in the land, showering blessings upon the land and its people, offering strength and solace during times of struggle, guidance and hope during times of indecision.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE CHURCH
Though an agro-based community, being an enthusiastic and spiritually enlightened lot, the initial structure of the Church was built by its members, men and women who worked hand in hand carrying heavy stones themselves to lay the foundation of the Church. Stone sculptors were brought in from afar to complete the stone works. Murrel fish was used to make the paste used as mortar to cement the structure. Due to a shortage of funds at the time, the walls were made of bamboo. And so, the inhabitants of Ullannoor were ready to partake in the service to be held in their newly built Church.
The newly built Church was presided over by Pamburethu Chandapilla Kathanar and Kilanna Mannil Geevarughese Kathanar during the period 1898 to 1909.
During the year 1918, an argument broke out between the Jacobite Christians and the Orthodox Christians which led to the closing down of the Church for a period of 13 long years. This was a dark age in the life of the Ullannoor Christians which led to the gradual deterioration of the Church over the course of time and subsequently the religious life of its Members. Pained by the state of affairs, Rev. Komattu Yacob Kathanar pledged that he would conduct 41 Qurbanas as offering, if this state of affairs were to lift.
By the Grace of our Lord and prayers of the Inhabitants, with the permission of His Holiness Puthenkavil Geevarghese Mar Philexinos, Rev. Komattu Yacob Kathanar was appointed the official Vicar and was able to have a shed set up in the Church ground and conduct the service twice every month. At the time, then 16 year old Cherampallil C.K Varghese carried out the duties and responsibilities of the Sexton. The shed was raised to the structure of a New Church and consecrated by His Holiness Geevarghese Mar Philexinos on 8 April 1944.
MILESTONES OF THE CHURCH
“Remember your forefathers, who spoke God’s message to you.
Think back on how they lived and died, and imitate their faith.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
The Church witnessed many milestones under the leadership of its Vicars.
In 1952, Rev. Fr. K.G. George was appointed Vicar, after the demise of Rev. Yacob Kathanar.
Following the relocation of Rev. Fr. K.G George to his Home Parish in 1962, Mezhuveli Thekkemutheril Rev. Fr. T. C John was appointed Vicar of the Church.
The Church saw a glorious period of growth during his leadership. The noteworthy accomplishments included the below:
- Complete Electrification of the Church in 1968
- The Platinum Jubilee Celebrations in 1974
- The Publication of the Souvenir in 1974
- The Completion of the Jubilee Memorial Hall in 1976
- The Completion of the Parish Hall in 1985
- The completion of the Five Kurishin Soudams –
- George Kurishin Soudam at Vattayam in 1978
- Gregorios Kurishin Soudam at Punnakulanzhi, on the land donated by Karapanasheriyil Sri Samuel in 1979.
- Mary’s Kurishin Soudam near the Church in 1980
- Thomas Kurishin Soudam at Manduka Paivazhi Roadside, built by Chiravarambil Sri Varughese Mathai on his own land donated to the Church, in 1983.
- Mar Baselios Kurishin Soudam on the land donated by Padinjaattedathu Malayil Sri P.K. Mathew in 1983, but officially consecrated in 1996.
Rev. Fr.T.C.John was bestowed with the title of Corapiscopa in the year 1982.
He was succeeded by Rev. Fr. A.M Varghese in 1986, after which Rev. Fr. Prof P V. John took over in 1987. The first OVBS and DivyaBodhana classes were initiated during his tenure.
Rev. Fr. John Daniel took over the Vicar position in the year 1990. It was during his period, that the first Parumala Padayatra from the Church took place.
The completion of the Present Church within record time of 34 months and that too, without financial support from any external quarters was possible under the leadership of Rev. Fr. Mathew Thomas, who was instrumental in ensuring that the Church was ready for consecration during the Centenary Celebrations. The name Valiyapally was given to the Church by H.H Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II during the Centenary Celebrations.
ORIGIN OF VATTAYAMPALLY:
Distance being a hindrance for 100 families residing in the area of Vattayam in Ullanoor to attend the Church, gave rise to the need for a Church to be built at Vattayam. An application was submitted by the 100 families, during a Public Meeting requesting the set up of an new Church in Vattayam. The same was approved and a Church was consecrated in the name of St. George in August 1995 for the people of Vattayam.
St.Mary’s Orthodox Church has given birth to many Holy Fathers during its 116 years of existence.
The Palli perunnal is held every year during the month of January 27 – 29th with great pomp and splendor.
The spiritual Organizations which formed the Pillars of the Church activities were the Sunday School, Balika BalaSamajam. Youth League, Marthamariyam Samajam and the Prayer Meetings. They proved a reservoir for spiritual nourishment and strength for its Members.
The Church had been very active with its charity projects ranging from Construction of homes for the less privileged, Granting of scholarships to children, Conducting of Eye Care and Blood Donation Camps, thus upholding and promoting the true Spirit of Brotherhood which is an undeniable characteristic of Christianity.
CENTENARY AND CONSECRATION
The 2nd phase of the Church’s renovation commenced in June 1997 with the blessing of the Main Door by the Diocesan Metropolitan, H.G Thomas Mar Athanasius.
The Celebrations with regard to the Centenary, Perunnal and Consecration commenced on 17 January 1999 with the Hoisting of the Flag in the Church premises and at the Kurishum Soudams after the Holy Qurbana on the Holy Day, Sunday. The days that followed were filled with Musical Services, Meditation Prayers, Submission Prayers, Intercessory Prayers and Gospel Sermons. The Church was proclaimed and elevated to the status of Ullannoor St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Valiyapally by H.H Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II after the Consecration and Holy Munnumel Qurbana.
A Church born out of the dream of our forefathers is a lantern passed down from Generation to Generation reminding us to uphold the principles on which it was built – Unity, Fellowship, Charity and the Greatest of them all, Love for our brethren irrespective of Caste, Creed or Religion.
Ullannoor St.Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Valliyapally has and will remain the pride of this land for ages to come. It is the gateway through which our Lord bestows his Grace upon this land and its people and we should be proud to be Members of this Holy Temple, the Body of our Lord. As we remember our past in reverence, may we march forward boldly, bearing in mind our Mission to spread the Light of our Lord in our Society, our State, our Nation and our World at large. In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.