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St Teresa’s Church Mahe Declared Basilica

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Mahe, Kerala: St Teresa’s Church in Mahe was elevated to the status of a Basilica during the Eucharistic celebration held on Saturday, Feb 24, 2024. The declaration was solemnly announced by Most Reverend Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal of the Calicut diocese, marking a historic milestone as the first Basilica in the northern region of Kerala.

The formal decree of declaration, issued by the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was read in Latin by Reverend Dr Vincent Pulicken, the Rector of the Basilica, with its translation into Malayalam presented by Father Sajeev Varghese, the Chancellor of the diocese of Calicut.

The celebratory Eucharistic mass, filled with gratitude and devotion, was presided over by Most Reverend Dr Joseph Kalathiparambil, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Verapoly. Reverend Mar Joseph Pamplaniyil, the Archbishop of the Thalasseri Syro Malabar Archdiocese, delivered a poignant homily during the service.

In his homily, Archbishop Pamplaniyil commended the nurturing and supportive role of the Calicut diocese, which has been a guiding force for other dioceses in northern Kerala as a mother diocese. He highlighted the outstanding leadership and motherly approach of past prelates of the Calicut diocese, expressing gratitude for their contributions to the Catholic faithful in northern Kerala.

Rev. Dr Stephen Alathara, Deputy Secretary General, CCBI, provided insights into the significance of a Basilica and the meticulous process involved in the elevation of a shrine or church to this esteemed status. The proposal for St Teresa’s Church to be recognized as a Basilica was first approved by the CCBI Boundary Commission and later ratified during the CCBI Plenary Assembly in 2022. The official approval from the Holy See’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was received on November 21, 2023, as confirmed by Father Alathara.

Following the Eucharistic celebration, a facilitation meeting was convened, inaugurated by A. N. Shamseer, the Speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly. Most Reverend Varghese Chakkalakal presided over the meeting, which included welcoming remarks by Reverend Dr Vincent Pulickal and a vote of thanks by Msgr. Jenson Puthenveettil. The distinguished Malayalam writer, M. Mukundan, graced the occasion as the chief guest of the public gathering, adding a cultural touch to the momentous event.

Thousands of devotees, along with hundreds of priests and religious sisters from the northern part of Kerala, fervently participated in the Eucharistic celebrations, marking this momentous occasion with reverence and devotion. As they bore witness to this historical milestone in the elevation of St Teresa’s Church to a Basilica, their devout participation underscored the enduring significance of faith and community in the lives of believers across the region.

St Teresa’s Church in Mahe, belonging to the Diocese of Calicut, stands as a renowned pilgrimage destination in Southern India. Established in 1736, this historic church holds a significant place in the religious landscape, symbolizing unity and faith.

Widely recognized as a beacon of religious harmony, St Teresa’s Church has garnered a reputation as the foremost pilgrim center in Southern India. Its annual feast dedicated to St Teresa is not only a spiritual occasion but also holds cultural significance, recognized by the Government as the primary festival of Mahe.

Situated in what was formerly part of French India, Mahe now serves as a municipality within the Mahé district, one of the four districts comprising the Union Territory of Puducherry. Despite its colonial past, St Teresa’s Church continues to draw pilgrims and visitors from far and wide, serving as a testament to the enduring importance of faith and tradition in the region.

Report by: Rev. Dr Stephen Alathara

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