1.In the 7th century under the leadership of a merchant Thankan Mappilai from Kolencherry family (migrated from Kozhencherry), the parishioners belonging to the Kadamattom and Piravom Church built a Church in the name of St Peter & Paul in this place previously called Elamkulam and began worship. This is inscribed in the marble plaque placed on the front wall of the present Church. (See attached picture.)
2.On 5th July 1809 the 7th Marthoma of the Malankara Church was buried in this Church.
3.In 1844 while Cheppad Mar Dionesius was the Malankara Metropolitan, Mar Yuakim Coorilos from Antioch resided in this parish for a short time
4. But in 1844 the Palakunnath Mar Mathews Athanasios, the Anglicanised Metropolitan, though originally ordained from Patriarch Alias III in 1842, was not given permission to enter this church.
5. In 1876 parish representatives from the churches of Kolenchery and Kottoor participated in the Synod of Mulanthuruthy initiated by Pulikottil Joseph Dionesius. (A shrine of St. George was built at he South West of the present Kolenchery Church in the property belonging to the Kottoor Brahmins in the 1 St Century which later became St. George Orthodox Parish Church, Kottoor ).
6. In 1877 Paulose Mar Ivanios of Murimattathil family in Kolencherry was consecrated Metropolitan of the Diocese of Kandanad by Patriarch Peter III and he administered the Diocese of Kandanad for 36 years, being Kolenchery church as his Diocesan center.
7. In these years priests appointed by Paulose Mar Ivanios conducted parish ministry in the Kolenchery church.
8. On 15th September 1912 Paulose Mar Ivanios was installed as Baselios Paulose I Catholicose of the East and resided in the Kolenchery Church.
9. On10th November 1912 after the Holy Qurbana celebrated by the Catholicose, a group of the parishioners lead by one of the priests Fr. Peter Kunnath created problems against the stay of the Catholicose in the Kolenchery church and he bid farewell to the church for ever.
10. On 15th November 1912 the Catholicose shifted his residence to the Kottoor St. George Orthodox Church near by and the Kolenchery church came under Receiver Administration.
11. In 1943 a great reception was given to His Holiness Baselios Geevarghese II and Augen Mar Thimothios Metropolitan of Kandanad Diocese in the Kolencherry Church.
12. In 1943 the Kolenchery Church remained closed for 89 days in the months of May, June and July because of the fight between the factions.
13.In 1943 itself Very Rev Thenumkal Geevarghese Malpan and Fr. Geevarghese of Murimattom, both being the parish priests of the Kolenchery church received special order from the Government and opened the church. And thenceforth under the administration of Augen Mar Thimothios worship was conducted uninterruptedly in the Kolenchery church
14.As a result of the Peace established in the Malankara church, resulting from the Supreme Court verdict in 1958, on 8th March, 1959 the parish assembly of the Kolenchery church was summoned. Mar Augen Thimothios, the Metropolitan of the Kandanad Diocese and Paulose Mar Philoxinos the co-Metropolitan of the Diocese were present in it. And it resolved that the Kolenchery St.Peter’s and St. Paul’s church should be administered according to the 1934 constitution of the Malankara Orthodox church. Accordingly Shri K.V Thomas was selected as the Treasurer of the Kolenchery church.
15. On 24th May 1959 the parish celebrated the Memorial Day of the late Catholicose His Holiness Baselios Paulose I in the Kolenchery church as decided by the Parish Assembly.
16. On 28th January 1961, Mar Augen Thimothios laid the foundation stone for the re-construction of the present Kolenchery church. Mar Paulose Philoxinos did not participate in it because he was leading with an ” Antiochean Movement” against the Malankara Church.
17.On 29th January 1963 the reconstructed church was consecrated by H.H Baselios Geevarghese II Catholicose assisted by all the Metropolitans, except Mor Paulose Philoxenos, of the Malankara church.
18.Rev.Fr.Elias Valayil, Vicar, Mr. K.V Thomas, Trustee and Mr.M.Chackoppillai were the conveners of all the arrangements for that function as well as the construction of the Church building.
19.In 1964 when Mor Augen Thimotheos was installed as Catholicos Baselios Augen I, Mor Paulos Philoxenos returned to the Church and became Metropolitan of Diocese of Kandanad including the Kolencherry Church.
20.In 1965 Mor Paulose Philoxenos appointed Rev.Fr.John Kalappurackal as Vicar and Rev.Frs.O.I.Paulose, M.V. Abraham as co-Priests in the Kolencherry Church
21.On 15th May 1965 Mor Philipose Theophilos,Mor Yuhanon Severios and Mor Thomas Thimotheos were consecrated bishops by the Episcopal Synod of the Malankara Church presided by the Catholicos H.H.Baselios Augen I in Kolencherry under the auspices of the Kolencherry Church.
22.In 1975 Mor Paulos Philoxenos revolted against the Catholicos Augen and eventually was installed as a rival Catholicos by the Patriarch of Antioch. Therefore the successor of Catholicos Augen, Catholicos Mathews I assumed the charge of the Diocese of Kandanad, according to the constitution of the Church. Instead of Fr. John Kalapurackal H.H.Baselios Marthoma Mathews l Catholicos appointed Rev Fr.O.I.Paulose as the vicar of the church and the Civil Court recognized it.
23. In 1976 Joseph Mor Pachomius assumed the charge of the Diocese of Kandanad and he put his seal and signature in the concerned Documents of the Kolencherry Church
24. In 1980, 6 persons from the patriarch side filed a petition (OS 19/80) against 24 persons of the catholicate side, demanding the prohibition of the then existed Managing committee.
25.On 12th July, 1984,on the day of the Annual Feast (Perunal) Fr. John Vallikattil of the Patriarch side conducted a Fasting Strike in front of the Madbaha of Kolencherry church. He demanded to be appointed as a priest in the Kolencherry Church.The police interfered and 144 was declared in the premises of the Church. People were dispersed after Feast Qurbana, without conducting procession
26.In 1984, K.V. Thomas, the Trustee of the Church died and his children handed over the key to the court.
27. In 1984 people of the Catholicos side pursued the case through an IA petition and the Civil Court appointed a Receiver for the Administration of the temporal matters of the Church. Worship was continued under the leadership of three priests.
28. In 1987, Fr. John Kalapurackal of the patriarch side died and in his place Fr. Zechariah Ichikkottil from the patriarch side was appointed through another sanction of an IA petition as a temporary priest by the Civil court on 10-4-1987 till the verdict of the case.
29. On 19th August 1991 Joseph Mor Pachomius Metropolitan entered into eternal rest. Dr. Mathews Mor Severios was appointed as the Metropolitan of the Diocese of Kandanad.
30.According to the Supreme Court Verdict in 1995 Kolencherry Church also came under the provisions of 1934 constitution as far concerned with all its affairs.
31. On Feb. 1997, the suit O.S.19/80 in 1st Additional District Court was finally disposed with the Verdict issued as ” Since the suit is dismissed his (receiver) appointment is terminated and he will hand over the charge within 2 weeks to the previous managing committee”.
32. Following this verdict, the ruling group including 11 members of the previous managing committee along with the permanent priests of the church, Fr.O.I. Paulose and Co-Vicar Fr. M.V Abraham assumed charge on 10-03-97. Since Ichikottil Fr. Zechariah of the patriarch side was a temporary priest appointed by the court, he lost the possibility of continuance.
33. After a compromise talk on 14-03-1997 two of the committee members Shri Cheria Pathrose and K.S.Varghese sworn allegiance before the Diocesan Metropolitan, Mathews Mar Severios through an affidavit. Hence they were appointed as Trustees.
34.In the same way on 14 -03-1997, Fr. Zechariah Ichikottil wrote an affidavit to Mathews Mar Severios Metropolitan and was appointed as Co-Vicar of the Kolencherry church.
35. Within one month, both Fr. Zechariah and K.S.Varghese organized “Antiochian faith defense forum” meetings and created problems at Kolencherry offending the Diocesan Metropolitan as well as the 1934 Constitution. The Metropolitan then asked for explanation.
36. Against this, Fr. Zechariah Ichikottil filed a suit at Munsif Court, Perumbavoor against Metropolitan Mathews Mar Severios (O.S 340/97)
37. On 31st March, 1998 the Munsif court issued a verdict favoring the Metropolitan which reads” The 1st defendant (Mathews Mar Severios Metropolitan)has got every right to take action against their priests and vicars.They want to maintain discipline in the church and proper administration in accordance with the constitution(1934)”.
38.On the basis of the above verdict of the court, on 1-04-1998 Fr, Zechariah Ichikottil was transferred to Manakunnam Mar Augen church from the Kolencherry church. Instead of him Fr. John Thenumkal was appointed as Co-Vicar in Kolencherry church.
39. Thus Fr. O.I. Paulose as Vicar and Fr. M.V. Abraham and Fr. John Thenumkal as Co-Vicars, continued their services in the Church.
40. On 18th April 1998 the District authorities interfered and closed the church due to the influence of the patriarch side.
41. District authorities demanded the key of the church. Vicar did not handed over the key to the civil authorities. The Civil authorities broke the lock of the church and again locked with a new lock and handed over the key to the representatives of the committee.
42.The above act of the District authorities were questioned in the High Court and through the Court’s direction they have handed over the key back to the Vicar Fr. O.I. Paulose on 17-6-1998.
43.A suit O.S. 31/98 was filed to prevent Fr. Zechariah Ichikottil from entering illegally and disobeying the Kalpana of the Diocesan Metropolitan.
44.In the prohibition order of 21st December 1998 against Fr. Zechariah Ichikottil, it is recorded as follows ” It follows that the plaint church is to be administered under the provision of the said constitution (1934). The plaint church (Kolencherry St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s church) is a parish under Kandanad Diocese. It cannot be disputed that Dr. Mathews Mar Severios is the Metropolitan of the Diocese and the contention of the dependant challenging the authority of Dr. Mathews Mar Severios has no merit”. (1st Additional District Court, 21st December, 1998. IA 1569 in O.S 31/98)
45.Though they went for an appeal questioning this Verdict of the District, court their appeal was rejected by the High Court on 23-03-20000 ratifying the prohibition order to Fr Zachariah Ichikkottil. A further appeal over the verdict of the High court was filed by Fr Ichikkottil in the Supreme Court, which also rejected it, on12-07-2000 ratifying the decisions of the District Court and of the High Court.
46. On 10th January 2000 Vicar Fr. O.I. Paulose died. In his place Fr. M.V. Abraham was appointed as Vicar and Fr. C.M. Kuriakose was appointed as Co- Vicar together with the other Co-Vicar Fr John Thenungal by the Diocesan Metropolitan Mathews Mar Severios.
47. In 2002 December Malankara Orthodox Church conducted a Fasting prayer program at Kolencherry to get the unjustly closed churches opened for worship for the lawful custodians.
48. Even though the church was opened on the basis of the discussions with the sub-committee of three Ministers from the Kerala UDF Government on 17th December 2002, the church was again closed after one day’s worship since the patriarch side broke the agreements.
49.An S L P is pending in the Supreme Court now concerning the execution of the decisions of the Malankara Association 2002 in Parish churches.
50. It was decided in the Synod held in July 2004, “that the stand taken by the Church in 1974 when new cases began, should be the stand of the Church for all times. Malankara church is One and it cannot share or divide its churches or institutions with somebody else. This is recognized through the Supreme Court verdict of 1995. The responsibility of the Church is to get the verdict executed. The church is bound to fulfill this responsibility”.
51. In order to get the verdict of the Kolencherry church executed, execution petition has been submitted in Munsif Court. Overlooking this circumstances, a few orthodox members (11) of the Kolencherry Church, out of some selfish motives, joined with the Patriarch sympathizers of the Kolencherry Church gave birth to a so called “Joint Council”. In revolutionary strikes and public meetings in the style of the political parties in Kerala they tried to get the Kolencherry Church opened for worship including the patriarch parties without the due appointment or permission from the diocesan metropolitan whose rights for the same are approved by the Apex Court of this country. Hence they are trying to achieve through revolutionary methods those rights which are denied to them by the Civil Courts of India. This is what we see in Kolencherry now. This is not with the knowledge or permission either of the Malankara Church leadership or of the Diocesan Metropolitan.
52. There was no consensus regarding the opening of the church till 10-July-2005. Even though there were many discussions conducted by the duly appointed Orthodox Church leaders including the Catholicos designate H.B.Thomas Mar Thimotheos, the Priest Trustee Rev.Fr.Dr.O Thomas, Association Secretary Dr. Alexander Karakkal of the Malankara Church with the Chief Minister and District Collector and DSP. But on 10-07-2005, Muvattupuzha R.D.O unjustly braked the lock of the closed church and opened it. And on 12-07-2005,he gave permission to the patriarchal sympathizers to enter the church and they conducted their worship from 6.00AM till 9 AM. This is a challenge to the Law and order and irreverence to the Supreme Court verdict. Against this, Orthodox members of the parish submitted a writ petition in the High court, in which the Ernakulam District authorities were made defendants. Their prayer in the suit is to get the Kolencherry Church fully under the authority of Dr. Mathews Mar Severios, the Metropolitan of the Diocese of Kandanad
In the light of the above historical truths and Court verdicts, it is not possible to accept the unnecessary demand of the patriarch side for conducting worship in the church. It is fully under the control and jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of the Diocese of Kandanad West Dr. Mathews Mar Severios. Church should take strong actions against the two members of the Malankara Sabha Managing committee namely, Shri P.M. Pailippillai and Shri C.V. Jacob. They have joined with the “Joint Council” and caused irreparable loss to the goodwill and dignified position of the Malankara Church through their open attack against the Church authorities, especially H.G.Mathews Mar Severios Metropolitan through T V Channels as well as through press releases and public speeches. This indiscipline must not be tolerated.
Kolencherry church belongs to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian church which governs all its parish churches according to the 1934 constitution found valid by the Supreme Court of India. It cannot share its churches with another church which is originated in 2002 with a new” 2002 constitution”. Members of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church should be careful in this regard.
Fr.O.P.Varghese, Secretary, Diocese of Kandanad West.(2005)