Syro-Malabar Community Honors Father Of The Faith By Antonina Zielinska (With Slideshow)
Vibrantly colored umbrellas, women dressed in Indian garb and people radiating with the love of God could be seen and heard as a procession headed out of Guardian Angel Church onto Ocean Parkway July 1.
Syro-Malabar Indian Catholics were giving glory to God and honoring their patron in Brighton Beach.
“We come to celebrate St. Thomas the Apostle, the father of our faith,” said Father Shiju Chittattukara, S.D.V., director of the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Mission at Guardian Angel Church.
It is believed that St. Thomas the Apostle made his way to India to spread the Gospel there in 52 A.D. The Syro-Malabar people from Kerala, India, trace their roots back through generations to St. Thomas. They continue their traditions in their Eastern rite while remaining in full communion with Rome and the pope.
In New York, most of the Syro-Malabar priests also fill positions as priests in the local diocese including as pastors and vicars of the Roman Catholic churches.
Read more and view pictures of the Feast of St. Thomas…
She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer and grew up in Nettuno (Italy). On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it,” she cried out. “It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger.
She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother.
Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66- year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.