|Groundbreaking ceremony of church by The Late H.E. Mor Clemis Abraham
From Paper to Reality…
St. Mary’s Knanaya Church
Rev. Fr. Punnoose Abraham, Kallamparampil, Vicar
It was in October, 1986 His Grace Abraham Mor Clemis, our Metropolitan, celebrated the first Holy Qurbana in Hartford, Connecticut. It was a golden day in the history of the North American Knanaya Community, the first Knanaya Church was established in New England. Rev. Dr. P. P. Philips then traveled all the way from Dallas, Texas to take the initiative to organize the Church in Hartford, where he started his career in the United States. The members of St. Mary’s Knanaya Church are thankful, to our founding father Rev. Dr. P. P. Philips for his vision for the future.
The Church remained on the paper for a while until the arrival of the well trained young and energetic priest, Rev. Fr. Marcos M. Chaluparambil in 1988. God Almighty fullfilled the needs of the Church by providing the service of a dedicated priest with strong determination and commitment to the faith and traditions of the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Knanaya Community.
Since then there has been church services every other Sundays and during church festivals in a rented place, Grace Lutheran Church, 46 Woodland Street’ Hartford. As the membership increased, there was a strong desire to have a church of our own.His Eminence Abraham Mor Clemis Metropolitan inaugurated the Church building fund on Sunday, January 20,1991. The 22 knanaya families in Hartford worked hard to raise enough money to acquire a piece of land in West Hartford to start the construction of the new church building.
The church building committee under the leadership of Mr. Thomas Abraham, Vadavuparambil and with the help of the committee members Mr. Thomas Chaluparambil, Mr. Bejoy Cheriyan Kallamannil, Mr. Prasad George,Mr. Abraham Mathew, Mr. Saji Punnoose, Mr. Jacob Uthuppan and treasurer Mr. Kurvilla Jacob and secretary Mr. Baiju Joseph, worked hard to purchase land for the new church. They were able to close the deal on 110 x 100′ plot on 15-19 Price Boulevard, West Hartford, a very convenient and beautiful location on May 25 1995.
The expanded Church Committee for the year 1996, under the leadership of Vicar, Rev. Fr. Marcos Chaluparambil, Secretary, Mr. Joseph Chaluparambil,Trustee, Mr. Kuruvilla Jacob, the Church Committee members Mr. Bejoy Cheriyan Kallamannil, Mr. Saji Eranackal, Mr.Prasad V.George, Mr.Benny Joseph,Mr. Thomas C. Joseph, Mr. Abraham Kuunnel, Mr. Abraham Mathew and Mr. Jacob K. Uthuppan worked hard to raise enough money to start the church construction.
I have the great privilege to mention that God Almighty provided the opportunity for me to assist in the first Holy Qurbana celebrated in Hartford by our Metropolitan in 1986. After my ordination as a priest, our Administrator Very Rev. Dr. Abraham Thomas Corepiscopa gave me the first assignment as the Assistant Vicar of St. Mary’s Knanaya Church, Hartford, where I was ordained as a deacon on Sunday January 20, 1991. I am thankful to God for the opportunity to work with a very loving, affectionate and unselfish priest, Rev. Fr. Marcos Chaluparambil and a very helpful and cooperative group of Knananites in Hartford.
It was a happy day for the members of St. Mary’s Church when the contract for the construction of the new
4000 S. F. building was signed by the Vicar on August 11, 1996. The unexpected visit of our Metropolitan in September 1996,is a very clear indication of the fact that the church building project was in the hands God. His Eminence Mor Clemis officiated the ground breaking of the new church building on September 14, 1996. The history of our ancient church caught the attention of several local news media, who then participated in this event. The construction process went very smooth and money poured in even from unexpected sources.
The church established on paper, with the initiative of Rev. Dr. Philips is a reality. It is a reality because of the hard work of Rev. Fr. Marcos Chaluparambil and the 22 Knanaya families in Hartford and the support of the North American Knanaya Diocese. As an outsider and the Assistant Vicar, I take this opportunity to congratulate Rev. Fr. Marcos Chaluparambil and the members of the church for the job well done. It is a fact that there will be disagreements during a project of this magnitude. But for the Knanaya community this kind of disagreement will eventually turn into the best agreement. The new Church is the result of that best agreement. Let us Keep it up for our younger generations.
During the decade of existence, the Church had the great privilege to host the reception given to His Eminence Mor Clemis, the Chief Metropolitan of the East on January 20, 1991. The Church also had the opportunity to host the first North American Knanaya Association meeting on February 15,1992. The constitution for the North American Knanaya Diocese was unanimously approved in the “Constitution State”, the State of Connecticut. The North American Knanaya Diocese was officially established and the first North American Knanaya Committee was unanimously elected.
We are thankful to our beloved Metropolitan for all the guidance and His Eminences presence for all the historic moments of our church. We appreciate our Administrator Very Rev. Dr. Abraham Thomas Corepiscopa for his leadership and timely help. All our priests were very helpful, especially when we visited their churches for fund raising. I take this opportunity to thank all the members of the North American Knanaya Diocese for helping us with their generous contributions in terms of money, time and advice. May the prayers St. Mary, the mother God and St. Knayi Thoma, the patron Saint of the Knanaya Church be with you and your family for generations for all your sacrificial contributions.
We are thankful to God Almighty for providing a beautiful place of worship to uphold the faith and traditions the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Knanaya Community, which our forefathers were upholding for the last 1652 years in India. Let us all make a determination that, no matter what, we will not give up our fundamental faith, the faith and traditions of the Knanaya Church, which our forefathers were upholding for many, many years.
May God bless us all and the prayers of St. Mary the mother of God be a source of strength for all of us.
Rev. Fr. Punnoose Abraham, KaUamparampil was ordained as a deacon in 1991 and as a priest in January 1996. Fr. Punnoose is currently the Assistant Vicar of St. Mary’s Knanaya Church, Hartford and St. Stephen’s Knanaya Church, Boston. He is the North American Knanaya Diocesan Secretary and the General Secretary of the North American Knanaya Convention. He received M.S. in Chemistry in 1973 from Bhopal University and B.S. in Chemistry in 1970 from Kerala University and B.S. in Computer Science in 1984 from Framingham State College. He is employed as a Software Engineer. He is married to Nirmala Vazhayil, and lives with three children Ashok, Sarah and Mekha in Millbury, MA.