Australia's southern Indian faithful will have their own bishop after a breakthrough decision to establish a new Syro-Malabar Eparchy in Melbourne.
More than 35,000 Syro-Malabar Catholics reside in Australia, and the number is growing.
Indian-born Bishop Bosco Puthur was appointed bishop of the new Eparchy and Apostolic Visitor for the Syro-Malabar faithful in New Zealand.
Bishop Puthur, from Parappur, India, has a licentiate in philosophy and studied at the Pontifical College Propaganda Fide in Rome. He speaks English, Malayalam and Italian.
A former seminary rector and lecturer, the bishop also has extensive parish and pastoral experience and has worked as Vicar General of the Archeparchy of Trichur.
He has served in the curial office of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly since his 2010 consecration.
The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, welcomed the establishment of the Eparchy.
“I look forward to working with [Bishop Puthur] as a colleague in Melbourne, while he has care of his brothers and sisters through the whole country.”
The Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Mar George Cardinal Alencherry, asked the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in December 2012 to recommend the establishment of a local eparchy.
More than 700,000 of the Syro-Malabar Church's four million faithful live outside India.
“Australia is the latest country to which migration from India has been on the increase," he told The Catholic Weekly.
“The Church in Australia has been from the very beginning attending to the pastoral care of these faithful in the best way possible. The bishops have appointed pastors to take care of the communities of the Syro-Malabar faithful in their own dioceses.
“But now the concentration of these faithful has increased and is inviting us to establish an ecclesial structure to contain them in the communion of the Church here in Australia.”
Cardinal Alencherry says Syro-Malabar Catholics are well known for “their cohesion in Catholic life”.
“Every Catholic family of the Syro-Malabar Church practises their faith,” he said.
“They go to the Church, they receive the sacraments, they pray and lead comparatively high levels of moral life."
Syro-Malabar Catholics follow a distinctive liturgy and provide systemic catechesis for children.
“Our Church is one that is always learning what the faith is, listening to it and experiencing it," Cardinal Alencherry said.