Close on the heals of his visit to Adilabad, the Major Archbishop and the Chancellor had to gear themselves up for a much longer trip – a trip to the United States of America. The trip was planned in connection with the Syro-Malabar Convention to be held in Atlanta, from 26 – 29 July 2012. Naturally some programmes before and after were arranged so that the trip will last for a couple of weeks. Emirates Flight leaving Cochin at 4.20 a.m. on 20th July brought the Major Archbishop and the Chancellor to Dubai at 6.35 a.m. Dubai time. Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath, traveling to Canada, also was on the same flight till Dubai. After a wait of 2 Hours, the jumbo jet EK 201, carrying 650 passengers took off for New York at 9.45 a.m. Dubai time, after a delay of 1.15 hrs. The flight took 13 long hours and finally we landed at John F. Kennedy Airport, New York at 3.05 p.m., a delay of just 50 minutes. At the Airport, Rev. Fr. Thomas Kadukappilly, Parish Priest of East Millstone, together with some parishioners was present to receive the Major Archbishop and the Chancellor. Bishop Jacob Angadiath of Chicago could not be present due to the late arrival of his flight from Chicago. After having refreshed, the dinner at the house of Mr. Tom Perumpally, the Trustee of East Millstone parish, the team left for the Parish Church of East Millstone for night rest.
The next day after breakfast, the Major Archbishop in the presence of Bishop Jacob Angadiath, received the sponsorships offered by the parishioners for the Church to be newly constructed. The parishioners gave their pledge of various articles or parts of the construction which was very encouraging. Even the students who had confirmation this year and the CML etc. did offer their share. Later the Major Archbishop met the youth of the parish. Some 50 youth were present and there was a lively exchange of ideas. The Major Archbishop was specially happy when the youth answered to his question whether they were proud to be Syro-Malabar Catholics in a very emphatic yes. The youth shared their apprehensions about the Church becoming irrelevant in the modern society against which the Major Archbishop requested their constant vigilance. The vibrant youth of the parish was the result of the concerted effort of the parish priest and the youth animator Mr. Siby Kalappura whom the Major Archbishop thanked for the service he does for the Church. Leaving East Millstone, the Major Archbishop reached his brother’s house for lunch. Mr. Thomas Alencherry, his brother had prepared a delicious lunch and invited a few guests, including two monsignors from the Latin Parish – Mgr. Huge McManus and Mgr. Patrick J Carmy.
In the evening was the celebration of the North Eastern Regional Mission Year by the Eparchy in Our lady of Peace Church, Edison, New Jersey which was arranged by the Associate Pastor of the Church, Fr. Pauly Thekken CMI. The Major Archbishop, Bishop Angadiath and other dignitaries were ushered in to the Church for the meeting by the accompaniment of Chendamelam, School Band, Ornamental umbrellas, beautifully clad children showering flowers on the guests and Knights of Columbus in their ceremonial dress. Bishop Jacob Angadiath, Bishop Thomas Mar Eusebios, the Malankara Catholic Exarch for the States, Fr. Peter Kochery, the Vicar General of the Malankara Exarchy, Mgr. Charles Cicerale, Dean of Cathedral Deanery, etc. were among those who felicitated the Cardinal. After the meeting was the consecrated solemn Holy Qurbana presided over by the Major Archbishop was joined by Bishop Jacob Angadiath and other priests and religious and over fifteen hundred lay faithful from the neighboring parishes. After the Holy Qurbana, the Major Archbishop blessed the foundation stone of the church to be built in East Millstone. After supper at Edison the Major Archbishop left for New Hyde Park, to the Malankara Exarch’s House for night rest.
After breakfast at the Malankara Exarch’s House with Bishop Thomas Mar Eusebios, the Major Archbishop and the Chancellor left for Farmingville for the Holy Qurbana in the Resurrection Church there. The Major Archbishop was welcomed by Mr. Jojo, a nephew of the Major Archbishop who brought him to his house. At 12.00 noon was the Holy Qurbana at the parish church where the Major Archbishop was welcomed by the Parish Priest, Fr. Malcome Burns. This was a parish which the Major Archbishop had visited as the Bishop of Thuckalay and he was known to the parishioners. A small get-together also was arranged in his honour in which there was a Christian devotional dance performance by Jeeva and Jyothi, grand nephew and niece of the Major Archbishop which was appreciated by all. Later in the afternoon, a reception was organized in Hotel Diwan, by SB Assumption Alumni and 30 different organizations of Keralites that came together for the first time, to honour the Major Archbishop. Rev. Fr. K.K. Kuriakose and Mr. Jane John, the President really succeeded in bringing all these diverse groups under one umbrella. The Major Archbishop praised their attempt and wished that it be a new beginning of united action for the common good. During the function, three eminent Malayalees who have great achievements to their credit were honoured. Dr. Jojo Thatchenkery, Dr. Thomas Chakkupurackal, and Dr. Vincent Kuttamperoor were given Awards by the Major Archbishop recognizing their achievements. Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath, Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Coorilos of Bombay, Metropolitan Zacharias Mar Nicholavas of North Eastern America, Mr. Upendra Chivakula, the Assembly Man and Ms. Annie Paul, the Legislator and representatives of the various associations felicitated the cardinal. After the dinner, the Major Archbishop and the Chancellor left for East Millstone for night rest.
From East Millstone, on 23 July, the Major Archbishop left to Mutton Town where the North Eastern American Archdiocese of the Orthodox Church has its Bishop’s House. Metropolitan Zacharias Nicholavas hosted a lunch in honour of the Major Archbishop. Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Coorilos of the Orthodox Church, Mumbai and Thomas Mar Eusebios, the Exarch of the Syro-Malankara Exarchy of the North America also were present, besides Mar Jacob Angadiath. After the Prayer service, Metropolitan Zacharias Nicholavas welcomed the guests and the Major Archbishop thanked him for the invitation.
In the evening of 23rd July, the Major Archbishop took part in the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Syro-Malabar Parish, Bronx where the Major Archbishop, Bishop Angdiath and the Chancellor were received by Fr. Jose Kandathikudy, the parish priest. In spite of his ailment, Fr. Kandathikudy had organized a very moving reception to the Major Archbishop. After supper there, the Major Archbishop left to East Millstone for night rest.
On 24 July, the Major Archbishop visited the land purchased by East Millstone parish for their new Church. It is a beautiful piece of land measuring 10 acres and the community hopes to complete the construction of the church in just 9 months’ time. The Major Archbishop together with Bishop Angadiath made a small prayer there and blessed the efforts of the parishioners. Later the Major Archbishop reached the Blessed John Paul II parish of Garfield where Rev. Fr. Paul Kottackal is the pastor. In the afternoon, the Major Archbishop interacted with the youth and then the solemn Holy Qurbana to be followed by a public meeting with some cultural events. The priests from the neighbouring parishes also joined the celebrations.
On 25July, the Major Archbishop left for Minneapolis via Chicago by flight reaching there by afternoon. After a pretty long drive by car, we reached the Dayton Parish where Rev. Fr. Xavier Thelakkatt is the pastor. We could see there in the vegetable garden of the parish priest bitter gourds, ash gourds and beans growing as in Kerala. Dayton is the place of the confluence of the river Mississippi and Crow River. It was the first glimpse at the world’s longest river. From Dayton we visited the Albertville parish which is also administered by Fr. Thelakkatt. Afterwards we went to Lakesville where all the Syro-Malabar faithful of the area were gathered together in the house of Mr. Pauly Kuttikadan. The Major Archbishop prayed for the repose of the soul of Mr. Chackochan Cherusserry who had passed away seven days ago due to Brain Tumour. The Major Archbishop was welcomed by Rev. Fr. George Thoomkuzhy who is taking care of the Syro-Malabar Community there and the Major Archbishop addressed the 100 strong gathering of priests, sisters and lay faithful. They hope to start the project of constructing a church of their own there and the Major Archbishop blessed their efforts.
On 26th Morning the Major Archbishop and the Chancellor took the flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta to participate in the Syro-Malabar Convention held in the Georgia International Convention centre, one of the largest convention centres in the United States of America. There were over 400 delegates taking part in the Convention from different regions of America. Besides the Major Archbishop and Mar Jacob Angadiath, Bishop Jose Porunnedom, Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore, Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy and Bishop Louis Raphael Xaramma, the Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta, also took part in the convention. The convention began with the inaugural Holy Qurbana presided over by Mar Jacob Angadiath, the Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago. This was followed by a cultural procession of the participants with banners and ornamental umbrellas and chenda melam. The opening ceremony began with the inaugural address of the Major Archbishop and the lighting of the lamp by the Major Archbishop and other dignitaries who felicitated the participants. Afterwards there was a beautiful dance presentation directed by Fr. Martin Varickanickal which presented the tensions between the parents and children in America and the struggles to preserve and transmit our faith tradition to the future generations. The presentation was appreciated by all. This was followed by a music kacherry by Padum Pathiri, Fr. Paul Poovathingal CMI. There were separate sessions for the grown ups, youth and children which made the convention enjoyable to all. The Major Archbishop met the youth and interacted with them and also celebrated a Holy Qurbana for them in English. There were spiritual talks by Fr. Mathew Elavunkal, Fr. Abraham Vettuvelil, Sr. Agnes MSMI and Class on the Theology of the Body by Christopher West. There were also workshops on the Syro-Malabar Identity, Retirement planning, overseas investments, parenting, power of prayer, women’s forum, power and empowerment of nurses and nursing, catechism, family reunion, Religious organizations, media seminar, etc. On the penultimate day of the convention there was a formal banquet separately for the grown ups and the youth. The chief guest of the Banquet for the grown ups was the Minister for Overseas Affairs in the Central Cabinet, Mr. Vayalar Ravi who acknowledged the great service the Syro-Malabar Church is rendering to the Kerala Society and to the Indian and overseas communities of Indians. This was followed by a concert led by Ms. Rimy Tom and company which was appreciated very well by the audience. For the Youth world renowned catholic singer and songwriter, Matt Maher performed a concert and led the youth to a deep prayer experience of one hour. On the concluding day, the Major Archbishop celebrated the Holy Qurbana with the other bishops and priests concelebrating. This was followed by a procession carrying the statues of the saints as this was also the feast of St. Alphonsa. The four day long convention came to a close with the lunch. It was an experience of great communion and ecclesial togetherness for all those who participated in the convention.
After the convention the Major Archbishop and the Chancellor left for New York and reached the La Guardia Airport around 19.20 on 29 July and was received by Fr. Thomas Kallumady, the parish priest of the Holy Innocents Church, Manhattan where the Major Archbishop retired for night rest. In the morning he offered the Holy Qurbana in the parish church and later went to Connecticut to visit Fr. Varghese Maliakal and his niece Mrs. Vincy Thomas where he had lunch. In the evening the Major Archbishop and the Chancellor was received by Mgr. John Kozar, the President of the Catholic Welfare Association (CNEWA) and Fr. Guido and Mr. Thomas M. Varghese, two of the Vice Presidents of CNEWA in New York. The Major Archbishop remained at the residence of Mgr. Kozar for night rest. On 31 July, after the Holy Qurbana in the chapel there, the Major Archbishop visited the office of CNEWA and was greeted by the staff of CNEWA and took part in a lunch organized in his honour. The Major Archbishop had some fruitful discussion with the President of CNEWA and later left for St. Boniface Church, Rockland where Fr. Thadeus Aravindathu is the Parish priest. Here there is a syro-Malabar community of over three hundred families. In the morning after breakfast, the Major Archbishop met the youth of the parish and interacted with them on many topics. In the evening there was a solemn Holy Qurbana and a felicitation meeting after the Qurbana in which the Mar Jacob Angadiath and Bishop Gerald Walsh, Auxiliary and Vicar for Clergy of the Archdiocese of New York also took part.