(PRWEB) September 28, 2014
In a tradition-filled Syro Malabar liturgy that was a solemn spiritual feast, in the presence of thousands of devout faithful, over 200 priests and sisters, and 15 bishops from the US and India, His Beatitude Cardinal George Alencherry consecrated Rev. Fr. Joy Alappat as the first auxiliary bishop of St. Thomas Syro Malabar diocese in Chicago. Mar Jacob Angadiath, the Bishop of the diocese and Bishop Mar Pauly Kannookadan of Irinjalakuda, India were the co-consecrators. This was a triple celebration of gratitude for God’s blessings on the diocese, a prayerful celebration of blessings for the new bishop, and a communal celebration of solidarity and appreciation for the many ways in which the 33 year ministry of this exemplary priest has touched thousands of lives on two continents.
In July Pope Francis named Rev. Fr. Joy Alappat, the Vicar of Mar Thoma Sleeha Cathedral in Bellwood, IL as the auxiliary bishop of the Syro-Malabar diocese of Chicago in recognition of the growth of the diocese from 2 parishes and 7 missions in 2001 to 36 parishes and 34 missions now, with over 100,000 faithful in the vast geography of North America, under the spiritual leadership of the current and first bishop of the diocese, Mar Jacob Angadiath.
The newly consecrated bishop was ordained a priest on December 31, 1981 for the diocese of Irinjalakuda. Over the past 33 years, he has been a tireless laborer for the Lord, in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in India, in New Jersey, at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and at the Cathedral in Bellwood, IL. He has endeared himself to the people he was called to serve, through his piety, spiritual leadership and very affable nature. He is a people’s priest, in every way, and derives a lot of happiness and energy from his dedicated service to God’s people.
The Universal Catholic Church is made up of Latin rite Catholics and 22 Eastern rite Catholic Churches, of which, India based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is the 2nd largest with over 4 million faithful worldwide. The leader and Major Archbishop of this Church, His Eminence George Cardinal Alancherry remarked that Bishop Alappat will be a “Good shepherd, preacher, administrator of sacraments and sanctifier for the diocese.”
New bishop’s brother, sisters and other family members traveled from India, Italy and parts of US to witness one of their own elevated to the Episcopal ranks. The worldwide Syro Malabar Church rejoices with them for the gift of bishop Mar Joy Alappat to the Church and Her people.
Bishop Mar Joy Alappat has chosen as his Episcopal motto: “Joyfully for your Souls.” The Coat of arms of Bishop Mar Joy Alappatt comprises various elements of personal and spiritual life experiences and his faith journey.
Motto: “Joyfully for your Souls”: A bishops’ personal motto has always been intended to represent his personal spirituality and theologically based philosophy of life and is most frequently grounded in Sacred Scripture or in a prominent Christian tradition.
Bishop Joy’s Motto is a beautiful quote from the second letter of St Paul to the Corinthians chapter 12:15. It is an abbreviated form of Paul’s life and vision. By selecting this quote Bishop Joy confirms his own commitment to work for the Salvation of Souls entrusted to him by God Almighty in a spirit of joy and satisfaction.
Cross: On the top of his emblem stands a cross which symbolizes the cross of Christ that has been raised on Calvary for the sake of remission of sins. The Cross is the power of God for those who are being saved.
Shape of Shield: God always protects us and as a Bishop Mar Joy has to defend the church. It also symbolizes the shield of faith of which St Paul reminds us.
Twelve Stars: It is mentioned in the book of Revelation that Mary represents twelve stars. As Jesus was grown through the hands of Mary, the Church as the continuation of body of Christ would be brought up in the hands of a Bishop.
Holy Spirit: It is the Holy Spirit that sustains the church. Holy Spirit enables us to be full Christians. A Bishop has special responsibility to empower Christians with Holy Spirit.
Letter J: Letter “J” stands for the name of Jesus. 'No name has been given to us except the name of Jesus for the salvation of human race’.
“O” Holy Eucharist: Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. Bishop presiding the Eucharistic celebrations and imparts much strength from the Sacrament of Eucharist. The round shape of Eucharist gives us the message of unity too.
Letter Y: The letter “Y” is depicted in the form of praise and worship community. The church is always a worshipping community and participates in the heavenly liturgy.
Joy: Theme of joy has been projected through these three letters JOY as his name designates. Joy is the echo of God’s life in us. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jn 15:11
Nativity Scene: There is a Nativity scene at the bottom which shares the message of God’s incarnation which was a kind of migration of God to humanity. It represents the Holy Family too.
Bishop Mar Joy Alappat was born in Parappukara as the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Varghese Alappat, in the Indian state of Kerala, in 1956. He studied at St. Mary Minor Seminary in Thrissur and St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary in Kottayam and was ordained a priest of the Syro-Malabarese Diocese of Irinjalakuda by Most Rev. James Pazhayattil in 1981. Fr. Alappat undertook graduate studies at St. Joseph’s Pontifical Institute in Aluva and at Adheva University in Wattair. He then did pastoral work in Chalkudy, Mala and at the Irinjalakuda cathedral. He served in Chennai, India from 1987 as a missionary for the pastoral care of the Syro Malabar immigrant community there. During this time, he also completed his Masters degree in Sociology from Andhra University.
Fr. Joy came to the United States in 1994 and served as Associate Pastor in Staten Island, New York and New Milford, New Jersey. He completed his Clinical Pastoral Education Program and worked at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, as a certified Chaplain. He was invited by Mar Jacob Angadiath in 2001 to serve in the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago and he was appointed as the Director of Syro-Malabar Mission of Garfield, Newark and Administrator of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Garfield. He was the Convener of Syro-Malabar Convention 2003, New Jersey. He has been serving as the Pastor (Vicar) of the Mar Thoma Sleeha SyroMalabar Catholic Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois since August 2011. He has written lyrics for several Christian devotional songs and published a few music albums. He is a known retreat preacher, an effective pastor with efficient administrative skills.