Apostolic Visitator

 

Mar Stephen Chirappanath

Titular Bishop of Slebte & Apostolic  Visitator for the Syro-Malabar Faithful in Europe

 

         Mar Stephen Chirappanath was born on 26 December 1961 at Puthenchira as the seventh child among the eight children of Late Mr. Paul and Late Mrs. Rosy Kavalakkatt Chirappanath. After his school studies he joined St. Mary’s Minor Seminary, Thope, Trichur, and he had Philosophical and Theological studies at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottayam. He was ordained priest on 26 December 1987 by Bishop James Pazhayattil. After his ministry as Assistant Parish Priest in St. Mary’s Forane Church, Chalakudy, St. Joseph’s Church, Aloor, and as Father Prefect in St. Paul’s Minor Seminary, Assistant Vocation Promoter, Director of Altar Boys’ Association and the General Secretary of the Eparchial Pastoral Council, he was sent to Rome for higher studies from where he obtained Doctorate in Moral Theology from the Alphonsian Academy of the Lateran University.

On his return from Rome, Bishop Stephen has rendered his service as the Parish Priest of St. Antony’s Church, Paduva Nagar, Judge in the Eparchial Matrimonial Tribunal, General Convener of the Great Jubilee Year 2000 celebrations, Director of Navachaitanya & Sanjo Sadan, and the Rector, St. Paul’s Minor Seminary, Irinjalakuda. He served in Paurasthya Vidyapitham, Vadavathoor, as Lecturer of Moral Theology and in St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary as the Procurator and then Vice Rector. He was also visiting Professor at Mary Matha Major Seminary, Thrissur and Good Shepherd Major Seminary, Kunnoth.

        While he was serving in Rome from 01 April 2011 as the Procurator of the Syro - Malabar Church at the Holy See, National Co-ordinator for the Syro-Malabar Faithful in Italy and Parish Priest of the Syro Malabar faithful in Rome, on 04 June 2012 he was conferred by Pope Benedict XVI, the title of Monsignor - the Chaplain of His Holiness. On 28 July 2016, the feast day of St. Alphonsa, Pope Francis nominated Msgr. Stephen, with episcopal rank, as the Apostolic Visitator for the Syro Malabar faithful residing in Europe. His Episcopal ordination was held on 01 November 2016, All Saints’ Day, at St. Paul’s Papal Basilica, Rome, and he started his episcopal ministry with the motto: Omnia in Bonum Diligentibus Deum.

 

Coat of Arms

 

1.      Motto: Omnia in BonumDiligentibus Deum: In all things God works for the good of those who love him (Rom 8: 28).

2.      Sacred Scripture & St. Thomas Cross: As a Syro Malabar bishop, one is consecrated to impart Jesus through the Sacred Scripture and through the moral, spiritual and ecclesial traditions of Thomas Christians.

3.      M with a crown: It symbolizes Bl. Virgin Mary. TotusTuus  meaning Totally Yours, was the motto of St. John Paul II.It acknowledges bishop Stephen`s total consecration to Bl. Virgin Mary, the mother of priests. The blue cord that frames the coat of arms is also a sign of Mother Mary’s protection in his episcopacy.

4.      Heart touched by a Hand: First, it symbolizes the courageous act of St. Thomas, showing his total commitment to the Lord which has to be the lifestyle of the new bishop. Secondly, as he received the new appointment in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, like the Good Samaritan he is called to touch and heal the wounds of the people of God.

5.      Flight to Egypt: Bishop Stephen is consecrated for the Syro Malabar migrants. As with the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt, every migration is in the design of God and is guarded by an angel of God.

6.      Seven Small Crosses: These crosses represent the Seven early Churches founded by St. Thomas, suggesting that the ministry to Europe is to be modelled after the Way of Thomas.

7.      Twelve Stars in a Blue Background: The twelve stars stand for the Twelve apostles united around Bl. Virgin Mary. It is also the Emblem of the European Union. The Early Community under the leadership of Mother Mary is to be the role model as well as the goal of any Syro Malabar ministry in Europe.

8.      The Cross with two Bars: It is a replica of the Cross in the Nativity of Our Lady Church, Puthenchira founded in 400 AD, where stayed and lay buried four bishops of the then diocese of Kodungalloor from 1701-1777. It refers to the human existence of bishop Stephen.

9.      Priestly Stole: It represents the priestly existence and ministry of Bp. Stephen.

10.  Holy Spirit on the Mitre: It refers to the descending of the Holy Spirit at the Episcopal Consecration.