Apostolic Visitation

          Twentieth century is a century of migration.The phenomenon of migration influenced the whole world and all human races and its political and religious establishments. The movement of people from East to West and vice versa and North to South and vice versa due to various  political and religious reasons made the picture of the world entirely different to form something like a collage in art. From globalization of merchandise,  and money it developed into a globalization of people. It has affected also Christianity, especially the Catholic Church. 
          The emigration of the faithful is one of the most important issues facing the Syro Malabar Church. Thousands of young men and women,  often well educated,  think about emigration as a better way to realize their dreams and ambitions. In the second half of the twentieth century,  the search for a place of opportunity for their families made a good number of Syro Malabar faithful to migrate to other parts of India and Gulf countries. The last quarter of the twentieth century saw a continuous flow of Syro Malabar faithful from India to America,  Europe and Australia. One fourth of the total number of the Syro Malabar faithful in general and one third  of the young generation,  especially qualified ones,  in particular are migrants. They all remained under the Latin jurisdiction  until the Diocese of Chicago (USA),  Melbourne ( Australia ) Great Britain and Apostolic Exarchate of Mississauga ( Canada ). Numerous Syro Malabar faithful, still continue to be scattered and isolated in different parts of Europe. The intention of the Holy Father Francis in appointing a Visitor Apostolic for the Syro Malabar faithful in Europe is clear from the instruction given to the Visitor. 
          Instructions from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches clearly speaks about the role of the Apostolic Visitor:" In territories where the Eastern faithful do not possess their own hierarchy, the Holy See shows its Solicitude  towards them through Visitors and delegates. When these clerics are of papal appointment, they are called Apostolic Visitors. A Visitor or delegate carries out his function in accordance with the procedure laid down ad hoc by his decree of appointment. As a rule, he verifies the state and needs of the faithful, encouraging them, meeting with the local bishops, and making a report with proposals to the Congregation for the Eastern Churches."[ Congregatio Pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus, Instructions of the congregation for the Oriental Churches to the Apostolic Visitor to the Syro- Malabar faithful in Europe.His Excellency the Most Rev. Msgr.Stephen Chirappanath, Titular Bishop of Slebte, Port.No.282/2016] APPOINTMENT OF THE APOSTOLIC VISITOR 
          On 28 July 2016 during the Jubilee of Mercy,  Pope Francis nominated Stephen Chirappanath,  Titular Bishop of Slebte and Apostolic Visitor for the Syro Malabar faithful in Europe. In the letter of appointment the Pope clearly stated that the apostolic visitor is appointed because of his concern for the needs of the flock of the Syro Malabar faithful a great number of whom,  living in the European region, lack a leader for their spiritual necessities. The Pope wished: " We wish that you should advise the Syro Malabar clergy and people living in Europe of this Our decree, and we urge these same persons that they,  fulfilling the will of Christ with a sincere,  heart should consider you as a father to be loved and a guardian to be honoured" [ Pope Francis, Letter of Appointment, dated 28 July 2016] 
Episcopal Ordination  and commissioning of the Apostolic Visitor 
          The Apostolic Visitor Stephen Chirappanath was ordained bishop on 1st November 2016 at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. His Beatitude George Cardinal Alencherry,  Major Archbishop of Ernakulam -Angamaly ( Syro Malabar ) was the Principal Consecrator and His Eminence  Leonardo Cardinal Sandri,  Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and Mar Pauly Kannookadan,  Bishop of Irinjalakuda ( Syro Malabar)  were Principal Co-Consecrtors. Immediately after the episcopal ordination, the ceremony of the commissioning of the office of the Apostolic Visitor took place officiated by His Eminence Leonardo, Cardinal Sandri, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
Presence of Syro Malabar Faithful in Europe