Three Different Communities – Floral Park, Elmont and Brooklyn
New York had its history of providing home for early migrants from India from early 1950s and 60s. The inner thirst to have their own traditional way of liturgy and heritage the leaders tried to have Holy Mass in their own language and tradition three different Centers (Floral Park, Elmont and Brooklyn) by the help of the Syro Malabar Priests - Fr. Joseph Palakathadam (Floral Park), Fr. Paul Vazhappilly (Brooklyn), Fr. Mathew Kottaram (Elmont) - who were here either for their higher studies or ministries in USA.
With the tremendous support and enthusiastic work of these Priests and various community leaders from respective centers in respective time frame, this community began to grow in numbers, and more and more families were added to these communities. The American Catholic Hierarchy of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre dioceses supported, by catering the thirst of Indian families for their own traditional liturgy and celebration with the help of these Syro Malabar Priests who were working in these dioceses.
During the course of time Fr. Joseph Kochupoovakottu, Fr. Thomas Kottoor, Fr. Sauriamackal, Fr. Michael Nedumthuruthel, Fr. George Koikara, and Fr. Mathew Kulapurath also were instruments in God’s hand, to help this ministry in those three centers. Even though these Priests were catering these communities by fulfilling the spiritual needs by celebrating Holy Mass, either once a month or twice a month or every Sunday in those different centers, the community didn’t have much growth in its strength, faith and tradition, since they were all going their own independent directions and guidance.
However in 2001 the first Syro Malabar Diocese was erected in USA and Bishop Mar Jacob as its first bishop. Bishop Angadiath decided to have these three communities, to bring together under one Priest and to form a Syro Malabar parish in this area.
A Common Parish
A meeting of the elected representatives from the three Syro-Malabar Mission Centers in this area (Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island), was conducted under His Excellency Mar Jacob Angadiath on January 10, 2003. There they decided to work united to achieve the goal of a single parish. Bishop Angadiath agreed to provide us with a full-time priest and also to create a new parish for the Syro-Malabar communities in the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Center.
In fulfillment of these promises, on September 14, 2003, bishop announced the creation of the new parish, appointing Fr. Abraham Karott as the new vicar of the new Parish. It was decided to work as one parish with different centers for Mass on Sundays. Also it was decided to start CCD classes for the children. The new schedule went into effect from October 2003 onwards.
On October 12, 2003 under the leadership of Fr. Abraham Karott a meeting was called for and it was decided to name the parish St. Mary's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, different committees and respective leaders were elected to streamline the activities of the new parish and began to work more systematically.
His Excellency Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath (Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago) formally inaugurated this new parish on January 4, 2004 and St. Thomas the Apostle Chapel, West Hempstead as its common center of celebrations.
Fr. Abraham Karott continued his leadership of this parish until Jamuary 31, 2009 and during this time the community was growing stronger and in number as well. Community had collected a reasonable amount of money through different fundraising programs, to buy a new church.
In February 2009 Fr. Ligory Johnson Philips was appointed as the new Vicar of St. Mary’s Syro Malabar Parish. Fr. Ligory continued the efforts started by Fr. Abraham Karott, to buy a new facility for this community, and in July 2014 the community bought the current church building at 926 Round Swamp Road in Old Bethpage, NY, which was a Jewish Synagogue. The new facility was refurbished into a Syro Malabar Church, and Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath consecrated the church on March 28, 2015.
Fr. Ligory was transferred on February 4, 2017 to St. Thomas Forane Church in Somerset, New Jersey and Fr. John Melepuram was appointed as the new Vicar of St. Mary’s Syro Malabar Parish in New York.
When Fr. John took the charge of the community, the Parish was already in the process of building a multi-purpose facility with Social Hall and GYM. Fr. John continued the pursuit of building the new facility, with the support of the entire community. Several meetings were organized with Building Committee, Architect, and City officials, in the process of finalizing the plan, permit, construction etc.
The plan for the new facility got approved from the Nassau County on October 13, 2017, the demolition of the existing building took place on October 14, 2017 and the ground breaking of the new building took place on October 22, 2017. Fr. John Melepuram laid the foundation stone on November 19, 2017 in the presence of the Parish families and the EMCC Construction Company.