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Building a Legacy of Faith: A Timeless Journey of Unity and Hope

Embarking on a journey across time, we traverse back to the fore end of the 1980s, where a vibrant community of Malayalee Christians thrived in the bustling neighborhood of Indiranagar and its surroundings. However, amidst the hustle and bustle, a spiritual void engulfed their hearts, for the scarcity of churches offering Malayalam services left them in a state of spiritual numbness and desertion.

In the midst of this yearning, a group of pious and foresighted elder souls came together and formed the 'Kerala Catholic Association' in September 1982. Their purpose was clear – to seek the much-needed Malayalam services at a nearby church, recognizing the strength of the Malayalam faithfuls in the area. Their fervent desire to reconnect with their faith pushed them forward, and they approached the Bangalore Arch Diocese with hope in their hearts.

As the seasons changed and time passed, their repeated attempts to meet the Archbishop of Bangalore bore fruit on a God-gifted day during the auspicious month of August in 1983. His Grace Rt. Rev. Dr. Arokyaswamy, then Archbishop of Bangalore, granted them an audience. With patience and understanding, he listened to their grievances and, recognizing their earnestness, granted permission to hold Malayalam, Syro-malabar rite Mass at Resurrection church. It was a joyous moment, filled with divine blessings and the promise of a spiritually rejuvenated future.

The abode of the Carmelite of Mary Immaculate congregation, 'Dharmaram,' became a sanctuary for the Malayalee Christians in Bangalore, meeting both their spiritual and social needs. The wisdom of the elders led them to seek patronage and pastoral support from Rev. Dr. Justin Koipuram CMI, then rector of Dharmaram. With boundless compassion, Rev. Dr. Augustine Thottakkara CMI was deputed as the spiritual Adviser and chaplain for the growing community, which later evolved into the St. Sebastian's Welfare Association.

The first Malayalam Mass, in Syro-malabar rite, filled the hearts of the faithful with immense joy and gratitude. On that sacred Sunday, the 19th of September 1983, Resurrection church witnessed a spiritual awakening that would echo through time.

As we continue our journey across time, we witness the tremendous growth and development of this pious and vibrant community over the next 38 years. With unwavering dedication and the continued support of Rectors and pastoral assistance, they embraced an array of spiritual, social, and charity activities. Catechism classes conducted by brothers from 'Dharmaram' nurtured the minds and souls of the younger generation, fostering a legacy of faith for the future.

Yet, the journey had its twists and turns. Destiny cast a sudden emptiness during Holy Week in 2019, when sacramental and pastoral services for the Syro-malabar rite became scarce in the area. But in the face of adversity, the faithful joined hands and formed the 'Holy Trinity Eucharistic Community,' guided by Fr. Jose Nandhikkara CMI and Fr. Tomy Kattampilly CMI, symbolizing hope in times of uncertainty. With the widening of the jurisdictional boundary of the Mandya Dioses in October 2018, the community found a new home for their worship in a temporary chapel at Mont fort institution's garage. The inaugural Mass on the last Sunday of April 2019 marked a new chapter in their journey, and the attendance of 245 souls served as a testament to their unwavering spirit.

Though faced with challenges and change, the community remained steadfast in their pursuit of faith and unity. Their indomitable spirit led them to the doorstep of the Good Shepherd community, who welcomed them with open arms and shared their chapel at St. Michael's home, Indiranagar.

The passage of time brought new blessings and opportunities. His Excellency Mar Sebastian Adayanthrath, the Bishop of Mandya, entrusted the community to the guidance of Rev. Fr. Gervasis Mattom and assigned them the task of building a church to stand as a beacon of faith, love, and hope in the area between Indiranagar and Ulsoor.

The decree for the erection of the parish for St. Sebastian's Church, issued on the 3rd of October 2022, echoed through the annals of time. Under the leadership of Rev. Fr. Shijo Kodakkanath VC, the gifted and talented priest, the community found renewed hope, vigor, and vitality. With a visionary approach and inspiring words, he ignited a fire of passion and dedication within each heart.

Together, they formed a church trust and organized various pious societies, nurturing a sense of community and shared purpose. The journey to build a church was not without its hurdles. In their pursuit of a suitable plot of land, they resorted to creative fundraising schemes like seasonal cake and textile sales, rallying the support of their community members and well-wishers.

As the sands of time continue to flow, they stand at a crucial juncture, eagerly seeking the support of the global Syro-malabar community. The costs of land and construction in this cosmopolitan capital city of Bangalore, within the bounds of Indiranagar and Halsuru, may be prohibitive, but their determination knows no bounds.

United by a common purpose, they invite the world to witness this journey across time, to be a part of a grand vision that transcends generations. They call upon every heart, near and far, to contribute to this noble cause, for it is the collective spirit of love, devotion, and positivity that will turn dreams into reality.

With each step they take, they sow the seeds of a divine dream, watered by faith, resilience, and unity. Together, they shall build not just a church, but an everlasting legacy – a testament to the power of unwavering faith and unwavering love. As they traverse through time, hand in hand, they are poised to create a sanctuary of faith, love, and compassion, where hearts find solace, and spirits find wings to soar.

Let this journey across time be an inspiration to us all – a reminder that with faith as our compass and unity as our strength, we can overcome any challenge and build a brighter future for generations to come. Join them on this celestial odyssey, for it is not just their journey but a testament to the timeless power of hope and the unbreakable bonds of community.

Embracing the Flame of Faith: The Timeless Journey of St. Sebastian's Welfare Association Ulsoor

In the year 1966, a group of devout Syro-Malabar Catholics from Kerala, led by the visionaries C. I. Cherappan, V. P. Eranimos, Lazzar, Varghese, William Panakkal, Thomas, and Benjimen, embarked on a noble mission. Ascribed to Our Lady of Lourdes' Parish, Ulsoor, they founded a lay association, naming it after the esteemed St. Sebastian, the miraculous healer of epidemics. Thus, the "St. Sebastian's Welfare Association" was born, etching its mark on the sands of time.

Comprising of 12 to 15 families of Syro-Malabar faith from Our Lady of Lourdes' Church and its surroundings, the association was driven by an unwavering purpose. In the city of Bengaluru, where the Syro-Malabar jurisdiction did not extend, they longed for the spiritual care inherent to the Syro-Malabar rite. Their quest was to persuade the then Archbishop of Bangalore Archdiocese to grant permission for the celebration of Holy Mass in the sacred Syro-Malabar rite, conducted in the soul-soothing language of Malayalam. It was a testament to their deep-rooted dedication to preserving and practicing the cherished traditions and patrimony of the Syro-Malabar faith, handed down by their ancestors. They sought to impart these timeless values to the younger generation, inspired by the noble ideals of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara.

With unyielding determination and persistent efforts, the founding members achieved a significant breakthrough in the 1980s. Priests from Kristhu Jyothi College were appointed to celebrate Holy Eucharist in Malayalam on Sundays once a month. This momentous occasion marked the beginning of regular Sunday Mass in Syro-Malabar rite, a tradition that continues to this day, filling the hearts of the faithful with boundless joy and spiritual solace.

Guided by the wise counsel of CMI Priests as Spiritual Directors, and supported by the zealous Seminarians from Dharmaram College, the association's activities expanded to encompass various spheres. Grand celebrations of St. Sebastian's Feast became a cherished tradition, igniting the spirit of community and devotion within each member's heart. Regular catechism classes up to the 10th grade were initiated, with annual examinations reinforcing the foundation of faith in the younger generation.

Today, the St. Sebastian's Welfare Association boasts a membership of approximately 100 families, united by a common bond of faith, love, and support. As they walk hand in hand on this journey of faith, they bestow merit certificates upon deserving candidates and organize delightful get-togethers brimming with cultural programs that honor meritorious students within their community.

Together, they hold monthly prayer meetings, embracing the warmth of each other's homes, and extending a helping hand to those in need. With unwavering solidarity, they stand shoulder to shoulder, offering financial and emotional support to bereaved families during their times of sorrow.

As the year comes to a close, they gather in a solemn requiem mass, a poignant tribute to the departed souls of their beloved family members, forever remembered and cherished in the depths of their hearts.

The St. Sebastian's Welfare Association serves as an inspiring testament to the indomitable spirit of unity and devotion. Across the passing years, their journey of faith has grown stronger, and their collective bonds have deepened. Theirs is a tale of hope, perseverance, and a relentless dedication to preserving their heritage and passing on the flame of faith to future generations.

With hearts filled with gratitude and hope, they continue to march forward, as an eternal beacon of light, guided by the miracle healer, St. Sebastian. Together, they weave a vibrant tapestry of faith, love, and positivity, inspiring all who encounter their story to embrace the power of unity and the beauty of a shared spiritual journey.

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