Knanaya Catholics are the descendants of 72 Christian families that arrived at the Kerala coast (India) in 345 A.D. led by a very prosperous merchant Thomas of Cana, Bishop Mar Joseph of Edessa and few priests to revive the ailing St. Thomas Christians. Welcoming the new immigrants King Cheraman Perumal of Kranganoore conferred upon them 72 privileges and honors. Before their departure to Kerala, they were advised to keep their ethnic purity and traditions in tact just as their Jewish forefathers kept the purity of race from the time of Abraham. This custom of marrying from the same race was followed by generation after generation up to this time. In 1911 Pope Pius X established Kottayam Diocese for the Knanaya community. Even though Knanaya Catholics maintained their separate identity and traditions, they cooperated in all spiritual and religious activities of the Indian catholic hierarchy of which they formed an integral part.
From its humble beginning in 1976 the Indian Knanaya Catholic Community of Greater New York has grown to a great organization having about three thousand members at present. Indian Knanaya Catholic Community of Greater New York is an organization of the members of Kottayam Diocese (India) settled down in the tri-state area. This organization was formally inaugurated on August 14 1976 by Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry, Bishop of Kottayam assisted by Fr. James Kudilil and Fr. Luke Kariparambil. IKCC is the brainchild of Fr. James Kudilil who paved the way to inaugurate it by Bishop Kunnacherry during his visit to Philadelphia when he came for the Eucharistic Conference.
The IKCC encourages the youth to organize programs which makes them proud of their heritage and traditions. At present they have a very strong youth organization called KCYL- Knanaya Catholic Youth League.
The IKCC was very fortunate to get the services of dedicated Knanaya priests as their spiritual directors from the very beginning. They were a great source of inspiration and helped the community to grow spiritually. They played an important role in stimulating the community and to live in strong Christian faith.
The first knanaya ministry was established in the diocese of Brooklyn in March 1993. Rev. Fr. Joseph Sauriamakil sent by bishop of Kottayam was appointed as its first director. On his return to India Fr. Michael Nedumthuruthil was appointed in his place followed by Fr.Thomas Kottoor. Then, Rev. Fr. Abraham Kalarickal was appointed for the Knanaya community of Westchester and Rockland. Once Fr.Michael Nedumthuruthil returned Fr.Thomas Animoottil replaced him. At present Fr.James Ponganayil and Fr.Joseph Tharackal are in charge of TriState Knanaya Missions.
The association encourages and supports the formation of Kids Club. At present there are three units in different parts of the tri-state area managed and guided by committed lay leaders and spiritual directors.
The formation of Womens Forum is also a great and praise worthy step taken by the IKCC. In 2011 Womens Forum was formally organized and became part of KCWFNA as well.
The IKCC hosted THREE KCCNA NATIONAL CONVENTIONS in New York. On July 24,25,26 and 27th in 2008 we witnessed a very memorable convention of the KCCNA hosted by IKCC with a record high registration from all over the world.
Another crowning achievement of the IKCC is the purchase of 7.5 acres of land together with a building in 2001 which can accommodate 1200 people. A building Board, formed as a sub-committee of the IKCC, is given responsibility for the efficient day today operation of the center.
If some one looks back to the past three decades of its history, it is evident that the leaders who led this organization were men and women of vision and dedication.
Mar Mathew Moolakkattu
Archbishop of Kottayam
Auxiliary Bishop of Kottayam