Mar George Alencherry, the bishop of Thuckalay has been elected as the new Major Archbishop of Syro Malabar Synod. The decision was taken unanimously by the Synod of Bishops at the headquarters in Kakkanadu. Thalassery Archbishop Mar George Valiyamattom made the official announcement after receiving the approval from Vatican.
Mar George Alencherry, the successor of Mar Varkey Vithayathil, will also be the head of Ernakulam Angamaly archdiocese. The ordination ceremony will be at St Mary’s Cathedral, Ernakulam on the afternoon of May 29th. The Synod will also conclude on the same day.
He studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Seminary St. Joseph Alwaye and earned a doctorate at the ‘Institut Catholique de Paris, where he specialised in Catechesis. On his return from Paris, he was appointed director of the Centre for Catechesis. He then directed the Pastoral Orientation Centre, Cochin, of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference (KCBC).
He served as a professor of Pastoral Counseling and Systematic Theology at the Faculty of “Paurastya Vidyapitham, Pontifical Oriental Institute of Religious Studies of Vadavathoor, Kottayam, and at the Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy in Alwaye. He was Vicar General of the Archeparchy from 11 November 1996 until he was appointed first eparch of Thuckalay and was ordained on 2 Feb. 1997.
On 24 May 2011 he was elected Major Archbishop. The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI confirmed the election on 26 May 2011. Major Archbishop Alencherry said his services will be for all people of India. He stressed inter-rite relations, inter-faith harmony and ecumenism.
Major Archbishop Alencherry, however, is the first head to be elected by the Syro-Malabar Church’s synod. The election is part of the new administrative system put in place within the Syro-Malabar Church after Pope John Paul II made it a Major Archiepiscopal Church in 1992. With that elevation the pope appointed Cardinal Antony Padiyara as its first Major Archbishop. However, the pope reserved the powers to appoint the major archbishop and bishops. The Vatican in 2004 granted full administrative powers to the Church, including the power to elect bishops.