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Christianity started in India with St. Thomas, the Apostle. In A.D.345, Thomas of Cana, a leading navigator, merchant and intrepid world traveler of Cana in the Middle East lead a bold band of his people consisting of 72 families to Cranganore in the Kerala coast with a view to strengthening the church established by St. Thomas. This group of Christian pilgrims won the respect of the local king and became recipients of several honors and social distinctions. The descendants of this group maintained their separate identity and traditions, although they co-operated in all spiritual activities of the Indian Christian hierarchy of which they formed an integral part. Knanaya Christians are the descendants of these Jewish Christian immigrants in Kerala. They were also called Southists (Thekkumbhagar) because they lived on the south side of Kodungalloor. It is also stated that Knananites were called Southists because they came from the southern kingdom of Judah. Knanaya Christians are seen not only among the Catholics but also among the Orthodox Christians of Kerala, because when a group of Thomas Christians joined Jacobitism, among them there were Knanaya Christians too. They observe many rituals and traditions, which are very peculiar to their own community. Even today, the Knananites continue to be an endogamous community. In order to keep the purity of their race and ethnicity, they do not marry any one outside their community. A Knanaya Catholic can marry a Knanaya Jacobite.

 

The Knanaya Catholics were originally disbursed among different Diocese in Kerala State. His Holiness Pope St. Pius X appointed Bishop Mathew Makil as bishop of the Diocese of Changanacherry. The appointment was not well received by the non-Knanaya Catholics of the diocese. Holy See was convinced that the only way to maintain peace among the Knanaya and non-Knanaya members of the diocese was creating a separate diocese for the Knanaya Community. The desire to keep their unique identity and heritage, led to a strong move for a separate Diocese for the Knanaya Catholics. Through the intercession and personal appeal of His Excellency, Bishop Mar Mathew Makil, His Holiness Pope St. Pius X, on August 29, 1911, by a special Decree (In Universi Christiani) instituted a new Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam and appointed Bishop Mar Mathew Makil to the new Diocese by transfer from his former Diocese of Changanacherry. On December 21, 1923 the Vicaraite Apostolic of Kottayam was elevated to an Eparchy by Pope Pious XI. The diocese of Kottayam is a multi ritual diocese consisting of Syro Malabar and Malankara rites. Bishop Mar Mathew Makil was succeeded by His Excellencys; Mar Alexander Chulaparambil (July 16, 1914 – January 8, 1951), Mar Thomas Tharayil (January 8, 1951 – May 5, 1974) and Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry (May 5, 1974 – January 14, 2006). During Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry’s tenure, on May 9, 2005 Eparchy of Kottayam was elevated to a Metropolitan See. On June 3, 2005, the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherrry was ordained and enthroned as the first Metropolitan Archbisop of Kottayam. Upon Mar Kunnacherry’s retirement on January 14, 2006, Mar Mathew Moolakatt became the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kottayam. Mar Joseph Pandarasseril is the Auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Kottayam.

 

Migration of people from one place to another began in the very early stages of human existence.  Many people migrated to India from very ancient times.  Aryans, Jews, Parsees, Syrian Christians and Muslims came to India and made it their home. As a continuation of the migration of our forefathers from Edessa to Kodungalloor in AD 345, Knanaya families continued their migration from Kerala.  The first migration from Central Travencore in Kerala in the early 1950s was to Malabar in search of better living in a much fertile land with prosperous agriculture. The twentieth century has brought about substantial migration of people from India to other countries for a better life.  True to the legacy of our forefathers, many members of the Knanaya community have ventured out to the Middle East, Europe, Oceania and North America.  Today Knanites are believed to be found in every continent and virtually in every country. The deep sense of solidarity and fraternal collaboration of the community members encouraged them to practice their faith and traditions wherever they went.  As a result, Knanaya catholic associations came into being.  These associations were formed with the same concept of Knanaya catholic congress (KCC) which is the officially recognized lay organization of the archeparchy of Kottayam.

 

Even though Knanaya families started arriving in Australia since 1969, until 2000 their numbers were limited to a handful of doctors, engineers, teachers, nurses and some other highly skilled professionals. Since 2000, a second wave of migrants comprising a large number of nurses and other medical professionals reached the golden shores of Australia and Pacific. Knanaya families from other European destinations also started arriving here due to favourable climatic and economic conditions. Above all a large number of Knanaya students who arrived here for higher education added flair and flavour to the social life of our community in Australia. Now there are Knanaya associations in all the capital cities of Australia. Knanaya catholic associations were formed to promote Knanaya traditions and catholic faith and to impart them to the younger generations.  The formation of many and more Knanaya associations brought in unity among the members of Knanaya community and the relationship between Pravasi Knanaya associations and Kottayam archepirachy.  The formation of Pravasi Knanaya associations also brought forth better Knanaya awareness and appreciation among the younger generation.

 

The members throughout Oceania joined and conducted a very successful and historic first Oceania Knanaya Convention in Sept 2011 hosted by Knanaya Association Melbourne, Australia. This first ever Oceania Knanaya convention and formation of Diaspora Knanaya Catholic Congress (DKCC) Oceania region was a great historic step towards bringing the individual Pravasi Knanaya associations in the region under a single umbrella. Following the tremendous success of the first convention, the members realized the need and importance of forming a National Association of the Knanaya Catholics in Oceania. During the convention, a working committee was formed consisting of representatives from regional associations in Oceania under the leadership of Sri Saji Varakukalayil to form a national organization called "Knanaya Catholic Congress of Oceania” (KCCO). KCCO is a federation of the Knanaya Catholic Associations in Oceania. KCCO has now 9 member associations in Oceania. KCCO is a lay organization that strives to maintain and promote the knanaya culture, traditions and heritage.