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Our Lady of the Rosary hosts Syro-Malabar Catholics

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

By Mike Dyer

ST. MARGARET MARY DEANERY — There was plenty of food and fellowship on a recent fall Sunday evening at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Greenhills. A group of Syro-Malabar Catholics celebrated with some Indian cuisine as family and friends gathered in a parish social hall after Holy Mass was held at the church next door.

Since Sept. 20, Syro-Malabars have celebrated Holy Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary after the members moved their place of worship from St. John the Evangelist Church in West Chester.

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Many children were present at the parish center for the social that followed Holy Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary on Oct. 11. (CT/Mike Dyer)

The Malabars are an Eastern Rite congregation. According to the the Syro-Malabar Church website, St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus, founded the church. He came to India in 52 A.D. and died as a martyr in Mylapore. The Syro-Malabar Church was known as the Church of the St. Thomas Christians until the 18th century, according to the website.

The local congregation is composed mostly of people of an Indian background. Several members live in the Greater Cincinnati area, including West Chester and Mason. Cincinnati is one of three missions in Ohio. Columbus and Cleveland also have members.

Several area members said Our Lady of the Rosary offers more space for children to learn catechism and language in a school format. Several members looked at the parish in June and decided it was a good fit. Our Lady of the Rosary Parish Council and Father Pete Helmlinger, pastor approved the measure as the host parish.

“It’s an opportunity for some cultural diversity,” said Bob Crowley, business manager of OLR. “There is a part in the Nicene Creed that says, ‘one holy and apostolic.’ The folks here at Our Lady of the Rosary have been extremely welcoming.”

Lovely Thomas, a Syro-Malabar trustee, said catechism is taught to pre-school children up to second grade. There are also instruction classes every other Sunday for the native language — Malayalam.

Thomas, who lives in Batesville, Ind., said the new parish fits nicely with the setup of the congregation. There is also more closet space for the sacristy. “We are happy with what we have and we have no intention to move,” Thomas said.

The World Mission Sunday Mass Oct. 18 at Sacred Heart Church in Fairfield was the only time several members weren’t expected at Our Lady of the Rosary. Members were looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate with other local Asian Catholics and were interested to learn more about the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s five-year Asian solidarity project.

“It’s a very good thing,” said Carmelite Father Joseph Shepherd, who presided at a recent Holy Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary. Father Shepherd, a missionary from India, is serving in the Covington diocese.

Abinesh Puthenpurackal was with his wife and daughter at Our Lady of the Rosary on a recent Sunday.

Puthenpurackal said he believes the project will be significant in helping people understand other cultures. He said he is looking forward to the opportunity and the ability to “get young people involved.”

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