Syro Malabar Mission (SyMM)
Know the Mission and Be a Missionary
"Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to all creation”. (Mark 16.15). This mandate of Jesus declares the importance of proclaiming the Gospel by every Christian to all nations. Syro Malabar Church considers Mission as one of its primary responsibilities. Towards carrying out its missionary activities, the Church has set up a Commission and an office at Mount St Thomas, Kakkanad, the headquarters of the Syro Malabar Church. They are ‘The Commission for Evangelization and pastoral care of the migrants and the ‘Syro Malabar Mission Fund’ (SyMM). The Commission for Evangelisation facilitates and coordinates the missionary activities of the church through mission consultations, policies, guidelines and mission awareness programmes. At the same time, the mission department known as Syro Malabar Mission (SyMM) supports the missionary activities, practically in the field, through various support programmes and the association of benefactors.
The Syro Malabar Mission (SyMM)
Syro Malabar Mission (SyMM) is an initiative of the Syro Malabar Synod for awakening missionary awareness in the Mother Church and supporting the missionary activities in its mission territories.
I. Context of Establishment: The XIX Synod, while planning for the celebration of the Syro-Malabar Mission Year (2011-2012), decided to Start an organization (Funding Agency) to help the needs of the Mission (E.16) . As per that Synodal decision, an “Association of Supporters of the Syro-Malabar Mission (ASSM)” was formed on 01October 2011. His Beatitude Mar George Cardinal Alencherry appointed Mar Gregory Karottemprel, the Bishop Emeritus of Rajkot Eparchy, as the first director of ASSM. Mar Gregory did an outstanding pioneering work and was relieved in August 2014. His Excellency Bp Mar Raphael Thattil took charge as the successor on 22nd August 2014.The Synod of Bishops of August 2016 renamed the ASSM association as Syro- Malabar Mission (SyMM). Fr Siju George Azhakath MST serves as the fourth secretary and SrNamratha MSJ serves as the 6 th office in charge of SyMM office.
II. The Vision and Scope: ‘Know the Mission and Be a Missionary’ is the saying of Syro Malabar Mission. The purpose of SyMM as envisaged by the Synod of the Syro Malabar Church is to bring all the families of the Syro-Malabar Church into constant contact and communion with the Mother Church and its missions. Towards this, SyMM attempts to create missionary awareness in the hearts of the Syro-Malabar faithful and avail them the opportunities to associate with the missionary activities through its programmes. All the 9,00,000 families of the Syro Malabar Church are within the scope of SyMM.
SyMM facilitates its purpose of establishment through various annual and occasional programmes. They are as follows:
1. Syro Malabar Mission Week
Celebration of Syro Malabar Mission Week or "Preshithavaaram is one of the annual programmes of SyMM. The Syro Malabar Mission Week is celebrated from the 6th to the 12th of January every year. SyMM reminds the eparchies, Religious Congregations, parishes, pious unions and Christian institutes regarding the Mission week Celebration every year. The procedures followed towards Mission Week Celebrations are given below.
Major Archbishop issues a circular on Mission Week celebration to all the faithful of the Syro Malabar Church to be read on the previous Sunday of the Mission Week. The Sunday that falls in the mission week is the Syro Malabar Mission Sunday. SyMM coordinates the Eparchies, institutes and pious unions by supplying materials to support the celebration. SyMM prepares and circulates content and material like prayer cards, the list of programmes, calendars, brochures, promotional videos, envelopes and magazines for the celebrations. SyMM avails them to the eparchies or the headquarters of the pious unions for further distribution to smaller units. The fund collected on the Mission Sunday of the Mission Week is to reach the SyMM office by the end of February. Mission week and mission Sunday celebrations help SyMM to gather the fund for the missions. This fund is utilised to support the missionary activities in the mission territories through different mission projects.
2. Sponsor a Missionary Priest
Sponsor a Missionary priest is a programme of SyMM that helps the well-wishers of the Church get associated with the mission through prayer and sponsorship. SyMM identifies and motivates the sponsors who can share Rs One Lakh to support the missionary formation of brothers; ascribed to mission eparchies or Congregations. SyMM facilitates all formalities and documentation related to recruitment of sponsors, allotment of sponsorship, time-bound mutual correspondences and the fund transfer. SyMM helps the seminarians grow in spiritual and healthy contact with the benefactors through mutual correspondence, especially during Christmas and Easter seasons. SyMM facilitates the participation of sponsors in the Holy Orders. In the past ten years, one hundred and six (106) missionary priests currently working in different missions and 176 brothers at different phases of missionary formation received sponsorships through SyMM. SyMM started this programme in the academic year 2011-12
3. Sponsor a Missionary Sister
Sponsor a Mission Sister Programme associates the faithful who can share up to Rs fifty-thousand to support the missionary formation of religious sisters. The formalities and functions of this programme are similar to that of the Sponsor a Missionary priest programme. SyMM started this programme in the academic year 2014-15. In the past seven years, twenty-four (24) sisters made their first profession and thirty-one (31) candidates are under missionary formation, who were supported through SyMM
4. Sponsor a Missionary Kit
Sponsor a missionary kit is a programme that associates faithful with those economically weak mission centres who struggle to find resources to buy vestments and religious articles to do the Divine Worship. SyMM office assists them to buy religious articles like vestments, vessels, Bible, Casa, Patenetc, Thuksa, Tabernacle, monstrance, incense etc for the Divine liturgy. SyMM has helped ten mission centres so far with a total amount of Rs 1, 49,164.
5. Mission Projects
SyMM facilitates the distribution of the Syro Malabar Mission Sunday collection through Mission Projects. Every mission eparchy or mission region under missionary Congregations or societies are welcome to submit mission projects to the SyMM office. The SyMM Executive body, in its periodic sitting headed by the SyMM Director, goes through each mission projects and sanctions or rejects the fund allotment. A maximum fund that can be allocated to any single mission project is Rs 5 lakhs. Priority is always given to mission projects that focus on direct evangelisation and new mission centres. In the past ten years, SyMM has supported 93mission projects and distributed an amount of 3, 54, 96,600.
6. Mission Preaching
Mission Preaching is one of the ways through which SyMM spreads mission awareness among the faithful. SyMM promotes parishes and pious unions to have missionary sharing whenever possible. Mission preaching is an important programme of the annual Mission Week celebrations. SyMM also arranges mass mission preaching in which bishops, priests, sisters or laity make their sharing of mission experience. For example, mission preaching made by bishop Raphael Thattil attracted several hundreds of people at Thodupuzha in 2020. As result, many people developed a passion for the missions and made visits and substantial contribution to the development of many North Indian missions.
7. Mission Visits
Many faithful expressed their willingness to visit the missions after listening to mission preaching done by the bishops and missionaries. The SyMM encouraged and made necessary arrangements for their mission visits. Many such groups have started supporting the missions with prayer and other resources required for the mission expansion. Some groups have gone to the extent of constructing churches where people accepted the Christian faith recently.
8. Promotion of Individual Sponsors
Mobilising fund from the eparchies in Kerala through the Mission Week collection has become a difficult task due to two successive floods and the pandemic COVID-19 since 2018. It is nothing but the Divine Providence that SyMM could identify and encourage individuals with a passion for mission who can also mobilise resources. Today SyMM have a few individuals who have very generously contributed to different missions all over India. Many Individual sponsors kindly support the mission activities. Mr Sebastian, who worked in the Middle East for over three decades and took VRS to serve the mission is an example. He with his spiritual friends supported many of our missions in India, spending over two crore rupees. This association from the part of SyMM to the mission activities of the Syro Malabar Church is a contribution, especially in the context of flood and pandemic.
9. House Visits
The SyMM visits the sick, aged and people who need special prayers among its benefactors at their homes, especially during the Lenten season. The benefactors are happy and more inspired through such house visits. SyMM visited over 45 homes in the past three years.
10. Support to the benefactors
SyMM keeps constant and healthy relationship with the benefactors and support in their special needs. There are many benefactors who are aged/sick and have their children working abroad. SyMM is always at their prayer service on their special needs and days of importance. Their prayer requests are remembered at the daily adoration held at Mount St Thomas, Kakkanad. There are also a number of occasion where SyMM helps them to identify good medical and educational services and admissions.
11. Monthly Magazine- Mission Support
SyMM prepares and issues a monthly magazine named 'Mission Support’ every month. The magazine communicates the developments in the mission territories, introduces new missions and news from the missions, special requirements and requests for the mission advancements, a list of contributors in the previous month etc. The magazine also attempts to present the missionary perspective of major feasts and events through message of the Director and editorial.
12. COVID-19 and special programmes by SyMM
The pandemic Covid-19 has severely affected the functioning of SyMM especially because it deals with funds. The eparchies and Christian institutes were hesitant to transfer the Mission Sunday collections citing the financial crisis caused by the pandemic. Many benefactors who had committed with sponsorships are also finding it difficult to fulfil the pledges. SyMM had to cancel most of its regular programmes and annual get together of benefactors due to COVID-19. Holy Ordinations and First professions were held in simple format. SyMM tried to keep its programmes going with timely adaptations and new programmes despite the hurdles of COVID-19. They are as follows:
• Implemented three mission projects at Mandya, Silchar & Jaipur (Rs 13 Lakhs)
• Published Mission Support Magazines with more articles and features (monthly)
• Each issue introduced a new mission and its requirements to benefactors
• New Church building at Orissa for new Christian community: (Angelo Paul)
• Conducted Webinars with mission themes for mission sharing and awareness
• Prepared posters, video messages, activities for mission awareness to children
• Made Home visits to sick and elderly (14 visits) following Covid-19 protocols
• Organised mission visits for laity to missions (2 groups from Thodupuzha)
• Regular personal phone calls to all the benefactors seeking their wellbeing
• Gathered special prayer intentions and made intercessions at Adoration
• Increased the frequency of correspondences through emails and WhatsApp
• Documentation at office was strengthened with data processing and reports
• Attended Holy Ordinations supported by SyMM (Five Ordinations)
• Mr Sebastian who was introduced to different Syro Malabar Missions thorough SyMM mobilised and utilised over one crore rupees during COVID -19 at different missions
The establishment of SyMM is a milestone in the history of the missionary activities of Syro Malabar Church. As envisaged by the Synod of Syro Malabar Church, SyMM attempts to work out its motto, Know the Mission and Be a Missionary, through its multiple programmes.