The history of our parish moves along with the uneven development of Kuwait as a whole during the past five decades. People started coming to Kuwait in search of jobs on the exploration of petroleum products in Kuwait by the forties of this century. It is learnt that people from all around the world came to Kuwait in steamers and local boats, as there was no other transportation facility to Kuwait at that time. During a time when life itself was going through very difficult and strange situations, without proper facilities to live in and take rest, those people who migrated from religiously oriented places looked for a common roof for their daily prayers and worship. They felt it necessary to come together, irrespective of factions and denominations. It resulted in the formation of a congregational setup with all the Christian factions. They jointly gathered in the name of the Lord Jesus in The National Evangelical Church (NEC) in premises of the American Medical Mission. It was the only place of worship for expatriate Christians at that time.
That was the beginning of a new era for the non-Catholic Malayalee Christians in Kuwait. All Malayalee Christians came together under the banner of Kuwait Town Malayalee Christian Congregation (K.T.M.C.C.) in 1956 for common worship and study. But a group of 40 members belonging to the Indian Orthodox Syrian Church started their own worship, to uphold the Orthodox faith and beliefs, every Tuesday evening from 1957 with the blessings of H. H. Moran Mar Baselios Geevarghese II. Thus it was the first among all Indian, particularly Malayalee congregations, to function independently. Later, all other major congregations in NEC started their own independent parishes.
The Kuwait Parish of the Indian Orthodox Syrian Church was founded in the name of the declared saint of Malankara church, Parumala Mar Gregorios on Jan 15, 1957, but was nomenclated and approved in its General Body of 1994-1995 by the Diocesan Metropolitan as St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Syrian Church. Under the spiritual leadership of H. H. Baselios Marthoma Didymos I Valiya Bava, H. H. Baselios Marthoma Paulose II and the diocesan metropolitan H. G. Dr. Joseph Mar Dionysius, Kuwait parish is now functioning as a unit in the Kolkatta Diocese.
Our Parish was established in 1962 by the coming of Rev. Fr. George Kurian on a temporary basis for six months who used to visit Kuwait from Bahrain. A full time Vicar and continuous worship started from 1962 with 120 members in the register. This Parish was under the guidance of H.G. Alexios Mar Theodosius and H. G. Dr. Mathews Mar Athanasius (the late lamented Catholicose H. H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews I) as metropolitans in charge, at that time, of the Outside Kerala Diocese. In due course, it was part of the Bombay diocese under the late lamented H. G. Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios till 1979 from whence it was transferred to the Kolkatta diocese under the late lamented H. G. Dr. Stephanos Mar Theodosius. H. G. Dr. Stephanos Mar Theodosius shepherded our parish till His Grace’s passing on November 5th 2007. H. G. Geevarghese Mar Coorilos served as the acting Metropolitan till February 2009 when H. G. Dr. Joseph Mar Dionysius was appointed as the new Metropolitan of the Kolkatta diocese.
To cater to the growing membership and spiritual needs, our general body requested our diocesan metropolitan for the services of an Associate Vicar for our parish. The diocesan metropolitan approved the request and a full time Associate Vicar arrived in 2003.
List of the Vicars who served the Kuwait Parish
1. 1962 – 1966 Rev. Fr. C. V. John
2. 1966 – 1967 Rev. Fr. Thomas Moothedam
3. 1968 – 1971 Rev. Fr. A. V. Varghese
4. 1971 – 1974 Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Thykadavil
5. 1975 – 1978 Rev. Fr. C. J. Punnoose
6. 1978 – 1980 Rev. Fr. K. C. Mathews
7. 1981 – 1985 Rev. Fr. P. Philipose
8. 1985 – 1988 Rev. Fr. Abraham Varghese
9. 1988 – 1990 Rev. Fr. Abraham Iype Mangattu
1990 – 1992 Invasion break
1992 – 1994 Very Rev. Fr. Abraham Iype Mangattu Cor-episcopa
10. 1994 – 1997 Rev. Fr. Samuel John
11. 1997 - 2000 Rev. Fr. Dr. Abraham Oommen
12. 2000 - 2003 Rev. Fr. James Varghese
13. 2003 - 2005 Rev. Fr. Dr. George Mathew
14. 2003 - 2006 Rev. Fr. Jobby Peter (Associate Vicar)
15. 2005 - 2007 Rev. Fr. Kurian Abraham
16. 2006 - 2009 Rev. Fr. Jose K. Varghese (Associate Vicar)
17. 2007 - 2009 Rev. Fr. P. T. Thomas
18. 2009 - 2014 Rev. Fr. Jose Mathew
19. 2009 - 2012 Rev. Fr. George C. Varghese (Associate Vicar)
20. 2013 - 2016 Rev.Fr. Reji C Varghese (Associate Vicar)
21. 2014 - 2017 Rev. Fr. Raju Thomas
22. 2016 Rev. Fr. Jacob Thomas
23. 2017 Rev. Fr. Giju George
There is a tremendous growth in the registered membership from 120 in 1962 to 1977 as of date. Quite a good number of Orthodox Christians are yet to become registered members. With a family membership of more than 1819 and single membership of around 157, we have a congregation of about 6828 souls at present.
St. Mary’s Chapel, Salmiya
On July 5th 1996, for the convenience of the members living in Salmiya and the surrounding areas, it was decided to start a regular worship service there. It was dedicated to the Holy Virgin St. Mary. The St. Mary’s chapel was functioning at the Greek Catholic Church in Salmiya and later shifted to Salwa. During 2012, the parish rented a hall in Salmiya and the worship services are continuing there. Holy Qurbana is being offered by the Kuwait parish Vicar or Associate Vicar on all Fridays of every month.
St. George Chapel, Abbasiya
On September 30th, 2011, for the convenience of the members living in Abbasiya and the surrounding areas, it was decided to start a regular worship service there. Dedicated in the name of St. George, the chapel is functioning at a hall rented in Abbasiya for the purpose. Holy Qurbana is being offered by the Kuwait parish Vicar or Associate Vicar on all Fridays mornings and Saturday evenings of every month.
Priests from our parish
We are happy to note that three members of the parish took ordination as priests in our church: Rev. Fr. Philipose Tharakan (Thumpamon Diocese), Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Ramachan (Kolkatta Diocese), and Rev. Fr. M.T. Thomas (Kolkatta Diocese). In 2010, Br. Richi Tom Mathew, gained admission into the St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur and in 2012, Br. Geevarghese Mathew became the first admission from our parish to the Kottayam Theological Seminary in his divine call to attain priesthood.
Holy Qurbana is being celebrated on every Tuesday evening, every Friday morning except the fourth and every fourth Saturday mornings in National Evangelical Church, Kuwait City and on the fourth Friday morning and every evening on the other Fridays in St. Mary’s Chapel, Salmiya and on every Friday morning and every Saturday evening at the St. George Chapel, Abbasiya. All important festivals and services of the Church are observed with some adaptations to the local situation. The Parish Day and the Perunal fall on 2 November, the day of remembrance of Parumala Thirumeni.
Holy Qurbana in English is being celebrated every second Friday for the benefit of the children in order that our younger generation may participate in the Holy Sacrament.
We have four church choirs who take pains to make the services melodious and spiritually uplifting. They offer their service for the other Church and outside Christian programs.
We have a team of dedicated members including many youngsters to serve at the altar. Under the guidance of the senior members, they undergo frequent training and coordination sessions in order to make the services spiritually uplifting.
Our Sunday School has a registration of about 1200 students, which may be the largest in the Indian Orthodox Church. We have classes up to eleventh grade. Under the leadership of our Vicar, Associate Vicar and headmaster and a team of 125 dedicated teachers, classes are conducted every Thursday evening in NEC and every Friday morning (KG – Std 5) at St. George Chapel, Abbasiya. Both the parents and teachers deserve credit in up keeping the principles and timings to fulfill the mission in the most successful manner.
Students who have completed the 10th standard take the Sunday School Final Certificate (SSFC) examination.
Under the guidance of the Vicar and a senior and junior member as the Vice President, the Kuwait unit of Mar Gregorios Christian Students Movement is organizing many programs for the students and the youth of the Parish. It is functioning for the benefit of the teenagers who are the future leaders of the church by giving them orientation about the church and its traditions and motivating them for character development.
At present the church has got twenty four prayer groups:
St.Andrews St. Aprem St.Behenan St.Dionysius St.Elias St.George St.Gregorios St.Ignatius St.James St.Johns St.Josephs St.Jude St.Kuriakose St.Luke St.Mathews St.Marks St.Mary's St.Pauls St.Peters St.Philipose St.Thomas St.Stephens St.Barsouma Brahmavar Prayer
Prayer meetings are arranged conveniently every week in their respective areas. Our Vicar, Associate Vicar and quite a good number of parishioners and occasional visiting clergies are taking interest and effort to lead such prayer meetings.
Martha Mariam Samajam
The association of the ladies is meeting regularly. They are actively working and extending their valuable contribution to the fulfillment of various activities of our parish and church.
Charity and Development Projects
Our parish has contributed a lot towards charity and development of various projects in almost all dioceses in Kerala. Leaving the part it played in the initial periods for the development of outside Kerala and Bombay dioceses, it provided substantial assistance to the development of Kolkatta diocese ever since its inclusion in 1979. It is not possible to give a full picture about such financial assistance given before the Invasion. However it gives much pleasure and satisfaction to state that Kuwait Parish and its faithful members could help our church by way of donations and contributions of more than 3 crore Indian Rupees during the post liberation period.
It is worth mentioning that our charitable activities are not limited to our church and the state of Kerala; but are extended to the service of humanity without any discrimination of cast, creed or religion; all over India especially, the northeast regions. Our parish as a whole, its charitable organizations such as the Indian Orthodox Mercy Fellowship, Mar Baselios Movement, Mar Gregorios Movement and Parumala Mar Gregorios Memorial Charitable Society are contributing very valuable and remarkable services to this cause.
2006 – 2007 being our Jubilee year, the parish has undertaken four major projects in India. Our parish contributed 50 lakhs Indian Rupees towards the construction of a Geriatric Center in Parumala which is named the “Kuwait Home”, 12.5 lakhs Indian Rupees towards the Jubilee Memorial Hospital in Bhopal, 12.5 lakhs Indian Rupees towards the Sunday School Conference Hall in Vaakathaanam and 4 lakhs Indian Rupees towards the Tailoring Institute started under the Parumala Mar Gregorios Memorial Charitable Society.
As part of the Catholicate Centenary Year in 2011 – 2012, the parish has undertaken five projects in India contributing in excess of 50 lakhs Indian Rupees as Housing Aid for 50 houses, 10 lakhs Indian Rupees for the Mattanchery Koonankurishu Project, 5 lakhs Indian Rupees towards the Brahmavar Diocese Project, 5 lakhs Indian Rupees towards PMGM Financial Aid and 50,000 Indian Rupees towards the Makodia Mission Silver Jubilee Project. The parish also contributed 14 lakhs Indian Rupees towards the Diocesan Metropolitan’s Kolkatta St. Gregorios Educational & Mission Project.
Parumala Mar Gregorios Memorial Charitable Society
In order to have a commemoration of the Kuwait Parish and for the guidance of future generations, The Parumala Mar Gregorios Memorial Charitable Society (PMGMCS), in the name of our Patron Saint Parumala Mar Gregorios, was registered with the Registrar of Kerala Govt. Charitable Society Schemes. The Society is having its office in the land purchased for it near the Parumala church and is carrying out exemplary humanitarian help and services among the people of its immediate vicinity. The PMGM Charitable Society is owned, financed and controlled by the Kuwait Parish.
Family Welfare Scheme
With a view to help the very needy members of the Kuwait parish who meet with an untimely death or unfortunate end, our parish started a fund raising program through the Family Welfare Scheme. Only the members of the scheme are eligible to receive the benefits as required.
With a view to help the job seeking members of the Kuwait parish, our parish has established the Josel (Job Seeker’s Loan) Fund. Only the needy members of the parish who are currently unemployed are eligible to receive the benefits as required.
Emergency Relief Loan Scheme
The Emergency Relief Loan Scheme established by our parish provides a one-time loan in the case of the death of an immediate family member and to pay expenses such as school fees etc. Members of the parish with a limited monthly salary are eligible to receive the benefits as required.