Fatima Church

Fatima is a sleepy village in Portugal. Mother Mary appeared to three little shepherd kids Lucy, Jacintha & Francis six times during May to October 1917 at Fatima. All these apparitions were on 13th of the month, except in August, it was on 19th of that month . During these apparitions Our lady urged the kids to spread the message of Fatima, which was to refrain from sins for redentance. Following these apparitions the devotion to our Lady of Fatima spread world wide, with special emphasis on world peace and harmony. The first church in India dedicated “To Our Lady of Fatima” was consecrated at Elamkulam, under Archdiocese of Verapoly in the year 1951.

Elamkulam was then an undeveloped village, predominatly inhabited by Latin Catholics. They were under the jurisdiction of St. George’s Parish, Permannoor. Earlier the St.George Church was for nearly three centuries under the pastral control of St.Peters Church Venduruthy, which was believed to be built by the Portugueese during the 16th century.

Around 1945 an association called “Elamkulam Latin Catholic Association” was formed to pursue the cause of establishing a church at Elamkulam under the auspices of the then Vicar Rev. Fr. George Palliparambil and a community leader Mr. Shouriar Valluvassery. They took up the matter to the king/ruler of Cochin. But their subsequent attempts where not so successful. However in 1948, the Church construction committee consisting of the then Vicar. Rev. Fr. Augustin Mundanchery as President, V.T. Xavier Velikkath as Vice President, V.G Pappu Valluvassery as Secretary, Cheria Chacko Kattithara as Treasurer and V.A. Alexander Valluvassery as Trusty could start the construction work after obtaining the necessary approvals from the government and concerned local bodies.

Old Fatima Church

The foundation stone of the Church was laid by Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Attipetty the then Arch Bishop of Verapoly on 3rd September 1948. The services rendered by Late Grand Chev. L.M. Pylee in getting the sanction and approvals deserves special mention. The construction was completed mainly due/on the financial help and contributions from the general public. The Church was consecrated by the Arch Bishop on 8th December 1950, to become the first Church in India in the name of Our Lady of Fatima. However due to limted facilities here, initially there was only weekend mass. Later on, the parochail house was constructed in by Rev. Fr. George Ittikunath and Rev. Fr.Mark Pallan was the first vicar.

During his tenure, the much needed cemetry became operational. The required land for the existing church and the cemetry was donated by Late Shouriar George Valluvassery. As an overwhelming gratitute to the donor a ‘Gratis Grave’ was earmarked for him and his family at the centre of the cemetry. This church a small one in size with limited space and facilities soon became inadequate to meet the increasing requirements of growing Latin Catholic Community. Subsequently, the Chapels of Mary Immaculate , St. Christopher & St. James and the Chruch of St. Sebastian at Kadavanthra were established. St. Sebastian’s Church became an independent Parish.

Fatima Church Elamkulam

In additon St. John’s L.P. school started in 1926, is functioning in the church premises imparting basic education to general public. Hence efforts for spacious church building were started by the parish in 1967.

St. John's LP School

St. John's LP School

The Fatima Church Development Committee was formed on November 19th , 1967.

The office bearers of the committee where:
Rev. Fr.Varghese Vallauanthara – President
M. X. Mathews Mulakkayath – Vice President
K.H. Hillarion – Secretary
V.A. Pylee Valluvassery Fr. Secretary (Later on secretary from 8.5.1969 on subsequent resignation of K.H Hillarion).

N.M. Thomas Naduvilkunnath treasurer of this committee initiated activities for fund collection by fixing specific share from each family to be paid over a period of two years. The committee also issued collection coupons with pictures of our Lady of Fatima.

A new committee “Elamkulam Fatima Church Construction Committee” was constituted on 30.7.1972.

The office beares were:
Rev.Fr.Varghese Pavanathara – President
C.S Jacob Chackalakal — Vice President
V.A Jerome Valluvassery — Secretary
P M Benjamin Puthenthara — Joint Secretary
V.G George Valluvachery — Treasurer.

This committee’s work was remarkable. The uneven land comprising of paddy fields, puddles and marshy places were filled up, levelled and developed. The “shrine” of our lady of immaculate heart was lifted and shifted to nearly 100m away from its original location to the side of Fatima church road.

The foundation stone was laid by Rt. Rev. Msgr Francis Payyappilly, the then vicar general. But, these efforts could achieve little progress only due to financial difficulties. The “Fatima Parish Welfare Council” formed on 2/10/1977 with Rev. Fr. Joseph Varikkassery and VG Pappu Valluvassery as vice president, VA Jerome Valluvassery as secretary, PA Everest Pavana as joint secretary and PC Xavier as treasurer had done remarkable work in shaping the new church. They could procure the entire paddy field between the church land and the Thripunithura road. The Fields were reclaimed with the earth removed from the dry dock of Cochin Shipyard . The help rendered by shipyard officials M/s CO Jacob Cheripillil, K.A Cherian Kattuparambil are gratefully acknowledged.

A Committee has been constituted with VA Alexander Valluvassery as convener, Joseph Lacigrou Lanthaparbil consulting engineer, KV Varu Karumanchery, NM Joseph Nettaikodath, V.J Simon Valluvassery. A.J Joseph Anjiparambil and NM Raphael Nettaikodath as committee members has made outstanding contributions in the construction.

The new church building was designed by M/s Studiach, Ernakulam, Rev. Fr. Cleetus Parambaloth, the Priest-Architect of Verapoly Archdiocese created the Altar. The simplicity, beauty and elegance of the Altar is appreciated by everybody who comes to the church.

The financial assistance and co-operation from our Vicars Rev. Fr. Francis Pinheiro and Rev. Fr. Varghese Vallauanthara were significant. The construction would have never been completed without their timely help and guidance. A grateful Parish always remember and acknowledge them with reverence.

Funds for construction was always a big problem. Money was collected from a large section of people. Anybody who contributed Rs. 2000/- could sponsor one of the 38 pillars on which the church was built.

Unexpected help came from all walks of life. Mr. K.J. Raphael Kadeparambil donated the crucifix. The Statue of Our Lady of Fatima was given by Anthony Joseph Valluvassery. The altar was donated by T.T George Thyparambil. Sacrari was donated jointly by P.P Stanly and V.A Francis. N.D Jacob Nedumparambil did the entire mosaic flooring of the altar. Dr. Varghese Pulikkal gave the sound system. NM Thomas Glory &co. gave the fans. The beautiful Church bell was from St. Francis Assissi Cathedral through the personal intervention of Rev.Dr. Alexander Vadakkumthala. The list is endless. A grateful parish gratefully acknowledges all the help to cooperation rendered by the multitude of people who toiled for the completion of the church.The new church was consecrated by his grace most Rev.Dr. Joseph Kelanthara on 11th October 1981. The sacristy was built in 19.. by Rev. Fr. George Vettaparambil.

Thus the construction was completed by the fourth committee formed for the purpose . The first three committees formed could very well do the ground work and collected some funds. The services rendered by Rt. Rev. Dr. Antony Thannikot. Aux. Bishop and our dear vicar Rev. Fr. Joseph Karikkassery (now Bishop of Kottappuram) was most remarkable, without which the construction would have never been completed. An indebted parish will remember them for ever and cherish their services for ever.