Two newly established Personal Parishes are thought to be the first for Syro-Malabar Catholics in Europe

Syro-Malabar Catholics in England have been given two personal parishes by the Bishop of Lancaster, the first time such parishes have been established for the Indian eastern Church in Europe.

The two personal parishes, St Alphonsa in Blackpool and Ss Kuriakose Elias Chvara and Euphrasia in Preston, will cater for the growing number of Syro-Malabar Catholics in that part of England.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is an Eastern Church in full communion with Rome. Personal parishes serve specialised groups of people with particular pastoral needs.

Earlier this year St Ignatius church in Preston, which had suffered from declining Mass attendance, was saved after the Syro-Malabar Catholics were asked to take it on. Several hundred live in the town, many employed by the hospital.

Fr Mathew Jacob of the Syro-Malabar Church thanked Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster, saying in a statement: “We are very pleased and very grateful to the Bishop. It is recognition by the diocese of the place of the Syro-Malabar Church here.”

He said the personal parishes gave members of his church a sense of identity and reference point, as well as “recognition, security and stability to our people”.

A chaplaincy for Syro-Malabar Catholics was originally established by Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue in 2004.