This is one of the Forane parishes of Diocese of Alleppey
There are about 1700 families in the parish. The parish is divided into BCC (Basic Christian Community) units where parishioners gather weekly or monthly for prayers and Christian fellowship.
Fr. Stephen J Punnackal is the Rector, Vicar Forane and Parish Priest of Basilica and his assistants are Fr. Alexander Kocheekaranveetil and Fr. Jose Pittappillil SJ. Fr. George Bibalan Arattukulam is the Chaplain of St. Rita's Church.
A brief history of St.Rita’s Chapel
The history of St.Rita’s chapel dates back to the formation of the pious catholic Associations in the local level. Fr Joseph Koilparambil, S J, took the leadership in forming a catholic association of women in Arthunkal. Later, Fr.John F perera continued the thrust of the association by renaming it as Christian Women Association. The association was in dire need of the place and the office to start its functions. It was the benevolent gift of Mr.Bava Sebastian that he was ready to forgo the 22 cents of his land and gave it to the Catholic Association of Women. The association was in fullfledge in doing service to the Reethalayam community. The portfolios of the association were given in the following way: Smt.Thankamma Vinamsy as the president, Smt. Bava Sebastian as treasure, Smt.Devisa Joseph as the Secretary. The association got new vigour and enthusiasm when Fr. Paul Lewis was appointed as the new chaplin of Reethalayam. In the beginning association gathered in the houses of each member. Later the house that was thatched with coconut palm was built. Later, this house was used as St.Rita’s Chapel and old age home for the women. The in charge of the old age home was given to the sisters of the visitation congregation. At present the chapel community consists of 538 families with 3000 members. The families are divided into 16 basic Christian communities. There are around 400 students doing their catechetical formation on Sundays. The spiritual and material needs of the community is looked after by the resident Chaplin
St. Sebastian’s Visitation Convent
St. Sebastian’s Visitation Convent, the power house of Arthunkal Parish was inaugurated on 15th April 1948by H.E Rt. Rev. Dr. Jose Alvernus Bishop of Cochin diocese. By the hard work of many Rev. Priests especially Rev. Fr. Silverious Jackson who was the parish priest of St. Andrew’s church Arthunkal, Rev. Fr. Joseph Koilparambil SJ, Rev. Fr. John Pereira, Rev. Fr. Paul Louise, Rev.Fr. Justine Karumacherry together with God’s blessings we could open a religious house in this parish.
Rev. Sr. Mary Ritha was the first Superior of this convent. Fr. Mary Bastin, Sr. Mary Aloysius and Sr. Mary Perpetua were the initial members of this community. Along with their duties as teachers of St. Francis Assisi L.P. School, these sisters kept apart enough time for teaching catechism and carrying out all other parish work, in association with the parish priest. They used to visit each and every family of the parish and worked enthusiastically for the spiritual and physical growth of the people of Arthunkal Parish. Since 1958, sisters were teaching at St. Francis Assisi high School and Nursery School. From 1996 to 2018 Sr. Celina Antony was the Principal of St. Francis Assisi Higher Secondary School and her excellent service was well appreciated by everyone. It was in June 1960, Rev. Fr. Daniel Kurisinkal who was the Parish Priest of St. Andrew’s Church shifted the L.P. School to convent compound from the church compound., Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Arattukulam, the first Bishop of the diocese of Alleppey stayed here in the hospital compound after his retirement and was looked after by the sisters of St. Sebastian’s Convent.
The beginning of St. Sebastian’s Visitation hospital as a small dispensary was on 1966 26th May. It was started by the financial aid and encouragement of Rev. Fr. Dennis Arasarkadavil. Let us remember and pray for his soul with extreme gratitude. At present there are 20 sisters in this convent under the Superiorship of Rev. Sr. Mary Geena. Two of them are teaching at St. Francis Assisi L.P School and St. John Paul II nursery school. Fourteen of them are working at St. Sebastian’s Visitation Hospital and offer selfless service for the people of this locality. They are also doing innumerable good works in collaboration with the parish priest. The most wonderful job they do is that we offer the fragrance of praise and worship in front of the God Almighty for the wellbeing of the people they serve and thus become the powerhouse of prayer in our Parish.
Lisieux Nivas Convent
Lisieux Nivas Convent was blessed by V. Rev. Fr. Christopher M. Arthasseril on 30th September 2017. It was erected by bifurcating the St. Sebastian Visitation Convent. St. Sebastian Visitation Nursing School building itself is the Convent. The community comprises of eleven sisters and they extend their service in nursing school and St. Sebastian Visitation Hospital. They also do ministry at St. Andrew’s Basilica and Reethalayam Chapel by animating the Basic Christian Community, taking classes for the children in the parish catechetical centre, and decorating the altar. Sisters take special interest in house visits especially visiting the sick and counseling for girls. Superior of the house is Rev. Sr. Margret Michael.
Holy Innocent Visitation Bhavan Yuvaswapna, Arthunkal
The Holy Innocent Visitation Bhavan, Yuvaswapna was blessed by H.E. Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter M. Chenaparambil on 14th May, 2001. The vision and mission of this community is to conduct various programmes for the spiritual and educational development of the youth and the children in association ‘Yuvaswapna,’ the centre of diocesan youth formation. Various camps and retreats related to The Holy Childhood, Couples’ ministry, Jesus youth, etc., are conducted here. There are three sisters residing in this community of which one is serving at St. Andrew’s Basilica, Arthunkal as the Secretary. They also provide vocational skill development programmes for ladies by conducting tailoring classes. They make sure to give special consideration for the financially backward children by offering them fr e training as well as sewing machines. They also assist the Priest in charge of Yuvaswapna, in each and everything possible.
St. Andrew’s Basilica has 1700 families. To facilitate the pastoral care of the families the entire parish is divided into 54 Basic Christian Communities under 2 wards. The number of families in each unit varies from twenty five to forty. Each family unit is given a Saints name and known in the name of particular Saint. Every year each family unit celebrates its heavenly patron’s feast as its anniversary.
As per the diocesan directions each family unit gathers in one of its members’ house every month and conducts monthly meetings. The BCC bulletin issued from the diocese is read and discussed in the monthly meeting. The monthly meeting begins with Rosary and ends by intercessory prayers.
In addition to the monthly meetings in the month of October each family unit conducts rosary in each houses and during the Lenten season they also pray the Way of the cross.
A central committee under the leadership of parish priest and director along with Rev. Sisters and animators guide the BCC. The central committee organizes a meeting for the leaders of the family unit in the last Sundays of every month.
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PIN: 688 530
Tel: +91 9400152374
+91 478 2573560, 2572374
+91 9744663560 (Rector)