NEW DELHI: Call it the evangelisation of a reverse order or revenge of the East on the West or a case of ‘emerging India’. Earlier, Western missionaries were coming to India to preach gospels, now Indian Christians are going to the West, taking over churches and preaching to the Westerners in their own language.
The Indian Christians are not stopping at just a few churches. They are opening new dioceses with several churches under them, and, interestingly, all follow prayers of the Eastern traditions.
“We have got a great opportunity to open churches in the US, the UK, Europe and Australia. It is a welcome phenomenon,” said Father Paul Thelekkat, a prominent voice among the Catholic community in the country.
The Indian fraternity is also acquiring old churches that were lying closed for ages in the Western countries.
In the acquisition process of the churches in the West, the earlier Anglican churches are now being affiliated to Indian Catholic church. Once acquired, these Western churches become Indian. A recent example is that of Most Holy Trinity Church in Yonkers, US. Built by Slovak-immigrant congregation in 1909, it was affiliated to New York Archdiocese. But now it has become St. Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church and belongs to the Kerala-based Malankara Catholic church.
“With natives losing faith in religion and the Western churches getting closed, it is the migrant Indian community that is giving a new lease of life to churches there,” said Father Joas Kuryanikkal who has served as parish priest in two churches in the US. He added that Western believers also attend masses in churches affiliated to Indian dioceses.
Similarly, St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church on Chestnut Street and a former Methodist church on Park Hill Avenue have been acquired by the Indian Orthodox congregations.
Indian churches have been opened in the UK too. The most recent was the opening of a church belonging to the Zero Malabar church in Presten, Lancashire, UK. The Zero Malabar fraternity at present has three dioceses in Melbourne and Chicago with many churches under it.