Sreekandamangalam village is a panorama of the charming scenes of nature. Set in a countryside boasting of prosperity, lush green fields, small hillocks and grasslands this village is a perfect example of natural harmony. It wakes in the morning to the folk songs of men and women engaged in agrarian pursuits. The wild brooks flowing in rhythm and the pristine woods swaying to the winds have a story to tell of their own. This village lies at the western border of the Athirampuzha parish. The dwellers of this region are staunch Catholics well rooted in the apostolic tradition of St. Thomas and bolstered by the Athirampuzha church established in AD 835.
This church has catered to the spiritual and religious needs of the faithful from ancient times and the people of Sreekandamangalam have also been part of this growth for years.This village is near the Athirampuzha market which is one of the most important commercial centres of Central Travancore. This proximity is also one of the various reasons for the people of Sreekandamangalam to foray in trade and engage actively in agriculture.
Mannarkunnu is considered the heart of Sreekandamangalam village. In the years gone by this place has transformed into a haven for the faithful. Chronicling the events that led to the construction of a church and the elevation of Mannarkunnu into an independent parish is of utmost importance for the people of this region and it has to be passed on to the future generations for keeping our heritage intact.
The foundation stone of the Manarkunnu Church was laid on 1st May 1924 on a piece of land donated to the Athirampuzha Church by Chackalackal Family. In 1930 when Rev.Fr.Kullamkulathil Devasia was the vicar of Athirampuzha, a small church was built here. Rev.Fr.Kalluparambil Gregorios who served as the assistant vicar was instrumental in consecrating the relics of St.Gregorios at the church altar.
A palm frond shed was later built before the church and catechism classes begin there in 1931.After a few years this old shed was dismantled and a new tile roofed shed with stone pillars was built. This shed served the purpose for the conduct of Sunday school and catechism classes till the fourth standard. For further studies students went either to the Athirampuzha church or the Lisieux Church. On the weekdays the students had education in the Kalari run by the local Aasan. This Kalari was the progenitor for imparting the first lessons to these children.
In 1959 when Fr. Joseph Ithiparambil was the vicar of Athirampuzha, a rectory/presbytery with two rooms was constructed in Mannarkunnu. During this period a Clarist Convent was established here. The Rev. Sisters resided in the rectory till the completion of their convent. Later the St.Gregorios upper primary school was started with Fr. Joseph Ithiparambil as the manager. He handed over the complete responsibility of running the school to the Clarist Sisters.
When Rev. Fr. Thuruthumalil became the Athirampuzha vicar, a new building replacing the old palm shed was constructed. In the new building, priests from the nearby Lisieux Seminary started to offer the holy mass. The prolonged petitions by the believers of this area (for a vicar) to the Reverend Bishop of Changanassery culminated in the appointment of Fr. Jose Nilathumukil as the assistant vicar of Athirampuzha, entrusted with the charge of Mannarkunnu on 16th September 1971. He was the first vicar of this church and the believers in Sreekandamangalam were very happy to have a vicar of their own. They were always ready to listen to the vicar and obey his commands. The new Vicar’s joint efforts with Vempanickal Kariachan and labour contribution from the people resulted in the construction of a new road from Mannarkunnu to Mulapally.
On May 16th 1973, Fr. Thomas Puthiyadom took charge as the new vicar. The following priests joined as the vicars till 1985.On 16th April 1974 Fr. Potananiyil, on 8th September 1975 Fr. Thomas Kallidikil , on 27th April 1976 Fr. Luke Pediackal , on 21st June 1977 Fr. Sebastian Kannanthanam , on 1st January 1979 Fr. George Vangipurackal on 8th May 1979 Fr. Thomas Thekekara ,on 24th May Fr. Cyriac Kottayarikal , on 15th September Fr. Joseph Palakunnel , in 1984 Fr. Thomas Maliyil and Fr. Thomas Kollapalil.
On 15th June 1985 Fr. Mathew Puthenpura became the vicar of Mannarkunnu. The present day church’s foundation stone was laid by Mar Joseph Powathil, Archbishop of Changanassery. This church was consecrated by him on 1st January 1993. Fr.Puthenpura spent some more years in this church even after his retirement.
After Fr.Puthenpura the following priests became the vicar of Mannarkunnu namely Fr. Mullasseri, Fr. Mathew Kalathil, and Fr. Alex Parapuram. The movement for an independent parish took momentum during the vicar ship of Fr. Thomas Parathara. The proposal for two independent parishes Mannarkunnu and Lisieux for the Sreekandamangalam village was accepted by the bishop. On 20th May 2002 Mar Joseph Powathil, Archbishop of Changanassery made a declaration elevating Mannarkunnu to the status of an independent parish.
As part of the Platinum Jubilee of the Mannarkunnu church, a small Kurushadi was built before the church and it was blessed by then Athirampuzha vicar Fr. Antony Poorokara. Fr. Thomas Parathara took active participation in the numerous discussions held at the Bishop’s house Changanassery regarding the formation of the new parish.
After the formation of the new parish, efforts were made for the construction of a cemetery. On 12th January 2003 the foundation stone for the cemetery was laid and it was blessed by Mar Joseph Powathil, Archbishop of Changanassery on 24th August 2003 when Fr. Thomas Parathara was the vicar of the church.
Fr. Chacko Ottalankal MSFS succeeded Fr. Thomas Parathara as the new vicar. He took initiatives for the construction of a new parish hall. The church bought a plot for this building. On 16th November 2007 Mar Joseph Perumthotam blessed the newly built Parish hall.
Fr.Alex Palamattam became the vicar after Fr. Chacko Ottalankal MSFS and under his tenure one more storey was added to the existing rectory for office purposes. Fr. George Nuzhaethadom took charge as the new vicar on 22nd February 2010.He played a pivotal role in the establishment of a new Flagstaff (Kodimaram) and a Stone Cross (Kalkurush) carved from a single block of granite. The Kodimaram was blessed by Mar Joseph Powathil Bishop Emeritus on 23rd October 2011 and the Kalkurush was blessed by Mar Joseph Perumthotam, Archbishop Changanassery on 17th November 2011. A chapel was also built during this time at the Panayathi junction.
Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar church, Cardinal Mar George Alenchery visited the parish and laid the foundation stone for the new rectory and Pope John Paul Memorial Hall on 3rd November 2011. Mar Joseph Perumthotam blessed these buildings on 8th September 2012. At present the parish is in the able hands of the new vicar Fr. Scaria Choorapuzha .