The Diocese of Thuckalay, since its establishment, has been pondering over the thought of extending its educational outreach in the field of higher education. Mar George Alencherry, the first bishop of the diocese, had been trying to find an appropriate location for the establishment of an institution for higher education. Several locations were explored and inspected with the help of priests and lay leaders of the Diocese. The new Bishop of the Diocese, Mar George Rajendran, SDB did not let down the aspirations of the priests, religious and faithful of the Diocese and carried the dream forward and took the decision to establish the institute of higher education in Soosaipuram, Karinkal and named it as St. Alphonsa College of Arts and Science. All efforts were made for the rapid construction of the College. Finally, on June 31, 2014, St. Alphonsa College of Arts and Science was founded with 148 students in four departments, such as Commerce, English, Physics and Mathematics, in a glittering ceremony, which began with seeking of Divine Blessings through Holy Mass.
Presently, St. Alphonsa College of Arts and Science, Soosaipuram, Karinkal, is situated in a very pulsating, interwoven community where academic curiosity and creativity prosper. The present building was inaugurated on January 17, 2016 in an event attended by several dignitaries and participated enthusiastically by the students of the College.
St. Alphonsa, Patron of Our College
St. Alphonsa was born on 19th August 1910 as the fourth child of Joseph and Mary Muttathupadath, in the parish of Kudamaloor, Kottayam district in the state of Kerala. She was baptized on 27th August 1910. Her baptismal name was Anna and her pet name Annakutty. Her mother passed away three months after her birth.
Annakutty started her schooling at Arpookara and left for Muttuchira Government School for pursuing her studies from the fourth class onwards under the immediate supervision of her maternal aunt, Annamma Muricken. The aunt brought her up extremely with affection, but also equally strictly. Her one ambition was that the child should be brought up as a respectable housewife for a deserving bridegroom. Annakutty had a vision of St. Theresa of Liseux whose life inspired her to become a religious. She therefore did not yield to any marriage proposal. Finally, when she was almost compelled to be betrothed at the Church, she extricated herself from it by voluntary burning her foot placing it on ash pit of burning husks. Against such determine resistance, the aunt succumbed to her desire and permitted her to join a convent.
Annakutty joined Clarist Convent at Bharananganam in 1927 on the feast of Pentecost. She received the veil postulant on 2nd August 1928 with the name Alphonsa. Her vestition was on 19th May 1930. Later she joined the St. Theresa’s School Chenganacherry for higher studies, on completing which she engaged in teaching for a period of one year at Vakakkad. Sr. Alphonsa entered the novitiate on 12th August 1935. During this period, she had a severe attack of hemorrhage and it was feared that she would have to be sent back. But on the ninth day of novena held by her and the community seeking intercession of Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavera, she was miraculously cured. She completed the novitiate and made the solemn profession of her religious vows on 12th August 1936.
Sr. Alphonsa continued to have her repeated spells of sickness and pain. She was on a bed of thorns torn and tortured by excruciating pain and prolonged agony. She always rejoiced in the lord and magnified Him. She longed to suffer even more for her own sanctification and that of the world.
She constantly advised her companions and novices to accept suffering cheerfully citing the Biblical references to the grain of wheat which has to fall down and decay for raising new sprouts; it has to be in the ground in order to be turned into hosts for transformation as the body of Our Lord. She also reminded them of the grapes which have to be crushed for yielding wine to become the blood of the Lord.
Her death (28th July 1946) was unnoticed by the public. The funeral was simple and thinly attended. But soon the school children, who loved her received favours through her intercession. Her tomb at Bharananganam turned into a great centre of pilgrimage attracting people from far and near.
His Excellency Cardinal Tisserant inaugurated the diocesan process for her beatification on 2nd December 1953. The Long diocesan and subsequent apostolic processes bore fruit when on 9th November 1984 the Holy Father officially declared that she had practiced the Christian virtues heroically. A miracle wrought through her intercession was also formally approved by the Pope on 6th July 1985.
Providence has been pleased to bestow on this generation the grace to see a daughter of the soil, a seed of the ancient Christian community of Kerala and India, beatified (8th February 1986) in her homeland by the Supreme Pontiff during his visit to this chosen land.
Sr. Alphonsa was declared as Saint by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, 12th October 2008.
St. Alphonsa is the Patron Saint of the College and she continues to intercede for the students of the College to grow up into good and God fearing human beings in addition to their excellent academic performance.
Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Thuckalay
On April 29, 1955 the Holy Father Pius XII by the Bull “Multorum Fidelium” extended the territory of the Diocese of Changanacherry beyond the river Pamba in Kerala up to Kanyakumari, the southernmost boundary of India. From that day the Bishop of Changanacherry sent priests to be pastors of the Syro-Malabar faithful who has settled in different parts of the extended area. Among the parishes and mission stations instituted by these priests, there were the five Catholic communities of Arukani, Pathukani, Netta, Penu and Anamukham in the district of Kanyakumari. The faithful of these communities were mainly Syro-Malabar Catholics who had migrated from Central Kerala. From 1960 onwards priests from the Archdiocese of Changanacherry started mission work in the area of the Kanyakumari District. As a result of this missionary work people by and large got converted to Catholic faith. The missionaries trained them in Syro-Malabar Liturgy and spirituality and by these developed into parishes and mission stations mainly in the Vilavancode and Kalkulam Taluks in Kanyakumari District. From 1967 onwards the priests from the Congregation of Mary Immaculate (C.M.I.) also joined the Syro-Malabar mission work in Kanyakumari District. Religious Sisters came forward together with the Diocesan and C.M.I priests to start convents and auxiliary mission service. Their service dates back to 1965 when a convent of the Sacred Heart Sisters was founded at Manjalummood, which was later, shifted to Mukkoottukal. The Bishops who have contributed to the mission work in Kanyakumari District up to the formation of the diocese are Archbishop Mar Mathew Kavukatt, Archbishop Mar Antony Padiyara and Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil.
The Diocese of Thuckalay was erected by the papal Bull “Apud Indorum” on November 11, 1996. It was erected separating the area of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry that extended over to the state of Tamilnadu. This Diocese is granted jurisdiction over the whole Kanyakumari District and the Taluk of Shenkottai of Tirunelveli District. The then Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry Fr. George Alencherry was appointed the first bishop of the new Eparchy. The establishment of the diocese and the appointment of the first Bishop were promulgated on December 18, 1996. Very Rev. Fr. George Alencherry was ordained Bishop on February 2, 1997. Mar George Alencherry was elected as the Major Archbishop of Syro Malabar Church; as a result, Rev. Fr. Philip Kodianthara was appointed as the eparchial administrator of the Diocese. On August 24, 2012, Fr. George Rajendran, SDB, was declared as the next Bishop of the Diocese, whose Episcopal Ordination and Installation took place on September 16, 2012 at Sacred Heart Church, Padanthalumoodu.