Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church – Cardinal Mar Raphael Thattil

Mar Raphael Thattil, born on 21 April 1956 in Thrissur to Ouseph and Thresia, has been a significant figure in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, ascending to the role of Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and Metropolitan Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly since January 2024. He was baptized on 30 April 1956 and grew up in a family with six siblings: Lazar (late), Thomas, Baby (late), Francis, Sosannam, Joy, and John. After completing his primary education at St. Thomas College High School, Thrissur, he entered St. Mary’s Minor Seminary, Thope, on 4 July 1971.

His ecclesiastical studies were undertaken at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, culminating in his ordination as a priest by Mar Joseph Kundukulam on 21 December 1980, at Thrissur Doloures Basilica. Demonstrating a profound commitment to his spiritual and academic growth, Mar Raphael pursued higher studies in Rome, where he obtained a doctorate in Oriental Canon Law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute, focusing his thesis on “Clerical Formation in the Syro Malabar Church: A Historico-Juridical Study.”

Throughout his ecclesiastical career, Mar Raphael Thattil has served in various capacities, initially as Assistant Vicar, Prefect, and Procurator in several parishes before embarking on his higher studies. Upon returning from Rome, he held significant positions within the Archbishop’s house, including Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, and Judge, showcasing his versatile leadership and deep understanding of Canon Law.

His commitment to theological education was evident when he was appointed the project officer and subsequently the first Rector of the Marymatha Major Seminary, a role he served from 1998 to 2006. His leadership extended beyond educational realms into various committees and commissions, underlining his holistic approach to church governance and community service.

On 10 April 2010, Mar Raphael’s ecclesiastical journey took a significant turn when he was ordained as Bishop, becoming the Auxiliary Bishop of Thrissur and Titular Bishop of Bruni. In 2014, he embraced a broader mission as the Apostolic Visitor for the Syro-Malabar faithful residing outside their traditional territorium proprium, further extending his pastoral care and administrative acumen.

His episcopal service reached a new milestone when Pope Francis named him the first Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Shamshabad on 10 October 2017, with his installation taking place on 7 January 2018. This appointment underscored his leadership and dedication to the Syro-Malabar Church, marking a significant phase in his mission to serve the faithful across broader geographical and cultural landscapes.

The apex of Mar Raphael Thattil’s ecclesiastical journey was reached on 8 January 2024, when the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Synod elected him as the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church. This election positioned him as the Father and Head of nearly five million Syro-Malabar faithful around the globe, affirming his lifelong dedication to the Church’s service. His enthronement took place at the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Curia, Mount St. Thomas, Kakkanad, Kerala, on 11 January 2024, marking a new era of leadership and pastoral care in the Syro-Malabar Church. Mar Raphael Thattil’s journey from a devoted seminarian to the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church reflects his profound dedication to his faith, the Church, and its people, promising continued spiritual leadership and growth for the Syro-Malabar Catholic community.