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Vijnanabhavan Kothamangalam

Faith Formation in the Eparchy

The eparchy of Kothamangalam was established in 1956 by Pope Pius XII, bifurcating the eparchy of Ernakulam. The new eparchy included the foranes of Kothamangalam, Mailacombu and Arakuzha. Rt. Rev. Mgr. Mathew Pothanamuzhy was appointed the first bishop of the eparchy.

Among the various pastoral activities faith formation was given prime importance. Rev. Fr. Varghese Mothakunnel was in charge of the catechetical activities. He divided the whole diocese in to seven zones, viz., Kothamangalam, Arakuzha, Mailacombu, Muthalakodam, Karimannoor, Vazhakulam and Marika, to make the activities systematic and more effective. Faith education was given to students dividing them in to three groups, viz., Lower Primary, Upper Primary and High School. A centralized system of conducting examinations was also adopted.

Rev. Fr. John Vallamattam assumed the office of director in 1960. The office was given the name Vijnanabhavan. In 1973 Rev. Fr. Mathew Valiamattam was appointed as the director of Vijnanabhavan.

From 1977 onwards the catechetical activities in the diocese gathered new momentum under the patronage and guidance of the new Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. George Punnakottil. Rev. Fr. Mathew Valiamattam (1973-1981), Rev. Fr. George Oliappuram (1981-1985) and Rev. Fr. George Kottoor (1985-1987) served as directors successively for a decade. Vijnanabhavan Book Stall was the initiative of Rev. Fr. Joseph Mulanjanani who assumed the office of director in 1987. Rev. Fr. Cherian Varikattu (1993-1994), and Rev. Fr. Jose Kizhakkel (1994-1997) served as directors in succession and contributed much to the catechetical formation of the students of the diocese. Rev. Fr. Stanley Kunnel, after his specialization in catechesis, assumed the office of director in 1997. The bifurcation of the diocese in 2002 necessitated a rearrangement of the zonal divisions. The whole faith formation was focused around seven regions, viz., Kothamangalam, Muvattupuzha, Vazhakulam, Thodupuzha, Muthalakkodam, Karimannoor and Paingottoor. Fr. Stanley also rendered exquisite service as the joint secretary of the Synodal Commission for Catechesis during the period from 2004 to 2011.

Rev. Fr. Jose Arackal was the director from 2006-2009. He successfully introduced the one week intensive program called Viswasolsav. The catechetical department of Changanacherry has been giving constant support and assistance in the introduction of the scheme and the preparation of the text books.

Rev. Fr. George Thekkekara served as the director from 2009 to 2012. The forane system was given prominence and the catechetical activities became focused around twelve foranes. The catechetical committee was also reorganized making it a representative body of forane directors and forane representatives and other nominated and ex-officio members. Rev. Fr. Sebastian Namattam was the director of Vijnanabhavan from 2012 to 2015. It was under his tenure that the Viswasolsav work books began to be published from the diocese itself based on the Bible. Rev. Fr. Joseph Ezhumayil is serving as the director since 2015 onwards. Bible Nursery text (Unneesoyude Koottukar) was published and Bible Nurseries are now started in all the parishes. Extra hand books for each class are also published based on the lives of saints. Catechism PTAs have been formed in all the Sunday Schools.

As per the year 2016-17 there are 117 Sunday school units and altogether 27726 students of which 13722 are boys and 14004 are girls. Of the 1923 teachers, 9 are priests, 470 are nuns and 1444 are lay teachers (475 gent and 969 lady teachers), who render their selfless service to educate children in faith. The classes are held for 1 ½ hours every Sunday under the effective guidance of each parish priest.