Knanaya Catholics began to migrate from Kerala to Chicago from early 1950s. They missed the liturgical service in the Syro-Malabar Rite in Malayalam. They found the arranging of Holy Mass also as an opportunity for social get together. They got organized and requested His Excellency Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry, then Bishop of Kottayam in 1981, to provide the service of a priest. Since Bishop Kunnacherry had no ecclesiastical jurisdiction here, he had to get the help of the Archbishop of Chicago for this. After many communications, Most Rev. Joseph Bernardin, then Archbishop of Chicago established a ministry in 1983 under the Archdiocese of Chicago with Rev. Fr. Jacob Chollampel as the director. He was later succeeded by the mission directors Fr. Cyriac Manthuruthil, Fr. Simon Edathiparambil, Fr. Philip Thodukayil and Fr. Abraham Mutholath.

When the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago was established in 2001, the pastoral care of the Knanaya Catholics came under this diocese. Services were done on weekends in Catholic Churches of the Latin Rite belonging to the Archdiocese of Chicago. The members of the mission, under the leadership of the mission director Rev. Fr. Abraham Mutholath began to consider establishing a church of their own since 2005. The mission bought St. James Church, School, and rectory in Maywood from the Archdiocese of Chicago on September 1, 2006. The church was renamed as Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Church. The first Mass of the Knanaya Mission at this church was held on Friday September 1, 2006 at 7:00 P.M. The inauguration of the church was held on Sunday September 3, 2006 at 10:00 A.M. by Mission Director Fr. Abraham Mutholath and parish council members by lighting nilavilakku that has 72 flames. Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath elevated the Knanaya Mission as Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Parish on Sunday, September 24th at 10:00 A.M. and appointed Rev. Fr. Abraham Mutholath as its first pastor. Since then the parish got great support from the parishioners and it is functioning with maximum involvement of the people.

St. Mary’s Unit was formed under the parish with effect from January 1, 2007. Separate Sunday Mass, Religious Education School, accounts, committee, and pastoral programs are organized at Our Lady of Victory Church in Chicago for St. Mary’s Unit. Since the formation of St. Mary’s Unit, prayer for the second church has started at homes and after liturgy in the parish church and in St. Mary’s Unit. We are in the process of establishing a second church for St. Mary’s Unit.

At present the parish has 3,280 members belonging to 820 families. During 2008-’09 academic year, we had 450 students and 120 young teachers in the Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s Religious Education Schools. Since the number of Sunday Mass attendees rose to an average of 1,500, we started Syro-Malabar Mass in English for Children and youth at 11:30 A.M. after their catechism class that is conducted during Malayalam Mass for adults. The parish has pious associations and ministries for parishioners of all ages. We also have koodarayogams (ward prayer meetings) for the parishioners. Many people do voluntary service for the church.

Besides the annual solemn feast celebration of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the parish has various special devotions to saints. We have novena of St. Jude on Thursdays, Novena of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Saturdays, and Novena of St. Michael on third Fridays after Holy Mass. We have a special shrine in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe where many people come to pray.


611 Maple Street, Maywood, IL 60153

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    5000 Saint Charles Rd,
    Bellwood, IL, 60104

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