History of Panayampala church

       In the first decade of the 19th Century a small group of Roman Catholic families from a larger group who kept shifting their habitat from one place to another, settled on the banks of a small river in central Travancore. This stream flowed from the Nedumkunnam hills through the plains of a beautiful land making it fertile and fruitful and finally dissolved into the folds of the Manimala river at Kaviyoor. As this stream flowed through a land which was thickly populated with a combination of Pana [Palm] and Pala ( Alstonia scholaris) trees the land was popularly known as Panayampala and naturally the stream also shared the same name and was known Panayampala thodu.

       Panayampala is a South East border village of Kottayam district situated in Changanaserry taluk, close to Anickad a village in the Pathanamthitta district border. The Karukachal-Mallapally road passes parallel to the Panayampala thodu and the village lies spread on both sides of the thodu.
Christians from all congregations like Orthodox, Marthoma and Catholic are found in Panayampala and some are the descendents of the ancient Pakalomattam Brahmin family from Palayoor in Kodungaloor who accepted the Christian faith from St.Thomas way back in AD 52.
       As the community comprised of faithful believers in the Holy Gospel and Pappel controlled Roman Catholic congregations, the practical fulfillment of their spiritual requirements were met by the St. Johns Baptist church Nedumkunnam under Changanaserry diocese which is about 4 kms away from Panayampala.

First Vicar Founder Leader Headmistress Parish Accountant Parish Sexton
Rev Fr. Jacob Kadathukalam K K Kurian Kollemparambil K.J Rosamma Kunnumpurath Joseph Joseph Kallupurackal Ouseph Devasia Muthumarathil

In the year 1948 the believers of Panayampala decided to construct a catechism school in Panayamapala. Mr. K K Kurian Kuzhimannil Kollemparambil initiated to lead the venture. They formed a ten person committee and all members contributed for the purchase of 7 cent property from Mathen Ulahannan Kizhakkeparambil on the bank of Panayampala thodu. With the monitory assistance of Rs 350 from Nedumkunnam church and the contribution amount extended by the believers they constructed a shed 40 feet long and 20 feet broad, roofed with palm tree leaves. The forefathers who contributed for the Thottunkal property purchase, are reverently remembered :

1. Kurian Kurian Kuzhimannil Kollemparambil
2. Ouseph Thomas Thayipral
3. Mathai Eyo Uzhiayamannam
4. Ouseph Devasia Thayipral
5. Ouseph Mathai Thayipral
6. Ouseph Yohannan Kallupurakal
7. Devasia Micheal Kunnumpuram
8. Kurian Eyo Vadakkeparambil
9. Chacko Varghese Chuzhanayil
10. Ulahannan Joseph Kizhakkeparambil

In 1954, the catechism Sunday school commenced in this shed with Kunnumpurath K.J Rosamma (Kochammama) as its first headmistress.
       After years of earnest prayer and request permission was granted from Bishop Mar Mathew Kavukattu to bless a church in Panayampala in the year 1956. Believers decided to install and consecrate the idol of St. Sebastian the protector saint of war, starvation and epidemic disease as their intercessor. Very Rev Fr Eapachan Alancherry blessed the church and proclaimed the catechism shed as St. Sebastian church and this church was later known as the Thottunkal palli. Now it is replaced near the old cemetery as the cemetery chapel and a shrine is built in remembrance of the old Thottunkal palli instead.
       From 1956 onwards regular service of holy mass was served in all Sunday’s and holy days by very Rev Fr Cyriac Pullikal-Vicar of Eripickal church on the direction from the Bishop house. Mr. Ouseph Devasia Vadakkeparambilaya Muthumarathil (Devasia chettn) served as sexton from the very beginning of Thottunkal palli until his last straw of health permitted him. Mr. Joseph Joseph Kallupurackal (Narolil Kunjachan) was the permanent accountant till his death.
       As the member families expanded and increased in number, a feel of small chapel’s insufficiency made the people think for a new big church and consequently they bought 1.26 acres of land in Makkal sector. In 1961 a cemetery was set up in the Makkal property and the foundation stone for a church was laid by Monsignor. L J Chittor – vicar General of Changanacherry diocese. Unfortunately due to the proposal of 220 KV heavy electrical line over this property the church project was cancelled and the cemetery continued. Another 1.70 acres of land of Uzhiyammannam Eyo Mathews’s property on the side of Mallapally-Karukachal road was purchased in 1971 when Jacob Earthyil was the vicar of Nedumkunnam. In 1973 Bishop Joseph Powathil laid stone for a new church and the construction was completed in 1982. Bishop Mar Antony Padiyara blessed the new church in presence of James Vettikadu and James Kadathukalam the Nedumkunnam vicars. In1988 June 30 Panayamapala St. Sebastian’s church was proclaimed as an independent parish. Very Rev Fr. Jacob Kadathukalam was the first vicar to the church. With his interest and effort the Little Workers of Sacred Heart convent was opened in August 6 1989. In the period of Rev Fr. Augustin Parekallam an additional cemetery was opened near to the church in the year December 6 1995. The chapel at old cemetery was blessed in the year January 25 1995.

Historical Milestones

• 1948 January- Purchased plot for catechism school
• 1954 January- Started catechism school
• 1956- Blessed Thottunkal palli
• 1961- Blessed old cemetery
• 1971-purchsed property for new church
• 1973 June 16-Foundation stone for new church laid by Mar Joseph Powathil
• 1982 February 24-Blessing of new church by Mar Antony Padiyara
• 1988 January 30-Indipendant parish
• 1995 January 25-Blessing of old cemetery chapel
• 1995 December 6-Blessing of new cemetery
• 2011 November 24-Blessing of new Parsonage by Mar Joseph Perumthottam

Prepared by
John Kurian
Kuzhimannil Kollemparambil
Indebted to
Mr K. S Yohannan
Valliayakunumpuram