Parish History

St. Gregorios Orthodox Church Of TorontoWith the arrival of a sizable number of Orthodox Syrian Christians to Canada from India and via the Middle East in the 1960s, Toronto became the focal point for the formation of the first Orthodox Syrian Christian Parish in Canada.

The first Holy Qurbana was conducted on Christmas Day in 1969 by Rev. Fr. Dr. N.K. Thomas.

In 1970, after the official recognition as the first Parish in North America, Rev. Fr. K.C. George [later very Rev. K.C. Geevarghese Ramban] was appointed as our vicar. On October 3, 1970, at a meeting of the parish members, it was decided that the parish would be dedicated to Parumala Thirumeni, our Patron Saint It was also decided to conduct Holy Qurbana at least once every two months at the Trinity College Chapel, 6 Hoskin Avenue, Toronto.

In 1970, after the official recognition as the first Parish in North America, Rev. Fr. K.C. George [later very Rev. K.C. Geevarghese Ramban] was appointed as our vicar. On October 3, 1970, at a meeting of the parish members, it was decided that the parish would be dedicated to Parumala Thirumeni, our Patron Saint It was also decided to conduct Holy Qurbana at least once every two months at the Trinity College Chapel, 6 Hoskin Avenue, Toronto.

His Grace Mathews Mar Athanasios, Metropolitan of the then Diocese of Outside Kerala (later Catholicose H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews 1) officially recognized this Parish on November 7, 1970. At the first annual General Body Meeting, held on November 7, 1971 at the Trinity College Chapel, it was decided to conduct services on the first Sunday of every month.

By 1972, the parish was thriving with more members and better financial resources. Today, we are a parish of about 130 subscribing families and about 25 associate-member families. We can proudly say that many of the sister parishes functioning in the Greater Toronto Area today are mainly from the original congregation of this parish.

In September 1974, Rev. Fr. K.C. George returned to India and with the blessings of the Catholicose, Rev. Fr. Thomas Mundukuzhy was appointed as vicar and he continued to conduct Holy Qurbana at Trinity College Chapel till 1989.

In 1975, His Grace Thomas Mar Makarios was consecrated as Metropolitan. Later, H.G. was also appointed as the Metropolitan of the newly created North American Diocese and was enthroned by His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews I in New York on July 1979. On August 4, 1979, His Holiness visited Toronto on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the St.Gregorios Orthodox Church Toronto.

His Holiness was received as a dignitary of the Province of Ontario, and all protocol reserved for a state dignitary was accorded to His Holiness. It also put the Orthodox Christians of Kerala on the map in Canada. With this milestone, the parish entered a new phase of its growth and development.

In July 1981, Rev. Fr. Mundukuzhy was elevated to the rank of Cor Episcopa, the highest ecclesiastical position accorded to a married priest of the Malankara Orthodox Church. Due to the diligence and hard work of Mundukuzhy Achen and the enthusiasm of the parishioners, the long cherished desire to have a church property of our own was fulfilled by the grace of the Almighty and the intercession of our Patron Saint Parumala Thirumeni in early 1990. A church located at Ballantrae in York Region, Ontario was purchased. The first Holy Qurbana was celebrated at the newly purchased church on June 3 by Mundukuzhy Achen. However, a section of the parishioners found the location of the new church too far from their respective residences and they formed a new Parish with the blessings of the Metropolitan under the name of St George Orthodox Church with Rev, Fr. Dr. M.E. Idiculla as vicar. They continued as an independent parish till 1995.

From 1991 to 1992, Rev, Fr George Daniel (Benny Achen) was the vicar. He was followed by Rev. Fr. Daniel Pullelil (the first resident vicar) from 1992 to 1993 and Rev. Fr. Thoma Thomas from 1993 to 1998. During this period, St Gregorios Orthodox Church of Toronto and St George Orthodox Church was amalgamated as St Gregorios Orthodox Church of Toronto under Rev. Fr. Thoma Thomas from January 1. 1996. The membership of the church had expanded and the Ballantrae church was too small to accommodate all the members. Therefore, it was decided to buy a property at a more convenient and central location. A plot of land of approximately one and a half acres was purchased at 6890 Professional Court, Mississauga on August 30, 1996. With generous donations from church members, sister churches and well-wishers in the community, and the amount derived from the sale of the Ballantrae Church, the plot was bought and the present church building was constructed. It was consecrated on September 27, 1998 by Makarios Thirumeni. The now united congregation was happy to worship jointly in the newly constructed church building.

In 1998, Rev. Fr. Philipose Philip Thevarkattil was appointed as vicar by the Diocesan Metropolitan. However, disagreements, disputes and differences of opinion between the two factions once again fractured the delicate unity of the parish. In 2001, a few parishioners approached the Ontario courts to address grievances regarding the voters’ list for general body meetings. As per the court order, a General Body Meeting was conducted in 2002, with a retired judge of the Ontario Court of Justice as an observer. A new managing committee was elected. However, the differences continued and the conflict on the issue of eligibility of members for the general body meeting escalated. A group of members, including members of the earlier faction, was unhappy and broke away once again with Rev. Fr. Thevarkattil in September 2003.

Since the Diocesan Metropolitan was reluctant to appoint a new vicar for the church under these circumstances, a regular prayer service was organized by the congregants in church. The Sunday School was reorganized and began to function even in the absence of a vicar. The Catholicose, H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews 11 and the Holy Episcopal Synod were approached to resolve the issues. Subsequently, both the factions approached the Ontario courts with their own appeals. This case has not been heard by the court to date.

From November 2003, Very Rev. Ouseph Pathickal Cor Episcopa was invited to be the vicar of the parish. Until June 2007, Rev Fr. Daniel Pullelil served as the officiating priest. Subsequently, the then Bava Thirumeni, H.H. Baselios Marthoma Didymus I with the recommendations of the Malankara Orthodox Church Working Committee, assumed administration of the parish and appointed Rev. Fr. Thomas George as vicar. From Dec’ 2016, Rev. Fr. Daniel Pullelil was appointed as Vicar of the parish. 

In 2010, when the North American Diocese was officially divided into North East and South West dioceses, our parish came under the North East Diocese. The congregation was happy with the new development as the administration of the Parish was handed over to the then Metropolitan, H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas and Assistant Metropolitan H.G. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos. With the retirement of Barnabas Thirumeni in June 2011, H.G. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos has assumed charge of the North East American Diocese and we are happy to be under Thirumeni’s care and guidance. We have great faith in Thirumeni’s ability to amicably settle the ongoing litigation between the two congregations.

Since inception, the following priests served as Vicars of our Parish. We take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication, spiritual services and guidance.

Late Very Rev. Geevarghese Ramban, 1970-1974

Late Very Rev. Thomas P. Mundukuzhy Cor Episcopa, 1974-1990

Rev. Fr. George Daniel 1991-1992

Rev. Fr. Daniel Pullelil, 1992-1993

Late Rev. Fr. Thoma Thomas, 1993-1998

Rev. Fr. Philipose Philip Thevarkattil, 1998-2003

Very Rev. Ouseph Pathickal Cor Episcopa, 2003-2006

Rev. Fr. Daniel Pullelil, 2006-2007 (Officiating Priest)

Rev. Fr. Dr. Thomas George, 2007-2016

Rev. Fr. Daniel Pullelil, 2016 until 22nd August 2019

Rev. Fr. Mathew Thomas (current interim Vicar)

We are indebted to the following parishioners who served as Trustee and Secretary, since the inception of our Parish in 1969.

Past Trustees

John Eapen / John Jacob / Geevarghese Mathai / Mathew John / Raju Varghese / John C. Philip / M. P. Thomas / Rajan Thomas / Philip Zachariah / Koshi K. Mathew / Matt Mathews / John Varghese / Alex Jacob / Ben Nellithara / Edicheria Eppachen / Vinod Mathews / John Mathen / Biju Mathew / Thomas Joshua
Alex P. Chandy / Titus Vaidhyan

Past Secretaries

John Eapen / Alexander Kurian / George Maveli / P. A. V. Paulson / Babu Skariah / K. T. George / Mohan P. George / John Pudiapadavil / V. M. Kurian / Samuel Varghese / Babu Zachariah / George Varghese / David Joseph / T. J. Jacob / Koshy Kunju / Cleemis Vaidhyan / Renny Thomas / George George / K. Mathews / Abraham Varghese / Manu P. Abraham / John Mathews / Susan Benjamin / Varughese M. George

The above information was compiled by contacting various sources, and were unable to get the names of some past trustees and secretaries. If any reader has more information, kindly contact the parish managing committee to update the records.