History of parish
The persecution which saw the burning of Theresapally and martyrdom of over 3000 Christians resulted in the migration of Christians to safer locations. Some escaped the carnage by succumbing to conversion to Hindu faith though, majority escaped the wrath of the ‘thalavettikkolapada’, Veluthampi’s army unit with this mission was called, by boarding country boats (kettuvallams) berthed at Ashtamudi lake and pulled out to deep waters. They reached coastal enclaves like Neendakara, Sakthikulangara, Chavara, Njaramood and Thekkumbhagam.
It is believed that 3 families which reached the shores of Sakthikulangara paved the foundation of an enduring Christian community on the southern side of the estuary a relatively uninhabitable patch of land. Without any resources to fall back on, they fought against all odds, making a living by fishing, with crude methods. That was the only occupation available to them. These dare devil bunch of people who started a life in this patch of land, are the founding fathers of the present Sakthikulangara parish... the unsung heroes of yester decades.
By the year 1878 the population of the village swelled to 14 families. Sakthikulangara in that era, was an impoverished fishing village with the majority of its people living in thatched houses, making a living by fishing, with very high infant mortality rates and low life expectancy. The faithful used to celebrate Holy Mass at Neendakara Church crossing the treacherous tidal currents of the Asthtamudi Lake.
Considering the constrains of the faithful to fulfill their sacramental needs Rt. Rev. Ildaphonse Borga the Vicar Apostolic of Quilon allowed the faithful to build a modest Church in Sakthikulangara in 1878. With their limited resources the faithful could only put up a small church with a thatched roof. This Church was named after Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In 1909 Bishop Aloysius Maria Benziger erected Sakthikulangara as a separate Parish. The decree of erection was signed on 1st January 1909.The same year the church was rebuilt with proper roofing and brick walls. This structure was duly blessed and inaugurated by Bishop Aloysius Maria Benziger who rechristened the Church after Blessed John de britto . With the population growing the need for more space in the Church was felt . Foundation stone for the extension was laid on 1st January 1966. The extension included a sanctuary with a dome on the model of St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome and two wings and the sacristy. The new renovated church was blessed and inaugurated by Rt. Rev. Dr. Jerome M. Fernandez on 3rd April 1971.
Sakthikulangara parish is named after St.John de Britto who laid down his life for faith at Oriyur in 1693 after a heroic expedition to spread the gospel in Marava kingdom in Ramanathapuram . What is of mention here is that when Sakthikulangara took John de Britto as its patron he was only beatified. It was only in 1947 that John de Britto was canonized.
St.John de Britto’s Church today is one of the biggest parishes in the Diocese with a strength of 3200 families ( >12,000 people) divided into 7 wards and 68 family units. Further each unit has members selected to be in charge of Liturgy, Catechetics, Education, Social Service There is a parish council (ajapaalana samithy) comprising of elected members (by free balloting) and a couple of nominated ones, to assist the parish priest in the administration of the parish. The parish is emerging as a modern parish that can translate Christian faith into the dynamics of the social fabric.