The Church in India traces its origin to the missionary endevours of St Thomas the Apostle who arrived in India in 52 AD. Due to this apostolic foundation, the ancient Christian Community in India was known as St Thomas Christians. This Church that remained one, holy, catholic and apostolic was autonomous and remained in communion with the Universal Church till the 17th century.
A movement to Latinize the Indian Church, with the arrival of Portuguese missionaries resulted in a schism and a portion of this undivided community eventually came into contact with the Jacobites under the Patriarch of Antioch. Ever since the split there were many attempts for reunion with the Catholic Church. The efforts of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios and Bishop Jacob Mar Theophilos paved way to the historical event of Reunion Movement in the Malankara Church. On 20 September 1930 the Universal Church received the Malankara Church into the Catholic communion with its own liturgy, customs and jurisdiction.
As the Reunion Movement developed, Pope Pius XI established the Syro-Malankara Catholic Hierarchy for the reunited people and established the Archieparchy of Trivandrum and the Eparchy of Tiruvalla by the Apostolic Constitution, Christo Pastorum Principi of 11 June 1932. The Eparchy of Tiruvalla extended from the River Pampa in the south to the River Ponnani in the north.
The migration of people from Kerala to the southern parts of Karnataka began during 1950s. The pastoral works in Karnataka commenced with the extension of the Eparchy of Tiruvalla on 14 February 1958 by the Holy See with the Decree Prot. 534/43. In the second half of the 1960, Most Rev. Zacharias Mar Athanasios sent Fr Thomas Neriamparambil to explore the possibilities of the extension of the Malankara Mission in Dakshina Kannada. And later in 1967 the first Malankara Catholic Rite Mass was celebrated by Rev. Fr Isaac Koottaplackal, who later became the Bishop of Thiruvalla. In the same year Rev. Fr Thomas Thannickakuzhy was appointed Vicar and was sent to South Kanara (Dakshina Kannada) to work among the Malankara faithful living in this region.
Desiring to establish the identity of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and to accelerate the Reunion Movement in the newly organized territories, Mar Athanasios requested the Holy See to bifurcate the Eparchy of Tiruvalla and to erect a new Eparchy with Sulthan Bathery as its headquarters. His Holiness Pope John Paul II responded to this request and erected the new Eparchy of Bathery on 28 October 1978. Most Rev. Cyril Mar Baselios was appointed as its first Bishop.
After the erection of the Eparchy of Bathery, there has been a great progress in the evangelization work in Karnataka. However, the distance from the eparchial headquarters as well as the shortage of priests and religious were strong obstacles in organizing the migrated people and founding new missions in this area. In spite of the said difficulties, due to the selfless hard work of priests, both eparchial and religious belonging to the Order of the Imitation of Christ (OIC), and the religious sisters belonging to the congregations of the Sisters of the Imitation of Christ (SIC), the Daughters of Mary (DM), the Deena Sevana Sabha (DSS) and the Holy Spirit Sisters (OSS), new parishes and mission centres were established.
The Eparchy and the religious congregations started a few educational institutions also to impart a value-based education to the children and youth irrespective of their social, religious and cultural differences. There arose a desire in the Faithful of the Malankara Catholic Church in this region for ecclesial growth and overall development. The Holy Episcopal Synod convoked from 17 to 21 November 2008 decided to erect a new diocese in Karnataka State, on the recommendation of Most Rev. Dr Geevarghese Mar Divannasios, the then – Bishop of Bathery, taking into consideration of the geographical, cultural and linguistic differences of Karnataka State. Considering the importance of Puttur and its relation with the various other Churches, the city of Puttur was suggested as the center of the new diocese.
His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, the Father and Head of the Church, with the Apostolic Decree Prot No.2/2010, erected the Eparchy of Puttur on 25 January 2010. He also transferred Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios from the See of Bathery and appointed him as the first Bishop of the Eparchy of Puttur. The Pro-cathedral of the new eparchy was fixed to be St Mary’s Church, Noojibalthila and the Patron Saint of the Eparchy is St Joseph. The official inauguration of the new Diocese of Puttur and the Installation of its first shepherd took place on 15 April 2010 at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral Noojibalthila.
The Eparchy of Puttur consists of nine civil districts of Karnataka State with a vast geographical area of 51,950 sq. km. The civil districts are Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Mysore, Chamarajnagar, Kodagu, Mandya, Shimoga, Chickamagaluru and Hassan. At present it has two ecclesiastical districts, namely, South Kanara (Dakshina Kannada) and Shimoga.
His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios submitted his resignation to the Holy Synodal Commission on account of failing health. The Holy Synod had accepted his resignation and the Episcopal Synod in consultation with the Holy See appointed Rev Fr. George Kalayil, then Vicar General, as the interim Administrator of the Eparchy on 24th January 2017, and later he was appointed as the second bishop of the Eparchy by the Holy See by the recommendation of the Episcopal Synod and was consecrated on 21st September 2017 in the 87th Reunion Day Celebration at Mar Ivanios Nagar, Adoor, Kerala opting the name as Geevarghese Mar Makarios, the Saint of Jerusalem.
His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos, officiated the Installation Ceremony on Saturday 30th September 2017 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Noojibalthila. The Installation Service was held amidst the concelebrated Holy Eucharist by the Catholicos and His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore delivered the Homily in the function. His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios and other Bishops from KRCBC and KCBC were present in the Eucharistic Celebration. A vast group of civil and social leaders and thousands of faithful thronged the Cathedral premises to witness the Installation Ceremony and also to convey the best wishes and prayers to the new bishop.
His Excellency Geevarghese Mar Divannasios, Bishop Emeritus of the Eparchy of Puttur, who was taking rest in Snehasadan, Tiruvalla on his last days after the voluntarily retirement was called to Eternal Bliss on Monday, 16th January 2018. As his will, burial was in a simple way in the presence of all bishops from Malankara Catholic Church. He is buried near his ‘Predecessors’ tomb in Tiruvalla.