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UK: Kerala-born priest becomes England's youngest bishop

Queen Elizabeth granted approval to Rev Saju's appointment in November 2021



Photo: Church of England
Photo: Church of England

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Thu 27 Jan 2022, 10:31 PM

Right Reverend Malayil Lukose Varghese Muthalaly, known as Rev Saju, who was revealed by Queen Elizabeth as the bishop-elect of the east Midlands town of Loughborough in November 2021, has been consecrated at the St Paul’s Cathedral in London, making him the latest - and one of the youngest - Indian priests to take over church roles in Britain.

Rev Saju, 42, who grew up in Bengaluru, was consecrated alongside Rt Revs Lusa Nsenga Ngoy and Lynne Cullens, bishops of Willesden and Barking. A marathon runner, Rev Saju was joined by his family and two of his children, Zipp and Abraham.

Indian priests have not only been meeting the shortage of priests in churches in Britain in recent decades, but Christian migrants from India - particularly from Kerala and Goa - have been helping boost dwindling church congregations.

One of the first Indian priests to arrive in Wales to preach Christianity was Rev Hmar Sangkhuma, from the Diocese of Mizoram in northeastern India. Some time ago, a Methodist church in Swindon had its first Indian minister, Rev Ajay Singh.

After the Queen granted approval to Rev Saju’s appointment, an official statement said: “Saju grew up in the Syrian Orthodox Church in South India. He was educated at the Southern Asia Bible College in Bangalore and trained for ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title at St Thomas’, Lancaster in the Diocese of Blackburn and was ordained Priest in 2009”.

“Saju was appointed Associate Vicar at St Thomas’, Kendal and St Catherine’s, Crook in the Diocese of Carlisle in 2011. He has served at St Mark’s, Gillingham and St Mary’s Island in the Diocese of Rochester since 2015 initially as Priest-in-Charge, before being appointed Vicar in 2019”, it added.

Previously introducing himself to the diocese, Rev Saju spoke of his "deep desire" to help those facing poverty after growing up in a leprosy hospital in Bengaluru, where his mother worked as a nurse.

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He said after the consecration: "I have been preparing for this service very much aware of what a great privilege it is that people around the world are praying for this moment. There is a very strong sense of the wider church affirming this calling."

He told the BBC: “I absolutely loved the service… There were so many people there cheering you on from here in Leicestershire and from Dubai, from India and other parts of the world”.


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