The pioneers of Indian immigration to the United States were young college graduates who, beginning in 1940s, arrived in small numbers in search of higher education at American universities, especially in the Northeast. This trend continued in the 1950s and 1960s.Larger groups began arriving in the 1960s and 1970s in search of professional careers. The influx of Indian immigrants to the New World reached its peak in the 1980s, when large numbers of Indians living in India and the Middle-eastern countries flooded into metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago, and Houston as relatives of the first immigrants and also as a result of the rising political unrest in the Middle East.
Indian Orthodox Church clergymen initially came to the USA for higher education during the time of His Holiness Baselios Geevarghese II. The first Indian Orthodox Church congregation started in New York in the late 1950s and the first official parish in the late 1960s. By early 1970s, the number of Indian immigrants grew and there were about ten clergymen serving the Indian Orthodox Church in America. Several parishes were organized by these clergymen and laypeople under the Outside Kerala Diocese headed by His Grace Mathews Mar Athanasius, Metropolitan and Catholicos-designate.
In 1975 Rev. Fr. K.C. Thomas was elevated as a bishop by name His Grace Thomas Mar Makarios. In 1976 the parishes in America and Canada were brought under a new Diocese called “Bombay Diocese”. The Managing Committee and the Holy Episcopal Synod declared establishment of the American Diocese in January 1979. His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I, Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan came to America in July 1979, and the American Diocese was established officially by His Holiness presiding over the enthronement ceremony of His Grace Thomas Mar Makarios as the first Metropolitan.
In 1991, the Diocese came under the direct control of a Malankara Metropolitan who was assisted by Mathews Mar Barnabas, our present Metropolitan. For one year, the Diocese continued in this manner, until control came under the full authority of Mathews Mar Barnabas. The enthronement ceremony was held in March 1993 on a grand scale at St. Mary’s West Sayville under the authority of the Catholicos of the East, Baselius Mar Thoma Mathews II, and was attended by representatives from across the Diocese. Under the leadership of Mar Barnabas, the Diocese has grown both spiritually and physically. Most notable of all Mar Barnabas’ accomplishments is the development of spiritual organizations, such as MGOCSM and Sunday School. He gave both organizations a national structure and administration.
In 2002, Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, a young, talented leader and orator joined the Diocese as the assistant to Mar Barnabas. With his assistance, the Diocese has grown even further. In 2011, H. G. Mar Barnabas relinquished his position. On February 26th 2011, His Holiness Baselius Mar Thoma Paulose II appointed Metropolitan Mar Nicholovos as the Metropolitan of the Northeast American Diocese .During the 1980s, several parishes purchased their own church buildings for their worship services and other activities. In 2009, the Malankara Church decided to divide what was known as the ‘American Diocese’ in to two dioceses, namely – the Northeast American Diocese and the Southwest American Diocese. Today, the Northeast American Diocese can boast of more than fifty parishes, with more than forty priests, 14 deacons and seminarians. Currently, about half of our parishes in the US own their church buildings. The Northeast American Diocese is one of the 30 Dioceses of the Indian Orthodox Church with headquarters in Kottayam, Kerala in India, and His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II as the Supreme Head of the Church.
Currently, there are about ten thousand Indian Orthodox Christians in the United States. The Diocesan Metropolitan is president of the Diocesan Council consisting of the Diocesan Metropolitan, the Diocesan Secretary, two (2) clergy council members, and four (4) lay council members, which governs the affairs of the Diocese. The Diocesan Metropolitan is president of the Board of Trustees consisting of the Diocesan Metropolitan, the Diocesan Secretary, and one lay member, which govern the assets (real estate and others) of the Diocese. The Diocesan Metropolitan presides over all spiritual organizations of the Diocese as well as the Diocesan Assembly.
Northeast American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church’s Website