St.Teresa’s Church (St. Teresa of Avila Parish), Nungambakkam, Chennai


St.Teresa’s Church originated as a chapel attached to the first Bishop’s house in Madras. The chapel which met the needs of the faithful of Nungambakkam and Mackays garden, grew into a parish Church in 1912. The earliest data entries as recorded are as follows: –

• Baptism Register — From August 1911
• Marriage Register — From October 1912
• Funeral and Burial Register – From 1912

St Teresas Church

To trace the history of this church it is necessary to note the growth of the city of then called Madras, at present called Chennai. The City of Madras was first evangelized by the Portuguese who came for the purpose of trading in spices and brought with them the early missionaries who built an early Church on Portuguese Church street ( which still stands as a testimony today) in the Black Town.

Black Town was a township that grew and flourished north of Fort St. George where the natives, the dubashes and trading merchants notably the Armenian merchants lived. The Portuguese subsequently left Black Town due to the growing influence of the East India Company. Black Town was renamed as George Town to commemorate the coronation of George V as the Emperor.

Religious influence continued to flourish under the Jesuits who had a chapel in Fort St. George and who later moved to a more spacious accommodation in Nungambakkam. The Parishes that existed at that times were managed ( governed) by religious orders notably the Congregation of St. Joseph Mill Hill, St.Mary’s Cathedral in Armenian Street was the cathedral of the Catholic Bishop of Madras. The sons of the Congregation of St. Joseph Mill Hill better known as the Mill Hill Fathers took charge of parishes in and around George Town notably Vepery and Nungambakkam. The excellence of their work is borne out in a memorial plaque enshrined in the base of the tower at St. Mary’s Church Armenian Street. St.Teresa’s Church, Nungambakkam was one such Parish that came under the influence of this Congregation of St.Joseph Mill Hill. The following were the Parish Priests right from the inception of the Parish.

• Rev.Fr.AMerkes 1911
• Rev.Fr.S.G.Hood 1912
• Rev.Fr.J V D Riet 1913
• Rev Fr. J. Beukers 1918
• Rev Fr.A Merkes & Fr. P. Thomas 1922
• Rev. Fr. J. Beukers 1923
• Rev. Fr. J. Aelen 1924
• Rev. Fr. P. Justin Bion 1926
• Rev. Fr. J. Aelen and C.Ruygrok 1927
• Rev. Fr. N. Prior 1929
• Rev. Fr. X. V. Baretto 1930-1938
• Rev. Fr. M. Joseph 1938-1939
• Rev. Fr. R. Cordeiro 1939-1942
• Rev. Fr. S. R. Santos 1942-1948
• Rev. Fr. R. Arulappa 1948-1953
• Rev. Fr. Bernardinus 1953-1959
• Rev. Fr. Thomas Charath 1959-1975
• Rev. Fr. P. Michael 1975-1978
• Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Kottaram 1978-1985
• Rev. Fr. S. Kripakaran 1985-1986
• Rev. Fr. Henry Louis 1986-1992
• Rev. Fr. L. Balasamy 1992-1999
• Rev. Fr. S. P. A. Suresh 1999-2000
• Rev. Fr. K. S. Lawrence 2000-2007
• Rev. Fr. P. J. Lawrence Raj 2007-

The Mill Hill Fathers ceased to control this parish as it was passed over to Padroado in 1930. The Portuguese who moved south to Mylapore built churches which still stand today notably San Thome Cathedral which became the Cathedral of the Bishop of Mylapore under the patronage of the Institution of the Royal Family of Portugal called Patronotus or Padroado. Under this arrangement the Royal Family of Portugal began sending Missionaries wherever colonization took place, this was extended to St. Teresa’s at Mackays Garden which fell under the Parish of St. Teresa’s Church, in Nungambakkam. Catechists were kept at a little chapel to instruct the faithful in prayers and prepare them for the sacraments.

Subsequently by an order of the Holy Seer the diocese of Madras and Mylapore were merged into one diocese known as the Archdiocese of Madras – Mylapore when Arch Bishop Louis Mathias SDB was appointed as the first Arch Bishop in the year 1950.

The Parish has evolved all through these years under the able guidance and stewardship of all the Parish Priests who have served in this Parish. The Parish today not only serves the Parish members but today is a source of spiritual nourishment for the religious and faithful from all over Chennai city who flock to our parish for the Sunday services as well as the services on special occasions like Christmas, Easter, New Year etc.

We are very blessed to have Rev. Fr. Lawrence Raj presently as our Parish Priest who has been doing yeomen service to our Parish. Our parish now has a Co-Patron Saint St. Jude Thaddeus and the parish community and the other visiting members have the blessings of this wonderful saint who is known as the “Hope for the Hopeless”.

Patron Saint St.Teresa Of Avila:

Born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515, St. Teresa was the daughter of a Toledo merchant. She led a fairly ordinary life, but of mischievous personality, she was convinced that she was a horrible sinner. As a teenager, she cared only about boys and clothes and flirting and rebelling like other teenagers throughout the ages. When she was 16, her father decided she was out of control and sent her to a convent. At first she hated it but eventually she began to enjoy it partly because of her growing love for God, and partly because the convent was a lot less strict than her father.

Virgin, Doctor of the Church (1515 – 1582)

Teresa Cepeda De Ahumada was born in Avila, Old Catlille, some 50 miles N.W. of Madrid (Spain). At 20, after reading the letters of St.Jerome, she entered the Carmelite convent, regarding it as the safest way to salvation, albeit without her father’s consent. “Prayer is the doorway to great graces; if this door is closed, I do not see how God can bestow any graces! During a time of ill health she began to practicing her to give herself unreservedly to God. For in many religious houses of that day discipline had become rather relaxed, what with frequent visitors providing worldly distractions. “Prayer and self – indulgence do not go together!” she was wont to say.

She now began to be overwhelmed with intellectual visions, ecstasies, levitations and other extraordinary graces. Our Lord himself repeatedly spoke to her, a seraph pierced her heart and she experienced the spiritual espousal. For Teresa this resulted in years of ridicule and misunderstanding, as her early confessors considered her visions diabolical deceptions. An extrovert by nature and affectionate of disposition, Teresa had the ability to adapt herself quite easily to all kinds of people, places and circumstances. Through 20 years of spiritual struggle, Teresa slowly learnt detachment from all creatures, abnegation and perfection in following Christ. “The prayer that pleases God most, is the one which brings about improvement, and which shows itself in good works, rather than the pleasure of one’s own satisfaction”.

Finally, St.Peter of Alcantara, her spiritual director, and St. Francis Borgia were able to discern the workings of God’s power in her, and in the year 1561 our Lord commanded her to reform the Carmelite Order. Then 46 years of age, during the remaining 21 years of her life she was able, despite violent opposition, to found 17 convents of discalced Carmelite nuns and 15 monasteries for friars under severe, unmitigated rule of Order. “Let nothing trouble or frighten you! All things pass away. Only God never changes. Patience obtains everything! God alone suffices!’.

Under due obedience to her superiors Teresa wrote her life story “The way of Perfection”, “The Interior Castle” and “Conception of the Love of God”. Teresa of Avila died on 4th October 1582 and was buried at Alba de Tomes. Canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV she was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

Co Patron Saint St.Jude Thaddeus:

St.Jude was the brother of St. James the Less and thus a cousin of our Lord. He is the author of the last canonical epistle of which Origen stated that it “contains strong doctrine in a few lines.” It was to Jude’s question during the Last Supper that our Lord replied that he manifests only to those who are faithful in keeping his commandments (ref.Jn 14:23 -24) faith mainly in Palestine, but later went to Persia and Armenia, and suffered martyrdom there. The Emperor Domitian once had St.Jude’s grandsons brought from Galilee to Rome, but released them when he realized that they were not political rivals. Owing to the similarity of his name to that of Judas Iscariot, Jude Thaddeus was rarely invoked in prayer, which makes it seem likely that seeking his intercession was seen as a final resort when all else failed. It is thus that his popularity as the patron saint of lost causes has greatly increased in recent times.

The lives of the Apostles, Sts Simon and Jude, are shrouded in obscurity and uncertainty. Yet their very closeness to the Lord Jesus as shares in the great work of redemption is a reminder to us that holiness, from which stems happiness, comes from following closely in the footsteps of Jesus Christ rather than in being known.

Mass Timings:

06.00 a.m. – Holy Mass (Tamil)
07.15 a.m. – Holy Mass (Mackays Garden)
07.30 a.m. – Holy Mass (Tamil)
08.30 a.m. – Catechism Class (Tamil / English)
09.00 a.m. – Holy Mass (English)
12.00 noon – Holy Mass (English)
06.30 p.m. – Holy Mass (English)


06.30 a.m. – Holy Mass (Tamil)
01.10 p.m. – Holy Mass (Tamil)
06.30 p.m. – Holy Mass (English)

Thursday And Friday

06.00 a.m. – Holy Mass (Tamil)
06.30 p.m. – Holy Mass (English)


10.30 a.m. – 2nd Sunday


05.00 p.m. – Saturday

Communion For Sick

08.00 a.m. – 1st Friday

St.Teresa’s Church,

No 4. Nungambakkam High Road,
Chennai – 600034
Phone: +91 – 44 – 2821 2632, 2827 8788.

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