Reji Chacko The Auckland Syro Malabar Catholic Mission Sunday school started functioning in April 2008 at Mt Wellington Catholic Church, with regular classes on each Sunday after Holy mass. Initially we had 4 classes; Year 1 - 3, Year 4 - 6, year 7 - 10, and youth group; totalling 40 students. Fr. Alex Viruthakulangara C.Ss.R. was the director of the Sunday school and also the chaplain of the Syro- Malabar Mission. Initially we used the English catechism text book from Kalyan Diocese.

In 2009, we started the classes in the month of March with 7 classes and with nearly 80 students. Five new teachers joined the teaching staff. At the end of the year, in November, we conducted examinations and toppers from each class were felicitated on the Parish Day.

In 2010, we became more structured and organised, with 11 classes and more than 100 students. We started using the text book series of Syro Malabar Church in various classes. The most important step we took during the this year was to start Sunday school classes at 4pm, before the holy Qurbana, thereby ensuring that we get more time to teach and fewer cancellations due to feasts and other celebrations. Some new teachers volunteered to be part of the teaching staff. We also started introducing relievers in case any teacher was unable to make it.

In June 2010, Fr. Joy Thottamkara C.Ss.R become our chaplain and the Sunday school director in place of Fr. Alex who went back to Kerala after 3 years of splendid service to Sunday school and the SM Community. Fr. Joy became involved in all Sunday school activities and led us effectively. As a result, Sunday school reached greater heights. Classes started at 3. 45 pm every Sunday and we conducted half yearly and annual exams and students are given trophies on the basis of overall performance in exams. Prizes were also given for 100% attendance.

In 2011, we moved to a more convenient and central location to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, Epsom. Fr. Joy became the assistant priest at Epsom parish. We had 11 classes and 12 teachers. In June, during the visit of Bishop Mar Mathew Arackel, the Chairman for the Syro Malabar Laity Commission, we honoured the teachers for their commitment to the Sunday school. Also this year we conducted First Holy communion and confirmation, for the third time in our Mission. The last two were in 2008 and in 2009. In 2008 Mar. Abraham Viruthakkulangara, Arch Bishop of Nagpur and in 2009 Bishop Mar Sebastian Vadakkel of Ujjain Diocese (Chairman of the Migrants Commission) were present. Christmas celebrations and prize giving were conducted in Dec 11. That year, 21 students had 100% attendance out of 130 students. In 2012 we remained at Epsom. The number of students crossed the 150 mark this year.

In 2013 we moved to our Lady of Immaculate Conception church at Ellerslie as Fr Joy had become the parish priest there. Fr Jobin vanniamparambil C Ss R become the assistant chaplain in May 2013. On the feast day in October 2013, 12 children received first Holy Communion and 16 children received confirmation from Bishop Peter Brown C .Ss. R. At present, we have 165 students, 12 classes, 13 teachers and 4 relievers.

The major programmes of Sunday school includes the annual Bible quiz competition, Talent fest based on Biblical themes, and the study about saints through the programme "To sainthood through Saints". Sunday school starts on every Sunday at 3.45pm with an assembly and it is led by different classes in turn. The assembly starts with a Hymn to Holy Spirit, followed by prayers, a bible reading and concluding with the catechetical pledge. The Sunday school also lead the mass on every second Sunday of the month and the Sunday School Choir sings on these Sundays. During "Kontha Namskaram" in October, Sunday school children lead rosary on Sundays and during lent, Sunday school leads The Way of the cross on certain Fridays. We also participate in Novena devotions for the feast of our Lady of Vailankanny at Avondale church in September and lead the mass and rosary. This is the largest feast celebration of Mother Mary in the Auckland Diocese.

We are looking forward to having a common structure and examination system for all Syro Malabar Children of New Zealand and Australia, as part of the Melbourne Diocese.