St.Antony's Church Chengalam under the diocese of Kanjirappaly is one of the famous Christian pilgrimage centre from the ancient times.It is popularly known as Paduva Of Kerala.The present village of Chengalam was once inhabited by wild animals. Catholics from the neighbouring villages of Cherpunkal, Poovarany, Edamattam, Kozhuvanal and Anickadu started occupying the area in the late 19th century. Even today Chengalam remains a Catholic-belt. The area belonged to the then Thiruvarppu Devasm and was known as “ Chenkalkulam” as there was a pond hewn out of “Chenkal”. It is believed that the pond was built to gather water needed for the annual “homam”, rituals to appease the deities. Later the term Chenkalkulam became “Chenkulam” and finally Chengalam. This is the story behind the etymology of the local name Chengalam.
Starting of the Church
Catholic – inhabitants of Chengalam wanted to construct a Church of theirs in 1913. Until then they belonged to the catholic parish of Anickadu, three kilometers away from here. With the permission of the then diocesan bishop Mar Thomas Kurialacherry, the foundation stone for the proposed Church was laid on the first Tuesday of October 1913 by the then vicar of Anickadu, Rev. Fr. Philippose Perumpuzha. The land was donated by Sri Iype Avirah Thachaparampath. The parishioners had by that time obtained permission from government-authorities too. On this very first day of the laying of foundation stone, Mass was said here by Fr. Vicar. Till today this day of foundation is celebrated as “kallitta thirunal” on first Tuesday of October. In April 1917 Chengalam St. Antony’s filial Church was made an independent parish and Rev. Fr. Mathew Maniangatt was appointed the first resident vicar of the new parish.
In one way or other all priests who have served this parish have rendered their remarkable services towards the development of the village of Chengalam. Roads and transportation facilities are a sine qua non for the development of any region. Three main roads, namely Chengalam-Anickadu and Chengalam-Pallickathodu were constructed under the able leadership of Fr. Joseph Koithra who was vicar here from 1940 to 42. Fr. Jacob Kanjirathinal is known as the apostle of vocations. Number of boys and girls from the parish joined different seminaries and religious congregations during his period (1951 – 57). Among those who were sent to Minor Seminary of the Archdioceses of Changanacherry by Fr. Kanjirathinal, five were ordained priests in March 1963 for the Archdiocese.