The Canon Law Society of India was founded in 1987 in its first meeting held at Dyanashram, Chennai. It was during this meeting Fr. G. Felix of Kottar Diocese gathered the canonists from Tamil Nadu and consulted them to gather annually in order to support each other in their tribunal ministry. Many of them encouraged the idea. After a few months he consulted His Grace Marianus Arokiasamy, the then Archbishop of Madurai archdiocese. He supported the idea of the meeting of the Canonists of Tamil Nadu every year and he was ready to host the first meeting in Madurai. Being encouraged by this, further step was taken to organize the first meeting. The Tamilnadu canonists who came for the CLSA meeting were invited. In order to bring it to the attention of all the Tamil Nadu Bishops, letters of invitation were sent to all of them. Rev. Fr. Peter Fernando, the then CBCI Secretary for the Commission for the Priests and the Religious and the present retired Archbishop of Madurai too encouraged this initiative. Thus the first Meeting of all the Canonists of Tamil Nadu came to realization. Supported by these two stalwarts, the initiative was realized in the form of the first meeting held on 11th May 1989 in Madurai Pastoral Centre. Eighteen Canonists and a non-canonist working in the tribunal of the diocese attended the first meeting.
The meeting was chaired by His Grace Arokiasamy, who applauded the coming together of the canonists of Tamil Nadu. In the first meeting a paper was presented on the vital topic of that time on the Civil Law “The ownership of Properties of the Church in India” by Mr. Joseph, the then judge of Palayamkottai. He has given the legal procedure to safeguard the church properties and also the ways to recover the lost property.
In the first meeting it was also proposed that for the benefit of the Tamil Nadu Catholic Church, the canonists should take up some work periodically. Hence the canonists took up the preparation of the Pre-nuptial investigation form and a Book of Faculties at the request of the Bishops of Tamilnadu and Pondicherry. In this meeting the gathering was named as Tamil Nadu Canonists’ Meet. The list of the participants of this First Meeting is still preserved. They are Fr. Balaswamy of Chennai-Mayilai archdiocese, Fr. I Kulandaiswamy of Kottar diocese, Fr. M Rajasekaran of Sivagangai, Fr. P.C. Thomas of Madurai Archdiocese, Fr. P.T. Thomas SDB of Kristu Jyothi College, Bangalore and Fr. M. Susai Marian of Palayamkottai. All have been called to eternal reward. After the second meeting, Fr. Felix announced that he was to leave for taking up teaching ministry in Rome and so, the responsibility of organizing the TNCM was entrusted to Fr. A. Gabriel of Kottar diocese.
After a long interval, Fr. Y. Irudayaraj of St. Paul’s Seminary convened a meeting of the Tamilnadu Canonists on 8th & 9th February 1995 with 10 canonists. Rev. Fr. I. Kulandaisamy spelt out the need of translating the 1983 Code of Canon Law into Tamil and it was unanimously agreed to translate the Code into Tamil. Rev. Fr. E. John Kulandai, Rector of St. Paul’s Seminary while inaugurating the meeting also welcomed the idea of translating the 1983 Code into Tamil and assured of his full support and co-operation. Then seven committees were formed to translate the seven books of the code. The work was expected to be completed within a year..
The canonists gathered ON 23.02.1998 at St. Paul’s, Trichy and formulated the statutes and called the association as “TAMILNADU CANONISTS’ ASSOCIATION” and it clearly spelt out the purpose and the goal of this association. It was decided to gather regularly on annual basis and to present research papers in order to deepen the canonical knowledge of the canonists and to support each other in the pastoral ministry of tribunal.
On 23rd February 1998 an editorial board was constituted for translation of canon law into Tamil consisting of Fr. Y. Irudayraj, Fr. Rayappa and Fr. A. Alagu Selvan, Professors of three Seminaries and the secretary of the translation committee of each book. It was informed on 23rd January 2002 in the 10th annual meeting of TCA that Tamil translation of Code got the authorization of the bishops of Tamilnadu and got sponsored by Missio, Aachen, Germany and it will be published by St. Paul’s Seminary. The team prepared the skeleton of the translation of Code into Tamil and gave to the editorial board and the board gathered during the summer holidays every year and edited one by one all the books. Finally the Tamilnadu Bishops gave the final approval and it was printed in the year 2005.
In every gathering, the participants shared their experiences in handling marriage annulment cases in their respective tribunals. It was very helpful especially for those who begin to constitute the tribunal and start functioning at the initial stage. It also clarified their doubts in the field of pastoral ministry.
In the 12th meeting held on 27-28 January 2004 at St. Paul’s Seminary, at the request of the Tamilnadu bishops, Fr. Y. Irudayaraj introduced the rules drafted for the Ecclesiastical Arbitration Council by the Legal Cell and the members suggested some modifications in the draft. It is to sort out the conflicts arising within the Church among the clerics, the religious and the bishops and to arrive at a just and equitable solution.
In 2014, the Silver Jubilee Year of the Tamilnadu Canonists’ Association was marked by another publication of a collection of Canon Law Articles in itfiwg; gjpg;gfk; (Vaiharai Pathippagam). It is with great joy, satisfaction and pride that the TNCA is preparing to celebrate its Silver Jubilee on June 17th and 18th 2015. May the Lord guide all the Canonists to cooperate with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in order to keep the Salvation of Souls as the prime scope of Canon Law.