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Georgian Pilgrim Centre Opened in Bangalore

BANGALORE: St George Orthodox Church, Indiranagar was proclaimed as Georgian Pilgrim Centre on Sunday March 7 by Metropolitan Abraham Mar Epiphanios,as per the holy edict of the Catholicos Baselius Mar Thoma Didiymus I, Supreme Head of the Indian Orthodox Church.

The edict was proclaimed after the Holy Trimass. The edict also elucidates grounds for the elevation through this decree. The congregation heartily welcomed this decree and praised the Lord for the patron saint St George for the favours.

In his message at the public function held thereafter, Metropolitan reiterated that irrespective of religion, it is important to know that God understands your need when you approach God in prayer. When one is close to God, he understands your every need without having to express it.

Sri N A Harris, MLA, Shantinagar, Bangalore, C M Philipose Cor Episcopa Remban, Fr Jacob Mathew, Fr Shiju, Fr Saji Daniel, Col. K C George, Fr V P Idichandy, Thomas Tharakan and Dr. Lalitha Oommen spoke on the occasion.

Sri Harris articulated on the Bishops’ quote of Jesus Christ’s teaching “Love Thy Neighbour” and advocated to expand its horizon across communities by treating each other as human beings and being patriotic in the service of our nation. Sri Harris spoke in English, then in Malayalam and then translated some of the points highlighted by the Bishop in Kannada for the benefit of the Kannada speaking community in the audience.

Sri Harris was accompanied by many social workers & trustees of temples, mosques, churches of various denominations from all over Bangalore. All were welcomed by presenting bouquets to each one by the small children from the church sunday school.

Cor Episcopos Philipose Remban in his presidential address reminded that all of the struggles in the establishment of the new church and was ecstatic of the elevation of the church he commandeered to build.

Prayers will be held in front of the Cross Tower every Wednesday evening” informed Fr Saji Daniel, the vicar.

News Northeast America

Dn. Gheevarghese John to Mshamshono on March 7

PHILADELPHIA: Dn. Gheevarghese John, will be elevated to the rank of Mshamshono on Sunday, March 7, 2010 at St. Thomas Orthodox Church of Philadelphia (Mascher Street) by the Metropolitans Mathews Mar Barnabas and Zachariah Mar Nicholovos.

Dn. Gheevarghese John currently serves as the General Secretary of the MGOCSM of North America and catering to the needs of FOCUS, MGOCSM and Campus Ministry of the Philadelphia area.

Dn. Gheevarghese John is a graduate of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Scarsdale, New York and the son of Fr.K.K.John, Philadelphia.

Diocese News News

St George Church Indira Nagar as a Georgian Pilgrim Centre

BANGALORE: St George Church Indira Nagar will be declared as a Georgian Pilgrim Centre during the Holy Qurbana on March 7, 2010 and the newly constructed Cross Tower will be consecrated on Saturday March 6 by the Diocesan Metropolitan Abraham Mar Epiphanios.

A large number of people irrespective of caste, creed or religion seek the Saint’s blessings and continue to receive miraculous results.

The Patron Saints’ mediation has showered on its devotees relief from diseases, courage against fearsome animals, strength against the fear of unknown, shelter from various kinds of vagaries of nature and guidance and wisdom for all those who seek jobs.

Various milestones in history and miraculous events have paved the way for elevating the church as the Georgian Pilgrim Centre by the blessed ‘edict’ of the Supreme Head of the Indian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Didymus I, the Catholicose of the East.

Church News Features News

Metropolitan-Elects: Consecration Pre-poned

KOTTAYAM: Consecration of Metropolitan-Elects is likely to be on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at Kottayam, Mar Elia Cathedral, IOH has learned from dependable sources. Fr. Dr. Nathanael Remban and Fr. Youhanon Remban are among the seven Metropolitan-Elects and the rest five priests, namely, Fr. Dr. John Mathews, Fr. V.M. James, Fr. Dr. Sabu Kuriakose, Fr. Dr. George Pulikkottil and Fr. Dr. V.M. Abraham, would be professed as Rembans likely on March 21 at Parumala Seminary.

According to the proposal of Holy Synod, these dates were April 15th and September 23, 2010. September 23 was, however, declared as Panchayat Election in Kerala and therefore, there arouse a need for change for the date of consecration. It was in these circumstances that the Catholicos has decided to pre-pone the dates to make it more convenient, assumes IOH.

Preparation for the five priests ahead of their profession as Rembans is planned at Kottayam, Njaliyakuzhy Dayara.

Columns Opinions

Saint Dionysius of Vattasseril

As long as sky and earth do exist, it will be impossible for the children of Malankara Orthodox Chuch to ever forget the sacred name of St. Dionysius, the Malankara Metropolitan. Saint Vattasseril Thirumeni was born on 31st October 1858 at Vattasseril family, Mallapally, near Kottayam, and died on 23rd February 1934 to be buried at Old Seminary Kottayam. On the eve, when we commemorate his 76th death anniversary and are getting ready to celebrate the Centenary (100th year) of establishment of the Catholicate at Malankara, it will be truly befitting to remember the saint as the main architect for laying foundations of the Catholicate in India. I was not lucky enough to see Thirumeni for I was born 18 years after his death and only a very few, who are alive today were fortunate to see this great son of Malankara.

St. Gregorios of Parumala was the first declared saint of Malankara Sabha, who was clever and brave in his secular life too. However, his deciple Vattasseril St. Dionysius had to be cleverer and braver in his secular dealings. When I say cleverer and braver, I do not mean that his cleverness and brevity had anyway shaded his saintliness. St. Vatteasseril Thirumeni was as white as snow in his spiritual life too. Let me elucidate my point a bit further.

When Patriarch Abdulla of Antioch came forward demanding temporal powers over Malankara Sabha, St. Vattasseril Thirumeni was brave enough to say a big ‘NO’ to him, for which, he was illegally excommunicated from being the Malankara Metropolitan. The reason shown for theexcommunication was that his hands were shivery, when he celebrate the Holy Qurbana. The saint replied to this aggressive and nasty act like he would wear the excommunication bull from Patriarch Abdulla as a golden chain around his neck unto his death. However, the true reason behind the excommunication was that the Patriarch demanded a sum up to the height of Rs. 3000, which came as offerings for that year at Parumala Seminary Church and Vattasseril Thirumeni has turned down the demand. This has aggravated the Patriarch and he went on to opt for the extreme step to excommunicate Vattasseril Thirumeni. From this incidence there originated the Malayalam saying “Abdulla Manassil Kandu, Mallapally Marathil Kandu”. The meaning of which is crystal clear and Vattasssril Thirumeni, the wise invited the canonized Patriarch Abded Masiha of Antioch to Malankara, resulting in the establishment of an independent Catholicate at Malankara in the year 1912, which was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court of India in the year 1958.

The price that St. Dionysius paid for the establishment of an independent Catholicate at Malankara was immense and the sufferings that he went through in his life therefore were beyond mention. His life itself was in danger and he was under constant murder threats. He was put under trial at the Royal Court of Travancore and the Advocate of the then Patriarchal faction asked him to enact the Holy Qurbana (celebration of Chalice and Plate) in the court room before the Judge, in order to prove that his hands were shivery, when he celebrate the Holy Qurbana and thus to win over the case. To this, the clever Thirumeni replied that he was present in the Court to answer questions of the Hon. Judge and not to act or enact. He ultimately won his case and the Court declared the excommunication order of Abdulla Patriarch as null and void. Another factor which has pained him too much was the departure of Mar Ivaniose of Bethany from the Church and the formation of another faction named ‘Malankara Rite’.

Having failed the case, the then Patriarchal faction made many attempts on the life of St. Vattasseril Thirumeni. His body guard named ‘Aana Pappy’ was stabbed to death in front of Thirumeni by hired goondas. Old Seminary Manager Achen was beaten up and beyond that Thirumeni was showered upon with all kinds of nasty and abusive words, so as to bring his morale down. On another occasion, when the hired goondas of Patriarchal faction climbed the ladder and entered into Thirumeni’s room in order to kill him at midnight. The assassins were caught aback, seeing the great saint praying on his knees in tears. Thus God saved his life many a times and gave him opportunity to see the enthronement of three Catholicoi at Malankara. He lived, fought and died for the freedom of Malankara Church founded by St. Thomas and we are indeed indebted to him a lot.

As we are going ahead to celebrate the Centenary of establishment of the independent Catholicate at Malankara, we should not forget one thing that the opponents of Vattasseril Thirumeni, who were once averse to the concept “Catholicose” are fondling it now and their followers are out to create more than one power centers at Malankara in the same name of “Catholicose”, in order to capture power from back doors. It is our sacred duty to defeat all such evil forces and that is what St. Dionysius of Vattasseril expect us to do today. May God almighty help us to achieve this and may his soul rest in peace!

The author, Oommen G. Panicker is the Men’s Forum Secretary of St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Philadelphia

Features News Uk And Europe

Second Commemorative Feast of Mar Makarios

KOTTAYAM: Second remembrance of Metropolitan Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios was observed at the Catholicate Chapel, Devalokam, where the bishop was laid to eternal rest. The Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Didymos I was the chief celebrant. Youhanon Mar Polycarpos celebrated Holy Qurbana.

Metropolitan Dr. Thomas Mar Athanasios made the remembrance speech. On the eve of remembrance, bishop elect Youhanon Remban gave leadership for evening prayer and procession.

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Consecration of the Metropolitans on September 23 : Holy Episcopal Synod

KOTTAYAM: The Holy Episcopal Synod of Malankara Orthodox Church approved the election of seven candidates to episcopacy at the Malankara Syrian Christian Association met on February 17 at Sasthamkotta. The Holy Synod met at the Catholicate Palace Hall, Devalokam and HH the Catholicos presided over sessions. Sittings of the Holy Synod stretched from February 18th through 26.

Fr. Dr. John Mathews, Fr. V. M. James, Fr. Dr. Nathaniel Ramban, Fr. Yoohanon Ramban, Fr. Dr. Sabu Kuriakose, Fr. Dr. George Pulikottil and Fr. Dr. V. M. Abraham are the seven Metropolitan-elects.

Out of these seven five are priests and they will be professed as Remban on April 15th, 2010 at Parumala St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Orthodox Church. They will be consecrated as bishops on Thursday, September 23, 2010. Venue for the consecration will be announced later.

Holy Episcopal Synod Secretary Dr. Mathews Mar Severios presented minutes. Youhanon Mar Milithos, Zachariah Mar Nicholavos, Alexios Mar Eusebius and Dr. Youhanon Mar Dioscoros led the daily retreats.

In order to form a ‘social service strategy’ for the Church a committee was formed with Youhanon Mar Chrisostomos as Chairman. ‘Department of Human Resource Development’ will be reconstituted as ‘Ministry of Human Empowerment’ and the new Ministry will begin a ‘Family Centre and an Employment Portal’ to cater to the various needs of faithful.

The Holy Synod decided to celebrate ‘World Ecological Day’, June 5th and decided further to organize a range of ecological awareness programs.

It was further decided that in 2012, when the Church celebrates ‘Centenary of Catholicate’ and ‘1960 years of Christianity in India’ an International Symposium will be organized, in which all Oriental Orthodox Churches shall participate.

From now on Visitor Bishop for the Christusishya Ashram, Thadagam, will be Dr. Zachariah Mar Theophilos.

Features Gulf News

Mar Athanasios honors Muscat Mar Gregorios Sunday School student topper

Genius is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration. A saying that truly extols the benefits of hard work and effort.An young achiever from Muscat has extended this on his religious fellowship too besides excelling on the academic front.

MUSCAT: Master Chris Jeo Philip of Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church has emerged a topper at the Sunday School Final Certificate (SSFC) examination conducted by the Orthodox Syrian Sunday School Association of the East (Outside Kerala Region) in December 2009.

He emerged first from among all the churches in the entire Ahmedabad Diocese, also topping the Gulf Region and stood fourth from among the Outside Kerala Region with 87 per cent marks.

Incidentally, Chris lost the Third Rank by a single mark to Divya Suseel, from St John OSC, Andheri, Bombay Diocese. This is as per the results put out on the online version of the Orthodox Syrian Sunday School Association of the East (

Thomas Mar Athanasios, Metropolitan of Chengannur Diocese, who was on a short visit for the valedictory function of the church’s 10th anniversary celebrations felicitated Chris Jeo after the Holy Qurbana on February 12. His Grace also gave away prizes to other outstanding Sunday School students.

Also in attendance were Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar and President Fr Alexander Koodarathil, CEO, St Gregorious Mission Hospital, Parumala.

Chris is also a bright Class XI student of Indian School Al Ghubra (ISG) in Muscat and was also one of the high performers of the CBSE Class X examination held in 2009.

Chris is the son of Mrs and Mr. Philip K Philip of Muscat Insurance Company. They hail from Kallooppara, Thiruvalla. He also has a younger brother in Kevin Tom Philip.

A delighted Chris says: “My thanks goes first to God Almighty. My teachers kept encouraging me from the beginning of the school year to attain greater heights. This would not have been possible without the tremendous support of my parents. My special thanks goes to my class teacher Dr Biju Jacob IA&AS and to Mary Varghese, Sunday School Head Mistress. I am proud and happy that I could keep our Sunday Schools’ name on top among all the schools in the Gulf Region as in the last year. I am confident that this will be continued in the years to come with the current spirit and dedication of our teachers, Vicar and Church Managing Committee.”

Says Dr Biju Jacob, his Sunday School teacher: “I recollect Chris as a silent but keen student. One of his strong points is the regular studies which differentiated him from the average student who studies just before the exams. Credit also goes to his parents who closely monitored and supported him.”

Chris was presented with a gold coin and a Holy Bible by the Metropolitan. The Certificate of Special Comments and SSFC leaving certificate will be delivered after it is received from the Ahmedabad diocese centre.

Orthodox Syrian Sunday School Association of the East is a spiritual organisation functioning in all the parishes of the Orthodox Church throughout the world. It takes care of the spiritual nurturing of the children, by bringing them up in the knowledge and fellowship of Jesus Christ and His Church. It has a separate wing for the outer Kerala region, called as OSSAE-OKR and is headquartered at the St Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

The Sunday School classes range from Pre-primary classes to the 12th class. As in secular schools, class ten concludes the secondary level and a certificate is awarded – Sunday School final Certificate (SSFC) to the successful candidates.

Higher Secondary course is for another two years which is normally not done in the Gulf Region. Hence students like Chris Joe will miss out on further study at the Sunday School.