DUBAI: Concluding with a science and crafts exhibit that featured extraordinary replicas onstage of a bullock cart, waterwheel (chakram) and traditional utensils like para and murram, “Venalshibhiram 2010” conducted by the Orthodox Christian Youth Movement allied to St. Thomas Orthodox Cathedral, Dubai came to a jubilant end today.
Tailored as a summer activity and learning experience on our traditional heritage for kids from 5-15 years of age, the two day program with a drop of water as its logo conveyed the importance of water in our daily life.
Last Friday, the emphasis was on imparting primary concepts and cultural ABC’s such as traditional folk songs, simple crafts such as making paper flowers and classes on the conservation of water, essential first aid skills and basic journalism skills. This Friday, the focus shifted to putting these lessons into practice through a science exhibition, crafts exhibition, a documentary project and two rival newspaper projects that the students themselves planned and implemented with the assistance of their mentors from the youth movement.
As the adults looked on with astonishment our budding film makers, journalists, designers and cartoonists produced a stunning documentary on water, and two radically different but equally good newspapers of professional quality; the “Venal Express” and “Venal Times”.
Our young scientists presented experiments as varied as a simple water heater made of the lids of tins and wooden blocks and projects demonstrating the recycling of paper, the effects of planting trees on soil erosion and the detrimental effects of fizzy drinks. Eye-catching paintings and craft items using simple techniques were produced in just one day for the arts exhibition.
All students and parents thronged to view the replicas of a nettipattam and the Punalur weighbridge among the crafts exhibits that were dramatically displayed as part of the program. An interesting lecture on managing stress and conflict situations in parenting and tips to overcome the generation gap was held for the parents in the afternoon.
Venalshibhiram 2010 was an absolute feast for the senses that left both students and parents eagerly looking forward to next year’s event.
KATTACHIRA: This summer a small and silent residential locality in Kerala’s Kayamkulam area has witnessed an unprecedented number of pilgrims. They were from all parts of India coming to seek refuge at the lap of St Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Chapel near Kayamkulam.
Many of the expatriates and the nonresident diaspora who visited Kerala for their recent annual vacation made a bee line to the spot and to visit and pray at the shrine.
The miracle photo of Mother Mary and Infant Jesus in which flows an oily liquid with an aromatic smell since it was first noticed in October 21, 2009. Despite repeated wiping of oil from the photo, there was a continous flow. As per the Kollam Diocese Metropolitan HG Mor Theodosius Mathews kalpana, Holy Qurbana and prayers are being held on a daily basis.
Now similarly, oil flows from the cross kept near this photo and also from the Kalpana of HH Moran Mor Ignatius Zaka I. HH has shown interest to visit the place but ill health seems to have held him back.
Already film artists, political leaders, rationalists, scientists and atheists’ have visited the spot and examined the place. Rationalists have felt that more investigations were needed to establish the source and nature of the liquid.
Since November 21, oil has begun flowing from the Holy Qurbana taksa kept in the chapel’s madbhaha.
Fr Roy George, Vicar, of the chapel says: “So far we have collected 62 bottles of oil from the photos and the cross and kept them inside the madbhaha. Early morning at 7.30 am when the chapel is opened for Holy Qurbana one can feel the smell of the fragrance at its peak. Many of the pilgrims from far and wide are coming over to pray and get blessed.”
Before setting out to visit the place, first timers should be sure of the location. It is on the Kayamkulam-Punalur road and ask for proper directions since it is a popular spot now.
The small church area is now seeing massive expansion work to accommodate more tourists and pilgrims in the days ahead. Souvenirs on Mother Mary’s photos, trinkets key chains, rings, oils in small and big bottles, CDs of the events, photos and many other items are on sale.
On January 10 this year, the chapel was declared as a Marian Pilgrim Centre as per the Apostolic Bull (No E 187/09)of Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I. The Kattachira chapel has since been declared as Marian Divine Centre.
A number of video results for Kattachira church are also available on You Tube.
Thomas Mar Athanasius appealed to His Highness the Maha Rajah against the decree of the High Court on 1.3.1886. The Maha Rajah appointed a Royal Court (of Final Appeal) consisting of Cbief Justice K. Krishnaswamy Row, Justice A. Sita Rama lyer and Justice W.E.Ormsby to hear the Appeal Suit No:3 of 1061 (1886). On July 12,1889 (30 Mithunam 1064) the Court announced its judgment-a Majority Judgment by Chief Justice Rowand Justice lyer and a Minority Judgment by Justice Ormsby.
The Memorandum of Appeal had raised 143 objections; but the main points taken up for argument included (Ref. Para 17 of the Majority Judgment) 28.
I. The Patriarch of Antioch had no power to vest the Trust in Mar Dionysius.
ii. The consecration by him of a Metran did not give the latter any right or title to the property of the Syrian Church in Travancore.
iii. The power that the Patriarch had exercised was purely spiritual rather than temporal.
iv. The appointment of Mar Dionysius was void because there was no vacancy then, Kurilos and Mar Athanasius having been in the country. Patriarch had no power to depose Metrans without the consent of the people.
v. Mar Dionysius was not properly elected by the community or constituted the President of the Syrian Association.
VI. No disqualification, misfeasance, malfeasance or incapacity was shown as against Mar Athanasius to disentitle him to hold the position and dignity of Metropolitan; nor any departure from received doctrines and beliefs of the Syrian Church shown against him to justify him as a heretic;
VII. There was no case alleged and proved to remove Punnathra Chandapilla Kathanar from the office of the Trustee.
The Majority Judgment of Chief Justice K. Krishnaswamy Rowand Justice A.Sita Rama Iyer is quoted below:
“347(29 ) The conclusions we have arrived at on the whole
-that the Respondents (Mar Dionysius) claim is not barred by limitation;
-that the Ecclesiastical supremacy of the See of Antioch over the Syrian Church in Travancore has been all along, recognized and acknowledged by the Jacobite Syrian Community and their Metropolitans;
-that the exercise of that supreme power consisted in ordaining, either directly or by duly authorized Delegates, Metropolitans from time to time to manage the spiritual matters of the local church, in sending Moorone (Holy Oil) to be used in the churches in this country for Baptismal and other purposes and in general supervision over the Spiritual government of the Church;
-that the authority of the Patriarch has never extended to the government of So he temporalities of the Church which in this respect, has been an independent Church;
-that the Metropolitan of the Syrian Jacobite Church in Travancore should be a native of Malabar consecrated by the Patriarch of Antioch or by his duly authorized delegates and accepted by the people as their Metropolitan to entitle him to the spiritual and temporal government of the local Church;
-that the Respondent had been so consecrated and accepted by the majority of the people and consequently had a perfect right to succeed to the Metropolitanship on the death of Mar Athanasius;
-that the Appellant (Mar Thomas Athanasius) had neither been properly consecrated nor accepted by the majority thereof and therefore, had no title to the Dignity and office of Metropolitan;
-that the Appellants’ possession of the properties of the Church and its appurtenances and the assumption of the office of the Metropolitan have been wrongful since the death of Mar Athanasius, the admitted last Metropolitan and Trustee;
-that the Appellant should, therefore, surrender the insignia and office of Metropolitan of the Malankara Syrian Jacobite Church and give up possession of all the properties and moneys appertaining thereto which he now holds to the Respondent (Mar Dionysius) who would assume and take possession of the properties etc to be administered with two other Trustees as required by the Endowment Deed;…… ”
In contrast, Justice Ormsby in his Minority Judgment said, (to quote), “My conclusion, on the whole, is that it is not made out that imposition of hands by Antioch is essential to the consecration of a Metran of Malankara which is itself an independent and co-eval Church.”30
“There is no proof that the majority of the churches in Malankara have accepted the Plaintiff (Mar Dionysius) as their Metropolitan.
On both the above issues (a) the necessity of consecration by Antioch (b) his acceptance by the people which must at least mean a majority of people … He has failed to prove either … “31
In fact, the Royal Court judged that Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius V was the dUly recognized Metropolitan of the Syrian Church with right of possession and power over church properties. The Judgment was followed by a series of suits regarding nearly every one of the individual churches in the possession of the Re- form Party. These suits also were mostly decided in favor of Mar Dionysius32.
Old Seminary Regained
Following the Royal Court Judgment, Mar Dionysius moved the civil authorities for handing over the possession of Old Seminary. Mar Dionysius regained the possession of Old Seminary from Thomas Mar Athanasius.
Formation of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church
The formation of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in the last quarter of 19th Century was the culmination of the process of reformation within the Orthodox Church started by Abraham Malpan. The formation itself was hastened by the cumulative effect of the sweeping verdict of the Royal Court of Final Appeal of 1889 and the loss of property and individual churches. To quote The Most Rev. Dr. Juhanon Mar Thoma, Metropolitan of Mar Thoma Syrian Church, “At a period when the time and energy of the church were spent in defending themselves in the court, a band of twelve priests moved by a higher spiritual vision started the Association for Gospel preaching in the church and outside …. ”
“Now that the case was lost and their property taken away, it was necessary for this small group to think in terms of a separate church. They were called in contempt ‘the Reformers’ but they called themselves the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.”33
Mean while, the reformers organized the Malabar Mar Thoma Syrian Christian Evangelistic Association with its Registered Office at Thiruvalla which was established on Wednesday, September 5, 1888 and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church formally came into being subsequently. Thomas Mar Athanasius (1868-1893) was the first bishop of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church. He was the son of Abraham Malpan and consecrated by Mathews Mar Athanasius in 1868.
27. ibid. para 14 pp (1-7.
28. ibid P:7-8
29. ibid p:115
30. ibid P. 88
31. ibid P. 89
This article is a part of the book by David Daniel –The Orthodox Church of India– and reproduced from pages 190 to 193
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DUBAI: Launched with a skit that depicted the euphoric reaction of a rural farming family to the first monsoon showers after a long dry spell, the Venalshibiram program focusing on conservation of water was held this Friday by the Orthodox Christian Youth Movement allied to St. Thomas Orthodox Cathedral, Dubai.
Tailored as a summer activity for kids from 5-15 years of age, the program with a drop of water as its logo aimed to give the children of the Malayali diaspora here an idea of the culture back in Kerala and to convey the importance of water in our daily life through highly interactive poems, songs, skits, classes, projects and arts and crafts.
With a shingari melam and a huge cutout of an elephant reminiscent of our kerala roots, the inaugural procession was led by vicar Fr. Biju.P. Thomas. Assistant vicar Fr. Pathrose Joy, Al Ain vicar Fr. Philip Varghese, parish secretary Marydasan Thomas, joint secretary Bobben Thomas, Malayala Manorama Bureau Chief Vinod John, general convenor Mathews Eapen, Secretary Manoj Thomas all briefly addressed the students.
Through rhythmic folk songs (naadanpattu) ably led by Jyothish and Shobhin, the kids were introduced to the theme and then divided into classes based on their age group.
The classes included fare as varied as sessions on writing letters in sand in traditional kerala manner, crafting a tree with popcorn kernels as the flowers, a talk on the properties of water with fascinating experiments and its spiritual significance in all religions by Helen Biju P Thomas, a session on journalism for senior students by Malayala Manorama bureau chief Vinod John and a class on first aid and CPR by Dr. Swapna Biju.
Parents also attended an interesting lecture by psychiatrist Susan Korith on common psychological issues in children and techniques to overcome communication barriers and to bridge the generation gap.
Venal shibiram is planned as a two day program and the concluding session will be held this Friday on July 23, 2010.
News sent in by Mrs. Manju Mathew
KELOWNA : The North West Regional Conference of South-West diocese of America was held at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus from July 1 to 4, 2010.
The theme of the conference was “Christ is our Peace” (Ephesians 2:14)
The conference commenced with the evening payer on Thursday, July 1, 2010.
Thereafter in a brief opening ceremony, Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebius inaugurated the conference. General Convener, George Geevarughese welcomed the conference delegates.
The Diocesan Metropolitan, Alexios Mar Eusebius, Chor-Episcopos Michael (Spokane), Fr. Anthony Creech (Spokane), Fr. Michael Durka (Olympia), Dn. Gabriel Pike (Spokane) and Seminarian Joel Mathew from Dallas were the leaders of the conference
Separate meetings for the Sunday School, MGOCSM, Martha Mariam Samajam and the Men’s Group were also held during the conference. The concurrent programs for the children under 11 years old (while the adults and youths were attending the conference sessions), were organized by Liz Pike. The children enjoyed the various activities such as crafts, songs, Bible games, sports, etc., which were guided by various volunteers.
Variety entertainment programs were also presented by the children and adult groups from various churches after the supper and evening prayers on both Friday and Saturday.
The conference programs were concluded with the Holy Eucharist service on Sunday morning, followed by the concluding session.
A good number of people attended the confessions and received the Holy Qurbana.
Over 150 people attended the conference from St. Gregorios Malankara Orthodox Church, Edmonton, St. Mary’s Malankara Orthodox Church, Calgary, St. George Malankara Orthodox Church, Vancouver, St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Seattle, St. Gregorios Malankara Orthodox Mission Parish in Spokane and St. Ephrem Malankara Orthodox Mission in Olympia, and the congregation in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
This was the first time to have a conference of this nature in this region. It enabled the adults, youth and children from the various locations of this region to get to know one another and develop valuable relationships.
CHENNAI: Dr. Youhanon Mar Dioscoros, Metropolitan of Madras Diocese exhorted all to donate generously to build a student chapel at Coimbatore for the benefit of Orthodox students pursuing their higher education at the Karunya University and there around. Mar Dioscoros’ exhortation came out through an office order.
It is assumed that more than 200 students belonging to the Orthodox Church are studying in and around Karunya University, which is run by a protestant organization. There is no Orthodox Church or chapel in the vicinity too.
“At present only the senior students are in a position to go and attend Holy Qurbana at Churches in Coimbatore city, for the city is almost 40km away. The administration does not allow girl students to go such far distances and so is the case with junior students”, said one of the senior students, who spearhead the campaign.
“The present scenario is that they (the Orthodox students) do not have a proper place to worship together and to conduct our Holy Qurbana on Sundays. These students have come up to us with a strong desire to establish a chapel near to the Karunya campus, with the hope that they all could attend the service regularly”, said Dr. Mar Dioscoros in the office order dated January 10, 2010.
The Metropolitan had contacted local land owners and the expected cost to buy a piece of land will be about 1 lakh of Rupees per cent. The plan is to buy a minimum of 10 cents for the proposed chapel. Total cost of the project is projected to be about 13 lakhs of Rupees.
All well wishers can send their contributions to the account no. 13470100027739, (Federal Bank, Coimbatore) or to the address: Fr. P.J. Mathew (Vice President, OCYM/ MGOCSM Coimbatore region), St.Gregorious Orthodox church, 138 Near Modern Theatre, Yercaud main Road, Salem 636008 (Phone: 91.944.238.2306).
The Metropolitan expects all the Orthodox alumni of Karunya University, their relatives, parents and well wishers to generously contribute to this noble cause.
NEW YORK: Catholicos Elect Metropolitan Paulose Mar Milithios consecrated and unveiled the shrine built in memory of the first Metropolitan of American Diocese and the founding father of St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Queens, New York, Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios on June 27, 2010. The shrine includes vestments, staff and cross of the lamented Metropolitan.
The future Catholicos of the East also inaugurated the parish hall of St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Queens. There was also the launching of a website dedicated to the memory of Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios: marmakarios.org. Metropolitan Mar Milithios expressed his overwhelming joy on the website.
The inaugurations were in connection with the consecration of renovated St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Queens, New York. Metropolitan of the Diocese of North East America Mathews Mar Barnabas, Metropolitan of Kandanad West Diocese Dr. Mathews Mar Severios, Auxiliary Metropolitan of the Diocese of North East America Zachariah Mar Nicholovos and Metropolitan of the Diocese of South West America Alexios Mar Eusebius were present on the occasion.
News sent in by: Dn. Joice Pappan
“Two days have gone so fast at Harmony 2010, where deliberations and activities have made us totally immerse into the family conference. In our American Society, where we lead a life full of tensions, such conferences help us untie the burden of heaviness and stress we carry upon us. That was the success of Harmony 2010, if said about in a nutshell”, said Thomas Philip (Tomsy) and Sophy Sarah Thomas, a couple attended the conference from St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Atlanta. Their words reflected the general opinion of participants on the success of the conference.
Metropolitan of the Diocese of South West America Alexios Mar Eusebius was the leader of the conference. Fr. Geevarghese John Vallikkattil from Sukhada Retreat Center, Kolenchery, Kerala was the main speaker and resource person. Dn. Geevarghese Koshy, New York was the youth speaker, representing the young generation growing in the US. Fr. P.M. Zachariah, Fr. George John, Fr. Dr. Joy Pyngolil, Fr. George Paulose, Fr. George Daniel, Fr. Dr. Mathew Koshy, and Fr. Dr. Jacob Mathew and a cross section of parishioners from all parishes of the region were present to make the conference a memorable experience for all.
‘He is our peace’ Ephesians 2:14 was the main theme of the conference. Families are the fundamental entities that constitute a parish and the bonding between families in a parish is love of Christ, the culmination of which we see on the cross and resurrection. When the love between families flows beyond the boundaries of parishes and spreads out family conferences have their relevance. Seen in that line as well Harmony 2010 was an accomplishment.
On Friday, July 9 at 6.30 pm the Metropolitan, Alexios Mar Eusebius lighted the candle on the Holy Altar to formally inaugurate the conference. After evening prayers, inaugural session set in and Fr. Dr. Jacob Mathew, the conference coordinator welcomed the Metropolitan, speakers, priests and all participants into the conference. Fr. George Daniel, the Diocesan Director for Family Conferences presided over the meeting. The Metropolitan introduced the theme of the conference thereafter, which was followed by Fr. Geevarghese Vallikkattil and Dn. Geevarghese Koshy.
“Peace is an all encompassing entity that prevails even at death”, emphasized Mar Eusebius in his speech. Abraham, the Patriarch was said unto by the Lord that he would join with his forefathers in peace (cf. Genesis 15:15). Similarly, a peace that can overcome even the fear of death is the peace that the risen Lord promises to us, avowed the Metropolitan, Mar Eusebius.
Fr. Geevarghese Vallikkattil carried on from where the Metropolitan stopped. He opened up a totally new approach towards the concept ‘peace’ to the participants. “Does God change His words”, he asked the participants and affirmed that He does. First we see in the Gospel of Mathew 10:16-39, where Jesus categorically says that He came not to establish peace, but sword. The same Jesus, after resurrection says that He gives His peace to the disciples to spread among the followers of Christ. Can we interpret this as changing of words by the Lord, Fr. Geevarghese asked. The problem was to understand the difference in understanding on peace that God envisages and what humans envisage. Humans evaluate peace in terms of worldly success, convenience, recognition, monitory stability and absence of problems or stress. When we look into the life of Jesus on earth, such a thing never existed. When Jesus was in the womb of Mary, she had to undergo the stress to prove the legitimacy of her pregnancy. It all began there and ended in the death on cross. Jesus and everyone, who associated with Him, never experienced peace in terms of worldly success, convenience, recognition, monitory stability and absence of problems or stress. Being Christians we also can not expect such peace, in the worldly sense, acclaimed Fr. Geevarghese. The peace that a Christian can enjoy is a peace that prevails amidst of all kinds of crosses that one has to carry in his life. It was this very line of thought that Fr. Geevarghese was trying to elucidate all through his deliberations.
Dn. Geevarghese Koshy wanted to see peace as absence of war, troubles and turmoil. Only when a human gets rid of all the above three negatives one gets peace. Our prayers shall address to God to save us there from, he said. To support his thoughts, he took refuge into the weekly prayer books, especially the Soothoro Prayer on Tuesday, where one prays to God to save one like David was saved from Saul. Such a salvation is peace that one needs to expect in the sojourn towards the Kingdom of God.
Friday evening after dinner was set apart for cultural presentations and all parishes in the region participated in it.
Saturday was the most productive day of the conference set aside the Holy Qurbana on Sunday. Attendees were thirsty to hear Fr. Geevarghese talk, wherefore, they were even demanding in one accord to quit one session of group discussion.
Presentation of outcomes of the group discussions in the plenary session brought the reaction of participants on deliberations with a very personal touch. All findings affirmed that satisfaction of worldly blessings will never quench the thirst for more worldly blessings and a totally different approach will only plug the spill of human desire. All four groups appreciated the speeches in the conference with paramount happiness.
After the tea, there was a session of games for all the participants. Christian songs anthakshari caught everyone’s attention, for men and women were competing as two separate groups. There were games for children, youth, men, and women. Arm wrestling between two participating Achens added more flavor into the session and made the whole participants cheer to the maximum.
After evening prayers on Saturday, Fr. Geevarghese Vallikkattil prepared the gathering for confession. Many have found the confession at Harmony 2010 as an experience of relief and revamp.
The Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebius celebrated Holy Qurbana on Sunday, July 11. After the Holy Qurbana, all those, who celebrated their birthdays and wedding anniversaries during the month, were congratulated.
Business session thereafter decided to hold the next conference under the auspices of St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Atlanta. Evaluations on the conference were really positive from the speakers and participants. It was, however, also observed by one of the participants that involvement of youth needs to be enhanced.
MGOCSM members were instrumental for registration, and coordinating the cultural evening. They deserve special applause for the commendable job, which goes into record hereby.
Carolyn Mannil and Rachael Pyngolil attended to the little children during the conference time. The children were engaged all the time through songs and stories and activities. The kids even presented their achievement in the business session, which caught everyone’s attention. Carolyn and Rachael did an admirable job.
There was photo session with the Metropolitan and auction of a HP Notebook on Sunday after the Holy Qurbana. These two initiatives literally pulled out the conference from serious financial difficulties and all those cooperated therewith deserve special appreciation.
Another aspect that needs special mention on Harmony 2010 was the food that was served. Delicious food was served under the leadership of Fr. George Daniel and with cooperation from St. Thomas Malankara Orthodox Church, Fort Lauderdale. They did an admirable job.
AsiaNet USA recorded the whole conference and the souvenir of Harmony 2010 will come out as a half hour DVD Documentary. AsiaNet USA will telecast this video souvenir all over the world and thus the Eastern Family Conference, Harmony 2010 will be made known to all Malayalees.
Blesson Mannil, the secretary of the conference 2010 moved vote of thanks.
All, while retreating after Harmony 2010 from the Holy Cross Catholic Church Parish Hall, St. Petersburg, were encouraging each other to bring at least one more family to the next family conference at Atlanta. Participants from Atlanta welcomed everyone with warmth into their midst too.
It won’t be wrong to hear from some of the participants of the conference:
“Harmony 2010 was very well organized. One could feel a very energetic and positive vibration that made the conference much different from those of yester years. Location was good and distance between the conference facility and the hotel was also favorable. One thing that I feel, which needs correction, is the hesitation of youth to participate in activities. We need to find out ways to attract more youth into the forefront though,” said Sajimon Varghese from St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Fort Lauderdale.
“Vallikattial Achen’s presence and classes were of excellent stature. Fundraising initiatives, especially the auction was very much exciting and was a very good idea. Thirumeni’s presence through out the program was also a great blessing”, reflected Saramma Elias from St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Hollywood, South Florida.
“I feel very much happy about Thrimeni’s presence through out the program and it was a great blessing that His Grace was leading the team undoubtedly as the father of the group. A general talk from among the participants was that Vallikattil achan’s expertise was utilized to the maximum. Location wise this year’s choice was very good; specifically a very good auditorium, and there was sufficient parking facility as well. Another important aspect was that all achens were together through out the event”, said Mathewkutty, a member of St. Thomas Malankara Orthodox Church, Oakland Park.
Let us add a concluding remark on the conference from one of the priestly participants, Fr. Dr. Mathew Koshy, Vicar, St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Atlanta. “Fr. Jacob Mathew, Blesson Mannil and George Varghese (Shaji, Atlanta) have worked as one team to the success of the conference. It was their devotion and team spirit that pulled out a wonderful family conference against all kinds of odds. They deserve a special round of applause too. And finally, welcome to all to Atlanta next year!”