Features News Southwest America

Dr Mar Seraphim begins US visit from Aug 13, leads St Mary’s harvest festival

CHICAGO: Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan Bangalore Diocese, embarks on a 24-day visit to the United States from August 13.

This will be the second visit of the Metropolitan after his ordination as a bishop and the first after taking independent charge as head of Bengaluru Diocese in August last year.

The Metropolitan will visit Orthodox churches in New York, Chicago, Dallas, North Carolina and other states. His Grace will also lead the celebrations of Assumption of St Mary or the Feast of Shoonoyo.

Dr Mar Seraphim will maintain Chicago as the hub, the place where he spent over two years as an Asst Vicar at the St Gregorios Orthodox Church, Oak Park, Illinois. The church is under the South-West American Diocese.

Another high point of the Metropolitans trip will be visit to the famous St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan Township, Pennsylvania. It is one of three institutions of professional theological education in the Orthodox Church in America.

Metropolitan will travel to North Carolina (Raleigh) to meet Fr M K Thomas, the former vicar of Oak Park Church, where the Metropolitan had served as an Assistant Vicar. The Metropolitan will also spend time in meeting friends, relatives and others during his visit. His Grace will hold fellowship meetings, Bible Study and bless marriage ceremonies and give briefing about his vision of the new Bengaluru Diocese.
Dr Mar Seraphim will be back to his Bengaluru Diocese headquarters by September 5.

Here’s wishing the Metropolitan a successful stay in United States.
The tentative schedule is:
Aug 13: Arrival in Chicago
Leads evening prayers and hoists flag at Oak Lawn St Mary’s Church
Aug 14 (Sunday): Leads Holy Eucharist at Oak Park St Gregorios Church
Aug 15-19 In Chicago
Aug 20, 21: Leads St Mary’s Church Feast. Main speaker at MGOCSM meetings, conventions related to the feast.
Aug 21: (Not confirmed) Leads Holy Eucharist at St Thomas Church, Chicago
Aug 22-23: Travels to North Carolina to meet with Rev Dr M K Thomas
Aug 24-28: Travels to Dallas
Aug 28: Leads Holy Eucharist at St Gregorios Orthodox Church, Dallas.
Aug 29: In New York. Pays visit to his grand-mother’s sister
Visit to St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, talks with theologians
Sept 2: Back to Chicago
Sept 4: (Not confirmed) Leads Holy Eucharist at St Gregorios Bellwood
Sept: 4: Leaves for Kerala, India

Diocese News Features News

Bengaluru IT fellowship next meeting on September 18

BENGALURU : Techies at the recently held monthly IT fellowship meeting were enlightened by a Bible study conducted by Thomas Thoppil from Hewlett-Packard (HP).

Thomas in his speech brilliantly conveyed the leadership qualities that each one of us as Christians need to adopt, using the incident where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples before the Passover (John 3: 1-15).

He touched upon the common leadership styles that we witness in our daily lives. During the session, parallels were drawn to understand the leadership styles adopted by Jesus Christ.

The act of washing the feet was historically hierarchical in nature (it was done by a son to his father, a disciple to his teacher). Jesus Christ stunned his disciples by reversing the tradition by choosing to wash their feet. This act was primarily aimed at displaying the need for humility and the need to forgo ‘ego’.

Thomas also highlighted that though Christ showed the need to be humble and selfless, he also was extremely focused on his goals and never wavered.

“We are indebted to implement these learning at our homes, workplace and everywhere we go. The need to display humility and forgo ‘ego’ is pivotal along with the ability to not to comprise on the right goals,” he emphasised.

Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan, Bengaluru Diocese, spoke about the various initiatives he was working on and also requested IT folks to render help as and when the need arise. He insisted on spreading awareness about the fellowship and requested all those present to bring along more people to the meeting.

The meeting began and ended with the choir singing a couple of melodies songs.

The next meeting has been scheduled for September 18, 2011 at the St Gregorios Cathedral from 3 pm.

With inputs from Jiju Thomas

Features MGOCSM News Northeast America

MGOCSM Baltimore Leadership Camp concluded

BALTIMORE: MGOCSM of the DC/MD/VA area hosted the Baltimore Leadership Camp-2011 in Frostburg State University from July 28 to 31, 2011.

The theme for the camp was “Going Beyond Borders” and the verse from the scripture to meditate upon was “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Fr. Messeh, reputed for his ability to convey Christian principles in a compelling and engaging way was main speaker of the Baltimore Leadership Camp. Abouna Anthony Messeh, a prolific speaker at various retreats, is a priest at St.Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Fairfax, Virginia

In the workshop sessions, Fr. Gheevarghese John led the topic on Evangelism and Asha Thomas on Public Speaking.

Videos were also presented at the camp highlighting the key individuals and moments in the Church’s history to maintaining the Orthodox doctrine amongst Keralite Christians.

The MGOCSM of North America had decided to adopt the theme “Going Beyond Borders” for the whole year.

“With renewed energy, we have heeded the call to carry the cross of leadership for the remembrance of the past, stability of the present, and the progress of the future. This camp motivates us to go beyond borders to stay faithful to God Almighty” said one of the participants.

150 registrants from all across North America attended the Baltimore Leadership Camp-2011.

BLC Presentation Videos

BLC Theme Video – Going Beyond Borders

BLC Slide Slideshow

Fr. Anthony Messeh – Going Beyond Borders
Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4

Workshop-1: Fr. Gheevarghese John – Evangelism

Workshop-2: Ms. Asha Thomas – Public Speaking

News sent in: Manoj Varghese and Jibin George

Church News Features News

Dr. P.C. Alexander passes away

CHENNAI: Former Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu Governor Dr. P.C. Alexander (90) died on Wednesday at Madras Medical Mission hospital. Dr Padinjarethalakal Cherian Alexander was born in Mavelikkara, Kerala on March 20, 1921. His body would be brought to Kochi on Friday and will be kept here for the people to pay homage. Funeral will be on Saturday in Mavelikkara.

A distinguished bureaucrat, Alexander had served as the Principal Secretary to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Alexander, who had also served as a Rajya Sabha member, was also considered as a candidate for the post of the President of India in 2007.

Dr. P.C. Alexander had served as Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, High Commissioner for India in London, Governor (Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Goa) and in senior posts in the U. N. Civil Service.

It was while serving as Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN International Trade Centre, Geneva, that Shrimati Indira Gandhi invited him to join her office as Principal Secretary. As Principal Secretary to Indira Gandhi and later to Rajiv Gandhi during the years 1981-1985, he played a very crucial role in the momentous developments of this period.

Dr. Alexander took his post-graduate degree in History arid Economics from the Travancore University and M.Litt and D.Litt. degrees by research from the Annamalai University before joining the Indian Administrative Service (lAS 1948). After serving in the districts in the then Madras and Travancore-Cochin states, he joined the Central Government in 1955 on deputation. He was later selected to the Central Administrative Pool of officers and continued to work in various capacities in the Government of India till his superannuation from service.

He had training in the Board of Trade U.K. under a Nuffield Foundation Fellowship and done research at the Stanford Research Institute, California, U.S.A. under a Ford Foundation Fellowship.

Dr. Alexander from his younger days in school and colleges had excelled himself in elocution and debates, consistently winning first prizes in inter-school and inter-collegiate competitions. While a student at the Travancore University he was the leader of the Travancore University debating team which was deputed to visit other universities for inter-university debates. He was President of the Travancore University Union during 1940-41.

Dr. Alexander has authored several books, articles and research papers and enjoys as high a reputation as a writer as he does as a speaker. His latest books are:

1. My Years with Indira Gandhi, 2. The Perils of Democracy, 3. India in the New Millennium.

Wife: Ackamma Alexander

Features Gulf News

Muscat Maha Edavaka’s cardiology camp at Sulthan Bathery

SULTHAN BATHERY, Kerala: Dr Abraham Mar Ephiphanios, Metropolitan of Sulthan Bathery launched the cardiology medical camp of the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka Muscat’s ‘Save-A-Life’ (2011-12), cardiac surgery project on August 6, Saturday.

The third cardiology medical camp conducted by the Maha Edavaka in association with St Gregorios Cardio-Vascular Centre, Parumala, in Sulthan Bathery has been completed successfully. There has been an excellent progress so far to the Save-A-Life cardiac surgery project. Previous two cardiology camps were successfully held in Chengullum and Thannithode in Kerala to filter out the genuine cases.

More than 50 patients attended the Sulthan Bathery camp and about 12-15 patients are recommended for surgery.

Dr Saji Philip, clinical and administrative co-ordinator of the St Gregorios Cardio-Vascular Centre, Parumala took part in the camp and tracked the genuine patients.

Sizable number of sponsors from Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka, Muscat have already come forward to bear the cost of the surgery for each of the patients.

Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar, Muscat Maha Edavaka had said since the church enters its 40th year, the Maha Edavaka as part of its popular charity project called ‘Thanal’ wants to provide financial aid to a minimum of 40 children through the project.

The cardiac surgery project will be executed in association with St Gregorios Cardio-Vascular Centre. The international centre provides training and research for cardio thoracic and vascular diseases. The centre functions from the St Gregorios Mission Hospital, Parumala.

Those desiring to know details of the project can contact:
Dr Saji Philip (Administrative and Clinical Co-ordinator)
St Gregorios Cardio Vascular Centre
St Gregorios Mission Hospital, Parumala, P O – 689 626
Pathanamthitta District, Kerala
Tel: + 91-0479-2310664, 2310 665, 231 2381
Fax: + 91-479-231 1008


Church Split – a poem

Once One, the church now into two seeks to separate,
Oh, how ironic, how ignominious this fate !
two parties, who once broke bread together, now bicker and argue
over their rights, who did wrong to who, and what is their due
together they could have been strong and many, now they will be weak and few

The priest and kappyaars all in white
perform the service to nourish our minds and spirits, elevate it into the Light
yet amidst the incense, the Barekmores and the Hosannas ring hollow
the great themes of charity and forgiveness now difficult to follow
together, prayer, chant and song
one wonders how things could go so wrong
to partake in His communion, the congregation no longer rises as one
pain and regret, not just for them but also for the Son

What drives them they cannot see
and so they squabble and fight
they are sure their side is on the right
caught between the two, the priest has no choice but to enter the fray
and in the process he also loses his way
yet Blessed are those who are sent to make peace
for without them this useless strife cannot cease

And so the Center cannot hold
each side will say “let the truth be told”
but by their fratricide, the bishops miter they do mock
the church was not built on this type of Rock
amazed by the circus, others stare and gawk

In the din, the Good News is nowhere to be found
noisy gong and clanging cymbals, that is the sound
so the Great Message is beaten down and brought low
Can they not see this? Do they not know?

Indeed in the church a few seek pride of place
having forgotten the redemptive power of sweet Grace
certainly they do not lack in hypocrisy
in this they are much like the Pharisee
with fears rooted deep in insecurity
yet it wears a hundred disguises
fooling even the smartest and the wisest
for self-deception is the greatest deception of all
present at the inception, present at the Fall

Away from Kerala, now in America,
some men, at home feel less important, even weak
so as remedy, status in their church they do seek
they wish to place their own cross on the church’s dome
not feeling fully appreciated in the Malayalee home

Christians are to reflect the image of Christ
but by the actions of some this is now in grave distortion
sending Christ on the Cross into more painful contortion
for each sees the log in the others eye, but not their own
and this partial perception sets the overall tone

They do not fully understand what sets brother against brother
forgetting the command to love one another
hidden from ourselves sometimes is our own true motivation
so of the Christian message, they make an aberration
quick to judgment, quick to set a poor example
marching to battle, over the spirit of Jesus they do trample
surely Blessed are the humble
without which the church will always stumble

From the other, it is the worst they anticipate
hence their response to perceived insult is disproportionate
and so they lack the ability to successfully negotiate,
and thereby hostility mitigate
rumor and innuendo, tit for tat, action and reaction,
the path to truce finds no traction
in the other they have absolutely no trust
for the Body of Christ to be healthy, this is absolute must

How others perceive them they cannot see
so the church splits now into two, but eventually even three
Alas Alas, this comes at a great cost
for time is running “tick tock, tick tock”
even as a whole generation is irretrievably lost

This tragic truth they do not comprehend
so they do not focus on how the Body of Christ can mend
Aiyoo! Aiyoo!
for against all the bitterness, God has no one else to send


U-Turn – Feature film

U-Turn – Feature film

Columns Opinions

Major focus will be on developing local body audits in Kerala, says Dr Biju Jacob

Dr Biju Jacob (IA&AS) replying to felicitations by the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka, Muscat. Also seen are Rev Fr James Geevarghese (Vicar), Fr Varghese George, Abraham Mathew (Trustee), Cherian P Thomas (Co-Trustee) and Biju Parumala (Secretary)

Excerpts from the interview:

Q) Congrats on your new post. How does it feel like to get back to your home state where you spent a major part of your study and grooming?

A) I feel very happy to be back in Kerala. For about 10 years I was working outside Kerala – in Gujarat, Muscat (Sultanate of Oman) and Nagaland. So this is a real ‘home coming’.

Q) What will be the nature of your present job as Accountant General in Kerala? Can you briefly explain?

A) Accountant General (AG) represents the CAG of India in a state and acts as a watch dog of the financial performance of the state government. Interestingly; the job is not limited to monitoring expenditure alone; but includes various other areas like – tax collection, performance of various development programmes, environmental impact and others. In other words; we keep a tab on the entire functions of the state government.
Now, local bodies like panchayats (local government body) and municipalities – have come up as the three-tier of the government. This is a priority area for the CAG of India. So my primary focus will be on developing local body audits in Kerala.

Q) AG’s have to promote accountability, transparency and good governance in their work. How will you go about this in your present position?

A) As an organisation, we are one of the oldest institutions dating back to 1860. Hence the systems are well established. It has one of the best qualified manpower in the government sector. Moreover, we have computerised all the core areas of functioning. Thus, any AGs enjoy a great organisational advantage vis-a-vis many other heads of departments. I would like to build upon these advantages – especially on manpower and IT.

Q) How challenging will it be considering that a new government has taken over in Kerala?

A) We are neither influenced nor affected by the ruling party or the government. We always get good co-operation from the government in power – thanks to the constitutional safeguards. So change in government does not pose any challenge.

The real challenge will be volume and complexity of the audit work that needs to be done; so as to track each rupee to its final destination.

Q) How was your previous tenure in Nagaland and could you share some experiences as the AG there.

A) Nagaland was a unique experience – the land, the people, the climate and the challenges were all different. North east had a unique role during World War II too, being the site of direct fight between the British and the Japanese. So Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland, has a colossal war cemetery and memorial dedicated to the memories of the heroes of World War II.

However, the most interesting aspect was the great regard of the Naga people for the Keralites. Malayalees had contributed a lot towards their development. Till recently, almost all the teachers were Malayalees. Even now; there are many Malayalees working in key positions – not because of the high status or rank; but by sheer hard work. Catholic priests and nuns from Kerala are serving the remotest corners of Nagaland from 1970s . In fact; I felt very proud to be a Malayalee during my tenure there.

Q) Your advice to younger generation planning to take up professional courses..

A) I had training and experience in three totally different professional streams namely medicine, management and Indian Civil service. I had done a lot of slogging too. Despite all these, the greatest lesson I have learned in life is that you cannot accomplish anything without a strong faith in God. Without His Grace all our efforts are fruitless and vain.

Q) What are your interests other than your job?

A) Teaching is the activity I like most. I should have become a teacher. I enjoy public speaking especially on motivating people and cultivating faith in God.

Q) Any other information which you would like to share.

A) I consider Muscat as a very attractive city. I really enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the city a lot. Now, I am going to miss Muscat.

Features MGOCSM News Northeast America

Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Camp Concluded

STATEN ISLAND: The Annual Youth Leadership Camp-YLC 11- of St. George Orthodox Church, Staten Island, NY was conducted at Refreshing Mountains Camp and retreat center, Pennsylvania from July 21st through 24th with various activities.

The theme for the camp was “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” Hebrew 13:8.

Ceena Varghese was he spiritual leader and main speaker for the camp. Challenges facing the youth in their interactions with the wide world and offered Christ centered solutions to their everyday problems by Ceena Varghese with a fresh perspective to the campers.

The group discussions and the question – answering sessions were very productive and Ceena Varghese gave panoply of answers based on the scriptures.

The daily activities involved both spiritual as well as temporal in developing a healthy body, mind, and soul. Leadership roles were nurtured by separating the campers into several groups; presented skits based on the theme and group songs in which each and every member of the team participated. Adult youth members were given advisory roles to facilitate the smooth running of the teams as well as to nudge the groups to adhere to the schedules.

The Vicar Fr. Alex Joy lend and aura of Christian authenticity by supervising the whole activities and leading them on daily prayers and the Sunday Holy Eucharist.

The camp was was envisioned by Fr. Philip C. Abraham, the then vicar organized its first camp in 2008. 2011 camp was organized by the youth themselves . Anita Mani, Jacob Thomas Vilayil, Jeena Thomas and Lyeson Daniel were among the coordinators.

The camp was concluded by electing a committee to continue the camp for 2012-YLC12.