Features News Northeast America

Sts Basilios-Gregorios Orthodox Church, New Jersey to have a church of its own

NEW JERSEY: A long felt need has been realized finally.

The 12-year-old parish of Sts Basilios-Gregorios Orthodox Church (, New Brunswick of Central New Jersey is finally blessed to stand on its own. They are buying a new Church of their own. They had earlier been part of the St Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

St Basilios of Kothamangalam and Saint Gregorios of Parumala are the Patron Saints of SBGOC.

SBGOC was established on October 1, 2000 through the leadership of Fr Dr Mathew C Chacko with blessings and Order of Mathews Mar Barnabas, former Metropolitan of the American Diocese.

Dr Yuhanon Mar Meletius, Metropolitan of Thrissur Diocese paid a visit to the new Church in the company of Fr Dr Mathew (Vicar), Mrs Ruthamma Mathew (wife of vicar) and Saji George (PR team leader).

Dr Mar Meletius has been a long time friend of this parish from the very beginning and even now SBGOC honours the bond and relationship they have with the Metropolitan. The Metropolitan led the Holy Qurbana at their rented Church on November 20, 2011.

Initially, SBGOC started out with two to three families worshipping as a congregation at St Sofia’s Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, New Jersey. In July 2003, the congregation of around 40 families was recognised as a parish under the American Diocese of the Indian Orthodox Church.

Dr Mar Meletius will conclude his visit to Americas by December 12.

Diocese News Features News

Calcutta Diocesan Arts Competition -2011

RAIPUR: Calcutta Diocesan Arts Competition -2011 was held at St.Mary’s orthdox Church, Raipur on 27th November,2011 after the Holy Qurbana.

Teams from Bhopal St.Thomas Orthodox Cathedral, Kolar (Bhopal) Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Jabalpur St.George Orthodox Church, Nagpur St.George Orthodox Cathedral, Korba Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Bilaspur Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church and the host unit St.Mary’s Orthodox Church, Raipur were participated in the competitons.

Raipur St.Mary’s Orthodox Sundayschool won the best unit trophy. The Bhopal zone and the Raipur zone scored equal points and declared both the zones as joint winners and shared the Mar Thoedosius Memorial trophy.

A special committee under the leadership of Fr. Sanju John (Vicar and the Vice President of the Sundayschool – Calcutta Diocese), K.C. Eappen (Sundayschool Director – Calcutta Diocese) , Anil mathew (Inspector Raipur), Sunila Biju (H.M. Sundayschool, Raipur) and J Samuel were behind the grand success of the event.

Diocese News Features News

Dr Mar Meletius to dedicate new Orthodox Church at Burbank on Dec 4

Burbank, Los Angeles: A new Church has been acquired by the Burbank Syriac Orthodox Mission of Malankara Orthodox Church, which was previously known as the St James Syriac Orthodox Church of America. The new Church is based in Sunland and located not very far from Burbank.

The Church is being is set under the divine blessings of Dr Yuhanon Mar Meletius, Metropolitan of Thrissur Diocese by the Holy Episcopal Synod of Malankara Orthodox Church.

On September 10, 2008, HH Baselios Marthoma Didymus I, Catholicos of the East and Metropolitan of Malankara, had issued an Encyclical confirming the spiritual relationship of St James Syrian Orthodox Church of America, Los Angeles with the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India.

Remodelling of the Church is presently in progress. The new Church has the main sanctuary that can accommodate 300 people. It has also a provision for a hall with capacity for 250 more, an office and media room, kitchen, Sunday School class rooms, vicar’s office, and parking for at least 60 vehicles. The Church was earlier owned by Episcopal Church.

Maiden service in the new Church will be held on Sunday, December 4, 2011 with Dr Yuhanon Mar Meletius as the chief celebrant.

The official opening is set for a later date after completion of all the remodeling work. Presently, the congregation has a total of 300 families. Most of them hail from Syria and a few of them from Middle East countries like Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

Dr Mar Meletius met with Cor-episcopos Dr Joseph Tarzi , present Vicar along with the President of board of elders like Rev Dr Elias Afrem and Trustee Mr Abel J Iwas and discussed the future plans and programs.

Diocese News Features News

Gandhidham St Stephen’s Church, Golden Jubilee valedictory on Nov 27

GANDHIDHAM : St Stephen’s Orthodox Church, Gandhidham will be celebrating the valedictory of its Golden Jubilee celebrations on November 27, Sunday, at Andrews Cricket Ground, near Orthodox Church, Gandhidham at 5.30pm.

From a humble beginning, the Church has completed 50 years of its presence in the port city of Gandhidham in desert region of Kutch. Today, it has around 88 families with scope of increasing this number.

Preceding the Golden Jubilee celebrations will be a three-day convention of the church from November 24 onwards. On the first day, Fr Idiculla Daniel, Ex-vicar of St Stephen’s Orthodox Church, will the main speaker. For the next two days, Mathews Mar Theodosius and Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios will deliver their messages on the occasion.

On November 27 after the Holy Eucharist and Love Feast there will be a public function in which Thomas Mar Athanasios, Metropolitan, Diocese of Chengannur, Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, Metropolitan, Diocese of Mumbai, Mathews Mar Theodosius, Metropolitan, Diocese of Idukki, Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios, Metropolitan, Diocese of Ahmedabad along with other dignitaries will grace the function.

The Collector of Bhuj, Chairman of Gandhidham Municipality, priests from various sister churches, ex-members, ex-vicars and well-wishers will attend the function. There will be cultural programme followed by musical programme in which renowned playback singer Wilson Piravom and Group from Kerala will regale the audience.

Fr Thomas Jose, Vicar, aong with the managing committee and members have extended an invitation to all to attend the function and bless the event.

For more details conct : Fr Thomas Jose (Mobile: +91-97259 75256, +91-98254 97112 +91-2836-231488)

Columns Opinions

Mar Aprem flays UDF government’s policy on Kolencherry church feud

Launches old age pension scheme for Adoor Diocese, first of its kind
Visual media classes for Sunday School students introduced
Equal rights for women to greatly benefit those based outside Kerala
Model home for the aged planned
Mickey Mouse-like cartoon characters to be adopted to teach teachings of saints to kids

MUSCAT : HG Dr Zachariah Mar Aprem (45), Metropolitan of Adoor-Kadampanaadu Diocese, was in Muscat recently for the Harvest and Parish Day celebrations of Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka as its chief celebrant. The Metropolitan also visited Orthodox churches in Sohar and Salalah during his two-week visit before he returned to Kerala.

Mar Aprem (Fr Sabu Kuriakose) a Registrar at Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam is also a fierce orator and a gifted singer. His Grace also serves as Assistant to Malankara Metropolitan, assisting the Catholicos in day-to-day administrative affairs. During his visit, Mar Aprem spent time to discuss various aspects about the vision of his new Diocese, old age pension scheme for his Diocese, the lingering feud of Kolencherry church and other issues in a frank interview.


Nature of work as Assistant to Malankara Metropolitan:

I had been the Principal Secretary to the Catholicos Emeritus Baselios Marthoma Didymus I all through his reigning years. With this vast administrative experience, I am presently working as Assistant to the Malankara Metropolitan. It is a tight schedule since I am also heading a new diocese. The work as Assistant to HH has more executive powers. Since a Catholicose-designate is not being elected, I am also looking after as the assistant. This was based on the consent of all the senior Metropolitans and also since I was Principal Secretary to the Catholicos Emeritus.

I am stationed at the Kottayam seminary twice a week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Under an existing system, I can definitely say that my heading a new diocese is the most challenging task, than the work as Assistant.

The task of carving 7 new dioceses was a herculean task. Another challenge is the Malankara Association meeting in March 2012 when there will be a reshuffle of the managing committee members in the ratio of 1:2. This meeting will elect members to the next Malankara Managing Committee and the new Committee will replace the present one that completes its tenure next year. However, there will be no increase from the number of Managing Committee’s 129 elected members and 30 nominees of Malankara Metropolitan. The 2012 Malankara Association gains utmost importance considering the fact that the Centenary of the establishment of the Catholicate also falls in 2012.

On Vision of Adoor-Kadampanaadu diocese:

Earlier, Adoor was under Pathanapuram diocese and it was a collective decision of placing Adoor under a new diocese. The intention was that the faithful should receive more Episcopal presence, attention and supervision. It is a small diocese but with a big responsibility and I am determined to build it up as a challenge. I have to be accessible to all sections of the diocese. I have had several rare visits to the residences of the diocese members which were warm and affectionate. During such a visit in Adoor, a 74-year-old bed-ridden paralysed lady kissed my palm with tears said: “This is for the first time I am meeting and touching a Thirumeni.”

I have also targeted the youth and children. For an hour every month we interact with Sunday School children and teach them new songs. We had the Angels’ meet at Pathanapuram for 600 Sunday School children which was highly successful. All the five spiritual wings of the diocese are active in my diocese.

Shalabangal, a magazine like Balarama (children’s weekly comics-digest) was released exclusively for Sunday School children. Shalabangal, is an informative tri-monthly colour magazine containing Biblical stories, messages from metropolitans, general knowledge and other moral stories. The magazine is priced at Rs 10.

On old age pension scheme:

I am making all efforts to consolidate my diocese. During the first meeting with the vicars, I decided to visit all the 48 churches having around 8,000 families. As I step into the second year of heading the new diocese, I am confident of taking it to further heights. During my visits, I could notice how the old and infirm were neglected by their kith and kin. They need company and solace at this age. The diocese which formed a committee came out with the idea of the old age pension scheme. Presently, we are distributing Rs 750 per month to about 110 old and infirm persons in the diocese. Out of Rs 750, Rs 500 is given from diocese level and the remaining at parish level. I am personally sponsoring at least 25 persons for the scheme. We intend to increase the amount if we are able to find more sponsors.

Future plans of the Diocese:

We want to do more for the weaker and neglected upper class. Later we plan to have an old age home in a 1 1/2 acre plot with all modern amenities like clinic, reading room, chapel which will be under the supervision of a vicar. It will be a standard and model one and not a conventional one. The inmates must have a family feeling at their place of stay and we have to give prominence to this.Our immediate priority will be to develop Epiphanios Centre (HQ Adoor-Kadampanaadu diocese) and to launch more income generating schemes. Also there are plans to have a self supporting system and future plans are to purchase 4-5 acre of rubber plantations in the Patanapuram-Koodal area.

Every month we have a monthly meeting of priests and all issues are discussed threadbare and their views taken into confidence.

Introduction of visual media:

In October we introduced visual media classes for Sunday school students of class 8-12 in my diocese. On a projector the students were explained the meaning of sacraments and liturgical aspects in English and Malayalam. It is purely faith oriented. During the Catholicate Centenary celebrations we have plans to have bring all sacraments under visual media. Fr John Samuel and Fr Ashwin Fernandes from UK will be specially looking into this to implement the project.

We are planning introduce Mickey Mouse-like cartoon characters to teach teachings of saints to kids so that they understand them quickly. This will be for students up to third standard which will also develop their vision better.

On Kolencherry church standoff:

The court had granted the right of administration of the church to the Orthodox faction, but the government is yet to implement the order, and is said to be looking to settle the matter in an amicable manner. A sub-committee of the State Assembly has conducted six rounds of talks with the representatives of both the factions, but is yet to find a way out. It is purely the inaction of the State government in implementing the court order in the Kolenchery issue.

The government’s insincerity with regard to the case has been exposed.It is really unfortunate the talks are dragging on even after six rounds. There is no hope for reconciliation efforts between the two groups. The state government as everyone knows has failed to execute the court order which allows us the ownership of the two churches. The present UDF government must be determined to implement decisions of the court and they have a constitutional responsibility. This is not merely a church issue at all and cannot be taken from that angle. It was a mutual empowerment and a decision of the executive, legislature, and the judiciary. A just decision has to be taken before it is too late. If the next generation has to have faith in a system, we have to agree to this. We need to have a law abiding government where by all the sections of the society will follow a collective will. Had the court order being implemented, it would have been a reflection on the chief minister and his leadership abilities. We need to have stern, determined leaders who can act boldly and not being coward to solve the issue.

The Chief Minister has assured both the factions that the government would settle the scuffle over the ownership of St Peters and Paul’s Church amicably. Both factions had raised allegations against each other during the recent agitation after the verdict. Though the High Court’s Kerala Mediation Centre intervened in the issue, the issue has remained unsettled. The Chief Minister has to act but there are other compulsions.

On women’s emancipation:

For the first time women are getting full membership in parish assembly, which is a revolutionary thing to happen in our Church. A good decision on the revision of the Constitution has been made, whereby women folk will be entering the mainstream of parish administration. The proposals of the Rule Committee that women have the right to vote at the general body and to take part in its activity have to be welcomed. This will bring in changes also at the administrative level involving the participation of all. Let me tell you, here power is not the only criteria but it will definitely have a reflection on all aspects. It will of great help to women members based outside Kerala Diocese due to their forward thinking and ability to take initiatives.

Features News Parish News

Catholicos visited Raipur St. Mary’s Orthodox Church

RAIPUR: The Supreme Head of the Indian Orthodox Church Catholicos H.H. Baselios Marthoma Paulos II visited the Chattisgarh state on 24th October 2011 first time after his enthronment as Catholicos.

St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Raipur under the leadership of the vicar Fr Sanju John received the Catholicose to the parish in a ceremonial procession.

At HH’s arrival the Chhattisgarh State declared the Catholiose as State guest. Vicar Fr.Sanju John welcomed the Bava at Raipur airport.

Send a Thanks giving Day gift to IOH

Diocese News Features News

Marthmariam Vanitha Samajam, Mumbai Regional Conference

MUMBAI: Mumbai Regional Conference of Marthmariam Vanitha Samajam was held at St. Stephen’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Thane on of Sunday November 13, 2011

Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, President, MMVS and Metropolitan, Mumbai Diocese inaugurated the conference by “Lighting of the Lamp” .

Fr. John Mathew and Mrs. Mercy Mathew were the key note speakers on the theme “Christian Parenting”.

Fr. P. C. Thomas, Vice President, MMVS , Fr. Koshy Alex, Vicar St. Stephen’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Thane, and Fr. Mathew Thannimootil – Vicar Panvel Parish spoke on the occasion.

General Secretary Mrs. Alice Koshy introduced the Theme of the conference.

Regional Secretary Mrs. Saji Joseph, MMVS Mumbai Diocese presented the minutes of the Regional Conference held on 27 June 2010 at St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Church, Malad.

Afternoon sessions were filled with exceptional cultural programs performed by Thane, Dombivili , Panvel and Malad Parishes.

The presentations Villadichan Song, Margam kalli Song and a superb skit evolved a huge round of applause from the delegates present.

The Metropolitan congratulated Mrs. Annie Saji from Dombivili unit who secured 1st prize in Quick Bible Reference & Princy John from Kalamboli unit ,for securing 1st prize in Elocution competition held at Akhila Malankara Orthodox Marthmariam Samajam Conference held on 22nd August 2011 at Parumala Church.

Mrs. Saji Joseph, Regional Secretary proposed vote of thanks

From 19 parishes of the Mumbai Region about 520 delegates attended the conference.


Send a Thanks giving Day gift to IOH

Church News Features News

Mar Philoxenos was a great hermit and an elder brother, says Mor Meletius in tribute

“He (Mar Philoxenos) will have a place in the heavenly abode where there is no pain and suffering, but bliss of the presence of the Triune God and the heavenly angels.”

NEW JERSEY : Dr Yuhanon Mor Meletius, Metropolitan of Thrissur Diocese, has paid rich tributes to LL Metropolitan Job Mar Philoxenos (1939-2011), Metropolitan of Delhi Diocese who passed away in Kerala on November 20.

Mor Meletius presently on a tour to Americas spoke glowingly in tributes to the departed soul of Mar Philoxenos at the Sts Baselius-Gregorios Orthodox Church at New Brunswick, New Jersey.

“He was a great hermit. But not him, no one would have endured so much pain, suffering and illness with such a strong and positive attitude. He was so sick, but that did not prevent him from being a loving and caring shepherd and notes that he was an older (elder) brother for me.”

Mor Meletius further puts it frankly regarding controversies when he says: “I myself was under controversy many a time. It is common that people talked behind my back on numerous occasions. But Thirumeni would call me in person whenever he heard something controversial about me and ask me directly. I honoured and appreciated this so much and shared my thoughts with him.

Mor Meletius recalls that when he was the President of OCYM, Mar Philoxenos thirumeni was very particular that I travel to New Delhi to attend the annual conference.

“He was a great person. I pray for him. I am sure he will have a place in the heavenly abode where there is no pain and suffering, but bliss of the presence of the Triune God and the heavenly angels,” he concludes in tributes to the great Metropolitan.

Send a Thanks giving Day gift to IOH

Columns Features Opinions

Tribute To Metropolitan Job Mar Philoxenos

With great grief and sorrow we inform the news of the sad demise of His Grace Job Mar Philoxenos, the Bishop of Delhi Diocese of the Indian Orthodox Church (Malankara Orthodox Church). He was 72 years.

He attained his heavenly abode at 7.00 am as he breathed his last at the Kolencherry Medical Mission Hospital after a prolonged illness resulting from renal failure. The Bishop was admitted to Kolencherry hospital in September this year for undergoing further treatment.

His Grace was the second Bishop of the Delhi Diocese ever since it was formed in 1975. In 1993, because of kidney failure, he had to undergo kidney transplantation. Despite his inclement health, on account of the operation, he performed his duties as Bishop of Delhi in an efficient and able manner. Blessed with a melodious voice, his renditions of Orthodox worship songs recorded in CDs and cassettes have been popularly received.

His Grace was born on May 8, 1939 in the Kanianthra family in Kerala and was the sixth son of late K.C. Thomas, Arumapettiyil. Even though Kanianthra family had 13 priests before his time, His Grace Job Mar Philoxenos was the first to become a Bishop.

Born in an illustrious family, Thirumeni was the grand nephew of late H.H. Baselios Mar Geevarghese II, the Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox church. His mother was the daughter of Bava Thirumeni’s brother Late Mr. Philipose.

His Grace got his primary education at St. John’s School, Mepral (Kerala), and PMV School, Peringara. At the age of 16, he joined as a novice in “Mount Tabor Dayara” founded by His Grace Thoma Mar Divanasios at Pathanapuram. He was ordained as a Deacon on May 26, 1956 by his grand uncle, H.H. Baselios Mar Geevarghese II himself.

In 1962 he was ordained as a full deacon at Parumala and on May 11, 1972 as a priest. He continued with his studies and acquired Masters degree in English Literature from St. Joseph’s College Trichy. In 1969, he was appointed as a lecturer at St. Stephen’s college, Pathanapuram, administered by the Dayara. He steadily rose up in ranks to head the Department of English and later became the Vice-Principal of the College.

This celebate priest was appointed as Vicar of St. John’s Orthodox Church, Mepral (Kerala) from 1974 onwards. On week days, he taught in College. Every Saturday he made it a habit to visit Mepral and conduct the Holy Qurbana at his home parish. He stayed in a room specially constructed for him at Padinjarae Veetil. He took an active interest in the welfare of his congregation.

In 1989, the Malankara Association elected him as a Bishop of the Church. He was then installed as a Ramban on March 31, 1990 at St. Peters & St. Pauls Orthodox Church, Parumala. Consequently, he was ordained a Bishop of the Malankara Orthodox Church (also known as Indian Orthodox Church) on April 30, 1991 at Parumala Church. Delhi Diocese was his first assignment where he was appointed as Assistant Metropolitan. He took full charge of the Diocese after his predecessor Late His Grace Dr Paulos Mar Gregorios attained heavenly abode on November 24, 1996.

He was elevated as Metropolitan on August 27, 2002 at Devalokam, Kottayam (Kerala) by Catholicos His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II. His Sundhroneeso (Enthronment) as metropolitan of Delhi Diocese was held on December 29, 2002 at St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Hauz Khas at Delhi.

His tenure as Metropolitan of Delhi Diocese witnessed a meteoric rise in the growth of the Church in Northern India. The Church established many schools and hospitals during this time and five churches were opened in the National Capital and its vicinity.
His most significant contribution was to make the memory of his predecessor H.G Paulos Mar Gregorios immortal by organizing the Paulos Mar Gregorios Memorial Award. The recipients of the award have been eminent national and international personalities including His Holiness Dalai Lama, social activist Baba Amte, Father of White revolution V Kurien, Arya Vaidya Shala Kottakal founder PK Warrier, and statesman Karan Singh.

Thirumeni gave lead and mentorship to the Shantigram Social Service Project in District Mandavar, Haryana where the Church has established a school and medical clinic. Recently, under his guidance a self-help group for the womenfolk of Mandavar village was inaugurated by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit at a grand function organized at Thyagraja Stadium early this year.
Giving wings to the dream of Late H.G. Paulos Mar Gregorios, he started construction of a Retreat Centre at Aravalli Hills in District Sohna, Haryana, which now is popularly known as Shanti Giri Ashram. The first medical mission of the Orthodox Church in the heart of the Capital was established at Aaya Nagar on April 2, 2001 under Thirumeni’s leadership.

Thirumeni was a revolutionary in many aspects and this was evident from several decisions he took during his tenure. His vision to cater to the needs of the outside Kerala youngsters and families led him to give shape to the Indian Orthodox Diaspora Movement, which later emerged as a full-fledged spiritual organization, besides the Sunday School, MGOCSM, Martha Mariam Samajam, AMOSS and Orthodox Christian Youth Movement.

History was again created when Thirumeni brought women in the Church to the forefront giving approval for inducting young women of the Church into the Youth League. To encourage their participation in Sunday worship, Thirumeni issued an order allowing girls to read the Old Testament reading before the start of Qurbana.

Thirumeni was ahead of his times in every sense. He was instrumental in opening the Internet as a means to connect to millions of Orthodox believers across the world in an attempt to clear their doubts on issues of faith, Under his cheerful spirit and joyful face he always hid the pain and sorrow of his illness. Even in testing times, he conveyed his views on raging social and moral issues such as homosexuality, attack on Christians and need for world peace. As a strenuous worker of peace and unity among all religions, all Christian denominations and other religions condole the loss of a great soul. Together with them, each member of the Indian Orthodox Church join in this solemn moment.

Press release-Delhi Diocese

Send a Thanks giving Day gift to IOH


Remembering Mar Philoxenos -file video-2

Remembering Mar Philoxenos -file video-2