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New Indian Orthodox Congregation at Wollongong, Sydney

WOLLONGONG: To satisfy the needs of the Indian Orthodox Student community, at the University of Wollongong, a new congregation has been initiated at Wollongong area South of Sydney

The first Holy Qurbana along with the feast of St. George was celebrated at Wollongong, on April 28, 2012. The new congregation named after St. George, was attended by a number of faithful from the St. Dionysius Orthodox Cathedral. Fr. Thomas Varghese, the vicar of the Cathedral, was the Chief celebrant on the occasion.

Here on, Holy Qurbana will be celebrated once in every month at nearby church in Wollongong.

The new congregation will satisfy a long felt need of the International student community of the Indian Orthodox Faith Studying at the University of Wollongong, agreed many those attended the feast.

For further information contact, John Thomas: 02 42440998

Reported by: Sujeev Varghese

Features News Northeast America

Mar Severios at St. Thomas Orthodox Church of Damascus Today

WASHINGTON DC: Holy Episcopal Synod secretary Metropolitan Dr. Matthews Mar Severios will ccelebrate Holy Qurbana at St. Thomas Orthodox Church of Damascus, MD on Sunday April 29, 2012.

Fr. Reji Chacko is the vicar of the parish. The Church is located at 28201 Kemptown Road, Damascus, MD 20872, USA. Phone: (301) 570-3614

Features News Parish News

New Office Bearers for Mar Gregorios Maha Edavaka, Muscat

MUSCAT: The Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka has elected its managing committee members for 2012-2013 under Fr Joji George as President/ Vicar and Rev Fr Binu John Thomas as Associate Vicar.

E I Rajan will be the new Trustee, Dr Prakash Ninan, Co-Trustee and John Thomas (Santhosh) Secretary are the new members. Area members for 16 areas in Muscat were also elected.

They are: Jacobs Kuriakose (Darsait/Muscat/Corniche), Mammen George (Muttrah/Great Muttrah), Boban Mathew Thomas (Ruwi), Mathew P Thomas (Wadi Kabir East/Industrial Area), Biju M Samuel (Wadi Kabir West/Market Road), E M Daniel (Walja/MBD), M K Abraham (Hamariya/Central East),
Biju Varghese (Hamariya West/Al Nadha), O Thomas (Wattayah/Qurum/Al Amerat), Mathew Varghese (Al Khuwair East), Reji Philip (Al Khuwair Central and South), Salib John (Al Ghubra/Azaiba), John Thomas Vadakkedom (Ghala/Royal Hospital), C M Varghese (Seeb/Al Hail), Thomas Vaidhyan (MOD/Rusayl/Al Khoud), Achenkunj John (Interior). Sajan C Varghese will be the new Auditor and Abraham Mathew the Ex-0fficio.

Mar Greogorios OCYM also elected its office bearers for 2012-13.
Biju George will be the new Vice President with Binu Ammini, the Treasurer, Joji John as Secretary and Jomy John as Joint Secretary. They will be aided by a six-member committee consisting of Binil K S, Biju John, Varghese P Alex, Tijo Thomas and Jithin Sunny. Byju Babu John will be the Ex-officio and Cyril Samuel the auditor.


Features News World News

Malankara Orthodox Delegation at NCCI Conference

BANGALORE: A team of delegates headed by Dr.Yakob Mar Iraneos, Geevarghese Mar Coorilos and 16 representatives from the Seminaries, MGOCSM, Youth League and Martha Mariam Samajam attends the 27th Quadrennial Assembly of the National Council of Churches in India began at Bangalore on April 25, 2012.

30 member Churches (representing Orthodox and Protestant traditions), 17 Regional Christian Councils, 17 All India Christian Organizations, 7 Related Agencies and 3 Autonomous Bodies attend the assembly. The assembly will conclude on April 28.

“The Gospel in a Groaning World” is the main theme of the assembly. Assembly activities include business sessions, workshops, plenary sessions based on the theme.

A strong participation of the youth of the Malankara Orthodox Church was seen at the NCCI Youth Pre-Assembly held at the Student Christian Movement of India Centre in Bangalore on April 21-23. The theme of the pre-assembly was “Standing for Gospel, Google and Green”.

Fr. Vineeth Koshy of the Indian Orthodox Church is currently the Youth General Secretary of the NCCI.

Reported by: Stanly DJ

Features Gulf News

The Catholicos visits Sheikh Zayed Mosque of Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI: HH the Catholicos Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, the Supreme Head of Malankara Indian Orthodox Church, along with a delegation on their visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, was received by Yusuf Al Obaidli, Director of the Centre on April 26, 2012.

During the meeting, Al Obaidli stressed that the UAE under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan promotes the values of tolerance, understanding and dialogue in continuation of the wise policy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

HH Catholicos praised the policy of the UAE in the field of respecting people of other religions and allowing them to practice their faith in an atmosphere of security and respect, pointing out that there are many similarities between the religions, especially between Islam and Christianity.

HH added that the climate of tolerance, witnessed by the UAE, offers a global model of civilized co-existence between diverse cultures and religions.

This visit aims at familiarizing with the aesthetics of the Islamic architecture in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which stands as an splendorous edifice in the UAE and the region.

HH the Catholicos is on short visit to St. George Orthodox Cathedral, Abu Dhabi to take part in the centenary celebrations of the re-establishment of Catholicate in India

Today, a civic reception will be held to honour the church supreme head at National Theatre Abu Dhabi, said Rev Jose Chemmanam, Vicar of St George Orthodox Cathedral, Abu Dhabi. The Catholicate centenary celebration is coordinated by a committee including Rev Cherian Jacob, assistant vicar; KK Stephen, trustee and KE Thomas, secretary

Columns Features Opinions

My Reminiscences On HH Pope Shenouda III of Blessed Memory

(Speech delivered by Fr. Dr. Jacob Mathew, St. Paul’s Orthodox Church of Greater Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at the 40th day of the demise of HH Pope Shenouda III at St. Mary’s and St. Michael, The Archangel’s Church, Oviedo, Florida)

Dear and respected Fathers, dear brethren in Christ as well as my beloved friends,

The peace that we inherit from Holy Resurrection of our Lord, defeating death and donning eternal life to all of us be upon you all from now on for ever and ever, Amen!

I am asked to speak on my experiences with Pope Shenouda III. I think I have to classify my experiences with HH Pope Shenouda III two fold. On one hand, I shall refer to the Holy Man of God from my readings and interactions with people, which I call ‘gathered experiences’. On the other hand, my own personal experiences, which I call ‘acquired experiences’. Let me begin with the gathered experiences.

I. It is very difficult to establish oneself as a leader after a very strong predecessor, who reigned for a longtime. HH Pope Shenouda III succeeded HH Pope Kyrill VI. HH Pope Kyrill VI was a great spiritual leader, reviver of Orthodoxy and especially the monastic vigor among the Coptic Christians and was a very powerful person. We all knew that HH Baba Kyrill did not want the position of Pope. He just wanted to continue in the Monastery of Mena in Greater Alexandria as Father Mena. However, once he became the Patriarch, he could pull a number of learned men and women to monastic life as well as to priesthood. St. Mary appeared in Egypt many times during his reign. He established himself so well as an unquestionable figure until he passed on to the Lord on March 9, 1971.

Succeeding a person like Pope Kyrill VI was the most difficult task for Pope Shenouda III. We know that people would simply compare the new man with the old for need and needless. However, with his strong personality, will, courage, focused and responsible nature, knowledge of his own strength and weaknesses, vision for the future, confidence in the self as well as in the people around him, ability to filter away elements that were contra productive to the best goal that one envisages for the future, steadfast nature, sound and au courant theological depth in Oriental Orthodoxy as well as in all forms of theological endeavors, being a very strict and serious monk, solid love for his own Church, his own culture and language, being proud to be a Coptic Egyptian (that is why, I think he did not attempt at all to go out of Egypt once he was in exile in 1981) Pope Shenouda III could remain a man of God to his last breath. No one else than Fr. Anthony El-Souryani, who was among the personal staff of HH Pope Kyrill VI and had been elevated to the bishopric by HH Pope Kyrill himself as Metropolitan Shenouda would fit for the highest ecclesiastical order of Coptic Orthodoxy. There had even been predictions by Pope Kyrill VI that Metropolitan Shenouda would become the next Pope. Therefore, every bishop, monk, priest as well as faithful of Coptic Orthodox Church unconditionally and unquestionably deemed him as their father after the Father in heaven. He was totally a person, who maintained in the heart that he was responsible for the souls of all Coptic Christians all around the world and was accountable/ answerable to God for them. That was HH Pope Shenouda III of blessed memory.

Nazeer Gayed Roufail was born on 3 August 1923. After school education, he joined the Cairo University for his bachelor in History and English. He served the military as well as had been a writer and journalist, before he laid down the monastic vow in 1954 with the name Anthony El-Souriyanee after joining the Syrian Monastery of the Ever-Virgin Mary the Theotokos. In 1958, Monk Anthony was elevated to the priesthood. In 1962, Pope Kyrill VI consecrated him as Metropolitan Shenouda. His first assignment was as the General Bishop for Christian Education and as Dean of the Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary. Two previous Popes carried the name Shenouda, Shenouda I (Episcopate 859–880) and Shenouda II (Episcopate 1047–1077).

People, who have known HH Pope Shenouda often times have vouched for the humor sense of the Pope. One famous joke that the Pope cracked is the following. “When I joined the monastery to become a monk, I had to give up a number of things. The one thing that I completely failed to give up was laughter”! Pope Shenouda III always enjoyed a great sense of humor and that made him so an attractive figure among the Copts all around the world.

An experience that may touch us deeply was from a deaf girl from Oviedo, Florida. Once her mother took her to visit the Pope at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, and the Pontiff was recuperating there after treatment. The girl through an interpreter told the Pope to pray for her. Happily the Pope did it. However, right after that, the Pope surprised everyone, to the greatest amazement of that girl herself, by asking the girl with a natural inability to speak to pray for him. She had goosebumps to narrate that event. After that, she has started speak, although little by little. The Pope had the profound blessing from heaven to touch the souls of many, no matter great or little!

II. Personally speaking: I met the Pope for the first time on Friday, April 24, 1998 at the Castle of Schallaburg near Melk in Lower Austria. The Pope was visiting Austria and on that day he was inaugurating an exhibition. The exhibition was on the Coptic Archeology and was named ‘Egypt – Early Christianity on the Nile’. It was there that I understood for the first time about the origin of the word ‘Christmas’ in a Coptic perspective. ‘Mice’ in Coptic means ‘to give birth’ and Christmas is the combination of Christ and mice! Christ is born! And the Pope said it!

It was Metropolitan Damian of Germany, who was translating the Pope into German. Metropolitan Damian spoke in the best flowery German, so to speak ‘in bluemiger Deutschen Sprache’. However, Metropolitan Damian got corrected time and again by the Pope for a more precise translation. What do we understand from that? The Pope knew German language! To be precise, HH Pope Shenouda III was the first Coptic Pope, who would speak German!

I visited Egypt in February 1999. I travelled far and wide, from East to West and South to North. One statement that I remember fondly from one of the elderly priests, whom I met in the St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Abbassiyah, Cairo, was this: “Do you know, we all venerate our Pope. I have seen often times HE Butros Butros Ghali, the former UN Secretary General throwing himself down at the Pontifical Audience. Now, know, yourself young deacon from India, how much we all love our Pope”. That strong was the impression of the Pope among people of all walks of life in Egypt!

When I was attending the ‘Pro-Oriente Foundation’ consultations between the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church in the 90s, it was Metropolitan Amba Bishoy, who used to lead the Coptic delegation. Every day Metropolitan Bishoy personally used to brief to the Patriarch, what had happened on that day. Such strong was the interest of the Pope on Ecumenical endeavors. Pope Shenouda III wanted to see the Christian world united, at least the Oriental Orthodox Churches more than what they are today. Being an Indian Orthodox priest, that is my impression on the Pope. Let us all pray that the vision of the Pope on ecumenism come true.

The Pope was laid to rest at Beheira in the 4th century monastery of St Bishoy, which is located at the valley ‘Wadi El Natrun’. Wadi Natrun means literally the valley of salt. The Lord said to his followers in St. Matthew 5:13, ‘you are the salt of the earth’. Through his burial in the Wadi Natrun, the valley of salt, the Pope became an integral part of salt of the earth and fulfilled the commandment from his Lord! May his soul rest at peace in the courts of his Lord, among all the children of light!

Diocese News Features News

Free Health Camp conducted at Shantigram Health Center

NEW DELHI: Shantigram, a Project under the diocese of Delhi, had organized a Free Health Camp for the poor people living in nearby places on 22nd April, 2012 from 9:30AM to 12:30PM at the Shantigram Health Center.

Reputed doctors from Delhi served at the camp made the camp memorable to the nearby villagers. Dr. Rachel, Eye Specialist; Dr. Ajay, Physician; Dr. Shabnam, Lady Specialist; Dr. Toor, Surgeon; and Ms Ranjeeta were among them.

120 patients attended the free health camp for their health checkup and also received free medicines.

Fr. Binish Babu gave leadership to the free health camp.

Features News Northeast America

MGOCSM North America released a Video on Saint George

“God raised you as His own gardener, O George,
for you have gathered for yourself the sheaves of virtue.”
Having sown in tears, you now reap with joy;
you shed your blood in combat and won Christ as your crown.
Through your intercessions, forgiveness of sins is granted to all.”

NEW YORK: The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church remembers St. George,a Roman soldier who slayed a dragon and who was later martyred for the faith, on April 23.

About St. George, a video has been released as part of the Faith Series prepared by MGOCSM North America, to learn more on the saint.

Narrator: Teji Abraham
Video Editor: Manoj Varghese


Features News Northeast America

St. John’s Church Orangeburg, NY hosts Volleyball Tornament

NEW YORK: St. John’s Orthodox Church of Orangeburg, New York is hosting a one-day volleyball tournament on June 23, 2012. The game will start at 9:30am at St. Lawrence Community Center, located at 115 Torne Valley Road, Hillburn, NY, 10931. The players have to Check-in with their ID at 8:30am.

This Tournament will be an opportunity for the Churches of India to have a unity day – associated with the popular Keralite sport of volleyball, hopes the organizers. The profit from the tournament will be utilized towards charitable contributions and the renovation of St. John’s Church, said another.

The volleyball tournament format will be: 6 on 6, Co-Ed games, Round-Robin then top 10 teams play for elimination playoffs.

Trophies for 1st and 2nd Place Winners will be distributed at the end of the tournament.

“6 players are needed to be on the court during the game, teams are allowed up to 12 players. This tournament is intended for the South-Indian Church teams. IDs and church membership will be checked” the organizers informed.

$40 Per Player will be the SIGN UP FEE to participate in the tournament. Max 12 players per team could be registered.

For Further information, contact Blessen Abraham – or visit for rules and regulations


Reported by: Mathew Kaduvettoor


Snehi Bhavan – Sajini Mathews

Snehi Bhavan – Sajini Mathews