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Muscat Gregorious Church to sponsor an ICU for Parumala Cancer Care Project

MUSCAT: Rev Fr. Alexander Koodarathil, CEO, St Gregorious Mission Hospital, Parumala is a man with a mission and a deadline on his shoulder.

By 2012, when the Malankara Orthodox Church completes a century of its existence under the Catholicate, Asia’s largest cancer care centre costing Rs 100 crore will be launched in Parumala as St Gregorios International Cancer Care Centre.

During his nearly three-week tour to the Sultanate of Oman this month, Fr. Alexander’s missionary exploits were stretched to the full. An exhaustive campaign for funds saw him visiting over 160 resident church members in Muscat.

Fr. Koodarathil was able to create awareness about cancer and palliative care explaining to them about the up-coming world-class cancer care centre, its need, how it will be run when completed and the benefits derived in partaking of its fund campaign.

On his second trip to the Gulf after visiting Kuwait, Fr. Koodarathil elicited spontaneous response to the mega project from members of the Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church members who magnanimously supported the venture. What came of it was unbelievable. The proposed cancer care centre has received so far Rs 1.5 crore from the Muscat church by way of donations, assurances and sponsorships which will be paid in a period of two years.

The Martha Mariam Samajam in another fine gesture has come forward to sponsor a room at the cancer centre costing Rs 2 lakh. The Samajam members handed over the first installment cheque of Rs 50,000 for the purpose to His Grace Thomas Mar Athanasios, Metropolitan, Chengannur Diocese during his visit on February 12.

Earlier on February 5, in an ‘exclusive’ general body meeting convened by Rev Fr James Geevarghese, vicar and President, it discussed the project, its intricacies on a single point agenda. The meeting resolved to bring about a proposal and include the project under the church’s now popular ‘Thanal’ project over the next two years. The church plans to raise an outlay of Rs 3 crore for the project through which it will sponsor the intensive care unit (ICU).

In return any Muscat Orthodox church member afflicted with cancer stands to get treatment worth Rs 4 lakh provided the patient is recommended by the church managing committee. The modalities of these are being worked out and are in the preliminary stages.

Fr Koodarathil in his speech pointed out the centre will provide treatment for cancer patients at an affordable cost and open new horizons in treating the dreaded disease. He said both the Central and Kerala state governments have been extending all help towards the project.

Fr Koodarathil also explained the need for cancer care and how only about 40,000 cancer patients come forward to register in Kerala hospitals a year. He assured the centre will have the best radiotherapy and clinical facilities.

According to Fr Koodarathil, the proposed cancer centre will have 17 departments, including radiotherapy, nuclear medicine, palliative care and hospice. He said the rate of cancer occurrence in Kerala and in India was much lower, compared to the western countries. But, this could be due to under-diagnosis and under-reporting.

Fr Koodarathil has already visited USA, Singapore and Kuwait on his fund raising campaign tours. The St Thomas Orthodox Church, Al Ahmadi, Kuwait has agreed to sponsor a geriatric ward at the cancer care hospital. It would be run in collaboration with pioneering institutions such as Westchester University in New York, MD Anderson Hospital in Houston and Bailer College of Medicine in Chicago, he added.

Fr Koodarathil profusely thanked Fr James Geevarghese, church committee management and its members for going all out to extend help for the mega project. Fr Koodarathil needs all help as he coordinates work in realizing the dream project of the Malankara Orthodox community.

The foundation stone laying ceremony of the cancer care centre was held on August 24, 2009 by the Supreme head of the Malankara Orthodox Church HH Baselios Marthoma Didymos I at Parumala Hospital. All members of the Holy Synod had attended the function.

Gulf News

Mar Athanasios Metropolitan releases GOYC souvenir 2009 in Muscat

MUSCAT: A bilingual glossy souvenir brought out on the occasion of the 4th Gulf Orthodox Family Meet (GOYC 2009) was released by Thomas Mar Athanasios, Metropolitan, Chengannur Diocese on February 12 at the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat.

Fr. Alexander Koodarathil, CEO, St Gregorious Mission Hospital, Parumala, Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church and Fr Varghese George, Mar Gregorious Orthodox Church also attended.

It may be recalled that the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat and Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Youth Movement had organised the Gulf Orthodox Family Meet on December 1 and 2, 2009 at the specially erected Mar Thedosius Nagar at the church’s Ruwi premises under the theme “Boundaries and Beyond”.

The colourful souvenir opens with a picture of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of Oman. Pictures of Lord Jesus, St Mary, patron saints Parumala Thirumeni, Saint Geevarghese Mar Dionysius (Vattasseril Thirumeni) and His Grace Dr Stephanos Mar Theodosius are also included.

Messages with pictures on the facing page include those of His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Didymus I, Malankara Metropolitan and Catholicos of the East, Catholicos Elect Paulose Mar Milithios, Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, Metropolitan of Bombay, Assistant Metropolitan of Ahmedabad, Yuhanon Mar Policarpos, Metropolitan of Angamaly, President, The Orthodox Christian Youth Movement of the East, and Yuhanon Mor Meletius Metropolitan, Diocese of Thrissur.

Interesting articles have been contributed by Yuhanon Mar Policarpos on “Boundaries and Beyond,” Yuhanon Mor Meletius on “Dialectics of Boundaries,” Fr Dr Jossi Jacob from the Holy Trinity Theological College, Addis Ababa on “Human Freedom and Salvation in Ephremic Thinking,” Dr Yakob Mar Iraneus Metropolitan on “Necessity of Boundaries” and also by Dr Gabriel Mar Gregorious.

Messages from Fr James Geevarghese as Vicar and President of MGOC, Muscat and by Fr Spencer Koshy, Orthodox Christian Youth Movement General Secretary, Fr Bijesh Philip, St Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur, Fr Varghese George, Fr Saji Amayil are also prominently displayed. An article by Dr Biju Jacob on “Boundaries and new territories” is interesting while Boban Mathew Thomas as GOYC coordinator has provided a history on the “Malankara Orthodox Church and Youth Movement.”
Also included are messages from Dr Chona Thomas, Geevarghese Yohannan, General Convenor, GOYC, Abraham Mathew, Joint General Convenor, GOYC, Anu Varghese, GOYC Youth Co-ordinator, Binu Joseph Kunchattil, Vice President, MGOCYM, T T Joseph, Trustee, MGOC and Babu Varghese, Convenor, Souvenir Committee.

Byju Babu John as GCC Central Secretary provides a detailed report in English while Anu Varghese as secretary, MGOCYM has it in Malayalam.

GCC parish reports of the Orthodox Christian Youth Movements for 2009 from St George Orthodox Cathedral, Abu Dhabi, UAE, St Thomas Orthodox Youth Movement, Bahrain, Malankara Orthodox Church, Doha, Qatar, St Gregorios Orthodox Christian Youth Movement of St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Maha Edavaka, Kuwait, St Thomas Orthodox Church Youth League, Ahmadi Kuwait are also included.

Pictures of events like the seminar opening, discussions, cultural programmes and the closing ceremonies and reception during the GOYC is also displayed.

The cover and layout of the magazine was done by Johnson P Varghese and a word of thanks from Babu Varghese, Mulamoottil, convener, souvenir committee. The souvenir has back cover advertisements from MGM Group of Schools, Deepam Auditorium and Rainbow Auditorium. An effort of this nature by the MGOCYM is worth commendable.

Gulf News

Muscat Gregorious Orthodox Church sets a precedent through its Thanal Projects

MUSCAT: It was a tense afternoon at the Pampakuda Valiya Palli where a solemn occasion was being held. Tears filled the eyes of the bride’s aged mother while the severely handicapped father was being wheeled to the church with the guests and well-wishers gathered to witness the holy matrimony. The bride’s parents were waiting for this big moment in their life when their daughter was going through the marriage vows.

The occasion was the marriage of financially backward boys and girls of the Malankara Orthodox church through the Thanal (shelter) Project of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat.

The vicar and the managing committee of the Muscat Church had decided to conduct the marriages of poor backward men and women of Orthodox Church through ‘Thanal’ Marriage Aid Project during 2009-2010. The target was to organise 10 marriages for this year. But in a great show of altruistic activity by the church members, the amount collected was more than sufficient to conduct at least 13 marriages.

As such two marriages were held in Pampakuda Valiya Palli on January 10, 2010, another marriage in Parimala Church on January 11 and two others at the St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Sulthan Bathery (Wayanad district) on January 14. Cash was distributed to eight eligible and recently married poor couples as per the decision of the church managing committee. Totally, 13 families reaped the benefits of the project for 2009-2010.

A sum of over Riyal Omani (RO) 17,000 was collected by the church from its members over a period of 8 to 10 months. Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar, Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat says the church was flooded with hundreds of applicants and only the “truly worthy and deserving” ones got selected. Each of the financially backward Orthodox women was given Rs one lakh and other gifts.

The proceeds of the Mar Gregorios Charity Fund and the charity boxes kept at the members’ homes and the amount collected is distributed among the poor and needy applicants from various dioceses in India, through the respective metropolitans.

Metropolitan Abraham Mar Epiphanios of Sulthan Bathery graced the occasion at Sulthan Bathery. Metropolitan Dr Mathews Mar Severios of Kandanad West and Secretary of the Holy Episcopal Synod blessed the marriage ceremony at Pampakuda Valiya Palli.

Fr James Geevarghese, Trustee T J Joseph and other senior members of the Muscat Church namely Geevarghese Yohannan, Mathew Ninan, Thomas K C and others attended the simple function.

Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat is well known among the Orthodox diocese for its charity contributions. The church’s other Thanal projects include fund for housing projects, fund for education (called Muscat Education Fund), Medical Aid Fund, Fund for Self employment and funds for other charitable projects.

The Marriage Aid Project during the previous years had also concentrated on the dioceses of Sulthan Bathery, Malabar, Idukki and Kandanad. During the tenure of Fr Shaji M Baby (ex-vicar of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat) such marriages for the poor were also held in 2005-2006.


Calcutta Diocese Bishop’s Muscat visit to help realize last wish of late Metropolitan Mar Theodosius

MUSCAT : Dr Joseph Mar Dionysius, the new Metropolitan of Calcutta diocese successfully completed a 18-day visit to Muscat after his consecration as a bishop in February 2009. Metropolitan previously visited Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat, as a priest 11 years back in 1998 which the learned Bishop graciously acknowledged in his speech.

A nostalgic visit coupled with a vision to help realise the last wish of his legendary predecessor the late Dr Stephanos Mar Theodosius (1924-2007).

It was the dream of late Mar Theodosius to build an Orthodox church in Kolkata. Presently, there exists a primary school with about 50 students that need to be upgraded. The land is now on a swampy outfield and needs huge loads of sand to help raise it to a higher level. An estimated Rs 15 lakh is needed for this purpose and the Bishop was confident that the many followers of Dr Theodosius in Oman will help realize the dream project.

As a primary step, professional courses like MBA, B Pharm have been planned to help raise the necessary funds. Mar Dionysius during his visit was able to channelise funds for the project and called upon the committed Orthodox church members to help contribute to the cause willingly. Metropolitan distributed a signed pamphlet having a smiling picture of Mar Theodosius after the New Year service and made a fervent call to help contribute to the project. Though Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church is presently placed under Ahmedabad Diocese, it was during its days under Calcutta Diocese, the church grew under the guidance and stewardship of Mar Theodosius.

Metropolitan Mar Dionysius’ Muscat visit also served many other important purposes. Metropolitan was the chief celebrant for the Christmas celebrations, carol service, (Yeldo, Teejwala Shishrusha), Ecumenical Xmas programme, OVBS for children and visits to the Orthodox parishes namely — St George Orthodox Church in Sohar and St Stephens Orthodox Church in Salalah. His messages for Christmas and New Year were short and inspiring.

Metropolitan’s writing abilities came to the fore when released a book on Holy Qurbana during his Muscat visit. The book was sponsored by Mr Geevarghese Yohanan and Mr Mathew Ninan, two senior members of the Muscat parish.

Metropolitan Dr Joseph Mar Dionysius, 53, hails from the Thekkil Kandathil family of Valanjavattom, Thiruvalla. Currently, the Metropolitan is the secretary, St Thomas Orthodox Clergy Association and Director, Zoology Research Centre, St Stephens College, Pathanapuram. Dr Dionysius is also director of St Thomas Mission, Kailash Nagar, Bhilai.

Gulf News

Colourful end marks Mar Gregorios Orthodox Muscat Church’s OVBS

Orthodoxin makaalanu naam
Krishtuvinte Senayanu naam
Ani aniyay poyidaam
Haleleuyah padi poyidaam…

THUS sang a motley crowd of children gathered in the early morning chill at the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat.

These enthusiastic children were part of the Orthodox Vacation Bible School (OVBS) 2009 classes which held its 20th session from December 26, 2009 to January 1, 2010.

About 225 Orthodox children, guided by 25 Sunday School teachers, took part in the program under the theme God is near to all (Psalm 145:8)

Metropolitan Dr Joseph Mar Dionysius, the new bishop of Calcutta, hoisted the Malankara Orthodox flag near the chapel in the presence of Fr Babu Thomas, OBVS teacher from Sultan Bethery and Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar, Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat.

The children found the Metropolitans pep talks and preaching useful and informative.

Metropolitan concentrated mainly on target or aim fixing and emphasized on his formula, Divinity = Humility + Nobility + Quality.

The children were divided into four groups namely juniors, seniors, beginners and intermediate. The classes were held from 8 am to 1 pm. The church authorities had made arrangements to ferry the children from their place of residence in private vans.

The sessions were divided into two with a break in between. The interactive sessions had workshops, theme learning, quiz, talents, practicing song and games.

Focus was also on meditation and prayer. OBVS songs mainly included prayer songs (sung at the beginning and end of the day), theme songs (related to the theme) and marching songs (sung after the prayer song while marching from the chapel to the church).

The teachers took great efforts to teach seven action songs from a CD brought from Kerala and displayed via a projector for the students to learn the action songs and its intricacies.

The children learnt songs in Malayalam, English, Tamil, Hindi and Syriac. There was even a maargam-kali style song sung usually during the Onam, the harvest festival.

On the last day, on New Years day, the valedictory saw the students taking out a colorful rally inside the church compound and chanting the OVBS slogans..

Colorful skits with action songs and plays marked the end of an eventful seven day Bible study program which the children richly enjoyed.

Church News News

Malankara Sabha Secretary – Special invitee for Muscat GOYC

secretary-dr-george -joseph
MUSCAT: The recently concluded 4th Gulf Orthodox Youth Conference (GOYC) held at Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Muscat saw Dr George Joseph, Malankara Sabha Secretary as a special invitee to the conference.

Dr George was given exactly 15 minutes to speak after the “unique” Holy Qurbana last week.

The Qurbana was a co-celebration held for the first time in Muscat and was led by GOYC former President Dr Youhanon Mar Milithios, Metropolitan of Thrissur Diocese.

Delivering a fiery speech, Dr George called upon the all Orthodox Church members to come together in church building efforts. He made a clarion call to help exceed the Rs 2 crore target for all Orthodox churches for the Catholicate Day and Seminary Day collections. He dispelled rumors about the funds being misused for lavish expenses at the Church headquarters or for the various litigation purpose of the Malankara Sabha. Dr George however assured the members that instead the funds are being used for building many residential houses for poor church members.

Dr George also mentioned about the residential building construction for 8 poor Orthodox families of Idukki diocese who live in abject poverty. He said that these poor families managed to give Rs 150 per head for the Catholicate Day collection despite having no livelihood.

Dr George, the young and spirited individual he is, wants all to take part in the church activities vigorously. His three-year term ends in 2012 when the Malankara Sabha will celebrate the Catholicate centenary.

Dr George’s office is based at the Catholicate Palace, Devalokam, Kottayam and his mobile contact: +91-9446515099