APOSTOLIC VISIT of HIS HOLINESS IGNATIUS ZAKKA I IWAS,
The Patriarch of Antioch and all the East,
The Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Church
His Holiness in INDIA from October 17-29th, 2008
Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee of HIS BEATITUDE MOR BASELIOS THOMAS I,
the Catholicos of India & Regional head of the Syriac Orthodox Church
The year-long sacerdotal Golden jubilee celebrations of the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, the regional head of the Syrian Christian Church of India, came to an end on Sunday October 19th with a grand reception given to His Holiness the Patriarch and His Beatitude the Catholicos at the Marine Drive grounds in Kochi. As many as 1,00,000 faithful attended the function convened to welcome His Holiness the Patriarch on his 4th Apostolic visit to India and to facilitate the Catholicos on his sacerdotal Golden jubilee.
The function began with the prayer song followed by the welcome speech by H.G. Mor Gregorios Joseph, the Secretary of the Malankara Synod and the Chairman of the celebration committee. Sri. V S. Achuthanandan, the honourable Chief Minister of Kerala State delivered the presidential address.
The grand meeting was inaugurated by the His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East and the Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, by lighting the ceremonial lamp. The Patriarch, who profusely praised the contributions made by the present Catholicos to the growth of the Malankara Syrian Church, decorated him with icons and a ring as a mark of recognition and affection.
Speaking on the occasion the Patriarch said that the growing materialism and selfishness in the present world were destroying the bonds of love and tolerance, which previously existed among different nations and people. His Holiness added that ''some nations and people were becoming richer and richer and some poorer and poorer, and this had given rise to conflicts between nations and within a country.'' The world was changing very fast and the advancement in the field of science had enabled people to communicate easily creating more materialism and took people away from the path of God, he said. "The increased knowledge in science and technology should not take us away from God, but rather, take us closer to God who blesses us with such knowledge,'' he noted. The Patriarch exhorted the political and religious leaders, social workers to play a positive role by promoting and ensuring better understanding, better unity and co-operation among all people.
Before addressing the faithful, the Patriarch and the Catholicos moved through the middle of the capacity gathering to give apostolic blessings to the people on a vehicle. Slogans of "Long live the Malankara-Antioch relation" rend the air as the Patriarch gave his blessings.
Shri. Shivraj Patil, the Union Home Minister, Government of India, delivered the key note Address. In his speech he said that the people has recognized the great service rendered by the Christian Church. It did the work of providing education and imparting fortitude to people to face the ups and downs of life. He also added that India is the land of philosophy of pluralism and Indians saw divinity in everything in the universe. While religions should unite, in some cases, it tended to divide people. These were occasions created by people who did not understand the essence of religion.
Representing the sister Episcopal churches, H.E. Dr. Daniel Acharuparambil, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Varapuzha and H.E. Dr. Thomas Samuel, the bishop of the Church of South India spoke. The other speakers were the honourable Ministers of State, Shri. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Shri. S Sarma, Shri. Mons Joseph, Shri. M A Baby and Shri. Binoy Viswam, the Opposition leader & the former Chief Minister of Kerala Shri. Oommen Chandy, KPCC President Shri. Ramesh Chennithala, BJP leader and former Union Minister Shri. O. Rajagopal and the honourable City Mayor Mrs. Mercy Williams.
At the end of the public function, His Beatitude the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas Ist, delivered the reply speech in which he thanked all for their love and sincerity to the Holy Church. The vote of thanks was made by Shri. Thambu George Thukalan, the Church secretary. The function organized inside a massive 'pandal' and attended by scores of faithful ended by around 8.00 pm.
Selected Photos of the Catholicos' Sacerdotal Jubilee function held at Marine Drive Ground, Kochi:
CATHOLICOS ABOON MOR BASELIOS THOMAS I
- the Great Shepard of the Malankara Syrian Church
It was on September 21, 1958, Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, the present Catholicos and regional head of the Syriac Orthodox Church of India, was ordained a Kassisso (Priest) by the former Patriarchal delegate to Malankara, late lamented Mor Yulius Elias at the Majanikkara Dayro. In this eventful fifty years of priest hood His Beatitude has contributed a lot for the Malankara Church for which the Church is greatly indebted. In recognition to H.B.'s great services, a Malankara Syrian Church Committee meeting held in early 2007 decided to celebrate the sacerdotal golden jubilee of the Catholicos in a grand way. As per the decision of various Church bodies, the golden jubilee celebrations of the priestly ordination of their high priest got to a grand start at Kothamangalam on Sunday 16th December, 2007. All through the year various cultural and educative programs were arranged by different parishes in Malankara and outside, commemorating the services of their Church father. Now these celebrations are coming to an end with a grand public meeting to be held, at Marine Drive ground at Cochin on 19th October 2008, under the president-ship of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the prince Patriarch of the Apostolic See of Antioch & all the East and the Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church. Various religio-political leaders has been invited for that grand finale of the year-long celebrations in which tens of thousands of Syrian Christian faithful are expected to participate. Preliminary preparations has already been completed and the Malankara Church is awaiting the 4th Apostolic Visit of His Holiness due for October 17th with great jubilation.
A brief Biography of Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I
Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, the spiritual head of the Syrian Christians of India, was born in the Cheruvillil family of Vadayambadi, Puthenkuriz to Mathai and Kunjamma on 22nd July 1929. Early part of his life was full of sufferings. Though he belonged to an aristocratic family, by the time he was born the family had seen bad days. As a child he had frequent bouts of illness which affected his education. His mother used to take the young boy frequently to the nearby Malecuriz Dayro where the relics of late Patriarch St. Ignatius Elias III and Saint Gregorios Geevarghese (Parumala Thirumeni) had been interred. One night, as his mother prayed with the young boy on her lap, she had a vision which prompted her to dedicate the boy to the service of the church. Within days, the boy's illness was entirely cured. God was with him, guiding him and shaping him.
His priestly formation was under the guidance of Mor Philoxenos Paulose (late Catholicos Mor Baselios Paulose II) who ordained him 'Korooyo' in 1952 and 'Shamshono' at Kadamattom Church in 1957. On 21 Septmeber 1958, C M Thomas was ordained 'Kassisso' (full priest) by Mor Yulius Elias at the Majanikkara Dayro. In 1959 he was appointed as the vicar of St. Peter's church, Puthencuriz. Later he served the churches at Vellathooval, Keezhumuri, Fort Cochin, Valamboor, Calcutta and Thrissur. For a period of seven years from 1967, he was the organizing secretary of Kolenchery Medical Mission Hospital. He also served as the Chief organizer of the North Indian mission at Bhilai in 1970's and as the secretary of the 'Pourasthaya Suvishesha Samajam' in 1974. He was well known as a great revivalist preacher and was also recognized as an excellent organizer.
In January 1974, Fr. C M Thomas was elected to the episcopate by the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Association convened at the Karingachira St. George Church and was consecrated Metropolitan with the title 'Mor Dionysius' by H.H. Mor Ignatius Ya`qub III on 24th February 1974 at Damascus, Syria. He was entrusted with the charge of Angamali diocese, the largest of all the Syrian Orthodox dioceses which has a membership of more than half a million.
Photos from the Metropolitan Consecration ceremony of Mor Dionysius Thomas (Catholicos Baselios Thomas I) and Mor Gregorios Geevarghese Perumpillil
by His Holiness the Patriarch Mor Ignatius Yakub III of the Apostolic See of Antioch & all the East
The untiring efforts of Mor Dionysius in those days had helped a lot to revive the confidence of not merely the faithful of the diocese, but the entire Malankara Church. Metropolitans Mor Dionysius, Mor Gregorios Geevarghese (late) and Mor Koorilos Kuriakose (late) together were a great support to the (late) Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Paulose II, the then Chief of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. As the Metropolitan of Angamali, Mor Dionysius had successfully initiated many welfare programs and also reorganized the diocesan administration. In 1978 Mor Baselios Medical Mission Hospital at Kothamangalam was started under his patron-ship.
Elected as Catholicos-designate
Following the demise of Mor Baselios Paulose II, the Catholicos of the East, in 1996, Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Geevarghese (Perumpally Thirumeni) become the President of the Episcopal Synod of the Church in India. After the passing away of Mor Gregorios Geevarghese in February 1999, Mor Dionysius assumed the Presidency of the Malankara Church Synod. On 27th December 2000, His Excellency was chosen as the Catholicos-designate by the Holy Episcopal Synod. The Church delegates meeting held at Puthencuriz on the same day, unanimously approved this decision. H.H the Patriarch, however, waited for two more years in expectation of a peaceful settlement to the longstanding dispute between the two factions of Malankara Church. But as it became clearer that the chances for reconciliation is remote because of the insincerity on the part of the opposite faction, a crucial convention was convened at Puthencuriz, Kerala on 6th July 2002 in which delegates from all the parishes participated and they approved a new constitution for the effective administration of the Indian Church with the consent of the supreme head, the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East. H.E. Mor Dionysius Thomas was elected as the Catholicos and the Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church at this historic Church Association. The election was later ratified by the Holy Episcopal Synod of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church on 22nd July 2002.
Enthronement as CATHOLICOS
On Friday the 26th July 2002, His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East, consecrated the 73-year old Mor Dionysius Thomas as the CATHOLICOS with the title 'BASELIOS THOMAS I' at a solemn function held at the St. Peter & St. Paul Cathedral in Mor Aphrem Seminary, Ma`arat Sayyidnaya, near Damascus. Thus, fulfilling the wishes of multitude of faithful, the Malankara Church received a Catholicos after a gap of six years (Catholicos Mor Baselios Paulose II died in 1996). In the Syrian Orthodox Church hierarchy, the Catholicos is second in rank to the supreme spiritual head, the Patriarch of Antioch.
Fourteen Syrian Orthodox Bishops, from India, Syria, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Turkey and Australia attended the enthronement ceremony as the co-celebrants. Thirty five Rambans, many Nuns of the Church and lay people were also present on the occasion to participate in the historical ceremony. Representatives from Government of Syria & India attended the consecration ceremony as special guests. Besides the three Metropolitans who were the co-celebrants, the Church in India was represented by Very Rev Eraalil Geevarghese Ramban (Kerala), Rev. Fr. Prince Mookkanottil (Vicar Mor Ignatius Syrian Orthodox Church Dubai), Rev. Fr. Eldho Valiya Parambil (Vicar-St.George Abu Dhabi), Rev. Fr. Kurian Maliyil (Vicar Sharjah), Rev.Fr. Mathews (Muscat) and Rev. Fr. Varghese Maikkulangara (Kerala). The consecration ceremony started with the celebration of Holy Qurbono at 8 AM by His Holiness the Patriarch, followed by enthronement ceremony, signing of 'SUSTHATHIKON' (Agreement) and 'OKSIOS' (Rising and Declaration). The ceremonial Services ended with the completion of the Holy Qurbono by the newly consecrated Catholicos.
After the enthronement ceremony a reception was given to the Catholicos His Beatitude Mor Baselios Thomas the First. During the speech delivered on the occasion, His Holiness emphasized the commitment of the Holy See to the Church in India. Replying to the congratulatory messages, His Beatitude the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I reiterated that he like his predecessors, will always take great care in the continuance of the faith and traditions of the Syrian Church.
On Saturday 27th July the newly elevated Catholicos arrived in Malankara and three days after on 31st July 2002, the Sunthroniso of Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I Bava was held at the Kothamangalam Marthoma Cheriapally. H.E. Mor Julius Kuriakose, the first secretary to the Patriarch of Antioch read the Susthathicon, the Patriarchal Bull, proclaiming the enthronement of the new Catholicos for the Church in India. The function was attended by all the Metropolitans of the Malankara Church, hundreds of priests and very large number of laymen who came from all parts of Malankara.
As the head of the Church in India the Catholicos presides over the Holy Episcopal Synod of Malankara Church which includes all the Metropolitans of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India. His Beatitude is also the Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Association.
The Catholicate office of His Beatitude Baselios Thomas I functions at the Patriarchal centre in Puthencuriz near Kochi, which is also the headquarters of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India.
Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas Centre
Puthencuriz - 682 308
Ernakulam, Kerala, INDIA.
Tel: 0484 - 2732804
Fax: 0484 - 2732804
College P.O., Kothamangalam - 686 691
Tel: 0485 - 2822485
Fax: 0485 - 2822101
Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I - Important dates
Date of Birth
Ordained 'Korooyo' & 'Shamshono' by Catholicos Mor Baselios Paulose II
Ordained 'Kassisso' by Mor Yulius Elias (Patriarchal delegate)
Ordained Metropolitan by Patriarch Ignatius Yakoob III
Elected President of Holy Episcopal Synod of Malankara
Chosen as the Catholicos-designate
Malankara Church accepting the new constitution
Consecrated as CATHOLICOS
22nd July 1929
21st September 1958
24th February 1974
23rd February 1999
27th December 2000
06th July 2002
26th July 2002
@ MSCR - Malankara Syriac Christian Resources