CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
APRIL 2006 THOSE WHO LED US
VOL:5 ISSUE:04

BASELIOS MAR THOMA MATHEWS II
SIXTH CATHOLICOS [1991-2006] - PART 3

THOSE WHO LED US
H.H. BASELIOS MAR THOMA MATHEWS II
SIXTH CATHOLICOS

[CONTINUED FROM THE LAST ISSUE]

While he was a priest, Fr. Mathews served the parishes at Perinadu, Mangalam, Madras, Calcutta and Delhi as vicars. Very beloved Fr. E. Mathews was known as Angel Achen throughout Malankara. On May 17, 1951, Malankara Association held at M.D. Seminary decided to nominate three priests towards His Episcopate: Vattakkunnel Fr. P.K. Mathews, Vaduthala Fr. E. Daniel and Fr. E. Mathews of Othara Dayara. Though Fr. Mathews was bit reluctant to get ordained as a Bishop along with his Guru Fr. E. Daniel, eventually he submitted himself to the will of God. On September 21, 1951 Fr. Mathews was elevated as a Ramban at Old Seminary Kottayam by Mar Basalios Geevarghese II.

On May 15, 1953 Ramban Mathews was consecrated as Bishop with ecclesiastical title Mathews Mar Coorilos at Elia Chappel, Kottayam. Along with him four other Rambans were also consecrated as Bishop. Vattakkunnel P.K. Mathews Ramban as Mathews Mar Athanasios [Later fifth Catholicos Basalios Mar Thoma Mathews I], Vaduthala E. Daniel Ramban as Daniel Mar Philaxenos, Parott Mathews Ramban as Mathews Mar Ivanios and Mookancheril Pathros Ramban as Pathros Mar Osthathios. The third Catholicos Basalios Geevarghese II celebrated the ordination ceremenony. Mathews Mar Coorilose was at age of 38 years at the time when he was ordained as a bishop. The new Metropolitan was appointed as Asst. Metropolitan to Alexios Mar Theodeosios at Quilon diocese

Though the diocese had more than 100 parishes, most of them were financially stricken and worshipped in thatched sheds. Also many of the Churches were in hilly areas with unprovided approach road. Thirumeni liked to visit each parish and get acquainted with all members of the parishes personally. As it was difficult to run around the diocese without a car, the ex-inmates of Othara Dayara formed an association and 100 members took Rs. 100 each and bought an Austin Car for him. Later when Mar Theodeosius expired Mar Coorilose became the full Metropolitan of Quilon diocese. After his consecration as a Metropolitan he served the Church in many capacities. He was also nominated as the president of All Malankara Youth movement. From 1958 onwards he started publishing the 'Orthodox Youth' magazine from Kundara. He had ready organized a women wing 'Martha Mariam Samajam' all over the diocese.

Coorilose Thirumeni was instrumental for regular worshipping service and origination of two diocese of Malankara: Delhi and USA. During the early days celebration of Holy Eucharist in Delhi was conducted on availability of any visiting priest. From 1942 onwards, some regularity came to be introduced by Fr. Mathews by conducting Holy Qurbana twice a month as he traveled regularly from Serampore College to Delhi, when he was a student there and conducted Holy Qurbana at his friend Fr. Robin's Church in Delhi. The worshipping story of the diocese of USA is also inspiring and fulfilling. The history of the Orthodox congregation in USA began to unfold from 1960s. Mathews Mar Coolrilos Thirumeni was studying in the Union Theological Seminary, New York, during that time. The services started with a humble beginning in the worshipping congregation headed by the saintly bishop Mathews Mar Coorilose at Union Theological Seminary. Both these two seeds had now grown up as mighty big trees and as two great pillars of Orthodox Church: Delhi Diocese with its magnificent Orthodox Church Centre and diocese of North America and its offshoots of Canada, Europe etc.

Thirumeni was a great visionary in the field of social and educational services. He had a great vision that rendering higher education for the children can create a cultured and refined society. As a first step, he established the first school in the diocese, St. Thomas School at Kadampanad. Later, three other schools were started: UPS at Kottarakkara, LPS at Adoor and H.S. at Mangad. Further many unaided schools were started in the diocese. As per great desire of Thirumeni, a college of was also established at Kottarakkara.

Thirumeni believed that moral strength of the church and its manifold services depend upon a dedicated band of Sanyasins who live for poor and he could give a new lead of spiritual life to the monastic movements of the church. He architected many Ashrams across Malankara and outside. Mathews Mar Coorilose founded the Bethlehem Ashram, in Chengamanad in 1960. The priests of the ashram in Chengamanad are engaged in the activities related to St.Gregorios College, Kottarakara, B. Ed College, Chengamanad I.T.C, and School and in discharging the responsibilities of the different parishes of the Kollam - Thiruvanthapuam dioceses. Kuttikonam Bethel Ashram, Kottarakara Mount Ashram, Pattazhi Calvary Ashram,Chengamanad I.T.C, St. Gregorios College, Kottarakara, B. Ed College and Baselios School, Kottapuram are the different institutions attached to the Ashram. St. Thomas home for Chidren at Sasthamkotta was started by Mar Coorilose in 1983 for the refuge of poor and orphan children and their education.

Sasthamkotta Mount Horeb Ashram and Bible College was established with aim of social and educational activities, ascetic life training, spiritual confederations etc. Short course of one-month faith and bible class are conduced very efficiently here. Eventually this Ashram had turned out as his eternal resting place for his mortals as per his special wish. St. George Mount ashram was started in Chayalode on March 2,1968. Leadership is here being given for spiritual - social- educational activities. The Chayalode St. Goerge High School [1976] and U.P School [1960] are owned by the Ashram. In 1976, Mar Coorilose founded the Bethel Ashram in Kuttikonam as a branch of Bethelehem Ashram in Chengamanad. Later St. Gregorios English Medium L.P.School and Malayalam Medium U.P School were started and got associated with this Ashram. Calvary Ashram in Pattazhi was started in 1976 with objectives of social and educational activities, training the inmates in monastic life and spiritual discipline. In 1978 Metropolitan founded St. Thomas Ashram in Sooranad. Mar Coorilose founded in 1978 the Mount Carmel Ashram in East Kallada in order to set up educational institutions in the name of Mar Elia, the prophet. In 1978, adjacent to the ashram an I.T.C and in 1982 an English Medium School was started.

On May 1, 1980, the Malankara Association elected Mathews Mar Coorilose as the successor to the throne of Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan. Due to ill health, the fifth Catholicos abdicated his position as Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan on April 27, 1991. Consecutively, the Catholiose designate Mathews Mar Coorilose was consecrated as the Sixth Catholicos with title Basalios Marthoma Mathews II on April 29, 1991 at Parumala Seminary Church. Dr. Philipose Mar Theophilus was the chief celebrant of the consecration ceremony. Thus, eventually the apple of eye to each Malankarite, Angel Achen, became sixth Catholocos of Malankara and all the East. After being the prelate of Orthodox Church for 16 years Marthoma Mathews 1 expired on November 8, 1996 at the age of 90 years. Mar Basalios II was very keen for attending to his sick predecessor. Basalios I Bava who was sick on his bed for 7 years, three days before his death, handed over all the documents of the church to his successor Basalios II.

The sixth Catholicos Mar Basalios II is identified as the first Catholicos of the modern age. However, he was on a thorny bed ever since he was consecrated as the prelate. However he faced all the problems with calmness, confidence, prayer and with full confidence in God with a full smile on face and heart always till he breathed his last. On the very next day of consecration as the Catholicos, he ordained five Bishops for Malankara Orthodox Church. On March 26, 1995 the new Catholicos has done the Mooron consecration.

As seen earlier, he was the chief architect of the development and growth of many educational institutions, charitable homes, seminaries etc. from the time he was a Metropolitan. Sasthamkotta Bible College and St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur were founded in addition to the growth of his favorite Othara Dayara for the education and training of the future priests of the church. Orthodox Theological Seminary was established in Bhilai in 1995. Two engineering colleges were started one at Peerumed and another at Sasthamkotta. The engineering college at Sasathamkotta is named after him as Baselios Mathew II College of Engineering. The Bilai Engineering College also had taken its shape during the tenure of sixth Catholicos. Basalios Marthoma Mathews II also started many other charitable institutions. Mar Basalios Mathews II Snehabhavan Kottarakkara was originated for deaf and dump children and their education. He initiated several programmes to facilitate aid to the poor for building houses, employment opportunities and also launched a group marriage programme for conducting marriages of those girls who hail from economically backward homes. Establishment of Mar Theodesius Hospital at Sasthamkotta, elevating the Kolenchery Medical Mission Hospital into a Medical College, development of hospitals in Kangazha and Parumala, establishment of Civil Services Academy in Thiruvananthapuram etc. also goes to the credit of the sixth Catholicos.

St. Gregorios of Parumala built the Old St. Pauls and St. Peter Parumala church in the pattern of the Jerusalem Church in 1895. The old church was demolished and Basalios II built a modern Parumala church with design of world famous Architect Charles Korea.

During his tenure as the prelate of the Malankara Orthodox Church, Mar Basalios II maintained a very harmonious relation with other Christian denominations and other religious sects of Kerala. Mar Basalios was very keen and enthusiastic for promoting the ecumenical movements in India ever since its inception in 1979. He was one among the founders of the Ecumenical Movement in Kerala. Official ecumenical dialogue with Roman Catholic Church was commenced from 1989. The whole church under his leadership was always well associating with the Christian Orient and its projects. He advocated for complete liquor prohibition and strongly believed that liquor is the cause for ruin of many families in Kerala.

Mar Basalios played a key role in amicably resolving the Nilackal issue, which could have snowballed into a major communal problem in the State. He was the President of Ecumenical Committee and Chairman of Nilackal Ecumenical Church Committee, which is the symbol of unity among various Churches in the State. Consequently, he had taken upon himself the mission of spreading the message of love and generosity. He displayed his great leadership quality on this and several other occasions. He always stood for peace in the Church and made many sacrifices to achieve peace. An Ecumenical Priests Gathering was formulated as an offshoot of the Nilackal Ecumenical Trust in which priests of most of the church denominations from the Central and South Kerala actively participated. The Christian Orient theologically supported all the ecumenical endeavors with the Councilís vision on ecumenism.

Mar Basalios also met with various world religious heads, including the then Pope. He was a very widely traveled religious head who visited the Middle Eastern Countries, Europe and United States of America many times. On his visits the state's heads paid him due respect and admiration. On April 9 1995, the Catholicos participated the consecration of Armenian Supreme Catholicos at Echmiodos.

Navathy celebrations of the sixth Catholicos were celebrated and on the culmination of the yearlong fete, on his 91st birthday he was accorded a rousing reception at the Kannamkode Church, Adoor. The Hon. Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr. Oommen Chandy, Water Resources Minister, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Adoor Prakash, M.P [Later Central Minister] Vayalar Ravi and many other political, social and religious dignitaries were present during the occasion which was a clear mark of the influence and honor of Thirumeni in various circles.

Due to ill health, the sixth Catholicos abdicated the position as the Supreme Head of the Church on 25th Oct. 2005 and lived a rest life at Devalokam Aramana, Kottayam. He had the great fortune to attend the enthronement of his successor His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Didimos I and H.H. graciously handed over his staff to Mar Didimos on 29th Oct. 2005.

His Holiness departed for heavenly abode on Thursday the 26th of January 2006, at the Devalokam Aramana, Kottayam at the age of 91 years. The mortal remains were carried to Mount Horeb Asram Chapel in Sasathaamkotta and interred there on January 30, 2006.

Mar Basalios was the symbol and apostle of love, peace, godliness and universal brotherhood with a great leadership quality. He respected and cared for the rich and poor. He mingled with young and old and all kind of people. His personal relationships even with the poorest of poor were well known. He was not mere a father of Orthodox believers, he was loving father of all the people of Kerala who lives in and out of Kerala and to all who he met during his long life. During the tenure of the sixth Catholicos Basalios Marthoma Mathews II the church had grown to a universal Church with four and half million members all over the world in 22 Dioceses, 1395 Parishes, 205 Chapels.

[Compiled for LOL by: Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew, Philadelphia, USA.]

BASALIOS MARTHOMA MATHEWS II [SIXTH CATHOLICOSE] - PART 1 & 2


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