Sabharatnam Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios Metropolitan was widely known as a prophet of social justice and as a propagator of the Universal Religion of Love. He was a champion of charity work in our Church. He was a theologian, orator and writer.
H.G. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios is the father whom the title of Sabharatnam was bestowed by the Church, the first such honor in her whole history of more than 2000 years. The life and achievement of beloved Mar Osthathios Thirumeni is beyond the limits of words, which it can carry. He always surfaced out as a unique person; send by God for commission of the mission of a real Church. His enriched life taught the world, the way a Church should look like, and in what mode the Church should act in this world. He achieved everything out from a thorny surface, by hard work, purity of vision and the real love sprout from God, the Almighty.
By his tireless efforts H.G. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios had extended in a great way the charitable outlook of our Church. He honored and kept a balanced view of the doctrines of other religions and faith practices of other denominations of Christianity. He upheld and worked relentlessly to establish the social justice of God in this world.
Birth and Childhood:
H.G. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios was born on 9th of December 1918 to Kochitty of Munduvelil family in Cherukole, Mavelikara and Ezhakadavil Mariamma. His childhood pet name was Georgekutty. His home parish was Pathichira St. Johns Orthodox Church. His parents were very devout and led a dedicated life. In his autobiography Thirumeni humiliated himself saying that he could not attain even a fraction of the spirituality that his mother could achieve in her life. Though the family was not rich, his mother used to go to the houses of local preachers and the poor people with food for them and Thirumeni accompanied her in her household charitable mission. This early-bound charitable vision nurtured at home from the parents had made Thirumeni to become the champion of charitable mission of Malankara Church, thus changing the face and outlook of the Church itself.
Metropolitanís former name was M V George. He completed high school education in his native place. He obtained his B.D from Leonard Theological College, Jabalpur, M.A from Drew University in New York and his S.T.M from Union Seminary, Bangalore. He received honorary Doctorate from Serampore University, Calcutta, India. He taught in Orthodox Theological Seminary Kottayam for over fifty years. Even from the time of his priesthood he was well known as one of the foremost orators of the Church.
He received the order of deaconate (Korooyo) from H.G. Augen Mar Timotheus in 1948. H.H. Baselios Geevarghese II, the third Catholicose ordained him as a priest at Devalokam on 10 May 1956. H.G. Daniel Mar Philexenos ordained him as a Ramban at St. Mary's Cathedral Puthencavu. He was nominated to the post of Metropolitan by the Malankara Syrian Christian Association which met at Niranam. He was consecrated as a Bishop by H.H. Baselios Augen I, the fourth Catholicose, on 16 February 1975 at Niranam Church.
Metropolitan of Niranam Diocese:
Mar Osthathios was the Diocesan Metropolitan of Niranam diocese of Malankara Orthodox Church for thirty years from 1976 to 2007. Though he was relieved from the duties of the Diocesan Metropolitan in 2007 as per his own wish, he was esteemed as the Metropolitan Emirate of the diocese till his last breath.
St. Paulís Mission Training Center:
He is the founder of Mission Training Centre, Mavelikara which gives training to lay missionaries of love and evangelism. As per the initiation of a young highly spirited evangelist, Mr. M.V. George, Far Away Christian Friends (FACF) started the Gospel Hall in a rented house in 1943. After he became a deacon, he traveled to the USA for higher studies. By reducing his living expenses there, he could earn a thousand dollars. On his return in 1951, he bought 14 cents of land for St. Paulís Wyoming Gospel Hall in 1953 and started two-week summer vacation Bible classes which is continued uninterruptedly even now. He could make thousands of people dedicate themselves to God and be interested in Godís work, through the Bible Classes and St. Paulís Gospel Group (started 1952). Now the divine services of such persons have turned out to be very great added advantage to the Church and the nation. St. Paulís Gospel Hall became the only official Mission Training Center of Malankara Orthodox Church started in 1979. A three year Missionary Training Center was started from that year.
Hopes and Aspirations of the Metropolitan about Mission work in the Church:
The realization of the fundamental apostolic vocation is to proclaim the Gospel to the world, which is the mission of the Church as per the word of the Lord. Reflection of Mar Osthathios regarding mission of Church in India was:
Aim of the mission of the Church must be the Nazareth Manifesto with fivefold aim of:
Preaching Good News of spiritual salvation to the poor;
Proclamation of release from the captivity of superstition and fear;
Giving intellectual sight to the blind;
Liberation from economic oppression;
Declaration of eschatological festivity of Resurrection.
In 1958 Mar Osthathios founded St Paulís Ashram and Children Home. Keeping in view of missionary responsibilities, the Holy Church constituted the Malankara Orthodox Church Mission Society in 1978. Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Osthathios was the president of this mission.
Mar Osthathios Thirumeni had founded and operated numerous orphanages, Old Age Homes, Leprosy Homes and other Charitable Institutions, under the Church Mission Society, spread all over India. Also, many charitable schemes / foundations like Marriage Assistance Foundation, Sick Aid Foundation, Save A Heart Foundation, House Building Aid Fund, Mission Training Centre etc. are also to his credit as the chief organizer. He was the President of the Mission Society of the Church for all these years. The Mission Society has played crucial role whenever necessity arose for relief work and rebuilding of lives and society during and after natural calamities and other tragedies.
All the humanitarian and social welfare projects, which he started, will bear testimony to his radical and visible concerns for the less fortunate ones in the society.
A Revolutionary Theologian:
His contributions were not limited for charitable endeavors. He was a revolutionary Theologian with a varied approach of his own but valid and stout. He promoted the theology of human love above all. With his revolutionary thinking many people misunderstood his doctrine similar to that of Communism. But the theory of equal distribution of Communism is not based on faith over divinity or the love germinated out of love of God. But the doctrine of Mar Osthathios about the social parity was based on the divine inspiration of human love and that was what he advocated throughout his life.
He had great passion for justice, equality and sharing founded on divine love of trinity. He advocated for the Indian theological philosophy with a new approach of 'Atraita' to complement the theory of ĎAdvaitaí defined by Indian Rishis. He broke the barriers of region, language or community and emerged to the whole world for his commission to be discharged.
Ecumenism and Globalization:
Mar Osthathios was the member of Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and was the advisor of the WCC assembly in Nairobi in 1975. His concern for a classless and egalitarian society was well received in the ecumenical circles and raised umpteen questions in the world body. Metropolitanís popular works namely My Lord and My God, Mafia, Sophia and Gloria, Sharing God and Sharing World, Theology of a Classless Society, Atraita Theology and One Religion of Love and several others carry his ecumenical convictions.
The primary mark of ecumenical Christianity is its focus on God's unconditional love for all people. If God loves everyone unconditionally as His children, the world is a family, and we should also love all people as our brothers and sisters. Jesus Christ lived on this earth as an embodiment of God's unconditional love, and the Church has to be the visible body of the invisible Christ in today's world.
For the Metropolitan, mission of the Church is the celebration of the counter culture of the Kingdom of God in one world. He believes that the impacts of economic, cultural and political aspects of globalization and the market oriented consumerist theology have resulted in the marginalization of the powerless, erosion of cultural values, emergence of religious fundamentalism and the clash of civilizations. His concept of Trinity as a model of social organization is widely recognized in the theological world. Among his works the Theology of a Classless Society and the Sin of being Rich in a Poor World are indeed his ecumenical treasures.
An Inspirational Poet, Orator and writer:
Osthathios Thirumeni was a spiritual inspirational poet of this era who composed more than fifty songs which are used for the daily worship in the Christian families. His songs were not only spiritual but were even revolutionary in thoughts which will inspire the mind of the singers urging them to repent and dedicate themselves.
Also he was a renowned theologian, orator and writer. Even from the time of his priesthood he was well known as one of the foremost orators of the Church. He always spoke with an evangelical fervor. His concern for the poor had anointed him as a social prophet of justice.
He has written about 56 books of which 13 are in English. He has participated in so many national and international conferences as a leader, preacher and a resource person. The theological foundation for his perspective was based on the broader frame work of the Holy Trinity.
The unity of humankind, particularly the question of human brokenness, was in uppermost in his mind. His theology of One Religion of Love speaks of the universal outlook of the Christian faith. For him, Christ is the savior of the whole world. The primary concern of the Church is to manifest the power of love as justice in Godís world.
He was also a faculty member of the Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam. He taught in the Seminary for over 50 years. Also he served as the president of Servants of the Cross (Sleeba Dasa Samooham).
Pearl of the Church (Sabha Rathnam):
Considering the vivid and rich contributions to the Church and society, Malankara Orthodox Church had honored him with the title of Sabharatnam [Pearl of the Church].
End of Life:
To depart from this world is Godly disposition, but certain people could make their visible life for a continued invisible cherishing life on earth with an ever living portrait in front of all. H.G. Mar Osthathios was one among them and it happens only in a blue moon or in a certain spots of the centuries. H.G. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios was called for his heavenly abode, breathed his last on February 16, 2012, gathered to His folks and joined the cloud of witnesses. He was 94 years of age at his last breath. He was a living legend of our era.