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Titus, the youngest of Abraham Malpan was born in February 1843. Metropolitan Mathews, who returned from Mardin few weeks after Baby Titus's birth, was happy to baptize his young cousin and when the Metropolitan, on taking the beautiful baby in his arms for baptism is reported to have said, “These young feet will one day wear the red cassock". Baby Titus was a quiet well-behaved infant and was the darling of the family and neighbours. Before he was four years old, disaster struck the family. His father, Abraham Malpan, passed away depriving him of the paternal affection. So he was utterly devoted to his mother.
After the death of Abraham Malpan, Mathews Mar Athanasios was the eldest male member of the family. Titus was six years younger than his brother Thomas. After his primary education at Maramon, Metropolitan Mathews took Titus to Kottayam to study at the Seminary where he joined his brother Thomas and Metropolitan's nephew Cherukara Philipose. After a while Thomas and Philipose were ordained as Semmasans (Deacons) respectively, as Titus was a few years thereafter. The young deacons studied Syriac and Theology at the Seminary while they studied English and other subjects in the CMS School nearby. The principal of CMS School was Rev. Richard Collins, a linguist, who mastered Malayalam and Sanskrit and was the author of a Malayalam dictionary. There were other scholarly teachers both in the Syrian Church, Anglican Church and civil life in Kerala and elsewhere. He maintained his friendship and closeness with his schoolmates all his life.
Metropolitan Mathews, appreciative as he was of the education he had received in Madras, decided to send the two brothers Thomas and Titus there for further studies. So the brothers went to Madras in 1860. The journey was not as hazardous as in the student days of Metropolitan Mathews, because by then there was a train service from Shoranur to Madras. A manservant accompanied them and they stayed in rented house. Thomas and Titus studied at Anderson School but were in due course afflicted by health problems, Thomas with rheumatism and Titus with ophthalmic infection. Because of their health problems they returned to Maramon after 2 years, but they benefited immensely from their experience in Madras.
Deacon Titus pursued his study of Syriac, and church traditions and rituals under Cherukara Philipose Malpan. Metropolitan Mathews ordained him in Maramon as Titus Kasissa in 1859, and was quite happy to accept the assistant vicar-ship of Maramon parish under the senior priests in the parish, Ravoor Achen and Kolathakkal Achen. As he was well versed in theology with a good command of language, he could give inspiring sermons in the church. Such priests were rare in the Church. A number of priests did not have good learning of the Bible and knowledge of Church liturgy and were only able to conduct the rituals of worship. So Titus Kasissa brought a fresh enthusiasm among the clergy. As he was a celibate, an extension was added to the family house of Kuzieth to accommodate him. He was not burdened with the affairs of the family, which was taken care of by the able elder brothers Mathai and Kochukoshy. His mother was around to look after preferences in food. So he could devote his time for reading, meditation and pastoral work.
Subsequently he became the vicar of the parish and he devoted nearly 25 years for the development of the parish. He started many spiritual rejuvenation programs in the parish. He gave leadership in organizing retreats where semi-fasting and meditation was practiced. In all these efforts he received the full co-operation of the senior clergies like Edathua Kizhekkethalakkal Mathen Kathanar, Chengannoor Kottarathil Thomas Kathanar and Kallupara Kalemannil Yako Kathanaar. Due to his poor health he could not accept all the invitations to preach at different parishes that came to him, but he went to as many as he could. He was a regular teacher in the Sunday School. During the Easter lent he celebrated Holy Communion on the 36th day of lent at Kuriannur, which was a part of Maramon parish, and the people of Kuriannur area looked forward to his ministrations.
In 1856, Thozhiyur Metropolitan, Mar Kurilose IV and his Saffragan consecrated Titus Kathanar under the Episcopal title of Titus Mar Thoma Metropolitan.
In the field of education, the activities of the government and private agencies were limited. There were a number of primary schools in the parishes of the Mar Thoma Church and the management of these schools was in the care of the secretaries of the Metropolitan. These schools provided minimum literacy. Illiteracy was more acute among women. The missionaries belonging to the C.M.S., L.M.S (London Missionary Society) and Basel Mission were making a difference in this field. There were no secondary schools when Titus Mar Thoma began to reign in spite of the fact that his predecessor Thomas Mar Athanasios was keen to start English (Secondary) Schools. As a result of the efforts of Thazhath Achen, the prime site of the present Mar Thoma Seminary in Kottayam was acquired from Pukadiyil family. The Church leaders decided to start as English School there and Metropolitan Titus laid the foundation in May 1890. Similar efforts to acquire a site at Tiruvalla were being made. Later middle schools were started in Kozhencherry and Eraviparoor. Mrs. Nicholson and Miss Macbean wanted to start a High School for Girls. Metropolitan encouraged their efforts and the Nicholson Syrian Girl's School; the prestigious secondary school with a good boarding home was established in Tiruvalla.
Metropolitan Titus was concerned about the spiritual growth and health of the Church as much as he cared for institutional development in the form of schools and church buildings. He was a parish priest for a long time in early life and he knew the need for pastoral care to be given the people. He encouraged the work of the Evangelistic Association in starting the Maramon Convention in 1896 on the extensive and pleasant sands of the Pampa River near Maramon church. At his invitation the CMS missionary Rev. T. Walker from Tinnevelly was a regular speaker at the Convention for about 15 years from 1900. Rev. Walker was a revival. Metropolitan Titus was very regular in his attendance at the Convention seating himself with the clergy and eing in touch with the speakers.
There was another spiritual revival in 1908, which was created by the revivalist preaching of a simple, devout and invigorating preacher from Maramon, Punchamannil Mammen Upadesi. Metropolitan gave all the encouragement to the Upadesi and gave him Episcopal authority to preach in the parishes of the Church, which he did energetically for many years as he had a long life span. Mammen Upadesi had an excellent memory and he mastered the Bible so thoroughly that he could remember any verse from the Bible and quote its context. Mr. K.N. Daniel was the editor of Church journal "Sabha Tharaka" and he gave favorable and encouraging reports of revivalism.
The administration of the Mar Thoma Church in the days of Metropolitans Mathews Mar Athanasios was in the total control of the Metropolitan and it was customary to have informal consultations with the senior clergy and laity before any major decision was taken by the Metropolitan. During the days of Thomas Mar Athanasios a clergy council was started and it marked the beginning of the democratization of the Church. Metropolitan Titus encouraged the idea of forming a Church Management Committee and a General Consultative Assembly [Samudaya Alochana Sabha]. The Assembly elected the Management Committee from the clergy and laity and the chairman was the Metropolitan. The first meeting of the Management Committee was held in 1896 and the members were:
Vicar General Ipe Thomma Kathanar Punnathra Chadapilla Kathanar (Thazhath Achen), Pattamukkil Yakob Kasissa Palakunnathu Titus Kasissa (later Saffragan Metropolitan) Cherukara Philipose Kasissa, Mr. Pallipatt Kattilparampil Varghese, Mr. Kurichiath Puthenpurakal Iyttiyera, Mr. Thannikal Edavamvelil Mathai Mr. Polachirakal Kochummen, Mr. Pulimoottil Thomas.
So it was a joint clergy and laity set-up and in discussions the contributions by the laity was as effective as that of the clergy. So the democratic process had started in 1896 and continued to develop unhindered. As mentioned in the previous chapter the Mar Thoma Evangelical Association was started by a group of 12 of which ten were lay people. In the sub-committees of the Management committee, laity and clergy were nearly equally represented. In spite of the democratization of the management there was no organized administrative set-up. There was no Church office. Metropolitan’s residence was the Church office and his secretaries were the only central Church employees. Still the process of democratization progressed and all the problems were discussed and decided y the Management Committee. The important decisions of the Management Committee were submitted to the General Assembly for approval. The Vicar General Kovoor Achen piloted the democratic process and sometimes he took the chair in the Metropolitan's absence.
Similarly the General Assembly (Samudaya Alochana Sabha which later became the Sabha Mandalam) proceeded with its function as the parliament of the Church. The assembly was held in 1896. The second meeting of the Assembly was held in the same year and the Assembly approved the decision of the Management Committee to consecrate Palakkunnathu P. J. Titus Kasissa as Saffragan Metropolitan. The same meeting decided to appoint the Vicar of the Elanthoor Church, Puthenveettil Thomas Kasissa as the second Vicar General. The Assembly in 1990 delegated some of the decisions to Committee of 24.
Metropolitan Titus was conscious of his indifferent health, which continued to decline in spite of the extra care he had been taking. He was called to lead the Church at a most difficult stage in its history. He had been coping with the heavy burden boldly. So he had been voicing the need to consecrate a Saffragan and a successor. All the Church leaders, laity and clergy council nominated P.T. Titus Kasissa, youngest son of Joseph, the younger brother of Metropolitan Mathews Mar Athanasios. At the meeting of the General Assembly in 1897, the nomination was accepted and the date of his consecration as Ramban at Maramon church and consecration as Bishop at Puthenkavu Church, which was a church shared with the Jacobites. It was decided to invite the Metropolitan of Thozhiyur Church to share in the consecration service with Metropolitan Titus. The holy liturgy of Consecration Service was led by Metropolitan Titus and shared with the Thozhiyur Metropolitan with all the sanctity and sobriety of the ceremony. The Mar Thoma parishes from Kunnamkulam to Kottarakara sent their representatives. The new Saffragan was given the Episcopal title of Titus II. The whole of Mar Thoma Church rejoiced as the fear was removed of being orphaned if the health of Metropolitan Titus I were to fail suddenly. The various parishes were anxious to have the visits from the two Bishops, the Metropolitan and Suffragan, Titus I and Titus II. During such visits to the churches the Metropolitan gave the sermon in his inimitable style.
Reverting to M.T. Seminary at Kottayam, The Seminary was directly under the supervision of the Metropolitan. As it fell into debt, the stalwart Thazhath Achen, Chempakanallur Dr. Kochuthommen, Munsiff Palur M. Varkey and Chakkalayil Abraham formed into a support group and strengthened its finances. After the consecration of the Suffragan Metropolitan he was asked to take over the responsibility, which he did zealously. He decided to construct the school buildings as planned some years ago. Resources were limited and so he went to Mallappally and bought from the government trees for building. He had to have the trees cut, sawn into timberof the required sizes and transported to Kottayam by boat and bullock-carts. This was a Herculian task, which managed with youthful vigour and enthusiam, ably assisted y the veteran Kizhekkethalakal Mathen Achen. So in 1910 they were able to inaugurate the new uildings of the M.T. Seminary at a public meeting graced by Dr. Gill, the Anglican Bishop.
In Tiruvalla the S.C Seminary School was under the management of the Evangelistic Association, with C.P. Philipose Kasissa as secretary. People with financial means came forward to help and a beautiful two-story school building was completed. The school got a government grant of four thousand rupees, a large sum in those days, which also helped. The local supporters included Kandathil Kocheepan Mappila, V. Varkey Vakil, Kovoor Iype Vakil, Pulimoottil A. Thomas, Thengummannil T.C. Oommen and they all made valuable contributions. The British Resident, R.C.C. Carr, inaugurated the new building in 1908. The Management Committee of the Church took the decision to start a Seminary at Kottarakara; but it did not come to fruition during the reign of Metropolitan Titus I.
When Metropolitan Titus I began his reign there were two strands of theological thought in the Church. There was a section under the leadership of Vicar General Kovoor Achen which was of the opinion that there was no need for further reformation and who might be termed as the conservative wing of reformists. The older clergy like Thazhath Achen supported this school of thought. There was another wing under the leadership of Cherukara C.P. Philipose Kasissa. Most of younger clergy who studied at CNI Theological School under Archdeacon Palmer, who was an Anglican Low Church thinker, supported the latter group.
The Church journal "Malankara Sabha Tharaka" was started during the days of Metropolitan Thomas Mar Athanasios I. "Tharaka" had a chequered history. Titus authorized Mr. K.N. Daniel as editor and publisher. Thereafter the "Tharaka" was published regularly in which leaders of the Church like Vicar General Kovoor Achen, Mr. C. P. Thomas, Mr. K.K. Kuruvilla and Mr. T.C. Varkey contributed scholarly articles affirming the faith of the Church and explaining it to the readers.
With the Metropolitan's encouragement, the Evangelistic Association decided to extend its work outside Kerala. The Indian National Missionary Society (NMS) was formed in 1905 and the Evangelistic Association joined the Society and secured a seat in its central committee. The Association agreed to take over from the NMS the mission field in Karwar, Karnataka.
There were two disastrous mishaps at the time of Metropolitan Titus I. He had his residence in the annexe of the Maramon Church. The then church building was constructed around 1441. It was considered safe and the Metropolitan used to walk around the annexe. One day in June 1907, the church building collapsed with a loud bang. The people in the neighborhood heard the noise and rushed to the church. To their amazement the Annexe where the Metropolitan was staying was intact and he was unharmed.
Then he moved to S.C. Seminary and took up residence in the old wing, which was thatched. The new residential building accommodated the school boarders. One night the boarders saw that the old building was on fire, which could flare up as it was thatched and it was dry season. The students, teachers and neighbors rushed to the scene. They put out the fire and woke up the Metropolitan, and he rescued his books and other possessions. The pious Metropolitan said a prayer thanking God for his miraculous escape and the bravery of his rescuers, particularly the young boarders. He then moved to the large hall in the new buildings where he set up his permanent Episcopal residence. The authorities in Travancore, including the Maharajah, became very concerned about the incident as arson was surmised the likely cause. But the Metropolitan requested the authorities not to prosecute the suspected culprits. He said he would pray to God to forgive the culprits. This sort of compassion and evangelistic spirit was innate in him, and it had a big impact on the people.
Metropolitan had been suffering from diabetes for many years. The treatment for diabetes had not been developed then. Insulin was unknown as also the need for diet control in arresting the progress of the disease. Bishop Gill of Anglican Church came to see him and remarked, "In spite of the excruciating pain he was having, his right face was a moving sermon in itself". Metropolitan used to tell his visitors that he was going to a beautiful home. "So I say good-bye to you. Please do not pray for my recovery but pray for the mitigation of my pain".
There was a flare-up of the Metropolitan's illness in October 1909. On that day, when the Saffragan Metropolitan, all the senior clergy of the Church and his two elder brothers were by his bedside, he passed away peacefully.
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