|OCTOBER 2005||THOSE WHO LED US||
Arch Bishop Geevarghese Mar Ivanios, who had committed himself for self-negation and total submission to Lord was a man of reverence for his distinctive personality, rare genius and prayer life. With his great conviction that an educated and cultured young generation might pave the way for contemplation of real mission work, he acted as a visionary of education in Kerala. Inspired by ancient Indian traditions of Sanyas, he could succeed to establish an ascetic order based on Christian faith. He accepted women into sisterhood and ordained them for a life of dedication. He had reformed the hermitage of the Indian Church on the footsteps of the rishis of ancient Indian culture. He attired Christian worship with a new spiritual aura true to Indian tradition. His life of sacrifice and prayer had been beacon for many souls.
Arch Bishop Mar Ivanios was born into the reputed Panickar family in Mavelikkara as son of Thomas Panickar and Annamma, daughter of Areeppurathu Mathai Asan of Pallickal near Kayamkulam on September 21, 1882 which happened to be the Feast of St. Mary. The child was named as George. Baby George was baptized at the Puthiyakavu Jacobite Church given with a baptismal name as Geevarghese. He was known in the family and in his village by a pet name 'Kochukeevarchan'. Skariah Kathanar, brother of Thomas Panickar, a devoted priest who embraced celibacy was a great inspiration for Kochukeevarchan to grow in the Grace of God with a prayerful, fasting life style and to make up his mind for the full dedication of his life in service of God.
There were many instances in the life of young Kochukeevarchan for the experience of miraculous providential escape from dangers. As narrated by his autobiographers, one of the stories goes like this: Kochukeevarchan was of age less than four years. His home servant of Panickar house put the boy on the front beam of the bullock cart and started riding out. On the way, something frightened the oxen which turned out to be agitated and infuriated. With the violence of the oxen, the boy fell down on the road below the cart. The boy was lying just in front of the wheel few inches away to be stamped on. All on a sudden as a divine protection, the oxen suddenly stopped and stood still, so that the wheel of the cart did not run over Kochukeevarchan.
At the age of five, P.T. George was put in David Asan's local nursery school which was run at Asan's house itself. George learned the basic alphabets and minor mathematics there. Most of the village children of the school dropped out for helping their fathers in farming. Thomas Panickar, father of P.T. George also was wishing that his son being the elder in his house, to start helping him in the farming. But his mother earnestly desired that George should get higher education and he should be sent in priestly service. Skariah Kathanar earnestly supported the mother to fulfill her dreams. She had already dedicated her son in her prayers for the service of God especially as he was born on the nativity of St. Mary. Accordingly, P.T. George was enrolled in the Puthiakavu CMS English School for further preliminary education. George used to kneel down and pray at the Puthiakavu Jacobite Church on his way up and down from the school every day. With his brilliancy in studies, extraordinary courage and humble behavior, P.T. George became the apple of the eye of the teachers, schoolmates and all his villagers.
There is a strange incident reported by which the boy became well acquainted with then Malankara Metropolitan. One day Malankara Metropolitan Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dianasius had arrived at Puthiakvu Jacobite Church after sunset. Many people gathered in the Church to meet and to seek blessings from the Metropolitan. Metropolitan had come to the Church on a special mission and in this regard he wanted to meet the Veettinal Semmassan very urgently. Semmassan was living in a remote Vazhukattil village which was one mile away from Puthiakavu. Thirumeni had instructed that somebody may go to the house of Semmassan and bring him to the Church very urgently. It was undaring pitch-dark and raining heavily. Nobody of the crowd dared or ventured to go to Vazhukkattil during that odd hour of the night. All on a sudden a young boy of fourteen years old came forward and kissed Thirumeni's hand and confidently told that he will go and bring the Semmassan in the night itself. The boy went with a lantern to Vazhukkattil and brought Semmasan to Thirumeni. The boy was none other than P.T. George who became the Arch Bishop later.
Though P.T. George was first put to the local C.M.S. School in Mavelikara, later as per the instruction of Parumala Mar Gregorios, the first canonized saint of Malankara, he was transferred to the Government School, Kottackakom, Mavelikkara, when Thirumeni visited the Puthiakavu Jacobite Church. George completed fourth Form from that school with distinction having been a model student with merit in studies and with esteem cultured behavior.
Further higher studies in High School level remained a hurdle for George for many reasons. High school education, that time, was possible only at Kottayam which was 30 miles away from Puthiayakvu and there were no transportation facilities available between these two places except the slow unpowered boats. Living at Kottayam was too expensive that Panickar family was not able to afford. It was at that time, Pulikkottil Thirumeni visited Puthiakavu Church. Thomas Panicker presented Thirumeni of his desire to send his meritorious son for higher studies at Kottayam. Thirumeni was too glad to do something for that courageous boy whom he marked in his mind while he had very courageously brought the Veettinal Semmassan in the witching hours of the night during Thirumeni's earlier visit to the Church.
Pulikkottil Thirumeni had done all the arrangement for the higher studies of P.T. George at Kottayam. George joined M.D. Seminary High School at Kottayam in fifth Form in 1897. His accommodation was arranged by Thirumeni at the Old Seminary, Kottayam. At the instance of Pulikkottil Thirumeni, George's school name was changed in the school record to his baptismal name, P.T. Geevarghese. K.C. Mammen Mappilai was the Head Master of the school that time. P.T. Geevarghese turned out to be the best and most brilliant student of the M.D. Seminary High School and became the most admired of the Head Master K.C. Mammen Mappilai.
Immediately on passing Matriculation, Pulikkottil Thirumeni desired to ordain Geevarghese as a deacon. With consent of his parents and the home Parish at Puthiakavu, Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dianasius ordained P.T. Geevarghese to the order of deacon on January 9, 1900 in the presence of many priests and a big crowd of laity. Dn. Geevarghese continued his higher education at C.M.S College Kottayam. His accommodation was arranged in the Old Seminary in a room adjacent to that of Vattasseril Geevarghese Malpan [Later Malankara Metropolitan Vattasseril St. Geevarghese Mar Dianasius].
After finishing his FA [First examination in Arts] from the C.M.S. College with distinction Dn. Geevarghese joined Madras Christian College for B.A. with Economics and Indian History as electives. Geevarghese Semmasan was the first clergyman from Orthodox Jacobite Church to pursue his graduate education in Madras Christian College. Initially he started living in Sullivan Hall and later he was forced to move to YMCA Hostel as clergies were not allowed to live in that Hall.
[TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT ISSUE]
|[Compiled for LOL by: Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew, Philadelphia, USA.]|
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