CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
DECEMBER 2005 THOSE WHO LED US
VOL:4 ISSUE:12


ARCH BISHOP MOST REV. GEEVARGHESE MAR IVANIOS - PART 2

THOSE WHO LED US
MOST. REV. GEEVARGHESE MAR IVANIOS

[CONTINUED FROM THE LAST ISSUE]

Geevarghese Semmassan was a good orator, tactician, successful organizer and community visionary. With his great capability and popularity among the community people of his surroundings, he organized a group of Malayalees in Madras area and a Malayalee Samaj was formulated. This social organization further flourished and grew strong. Every second Saturday, the deacon's room was crowded with Malayalee students who came to hear his stirring speeches. He had read much, and now he started sharing his vast learning with those who attended the meeting. His speeches about History, theology and Bible enthralled the audience unaware of the hours that slipped by. Each session followed by a group discussion. The Malayalee Samaj and its organizer became well known in the College even to the Principal Dr. Miller. Deacon's aim was to create a society of students who would be conscious of their religious heritage and he started working towards it.

After meritorious accomplishment of the B.A. degree, Semmassan further set forth for his M.A. degree. He chose a very controversial topic for his M.A. dissertation; 'Were the Syrian Christians Nestorians?', in fulfillment of his M.A. requirements. This great effort was a powerful axe to the canard spread by Portuguese, after the Synod at Udayamperoor, which was an aberrant and strange perspective that the Syrian Christians in Kerala before sixteenth century were Nestorians in the matter of faith, and accordingly the literal works in all our libraries and personal collections were burned and destroyed by them, leaving us blank about the information of our history.

[Nestorius was the Patriarch in Constantinople in the forth century. Nestorius refused to attribute to the divine nature, the human acts and sufferings of Jesus. Nestorius promoted a form of dyophysitism, speaking of two natures in Christ, one divine and one human. This doctrine of Nestorius which was known as Nestorian faith, was challenged by Holy Church and condemned him as a heretic at the Council of Ephesus in 431. When the Synod met at Ephesus, the new teaching was discussed, as a result of which Nestorius was excommunicated as an enemy of the Church. Nestorios fled for safety to Persia, which was at war with Constantinople.]

Semmassan collected manuscripts and historical data about Eastern Syrian Christians from all possible libraries and other sources surrounding Madras. Through his comprehensive research work, he could very convincingly dismiss the Nestorian controversy linked with Syrian Christians in Kerala, with help of logical arguments based and supported by historical findings. The dissertation eventually turned out to be a very important historical work due to his innate historical sense adapted to the religious topic. By his deep insight presented in his thesis, he could also counter and hack down the contention of the tentative suggestion that St. Thomas had never come to Kerala coast and that the Christian community in Kerala had a history only dating back to the 6th century.

With controversial topics and with academic excellences, this dissertation turned out a hot topic of discussion. Very assuredly, he presented that St. Thomas came to Kerala and baptized people to Christianity. In Malankara, there was no bishop here to consecrate a new Metropolitan. At that time twelve priests had together undertaken the consecration of the Metropolitan. He then wrote to several Patriarchs to send a bishop to have his consecration ratified. Metropolitan of the Jerusalem Mor Gregorios Abdulí Galeel volunteered to come to Malankara, ignoring the difficulties he may have to overcome. Before that Patriarch Ahathulla who had been a close confidence of the Babylonian Patriarch, had set out for India, but he never arrived here. His thesis was later published as book and further C.P. Tharakan translated the book to Malyalam.

Geevarghese Semmassan created history by passing his MA with distinction. After his post graduation, Semmassan returned from Madras to Malankara. He was accorded with warm welcome on his return and reception meetings were convened at various Parishes in Malankara.

M.D. Seminary School was the prime institution of the Orthodox Church during that time. E.M. Philipose was the Principal and K.C. Mammen Mappilai was the head master of the school. Considering the meritorious accomplishment of the postgraduate degree by the Semmassan, Malankara Metropolitan Pulikkottil Thirumeni and Vattasseril Malapn decided to appoint Geevarghese Semmassan as the HM of the School as Mamman Mappilai had gone on sick leave to Trivandrum. Once Mammam Mapilai returned Semmassan went to the Parumala Seminary. Later when E.M. Philipose retired voluntarily, Geevarghese Semmassan was appointed as the Principal of the Seminary school and further when Mamman Mappilai retired he assumed both post of Head Master and the Principal.

While Semmassan was in Parumala, there were many scheduled caste people living there. It was Parumala Thirumeni who brought them there and convinced them to faith and baptized them. The high caste society people lived in the surroundings wanted to chase away these dark-skinned people, like rabid dogs. But Semmassan used to visit their homes of these poor and hear their complaints and concerns. Very passionately he listened to their sad experiences from the rich people when they tried to visit the temples. He drew those weeping poor near to him and hugged them.

As Semmassan had already opted for ascetic life, newly Ordained Vattasseril Thirumeni was very eager to ordain Semmassan as a priest. Mar Dionasius Metropolitan ordained Geevarghese Semmasan as priest on 15 September 1908 at the Parumala Seminary. Geevarghese Achen was generally referred to as 'M.A. Achen' because he was the first among the ordained priest who took M.A. He became well known as an educationalist and a good orator.

[TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT ISSUE]

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

ARCH BISHOP GEEVARGHESE MAR IVANIOS - PART 1

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