MAJOR ARCHBISHOP MOST REV. CYRIL MAR BASALIOS
MOST REV. CYRIL MAR BASALIOS
Major Archbishop Most Rev. Cyril Mar Basalios, the Great Shepherd of Malankara Catholic Church, joined His flock for the heavenly abode on 18th January 2007 in Trivandrum. The mortal remains of Holy Father were laid to rest with full state honors on January 20, at the St Mary's Cathedral, Pattom, Trivandrum adjecent to the tombs of his predecessors, Archbishops Bendict Mar Gregorios and Geevarghese Mar Ivanios. As per the news reports, a huge crowd comprising around 30,000 lay people, 25 Bishops, 1500 priests and more than 3000 nuns assembled to bid tearful Farwell to their beloved spiritual patriarch. Seventy-one year old, Mar Basalios was the first Major Arch Bishop of the Church and served for His Episcopate more than 29 long years.
Cyril Mar Basalios was born on August 16, 1935 at Malancheruvil House, Ullannoor near Pandalam as son of Mathai and Aleyamma. His baptismal name was James. His father Mathai was a close associate of the first Archbishop of Malankara Catholic Church, Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Ivanios. James was very enthusiastic in Rosary prayers and charity work from his childhood.
It is read and known that his two brothers joined the ministry as celibate Priests and four sisters got ordained as religious Sisters. We know many Malayalee Christian families in which one of the children or a child on the verge of a fatal challenge is vowed for the service of God. But here we see the family and parents with seven children dedicated to the service of God; this unblemished sacrifice, I do not have any other words to explain it than to call it as an 'exceptional spiritual courage'.
At a very early age, James too decided and dedicated himself for the priestly service of God. At the age of 16, James joined in the Monastery of The Community of Imitation of Christ and changed his name as Cyril. Further Cyril proceeded for Education in Divinity in Papal Seminary at Pune. From there, he graduated with high distinction in Theology and Psychology.
On 4th October 1960, James was ordained as a priest by Cardinal Agagiyaniel. There after, Fr. James took Masters in Psychology from the St John's University, US and He was conferred a doctorate in Canon Law from Gregorian University, Rome, in 1975. Later, he had taught at St Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Kottayam, and the Pontifical Seminary, Aluva.
On October 28, 1978, Holy Father Pope John Paul II declared to elevate Fr. Cyril to His episcopate. Accordingly he was ordained as a Bishop with ecclesiastical name Cyril Mar Basalios and appointed as the Bishop of Bathery diocese. He served dedicatedly and inspiringly the Bathery diocese for long seventeen years. After Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios passed away, Bishop Cyril Mar Baselios was enthroned as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum and prelate of the Malankara Catholic Church on December 14, 1995. He also received sacred Pallium from the Holy Father Pope John Paul II in Vatican.
In June 2000, Mar Baselios was appointed as the President of Catholic Bishops' Conference of India [CBCI], a Catholic Ecumenical Forum, hand-in-hand and in parallel with World Council of Churches [WCC], and remained in that post till 2004. Thirumeni had rendered invaluable services in this capacity for ecumenism & united world vision and upheld the rich Indian tradition of brotherhood and co-existence of different cultures and religions. The Silver Jubilee celebrations of his ordination as Bishop were celebrated in India and abroad in very grant way in 2003.
On 14 May 2005, Syro-Malankara Church was elevated by Holy Father John Paul II to Major Archiepiscopal dignity and installed Most Rev. Cyril Mar Basalios as the first Major Archbishop, "Caput et Pater", by Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Oriental Churches in presence of Papal Nuncio Cardinal Lopez Pedro Quintana at St. Mary's Cathedral, Pattom.
During the beginning of the Light of Life Magazine, we approached Holy fathers of different denominations of Indian Churches for apostolic blessings and we approached Most Rev. Cyril Mar Basalios also as the head of the Malankara Catholic Church. Thirumeni heard very patiently all the details of our humble endeavor with opinion that any effort for united ecumenical fellowship at any level is the divine instigation of the Holy Spirit. He had made a detailed enquiry including the integrity of the people involved through then Vicar of Incarnation Church in Philadelphia, which is under his control. Within a short while, he sought back the contacts and posted his message of blessings. He was the only Holy Father who sought back us to bestow his blessing without any influence or follow-up. I specifically pointed out this incidence in order to highlight two points. Firstly, his keen attention and apostolic dynamism for minute things and secondly, the firm hierarchical administrative set-up of the Church he was heading.
Thirumeni was an intellectual, an expert planner and organizer and with tremendous ecclesiastical zeal. He had a deep-rooted knowledge in Theology, Philosophy, Psychology and Economics. He had contributed tremendously for Indianization of the Christian Church and for rejuvenation of youth with very creative cultural, social and spiritual activities for them. He put all his efforts for a positive transformation of the education in Kerala. He always paid attention to maintain and strengthen communal amity. His contributions were not restrained to his community, but he served the full society at large. Above all he was a good orator and spiritually inspired writer.
This page is the tribute to beloved Thirumeni for the spiritual guidance, service to the community at large, unrelenting courage and fierce determination to serve the Church and the most convincing role-model-footsteps paved for us, followers, to fulfill our pilgrimage in this world to the fruits and fullness of Holy Spirit. We, your children will dearly miss the affectionate love and sacrificial devotion of Your Holiness. Those who imprinted the footsteps in the mind of the mass can never die and Thirumeni will never die in our hearts and remain for the eternal fellowship with Father Almighty.
We bow before you and kiss your hands with tearful prayers.... LOL
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