H. G. THOMAS MAR ATHANASIOS METROPOLITAN
H.G. THOMAS MAR ATHANASIOS METROPOLITAN
H. G. Thomas Mar Athanasios Metropolitan of the Chengannur diocese of Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church passed away on August 24, 2018 Friday morning after he fell from the train he was travelling. He was 80 years old. Mar Athanasios, an eminent educationist and a proficient organizer, was returning from Baroda to Chengannur in Kerala. His funeral services were held at the Othera Dayara Chapel, near Thiruvalla.
His Grace was born to Mr. K. T. Thomas and Mrs. Aleyamma on the 3rd of April, 1939 in Kizhakkethalackal family at Puthencavu, Chengannur. His father K.T. Thomas was the brother of H.G. Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos Metropolitan and mother Aleyamma from Thevervelil family of Kozhenchery. H.G. being the grandson of Kizhakkethalackal Thoma Kathanar and the nephew of the late Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos (Puthencavil Kochuthirumeni), inherited the rich priestly heritage of Kizhakkethalackal family which is a branch of Mavelikara Vadakkethalakal Mahakudumbam. Other bishops in the family are Simon Mar Dionysios, Yuakim Mar Ivanios, Abraham Marthoma and Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos.
His Grace had his elementary education at Puthencavu and Alappuzha and High School education at Metropolitan High School, Puthencavu and M. D. Seminary High School, Kottayam. After completing Intermediate Course from CMS College, Kottayam, he graduated with Physics as major from S.B. College, Changanacherry and did B.Ed. from N.S.S. College, Changanacherry. He completed B.D. from the prestigious Serampore College, Calcutta and later took Master in Education from M.S. University of Baroda.
On 7th May 1970 Thomas was ordained as deacon by H.H. Basalios Augen Catholicos. On 26th May 1970 H.G. Daniel Mar Philoxenos Metropolitan of Thumpamon Diocese ordained him as a priest. Fr. Thomas served as Vicars of Anand, Baroda, Bhavanagar, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Udaipur, Porbandar, Veerval, Baruch, Surat, Valsad, Bandra, Andheri, Abu Dhabi etc. Fr. Thomas was a distinguished pioneer in organizing congregations in western India. Because of his effort new parishes were formed in places like Valsad, Surat, Baruch, Mehasana, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Bhavanagar, Ghandhidham, Porbandhar, Udaipur, Andheri.
Fr. Thomas was also a celebrated educationist and an efficient administrator with outstanding contributions in the field of education. He was the leader for foundation of several educational institutions counting six schools in Gujarat including, The Gujarat Refinery English Medium School, which is under the Trust of the Society of St. Basil; the founder of the Society of St. Basil was late Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos of Puthencavu. He was founder-principal of Basil School Baroda and Kalol M.G.M School. He was the founder Vice President of Baroda Guidance Association, President of St. Basil Society, Vice president of Students movement Baroda.
Fr. Thomas was elected to the position of Methran on 20th Dec. 1982 and on 14th May 1983 he was elevated to order of Ramban at Parumala Seminary by H.G. Mathews Mar Coorilose. He was consecrated as Metropolitan by Catholicos H. H. Basalios Mathews I at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Puthiakavu, Mavelikara on 15th May 1985 and given the ecclesiastical title as Thomas Mar Athanasios. He was designated as the first Metropolitan of newly constituted Chengannur Diocese on 25th August 1985. The Diocesan Head Quarters is Bethel of which the founder is Puthencavu Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos of blessed memory. A multistoried Administrative Block and a beautiful Church has come up in Bethel.
H.G. exerted his full effort and talents for the growth of Malankara Church, especially for the Diocese of Chengannur. His Grace was noted for an inspiring worship service and strong leadership. The Philosophy of His Grace was 'Search for Excellence' in all spheres of life. Metropolitan valued high the all-round personality development of students. His approach was solely ‘children and students oriented’. The first Sunday in December observed in the Church as the birth of John the Baptist was first observed in his Diocese as 'Shishu Dinam' and this day is now observed in the entire Church as 'Shishu Dinam'.
A Coaching class for the children of classes 5th to 10th & 12th appearing for Sunday School Competitive Examinations was first introduced in his Diocese. Mar Philoxenos Research & Guidance Centre & Library, Vidyajyothi – a unique program aiming for excellence in secular education and Philox School of Liturgical Music are three innovative ideas launched by His Grace in the Diocese of Chengannur. The Parish Council is yet another innovative idea introduced by His Grace in his Diocese. Every year, His Grace gave training to the Parish office bearers like the Vicar, the Kaikaran (Treasurer), the Secretary and the Managing Committee Members. He also started a training Program for Altar assistants (acolytes) to make them fully aware of the seriousness of their service.
The 'Daivavili Sangam', a nursery for budding priests and nuns, was a unique activity of his Diocese. A Pre-Marital Counseling Program was started in his Diocese which conducted its sessions every 2nd Saturday of the month. The Suvisesha Sangam - a fellowship of all the office bearers of the various spiritual organizations in the Diocese was the missionary wing of the Diocese. HG was Managing Editor and Publisher of Bethel Pathrika which is promptly and regularly published from his Diocese.
At church level he was the Secretary to the Holy Episcopal Synod, Manager Catholicate and M.D. Schools. Metropolitan presided over Akhila Malankara Balasamajam, Malankara Orthodox Church Education & Social Service Society, Akhila Malankara Prarthana Yogam, Church Accounts Committee, Church Finance Committee, Divyasandesam – Visual Media Communications, Malankara Orthodox Church Publications, Akhila Malankara Gayaka Sangam etc. He also was the officiating bishop of Othera Dayara. He had represented Malankara Sabha for World Church Council at Madrid of Spain in 1987, and world peace community conference, Assisi 2002, called by John Paul II at Italy on 2002.
Beloved Thirumeni was associated with Light of Life as an advisor from its inception. LOL pay our humble tribute to beloved Thirumeni.
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