April 2000


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The Patriarch arrives in Malankara

April 8, 2000

The Patriarch of Antioch H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas arrived in Kerala for his second Apostolic visit as Patriarch to participate in the golden jubilee of episcopal consecration of the Knanaya Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan, Qooberneeyto Hakeemo H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham. His Holiness arrived at Nedumbassery airport in Kerala, India from Mumbai on April 7th at 2:05 pm. His Holiness was received at Mumbai Sahar International Airport at 2:45 am by the President of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Holy Synod, H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas, H.G. Mor Themotheos Thomas and a huge gathering of priests and laity of the Outside Kerala diocese. His Holiness was accompanied by several bishops from the Middle East, Europe and the United States including Mor Yulius Yeshu` Cicek (Holland), Mor Timotheos Samuel Atkas (Tur `Abdin), Mor Severios Hawa (Baghdad), Mor Gregorius Sleebo (Mosul), Mor Dioscorus Luka (Mor Matay Dayro, Mosul), Mor Philexinos Yusuf Cetin (Istanbul), Mor Ostatheos Matay (Syria), Mor Severios Malke (Jerusalem) and Mor Yulius Kuriakose (Patriarch's Secretary for Malankara affairs). His Holiness was received by H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham, Knanaya Metropolitan, H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas, H.G. Mor Philexinos Yuhanon, H.G. Mor Ostatheos Benyamin, H.G. Mor Polycarpose Gheevarghese, H.G. Mor Gregorius Joseph, other bishops of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India, ministers of the Kerala State government and a large gathering of people from all walks of life.

As His Holiness emerged from the Jet Airways flight, several thousands of people gathered there shouted, "Long live the Antioch-Malankara relation!". Two thousand ceremonial fireworks were lit to signify the first Patriarchal visit in the 21st century. After resting for 15 minutes at the airport lounge, His Holiness briefly addressed the large audience gathered at a venue near the airport blessing them. The Patriarch urged the faithful of the Malankara Church to abide in peace, love and unity for the progress of their community and country. Noting that life on this earth is brief, His Holiness exhorted all to love one another. Reminiscing on his Apostolic visit in 1982 and the tumultous welcome that he received, the Patriarch said that he felt at home again in Kerala. His Holiness described his emotions as that of a father united with his children after years of separation. His Holiness noted the immense changes in the state of Kerala during the past 18 years, pointing to the newly opened Nedumbassery airport as an example, and congratulated the people of the state in the progress achieved. His Holiness prayed for the progress and prosperity of the country and concluded his brief message with a blessing of the audience with the pastoral cross. The Patriarch's address was translated to Malayalam by H.G. Mor Themotheos Thomas. The President of the Malankara Synod, H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas welcomed the Patriarch to Kerala and the Synod Secretary, H.G. Mor Philexinos Yuhanon, proposed a vote of thanks. P.P. Thankachan, MLA, addressed the audience. H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham and other bishops were seated on the podium along with His Holiness.

Following this event, His Holiness proceeded to Chingavanam near Kottayam via Perumbavoor and Muvattupuzha. The route was decorated all along with traditional decorations made of palm leaves, arches and colorful ceremonial umbrellas. Large crowds gathered enroute to catch a glimpse of the supreme spiritual head of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Large numbers of faithful turned out at Perumbavoor, Mannoor, Thrikkalathoor, Muvattupuzha, Koothattukulam, etc., to catch a glimpse of His Holiness. His Holiness requested a departure from the scheduled itinery to pray at the tomb of the late Catholicose Mor Baselius Paulose II at Malekurishu. The late Catholicose was the chief celebrant at the consecration of His Holiness as Patriarch in 1980. The Patriarch expressed his desire to begin his apostolic visit with a memorial service at the tomb. The Patriarchal car deviated from the route to Chingavanam at Muvattupuzha Velloorkunnam Junction and proceeded to Malekurishu alone. Upon arriving at the dayro, the Patriarch was received by the abbott of the monastery, Rabban Kurian John. After offering incense at the altar of the church, His Holiness proceeded to the tomb of the late Catholicose where he spent a few minutes in silence and offered a memorial prayer of incense. The Patriarch rested for a few minutes at the monastery and laid the foundation stone of the new church being built there.

His Holiness arrived at Chingavanam St. John's Church at 6.55 pm and was received at the gates of the Chingavanam dayro with a lit candle by the vicar Rev. Fr. K. K. Jacob Kochuthazhath, assistant to the vicar, Fr. Jacob Nadayil and Trustee, Advocate Jacob Kuruvilla. His Holiness lead the luthiniya (litany) in the sanctuary of the church. Addressing the people, His Holiness urged them to conduct their lives deeply rooted in faith and as witnesses to Christ. The Patriarch expressed his pleasure in being able to participate in the jubilee celebrations of the consecration of H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham. His Holiness invoked blessings of health and long life upon the metropolitan. After blessing the multitudes of people gathered, the Patriarch was lead to the Mar Aphrem Seminary.

His Holiness will visit the tomb of late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Elias III at Manjinikkara at 8:30 am on April 8th and return to Kottayam at 11 am to view the Patriarchal rally organized there. The jubilee celebrations of H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham will be held at the Nehru Stadium thereafter. The celebrations will be inaugurated by the Kerala State Chief Minister E.K. Nayanar. On Sunday, April 9th, His Holiness will celebrate Holy Qurbono at the Chingavanam Mor Aphrem dayro. At 6:30 pm, His Holiness will arrive at the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary, Udayagiri. On April 10th, at 7:30 am, His Holiness will leave the Seminary and proceed to Nedumbassery to return to Damascus via Mumbai.

Source: On-line editions of Malayalam newspapers-- Kerala Kaumudi, Mathrubhumi and Deepika

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