April 2000


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The Patriarch Presides at Jubilee Celebrations

April 9, 2000

The Patriarch of Antioch H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas presided over the golden jubilee celebrations of episcopal consecration of the Knanaya Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan, Qooberneeyto Hakeemo H.E. Mor Clemis Abraham at Kottayam today. Earlier in the morning, His Holiness proceeded from Chingavanam Mar Aphrem Dayro to Manjinikkara Dayro to pay respects at the tomb of late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Elias III.

To Manjinikkara

The Patriarchal entourage left Chingavanam at 9:15 am for Manjinikkara. All along the MC Road, the faithful gathered on either side waving Church flags to catch a glimpse of His Holiness. The procession was lead by an open jeep with the pastoral staff of the Patriarch borne by Fr. C.T. Kurian and other priests. The Kerala State Mercedes No. 175 carrying His Holiness followed right after, with cars carrying other bishops behind. Police reinforcements controlled the crowds all along the route. Several banners had been erected to welcome the Patriarch. The Patriarch blessed the crowds gathered at Mandiram Junction, Kurichi Outpost, Changanacherry town, etc., with the pastoral cross.

As the Patriarchal entourage entered the Tiruvalla town precincts at 9:45 am, a 1000 ceremonial fireworks went off to welcome His Holiness. At the Simhasana Church, Tiruvalla, on the T.K. Road, multitudes of people of all religions had gathered to receive the Holiness under the leadership of V. Rev. Cor Episcopus Malfono Dr. Kaniamparambil Curien, one of the most prominent Syriac and biblical scholars of the Malankara Church. On seeing the aged Cor Episcopus, His Holiness requested an unscheduled stop and addressed the gathering briefly, praised the exemplary service and scholarship of the Cor Episcopus and exhorted all to wage peace and establish love in the Holy Church.

As the entourage left Tiruvalla, many more vehicles joined in. The procession proceeded via Vallamkulam, Eraviperoor, Kozhenchery, Elanthoor and Omalloor, reaching Manjinikkara Dayro at 10:45 am. His Holiness was received by Metropolitan of the Simhasana Churches Mor Ostatheos Benyamin with a lit candle. The church bells pealed, ceremonial fire-works resounded, and ceremonial umbrellas added color. The Patriarch offered the luthiniya at the sanctuary of the church followed by prayers of incense at the tomb of the late Patriarch Elias III. Along with His Holiness were Metropolitans 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 Clemis Abraham (Knanaya Diocese), and Mor Gregorios Joseph (Cochin) among others. Tens of thousands had gathered from various parishes in the southern Kerala diocese in the morning to witness the Patriarch's arrival. His Holiness addressed the people in Syriac and English. The crowd erupted into shouts of "Long live the Patriarch!" as the Patriarch blessed the gathering.

The Patriarch then proceeded to lay the foundation stone for an extension to the monastery and rested briefly at the monastery along with other bishops. At noon, His Holiness left for Kottayam stopping at Kodimatha for lunch and rest at the newly opened hotel, Windsor Castle. His Holiness viewed the rally that preceded the golden jubilee celebrations that started at Kodimatha at 3:00 pm.

"Discipleship in Love": Patriarch's Address at Manjinikkara

The Patriarch with H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham

The Patriarch of Antioch, H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, addressed the huge gathering at Manjinikkara and exhorted them to become ideal citizens of India strengthened in their faith. In the diversity of religious traditions, His Holiness called for love of God and love among all people. It is only through love for one's neighbor that true discipleship in Christ is attained. The Church derives its strength from the tortures and afflictions borne by the Holy Fathers of the Church while upholding the faith of the Church. His Holiness expressed his pride in being able to address the faithful on the soil of Manjinikkara enriched by the toil of bishops of blessed memory, Mor Yulius Elias Qoro and Mor Yulius Ya`qub and thanked God for another opportunity to pray at the tomb of late Patriarch Elias III. The Patriarch beseeched the intercession of Saint Ignatius Elias III and invoked God's blessings on the gathering. His Holiness also expressed his admiration for H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham and the Knanaya Diocese, for H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas on his efforts to maintain our faith and traditions, and for H.G. Mor Ostatheos Benyamin who oversees the Manjinikkara monastery.

H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas welcomed the Patriarch on behalf of the Southern dioceses and H.G. Mor Ostatheos Benyamin on behalf of the Mor Ignatios monastery. H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas asserted the position of the Patriarchal faction of the Malankara Church that no unity in the Church can be achieved excluding the Patriarch of Antioch to several rounds of applause by the crowds gathered there. Fr. Abraham Mannikkarot presented a gift to His Holiness on behalf of the Southern Dioceses.

Golden Jubilee Rally

The golden jubilee celebrations of H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham started with a rally that originated at Kodimatha at 3:00 pm. The rally proceeded via Pulimoodu, Gandhi Square, P.T. Chacko Square, Shastri Road, Kurian Uthuppu Road reaching Nagambadam Nehru Stadium at 6:00 pm. The rally was lead by a pilot jeep followed by vehicles bearing the Church Trustees. People from different dioceses and parishes from Trichur down to Quilon, and Rajakkadu to Punaloor participated. The first group was from Rajakkadu, followed by one from Kannara bearing palm leaves, a uniformed group from Cochin, women dressed in traditional attire chatta and mundu and ear-rings--valikathandu--from Chingavanam, Velluthuruthy, and Kurichy, a group from Kalliserry bearing 21 silver crosses, a rotating band from Chingavanam Dayro, Kundara, etc. At the tail end of the rally were the decorated vehicles carrying the pastoral staff of the Patriarch, the metropolitans and special guests and finally the open vehicle carrying His Holiness and H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham who blessed the people gathered enroute. The rally was organized to proceed as two columns but later the zealous faithful merged into the procession making it a sea of festivities. Huge cut-outs of His Holiness and H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham lined the streets.

Golden Jubilee Celebrations

The Patriarch with H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham

Multitudes of faithful gathered at the Nagambadam Nehru Stadium, Kottayam for the golden jubilee celebrations of episcopal consecration of the Knanaya Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan, Qooberneeyto Hakeemo H.E. Mor Clemis Abraham, presided by the Patriarch of Antioch, H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas. Kottayam town has not witnessed such a gathering of people in its recent history. His Holiness was received at the stadium at 6:30 pm in traditions befitting Kerala with traditional vadyamelam (drum bands) and ceremonial umbrellas. Shouts of "Long live the Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the servant of God!" rent the air.

Addressing the large sea of people gathered, His Holiness showered praises on the jubilarian H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham noting the services of the great Metropolitan to the Knanaya community and invoked blessings of a long life dedicated to the service of the church and community. H.G. Mor Clemis is the most senior archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church today. His Holiness hoped that Mor Clemis would be able to play a role in bringing peace to the Church in Malankara based on the 1995 verdict of the Supreme Court of India.

The Patriarch expressed his admiration for the Knanaya community which has upheld the faith and traditions of the Apostolic Church, their identity and service to the community and country. His Holiness noted that the small community had produced several stars including Anjilimoottil Itty Kathanar and Church Historian E.M. Philip.

His Holiness exhorted all gathered to be deeply rooted in their Christian faith but with due respect to other faiths. Love should overcome religious and racial differences. God is the truth. All faithful of the Church should abide in this faith, the Patriarch said.

His Holiness added that faithful of India are blessed, having inherited an antique yet lively heritage. The faithful in India have a responsibility to uphold this unique cultural heritage of India.

His Holiness praised Hinduism for its tolerance, a virtue much valued by Christianity. It was this tolerance that enabled the Christian faith to take root in Malankara. All religions preach love and tolerance. Hence, every member of the society should coexist in love and unity. The Patriarch thanked God for the progress achieved even in interior villages of Kerala. His Holiness noted the changes in Kerala since his last visit in 1982, including the Nedumabassery airport, spread of the internet even in remote villages, etc. The Patriarch also remembered the Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, in his address.

It is very rarely in the history of the Church that a metropolitan completes fifty years of episcopal responsibility. H.G. Mor Clemis was consecrated Metropolitan in 1951 in Homs by late Patriarch Aphrem I. At the time, the Knanaya diocese was far from its current state of organization. The metropolitan was able to lead and guide the Knanaya diocese with a vision, the Patriarch added. In 1958, H.G. Mor Clemis served the Malankara Church as Malankara Metropolitan. The bishop accompanied late Patriarch Ya`qub III to visit Pope Paul VI and the churches in Europe. In 1982, the metropolitan was bestowed the title, Qooberneeyto Hakeemo--the Wise Captain. In recognition of his yeoman services to the Church, the metropolitan was later bestowed the title, "Great Metropolitan of the East."

The Patriarch congratulated H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham on the golden jubilee of episcopal consecration on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church and all its faithful all over the world. Following his address, the Patriarch presented icons of Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Virgin Mary to the bishop. The Patriarch's address was translated to Malayalam by H.G. Mor Themotheos Thomas.

Archbishop of the Catholic Church Mar Joseph Powathil felicitated H.G. Mor Clemis on his episcopal jubilee noting his administrative ability, brotherly love, and his leadership in the field of education. The Marthoma Metropolitan Philipose Mar Chrisostom spoke praising Mor Clemis for his scholarship, wisdom and fearless leadership of various causes. Bishops Cyril Mar Baselius, Mar Kuriakose Kunnassery and Stephen Vattapara also felicitated the Knanaya metropolitan.

Source: On-line editions of Malayalam newspapers-- Deepika, Malayala Manorama, and Kerala Kaumudi.

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