St. Thomas Mar Thoma Parish History
In the early days, the church that Syrian Christians of Thiruvalla congregated for worship was at Niranam, which was one of the seven churches established by St. Thomas at Malankara, namely, Kodungalloor, Kollam, Paloor, Paravoor, Thekkanpallippuram, Niranam and Nilackal. Later, a cathedral church was established at Thiruvalla Paliekkara in 1815 A.D. and holy services were conducted there. This church was burned and destroyed by the Patthillatthil Pottis, the lords of those days. The parishioners’ petition made Colonel Munro, a British resident, intervene and collect a fine of 6000 Calions from the culprits. Half of this amount was spent on renovating the church, which is the present day Paliekkara Church.
Rev. Kovoor Ipe Thoma Katthanaar accepted priesthood in 1861 at the age of 19 and partook in his holy duties with his predecessor Geevarghese Katthanaar at Paliekkara Church. Palakkunnatthu Abraham Malpaan had brought in certain amendments, seemingly the seeds of reformation, at his own parish in Maramon in 1837. Over time, these developments began to spread to other parishes. This new establishment influenced Ipe Thoma Katthanaar who had already accepted these novel ideas in his mind. Preparations were commenced at Paliekkara Church also to put the new order into practice. At that time, Rev. Ipe Thoma was the youngest among the priests who served at the church. Before 1877, churches other than the one at Maramon did not conduct worship in adherence to the Thaksa made by Abraham Malpaan. However, Rev. Kovoor Ipe Thoma translated the Promeon for the first time and used it for church service in 1862. At the onset, this fetched him the hostility of everyone in the Parish consisting of around 1000 families, excluding 10 or 12 of them. His own family members advised him to refrain from these ventures stating, among other reasons, that it was not practical to antagonize the whole parish by fighting it with just a few supporters and that such activities were not befitting his family’s status and dignity. When these chidings met deaf years, his father and brothers seriously warned him that if he continues with his new work he would not be given even a single penny’s worth from the family. He also had to face various allegations, denigrations and threats from the parishioners. In spite of all this, he decided to stand firm for the truth, rather than renounce the ideologies of reformation or be discouraged.
Before long, Rev. Ipe Thoma’s father and brothers fully agreed with his views. Many others in the parish too became his adherents. During those times, peace breaches and police cases occurred at Paliekkara church in confluence. In all church trials, it was Katthanaar’s logics that prevailed and was enhanced. Due to his struggles to establish the reformation, he had to encounter various tribulations. Opposition towards him made a group led by the Kodiyattu family to establish Kattappuratthupalli and move there. In 1875, Peter Patriarchese, who had reached Malankara, was made to enter Paliekkara church and a vain effort was made to take away the ownership of the church from Rev. Ipe Thoma. Consequently, when he was conducting that year’s Hosanna service at the church, a gang from Kattappuratthupalli joined the congregation. In the struggle that ensued with this forceful entry of outsiders, an elderly person in the opposition passed away and Rev. Ipe Thoma was included in the culprits list in the case that was conducted from the government under pressure from the opposition. At the trial, the priest’s logical and clever statements made the court acknowledge that the culprits were not guilty. Even with this last trump card, his foes could not defeat him.
Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan was taken to holy abode on 16 July, 1877. His successor Abraham Malpan’s son, Thomas Mar Athanasius, commenced governance that year.
In the negotiations related to Paliekkara Church, the privilege to render the holy rites twice a month was bestowed upon Kovoor Valyachan Geevarghese Kathanaar and Kochachan Ipe Thoma Kathanaar, and the same for once a month was given to Kodiattachan and Painammoottilachan, in the year 1882. Geevarghese Kathanaar passed away in 1885.
Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Divannasios made a claim against Thomas Mar Athanasius, who was the Metropolitan, stating that the title and rights of Malankara Metropolitan belonged to him. In 1889, the verdict came against Thomas Mar Athanasius in the royal court, which was the final appeal court in this case. As a result, the reformation group and Thomas Mar Athanasius’ supporters lost the old seminary, most of the churches, the church wealth, their designations and related rights. Moreover, with this judgment the Syrian church split into two distinct parts, namely, Mar Thoma Syrian Church and Jacobite Syrian Church.
Suvishesha Prasanga Sangham
Without waiting for the result of the court case, Suvishesha Prasanga Sangham was established in 1888 to do missionary work in the homeland of Mar Thoma Church and to enhance the spiritual life of church members in the light of the truths in the gospel. The first anniversary of this group was conducted at Paliekkara Church.
Ipe Thoma Kathanaar was promoted as the first Vicar General of Mar Thoma Church in 1892. A decision was taken to buy a property for the community during a conference of Suvishesha Prasanga Sangham at Puthenkavu. The Vicar General’s and other church leaders’ attentions were honed in on the matter of remedying the failure of the seminary case and the loss of church wealth. The panchayat property, which is known today as S. C. S. Mount (S. C. S Kunnu), was purchased in 1892, with the Vicar General’s prowess, for Rs.600 in the name of Mar Thoma community from an opulent Eezhava family known as Thittappalli.
On the days when it was not their turn at Paliekkara Church, the Mar Thomites of Thiruvalla gathered for worship and other fellowship activities at Ambattu Pallikkudam in Kavumbhagom, on the south-west side of the present Ebenezer Mar Thoma Church.
Since it was very essential for the Mar Thomites of Thiruvalla to build a church for themselves, during the central conference at Puthenkavu Church in 1897, the Vicar General Ipe Thoma Katthanaar requested that a space for a church and a cemetery was to be given for cash or as a sponsoring from the community’s panchayat property. Discussions on this were conducted. The problem of devaluing of the rest of the property due to the construction of a cemetery led to some arguments. In the end, a total of 100 square feet was given for the church and its front yard at a prime spot and for the cemetery in a remote area.
Ipe Thoma Katthanaar demanded that a school was to be started at the space provided for Thiruvalla Church. This was accepted and work for the school commenced. But instead of waiting for the work to be over, Katthanaar began teaching at Kovoor Ipe Vakkeel’s building. Later, the building known today as Old Block was constructed and the school was shifted to this place. The school was inaugurated on June 29, 1902. This institution is the present S. C. Seminary. The leading roles for the establishment of the high school were voluntarily played by Sri. K. M. Abraham (Kanjirathummoottil) and Sri V. P. Mammen (later Rev. V. P. Mammen) – two graduates who set out for the service of the church in a self-sacrificing and wholeheartedly submissive manner. The works of these two pioneers helped the growth of the school. The first Head Master of the school was Sri. K. M. Abraham.
St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church
The privilege of conducting worship by turn from 1881 at Paliekkara Church was given away in 1903 upon a resignation after collecting Rs.1700. After that, Ipe Thoma Katthanaar continued to conduct Sunday services at S.C.S. Old Block. Realizing the need for a special place for worship and related activities, Mundakatthil Maatthan, Mathilunkal Kurien, Thekkeathil Itti, Puthenparambil Varghese Chandi, Puthenparambil Cherian and Kattappuratthu Geevarghese – all of whom resided near the panchayath property – purchased a watershed from a Namboothiri Illam in Thiruvalla called Muppadathu Madom and brought the materials from it to the panchayath property in 1904. Along with these, they used other old wood parts and bamboo stems to make a shed near the property. This was on the present church’s northern side. Worship was then conducted in this shed. A foundation was also laid for the present day church. Ipe Thoma Katthanaar himself was the Vicar of the new parish.
During this time, the then Mar Thoma Metropolitan Titus I Thirumeni was residing at the west side room of S.C.S’ Old Block. A thatch roofed shed existed near this room. Someone set this shed on fire. Therefore, Thirumeni shifted his residence to the hall on the northern side of the second floor of the seminary’s new two storied building. After Thirumeni’s demise, Titus II Thirumeni stayed there. But classes began to be held there due to the increasing number of students at the school and Thirumeni had to shift back to the old building’s west side room. Subsequently, the Old Pulatheen in the panchayat property was constructed and Thirumeni moved there.
Though the foundation stone for the church was laid in 1904, a long span of years went by without the work being completed due to financial crisis. Finally, with the efforts of Kanjirathummoottil Sri. K.M. Abraham and Thayyilparambil Sri. T. V. Varghese, the work was finished. After that, in April 30, 1911, the church became the venue for anointing Mr. M. N. Abraham (later Abraham Mar Thoma) and Mr. M. P. Pothen as priests. It was in this church that two graduates were given priesthood for the first time.
The pious, extraordinarily intelligent, courageous and hardworking 75 year old Vicar General Ipe Thoma Katthanaar met his demise under the strong clutches of arthritis on January 27, 1917. His body was buried in the grave that was set on the east side of St. Thomas Church’s altar.
Ipe Thoma Katthaanaar’s Successor
When Ipe Thoma Katthanaar became the Vicar General, his nephew K.P. Thomas was given priesthood by Titus I Metropolitan in 1895 at Paliekkara Church. Consequently, he accepted priesthood and taught at Kottayam Mar Thoma Seminary. Then he was appointed as Assistant Vicar to Ipe Thoma Katthanaar and served at Thiruvalla, Mepral, Chatthenkery and Karackal parishes. For a short period, he served as a teacher at S. C. Seminary also. After the demise of Ipe Thoma Katthanaar, Rev. K. P. Thomas became the Vicar of St. Thomas Parish. The parish governance was rendered by dividing St. Thomas Parish into eight prayer groups, namely, Kavumbhagom, Peringara, Perumthurutthy, Malabhagom, Varikkadu, Kuttappuzha and Thirumoolapuram. The duty of coordinating the activities of such a large parish was really hard indeed. Therefore, Rev. P. V. Jacob, a native of Thrissur who had come to Mar Thoma Church from Kaldeya Syrian Church, was appointed as the Assistant Vicar. He served the parish from 1928 to 1933. Rev. P. I. Chacko was the next Assistant Vicar. Meanwhile, four more chapels, apart from St. Thomas Church, were established at Kavumbhagom, Vengal, Varikkadu and Thirumoolapuram. Worship was conducted in these places once in a month on Sundays under the leadership of one of the Vicars. In the absence of priests, the following people were given the responsibility of coordinating the worship:
St. Thomas – Sri. A. V. Mammen (Aanjilivelil), Sri. C. Kurien (Mathilunkal)
Kavumbhagom Ebenezer – Sri. K. A. George (Kanjiratthummottil)
Vengal – Sri. Kochumaatthunni (Koyyikkal)
Thirumoolapuram – Sri. T. V. Chacko (Njaazhicheril)
Varikkadu – Sri. Kurien Maatthen (Thakidiyil)
Ipe Thoma Katthanaar’s Memorial
The decision to build a memorial in the name of Ipe Thoma Katthanaar on behalf of St. Thomas Parish was taken during a parish meeting in 1934. Mar Thoma Church Council was notified of this and a request was made to allow a space to build a hall in the panchayat property at Thiruvalla. The necessary steps to forward the proceedings were also taken. It was also decided that a gold medal was to be presented to Sri. C. Kurien for writing and publishing a biography of Ipe Thoma Katthanaar. However, to avoid being too late, V. G. M. Hall was constructed at a space in the panchayath property that belonged to the church itself as the late Vicar’s memorial.
Since the four branches of St. Thomas Church had become self sufficient with the required church buildings and related provisions, it was suggested that each church should be given autonomous authority for governance. As a result, in the parish meeting held on 11 March, 1939, a Trust division was decided to be made. According to the parish registry, with the five churches, namely, Thiruvalla St. Thomas, Kavumbhagom Ebenezer, Vengal Shalom, Varikkadu Sehion and Thirumalapooram Bethany, Thiruvalla St. Thomas Mar Thoma Parish had 369 houses and more than 2000 members. After analyzing the parish members’ places of dwelling, distance between the churches and other conditions, the wealth of the parish was divided into five for the well being and progress of the churches. As per the entries in the parish registry, the number of member families divided for each church was 128 for Thiruvalla St. Thomas, 99 for Kavumbhagom Ebenezer, 62 for Vengal Shalom, 50 for Varikkadu Sehion and 30 for Thirumoolapuram Bethany. It was decided that each church was to submit registered deeds with capital-liability details according to the aforesaid division to the Sabha Office. After getting the Metropolitan’s assent, the deed was registered and the rules and regulations were brought into practice from 15 March, 1939.
St. Thomas Parish after the Division
Rev. K. P. Thomas continued to be the common vicar after his twenty two years of governance and activities continued to be conducted in St. Thomas Parish’s prayer groups of Malabhagom, Theeppany, Kulakkaadu and Kuttappuzha.
Rev. K. P. Thomas’ Last Days
Rev. K. P. Thomas requested the Metropolitan to be relieved of his long years of duty as parish vicar due to his ageing. Therefore, the Metropolitan separated him from the parish responsibilities and sent a note making him an Honorary Vicar from July 1948.
After loyally serving his church and parish for over 48 years and becoming the receiver of the church and parish’s love and respect, Rev. K. P. Thomas was taken to heavenly abode on 8 August, 1950, due to geriatric illness at the age of 79.
Kuttappuzha Jerusalem Parishioners
In July, 1950, 48 families from Kuttappuzha prayer group formed a special parish called Jerusalem Parish and separated from St. Thomas Parish with its acknowledgment.
As per the desire of 10 families in St. Thomas Parish to join the parish in Aamalloor, newly formed in 1951, the Metropolitan decreed to let them do so.
Mar Thoma College
A committee was formed during the Chraisthaana Samithi meeting on 16 March, 1952, to collect funds from the parish for the establishment of the upcoming Mar Thoma College in Thiruvalla and a sum of Rs.1001 was given on behalf of the parish as a part of the Rs. 10,000 that was to be submitted as security to the government.
After four new parishes were formed as per the Trust Deed and some families shifted to Kuttappuzha and Aamalloor parishes, in 1952, the 148 families in St. Thomas Parish’s register were divided into the following prayer groups:
Pallibhagom – 38 families
Kulakkaadu – 30 families
Theeppany – 28 families
Malabhagom – 28 families
Ramanchira – 24 families
Total – 148 families
It was necessary to build a parsonage for the parish. Kozhimannil Dr. V. Varghese Divan Bahadur’s building – where Kuttappuzha Deaf and Dumb School was running – and a property of 61 cents was handed over through a Property Deed in 1944 for the residence and use of St. Thomas Mar Thoma Parish’s priests. In line with this, the building and the property were used as St. Thomas Parish’s parsonage. In 1950, after a parish was formed in Kuttappuzha and families there joined it, the parsonage had to be given to Kuttappuzha parish. Consequently, 10 cents of land in Kulakkaadu was bought for the parsonage. A building was built there and from March 15, 1955, the then Vicar Rev. C. T. Oommen started living there with his family.
In consideration of the fact that the parsonage at Kulakkaadu was situated somewhat away from the church and the resultant difficulties, a property of 16 cents near the church was bought from Itti John of Thenmadom and the parsonage building and land in Kulakkaadu were sold. In early January, 1969, the construction of the new parsonage was completed, the Metropolitan Thirumeni led the consecration ceremony and the then Vicar Rev. C. M. Thomas commenced living there. However, since the parsonage became unfit for residence over time and because an Assistant Vicar was also needed for the smooth functioning of the parish services, it was decided during the 2002 Idavaka Sangham meeting that a building complex including two parsonages suitable for the residence of two priests was to be built. According to this, the construction began under the leadership of Rev. P. T. Koshy. The work of this parsonage complex including two parsonages with modern facilities and a cellar hall was concluded under the leadership of Rev. M.P. Yohannaan. On 11 October, 2003, Most Rev. Philippose Mar Chrisostom Mar Thoma rendered the consecration ceremony. Convener Sri. K. C. Thomas and Trustee Sri. V. C. Jacob helmed the construction work of the parsonage.
Since the100 x 50 feet space provided for the cemetery during the beginnings of St. Thomas Parish was too inappropriate, a request to provide 10 cents more of land, for payment or as donation, was made to the Sabha Council. In response to that, 10 cents of land on the west side of the existing cemetery was purchased for a price of Rs.1250. But the parish Idavaka Sangham gave a special request to the Church in 1990 realizing the limitations of the cemetery. As a result, 1.75 cent land near the cemetery was donated for the parish.
The thought of constructing a common vault, considering the limitations of the cemetery, had been there for a long time. In the Idavaka Sangham meeting on 15 February, 1981, it was decided to construct a common vault with 36 cells. The work was completed in August 1981. In the Idavaka Sangham meeting on 6 September, 1981, the norms regarding funerals were also passed. The details of these norms are included in the parish’s annual report of 1981. Since the number of families in the parish was increasing and the space of the cemetery and the common vault became insufficient, the 2001 Idavaka Sangham met and decided to construct a new common vault. This work was completed and the new common vault was provided for the use of parishioners in March 2002.
Organizations in the Parish
From the time when Sunday School Samaajam was established in Mar Thoma Church in 1905, Sunday School activities have been carried out in St. Thomas Parish. Prior to the Trust division, six Sunday Schools were conducted on behalf of the parish, namely, S. C. S., Kavumbhagom, Varikkadu, Vengal, Thirumoolapuram and Kuttappuzha. In the early days, teachers who stayed at the S. C. S. Boarding Home and senior students went to the various Sunday Schools in the parish and taught there. The Sunday School’s first Head Master was Mr. P. K. Easow (Padinjaatteathil). Later, Mr. C. Kurien, and Mr. G. Oommen served as Head Masters for long periods.
On 14 February, 1919, during the meeting of ladies who were parish members at the venue of Maramon Convention presided by the Most Rev. Abraham Mar Thoma Suffragan Metropolitan, the need for an organization for ladies, with the objectives of spiritual nourishment and welfare of downtrodden, was strongly expressed. As a result of the summons for the same, Mar Thoma ladies’ Sevika Sangham came into being out of a unanimous decision.
Sevika Sangham commenced at St. Thomas Parish too. Initially, weekly fellowship meetings were conducted and the group met at the church on the second Sundays of every month. Madam Kellaway from Vanitha Mandiram used to come to conduct special meetings. Mrs. G. Zachariah (Kuralil), Mrs. M. C. Samuel (Mundappallil), Mrs. A. V. Mammen (Aanjilivelil) and Mrs. Mariamma Philippose (Kurunthottatthil) were the early workers of Sevika Sangham.
A ‘wing’ of the youth in St. Thomas Parish was set up in 1935 with the aim of uplifting youngsters’ spiritual life and taste for the gospel. Along with meditative meetings, sermons and Bible study, the League was also attentive to social work. However, a short while later, the activities slowed down. In 1948, Kanjiratthummoottil Sri. K. A. George revived the League’s activities as its Secretary.
A branch of Sannaddha Suvishesha Sangham, which was formed in 1923, began at St. Thomas Parish as a result of the efforts of spiritually inclined persons in the parish on 27 June, 1948. The first Secretary of this Sangham was Sri. P. C. Cherian (Putthenparambil). Dr. M. C. Samuel, Dr. George Kuruvila and Mr. K. J. Thomas (Kizhakke Kovoor) were the main office bearers of this group. Along with Kallunkal and Venpaala mission field activities, Idavaka Mission has been in the limelight of Thiruvalla’s ecumenical activities and other mission works.
Kallunkal Mission Field
In 1959, mission work commenced at Kallunkal, where some activities had already been in progress on behalf of Idavaka Mission as per the decision to find a special place to do such works, and a missionary was appointed there and the work continued. In 1960, Dr. George Kuruvila bought a property and building at his own expense for the mission activities there. The limitations of the place for people to gather were remedied and the building was renovated with more facilities. It was at this place that worship, Sunday School and the groups were conducted. At present, a church has been built for worship and related programs. The fact that the work here led to the formation of St. Paul’s Parish gives cause for happiness. The vicar of St. Thomas Parish conducts service at this church on the fourth Sunday of every month.
Venpaala Mission Work
As the result of our Idavaka Mission’s special attention to conduct gospel activities in our nearby place called Venpaala, a missionary was appointed there and work began there as a mission field. The efforts among non Christians helped seven families to join Kallunkal Parish. For this purpose, Idavaka Sangham bought a property in 1994-95 and built a church there in 1995. On 22 April, Most Rev. Alexander Metropolitan Thirumeni did the warming ceremony in the presence of Vicar Rev. P.D. Mammen. A small house and 15 cents of land was purchased there in 1997 for the missionary to stay and work with the prayer groups and conduct worship there. For the expansion of the work there, 41 cents more of land was bought in 2001. Various missionary activities are conducted there under the leadership of one missionary and, simultaneously, free healthcare program is also run there as the responsibility of doctors in our parish.
In the early days, Mr. C. Kurien and S. C. S. High School Head Master Mr. A. V. Mammen led the singing sessions that were part of the proceedings of worship at the parish. A choir was formed in 1961. The person who played the upper hand for this was the Late Mr. Abraham K. George (Kanjiratthummoottil).
Senior Citizen Fellowship
Upon the summons of the Church, Senior Citizen Fellowship was formed on 30 September, 2001, for the elder members of the parish. The group gave attention to visiting and giving fellowship to persons leading restful lives at home due to the hassles of old age and to gather at one of the members’ houses every week.
Discussions on expansion of the church and the decision to construct a wing each on either side of the altar were made during the Idavaka Sangham meeting on 19 December, 1943. However, the work could not commence due to financial crisis.
During a public meeting of the parish on 21 November, 1948, presided by Rev. V. P. Mammen, it was decided that the work had to start immediately. Thus, the work began in 1949. The expense for the north wing was met by Kozhimannil Divan Bahadur Dr. V. Varghese. Kizhakke Kovoor Dr. K. C. Cherian gave Rs. 2500 for the work of the south wing. The construction was finished in 1950 and benches were placed in the north wing for those attending worship.
Another parish meeting was held for further expansion of the church on 28 December, 1958, and it was decided to make more room inside the church without altering its roof or face. The foundation stone was laid by Most Rev. Yuhannon Mar Thoma Metropolitan in the morning of 9 July, 1959. All the jobs were completed by 5 March, 1960. The reentry into the church was conducted at 6:30 a.m. by Most Rev. Yuhannon Mar Thoma Metropolitan with the support of Most Rev. Philippose Mar Chrisostom Episcopa and many priests.
Later, since the number of members of the church increased and the space in the church became insufficient for common worships, marriages and other public programs of the church, it was decided to increase the length of the church during the vicar-ship of Rev. M. M. Thomas in 1978. When Rev. Kurien Thomas was the vicar, the decision to renovate the church, according to the plan of lengthening the church toward the west side including a balcony, was made on 10 October, 1982, during the Idavaka Sangham presided by Most Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan. However, later some changes were made to this. Instead of the balcony, the work for a hall of 30 x 50 feet size was ultimately permitted by the Metropolitan Thirumeni during the Idavaka Sangham presided by him on 24 April, 1983. With a prayer on 26 May, 1983, the Metropolitan Thirumeni started the construction of the front portion of the church as the first phase of the renovation work. The consecration ceremony of the beautifully modified church was conducted on 23 November, 1983, with the leadership of Most Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan and the support of Joseph Mar Irenious Episcopa, Easow Mar Timothious Episcopa and C. S. I. Bishop M. C. Mani Thirumeni. The services of the then Vicar Rev. Dr. P. J. Philip, church construction committee Convener K. Thomas Vaipanaaril, Engineers O. N. Idikkula Ooryeppadikkal and Sri. Abraham Varghese Naalaamvelil, and Trustee K. N. O. Muthalaali were praiseworthy. The public meeting on that same day was attended by the special guests like Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Osthaathios Metropolitan, Fr. George Chundevaalel and Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Timothious Metropolitan.
Nintieth Anniversary Celebrations
The parish’s Nintieth Anniversary was celebrated with several progressive programs during the year 1995-’96. Most Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan Thirumeni inaugurated the celebrations on 13 August, 1995.
As part of the Nintieth Anniversary, the parishioners offered Rs.5,20,385 as donation. This amount was spent for missionary work, social service programs, help for the poor and educational support. The sum was also used for house construction support to two homeless people in Kallunkal parish, building a hall near Kallunkal church for providing free tuition to students, support in meeting the ends for missionaries, support for priests and support for Khariaar road missionary work.
The closing ceremony of the Nintieth Anniversary celebrations was conducted on 6 October, 1996, presided by Most Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan. On that occasion, Malayala Manorama Chief Editor Sri. K. M. Mathew rendered an oration. The program was led by Rev. George Zachariah.
Priests of the Parish
Rev. Daniel Mammen and Rev. Mathew Zachariah entered priesthood after participating in our parish’s Sunday School, Youth League and Choir, and are engaged in praiseworthy services in different parishes. Other than them, Rev. Zachariah Varghese, Rev. P.T. Koshy, Rev. T. O. George, Rev. T. A. Samuel, Rev. C. E. Thomas, Rev. V. M. Mathew, Rev. Philip Varghese, Rev. Dr. M. C. George, Rev. Mathew Varghese and Rev. Dr. K. T. Joy are parish members. Rev. K. P. Philip, Rev. C. M. Thomas, Rev. C. A. Abraham and Rev. P. D. Mammen who were parish members have been taken to heavenly abode.
The inauguration of the centenary celebrations of the parish was done by Most Rev. Philippose Mar Chrisostom Mar Thoma Metropolitan on 7 November, 2004. In this meeting presided by the Chief of Kaldeya Church Dr. Mar Aprem Metropolitan, M. G. University Vice Chancellor Dr. Syriac Thomas gave the main message. 57 parish members who were more than 80 years of age were honoured with ‘ponnaada’. A decision was taken to implement programs emphasizing Preaching, Healing and Caring. The commencement of the centenary celebrations was led by Rev. M. P. Yohannaan. Subsequently, Vicar Rev. A. T. Zachariah and Assistant Vicar Rev. Saji Thomas rendered excellent leadership. The lifestyle of these priests greatly influenced the parish members to build an outlook that engaging in charitable activities were not a show of generosity but our responsibility. In the centennial parish, there were 472 families as members in 9 prayer groups. Prayer meetings are conducted every Sunday in the late afternoons at a stipulated time at houses decided upon in each prayer group. Vicar Rev. A. T. Zachariah and Assistant Vicar Rev. Saji Thomas displayed wonderful leadership in spiritual matters of the parish.
Seethaampettu Tribal Hostel
A decision was taken to establish a hostel for tribal girl children in Seethaampettu, Andhra Pradesh, and to provide educational facilities there. One child each from 15 villages was selected, a house was rented in Seethaampettu and the hostel was started under the responsibility of a missionary called Sri. Stephen and his family on 1 June, 2005. Special prayer groups and worship services are being conducted with the leadership of this missionary for the people of those villages. The expense for these children was sponsored by the parish members. Moreover, the church choir donates the money that they get from performing during wedding ceremonies for the same purpose.
Other than the parish’s early days’ Vicars Kovoor Ipe Thoma Katthanaar and Rev. K. P. Thomas, Rev. P. I. Chacko is also gratefully remembered here for his selfless service as the Assistant Vicar for the thirteen years before and after the Trust Division.
Mathilunkal C. Kurien, who wrote Vicar General Ipe Thoma Katthanaar’s biography that formed the most important book in the writing of our parish’s history, had served as Parish Trustee and Chraisthaana Samithi member with great care and efficiency for more than quarter of a century. The services of Kanjiratthummoottil Sri. K. M. Abraham, who was the Trustee continuously for 15 years in the parish’s early days, Panachiyil Dr. P. C. George, who was the Trustee for 8 years, and Mundakatthil Sri. M. A. Koshy, who was the Trustee for 19 years, should be specially remembered.
It is worth mentioning that Oryeppadikkal Advocate O. C. Ninan, who served as the Sabha Almaya Trustee, Thiruvalla Municipal Chairman, Kallooppaara M. L. A. and the Church’s Legal Adviser, Kanjiratthummoottil K. A. Mathew Sir, who was a freedom fighter and Thiruvalla M. L. A. who always had strong opinions for social justice, and Plammoottil Kaleekkal P. S. George Sir, who gave the necessary legal advices to the church and suitable donations to the field of higher studies when he worked as a syndicate member of Kerala University, were all attentive to various activities of this parish.
(A report based on the parish history written by Sri. Thomas Chandi Idavapparambil in the souvenir of 1985, forthcoming events and significant facts.)
Prepared by Prof. Jacob Kurien Mathilunkal
Translated by Mr. Thomas P George
Compiled by Mr. George Varghese