I consider it a great blessing to have this opportunity of participating in the 17th centenary celebrations of the martyrdom of St. George. I recall with great pleasure my visits to this church on several occasions in the past. However today’s is my first visit after the reconstruction of the church building. The architectural beauty and majesty of the buildings impress me enormously and I congratulate the Puthuppally Parish for undertaking this work in such a highly satisfactory manner. Puthuppally Parish has the great distinction of having produced some of the most eminent leaders of the Orthodox church who had served the church with great devotion and dedication in the critical years of its troubles and tribulations.
I would particularly acknowledge with gratitude the contributions of great leaders like Rao Saheb O.M. Cherian, Justice K.K. Lukose, Z.M. Paret and the pride of the Puthuppally parish, Mathews Mar Ivanios for preserving the independence of the church. I recall with great pleasure my friendship with the late Z.M. Paret, the illustrious historian of the Orthodox church. For him the completion of the eight volumes of church history was a ‘tapasya’ or a ‘yajna’ which he undertook as his duty to his mother church. On this occasion I also recall an anecdote narrated by Z. M. Paret in the presence of Mathews Mar Ivanios when both us together called on him at Puthuppally.
When Malankara Metropolitan Vattasseril Mar Dionysius who was the guru Fr. Paret pressed him about a couple of years before the Metropolitan’s demise to agree to be elevated to the position Bishop, Fr. Paret had politely declined saying that he had not received the ‘divine call’ (dhei-va-vi-Li) for it yet. The Metropolitan ~hided his disciple by saying that ‘divine call’ did not mean that God Almighty would come to his room and catch him by his hand and tell him to become a Bishop. He told Fr. Paret that when people like him tell him that he should agree to become a Bishop he should consider it as a ‘divine call’ and it was his duty to obey it. However, Fr. Paret evaded giving a positive reply as he had felt that he should remain a priest for some more years to serve his home parish of Puthuppally.
There are no clear historical evidences to prove when exactly the connection between St. George and the church in Malankara had started. The fact that a large number of Malankara Nazranis carry the name of the saint in its different variations, George, Geevarughese, Varkey, Varughese, etc., and that there are several scores of churches in Kerala instituted in the sacred memory of St. George, show the strength of the relationship between the saint and the Malankara Church. I am sure the Puthuppally Parish will arrange to undertake further researches on the origins of the sacred relationship between the Saint and the church in Malankara and Puthuppally parish in particular.
I understand that several members of the Orthodox church from various parts of the country are present here today to participate in the 17th centenary of the Saint’s martyrdom. I wish to avail of this opportunity to share with you some thoughts on the vision that we should have about the future of our church and the aims and objectives which we should keep in view in carrying out this vision. Some people may wonder why I should be talking about the objectives and aims or the directions in which the Church should proceed at this stage of its history.
After a prolonged saga of tensions and conflicts, we have today the satisfaction of having achieved almost everything that we wished to achieve through the unambiguous judgments of the highest court of the land. In the long history of the Malankara church spanning over a period of 2000 years, the 100 years from the middle of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century (when the Supreme court passed this historic judgment of 1958), have been years of great troubles and tensions which few other Christian churches in the world had ever to encounter in their relations with other churches.