MUSCAT: When a guest comes calling from a neighbouring brotherly country, it is the duty of the mother church to extend all hospitality and care.
Recently Fr Blessan Varughese, Vicar of the St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church in Sana’a paid a visit to the Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church and sought help from the Orthodox community members here. Yemen is part of the Arabian Peninsula and and lies west of Sultanate of Oman.
As a gesture, the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church general body which met last week under the presidentship of Rev Fr James Geevarghese decided to extend a substantial financial grant for the upkeep and building of the new Orthodox Church in Sana’a, the capital of Republic of Yemen.
Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar of the Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church introduced Fr Blessan to the members after the Holy Qurbana and urged the members to help the cause.
The church service is a new entity to the Orthodox community, coming under the Diocese of United Kingdom, Europe, Africa. Fr Blessan was handpicked by His Grace Dr Mathews Mar Thimotheos, the diocese head Metropolitan to lead the staggered Orthodox community in Yemen and presently serves as a full-time vicar since September 2009.
Metropolitan Dr Mathews Mar Thimotheos in a Kalpana dated January 16, 2010 states the Yemen parish has great potential to attract a large number of members and to develop it further. But this has been hampered by the lack of a church building and facilities for our families to gather and conduct their services and other spiritual programs.
Metropolitan has therefore, requested all and the faithful, to prayerfully consider this acute need and generously assist the parish to construct a church at the earliest.
“The great strides our Church has achieved outside India is a source of joy to all of us. With the organisation of the Diocese, the Malankara Orthodox Church has established its presence significantly and strengthened our relations with the other Oriental, Eastern, Catholic and Protestant Churches.”
The Yemen congregation was formed in February 2008 as per the advise of Fr Jose Thomas by elders Miju, Thomas and Abraham. Fr Jose Thomas celebrated Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter services in March 2008 and Dr Fr Jossi Jacob celebrated Christmas 2008 and Holy Week in 2009.
Taking it up as a challenge, the young Achen has taken up the onerous responsibility to gather together the staggered Orthodox community despites risks.
“Earlier, due to lack of a proper religious place for worship, our community went haywire and had no religious place for fellowship. Only the elders remained steadfast as Orthodox believers,” says Fr Blessan.
Now under his leadership, about 40 families gather to conduct Holy Qurbana in a rented hall every Friday (2 services) along with regular meetings of four prayer groups. It needs funds and all help to sustain itself on maintaining the hall and payment of salaries. A good samaritan has come forward to help locate a huge hall where the Holy Qurbana is presently being conducted.
Achen has been able to work with the elders and the nursing community in Sana’a to help propagate Orthodox values and beliefs. Mainly Christian work in Yemen is relegated to Catholics, missionary work of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Orthodox community at present.
Fr Blessen’s main motive of the visit was to seek help from the Orthodox community members in Muscat. Though Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church invited Fr Blessen for the Gulf Orthodox Youth Conference (GOYC) in December last, Achen couldn’t visit travel past the border country due to some unavoidable circumstances.
Fr Blessen hails from Ranny in Kerala under the Thumpamon Diocese with Perunadu Bethany St Thomas as the home parish. He was also active as part of the Sruti School of Music under the Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam.
Fr Blessen can be contacted on + 967-7-14590241 Email: [email protected]