Holy Innocent’s Orthodox Chapel at Karunya University, Coimbatore project is a dream of some of the students, who have just passed out of the University. During the early years of the first decade of 2000, Rev. Fr. Dr. M.C. Cherian (later Metropolitan Dr. Zacharia Mar Theophilos) and Fr. Mathews George used to visit Orthodox students, who study at the Karunya College. However, an organized effort started in the year 2006, when MGOCSM unit was inaugurated by the then general secretary, Rev.Fr.Dr. V.M Abraham. I was appointed as the MGOCSM students chaplain for Coimbatore by the general body. So I took this project as part of it.
Thirty students attended the first MGOCSM unit meeting of Karunya. The students were headed by Abu Abraham, a final year student then and he became a close friend of mine. He was able to motivate students further to attend our prayer meetings. The students were able to conduct meetings twice in every semester. Even students from other Christian denominations took part in our unit meetings. We usually had feedback forms after every meetings. The feedback had one common request. They all want to attend Holy Qurbana.
So we approached a pentecostal church there and they agreed to give their church for us to conduct our Holy Qurbana. It was on November 15th 2008 that the first service took place there. About 110 students attended the Holy Communion on that day. That was one of my joyous days ever since I became a priest. We had many student leaders, Jithin George, Benjie George, Jerrin Mathew, Geo James and Jeffi Sam during its nascent years. They were really an excellent core group. Because of this group I was able to lay the foundation of our activities in Karunya University. These students were always supportive in every matters and they never missed the Sunday service by not coming to the city, which is about 40 Kilometers from the institution. They had the vision to build a students chapel there.
Holy Qurbana was conducted once in every two months. An internal conflict between various groups inside the pentecostal congregation led to the denial of permission for our services there. We then approached various other congregations over there, however, those efforts did bear no fruit. So the students asked me to approach HG Diascoros Thirumeni. Thirumeni was so surprised to hear about the news and he promised full support from his side. He drafted a kalpana and it was send to all the parents of the students. Also he proposed a name for the chapel, “HOLY INNOCENTS’ ORTHODOX CHAPEL.” We then opened an account with Federal Bank, Coimbatore. The account No. is 13470100028471 in chapel’s name.
The student body grew every year and the number of orthodox students also increased. Ergo the need for a chapel became stronger and stronger. One of the students, Paul Jacob approached the Catholicos Elect Milithios Thirumeni and conveyed the idea. He was overjoyed to hear the matter. He extended his wholehearted support and gave one Lakh Rupees. Also he asked a college management, where he is the manager, to contribute one Lakh Rupees. All the students were so excited to hear this news. This was a big morale booster for the students to work. Newer group was groomed up by the student leaders. These students include Shinsu Sunny, Manu George, Tenju Paul, Gregary Palal, Nikhil Varghese, Alias Baby, Shina Sam, Varsha Mary, Shijo Oommen, Shince Thomas, Jissa Annie, Sheryl Jose and the list goes on.
The students visited various churches in Chennai and Trivandrum and were successful in collecting good sums of money. Simultaneously HG Diascoros Thirumeni submitted an application to the MOSC Budget and a sum of two Lakhs of Rupees were allocated for the project. We then bought the land at the base rate of 1.1 Lakhs/cent. A total of 10 Lakhs were spend for the whole expenditure of buying the plot. A plan for the chapel was drawn and the estimate is around 17-20 Lakhs for the building. We have been able to collect total of about 12 lakhs Rs till now. Another 16-18 lakhs is required for the completion of the construction work. The plan of the building is herewith attached. The proposed building is a single storied with asbestos sheet roofing mounted over steel truss.The rooms on the adjacent sides can be used as Achen’s room, office and vestry.
The foundation stone for the chapel was laid on August 7th, 2010 by HG Dr. Yuhanon Mar Diascoros.
Fr. Thampi Varughese
St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral,