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Parumala Seminary and Parumala Thirumeni

Posted By Editor On October 7, 2010 @ 10:25 am In Articles,Youth And Faith | 2 Comments

Parumala Old Church reconstructed at the time of the manager Fr. K.B. Mathews, Karkikoottu
Parumala Seminary 1877-95

Pulikkottil Mar Dionysius observed two conflicting situations facing him which weakened the Church as well as affected its future. One was that Mathews Mar Athanasius had strong support in the parishes south of Kottayam and that he encouraged the reform movement there. Secondly, the Old Seminary was under the control of Mar Athanasius and there was no other establishment available to serve as Seminary for the training of clergy in the existing tradition of the Church. These distressing factors weighed on Mar Dionysius’s mind and prompted him to seek a base in South Travancore which will serve both as a Seminary and a centre for dispensation of Orthodox faith.

At this juncture, Mar Dionysius discussed the situation with the lay leaders of Parumala at Paliakara Church, Tiruvalla, namely Arikupurath Mathan, Athimoottil Peedikayil Mathan and Kalathra Oommen. Arikupurath Mathan, in fact, had broken off from the nearby Niranam parish, came to Parumala where he possessed 64 acres of land and had set up a church in his plot. In the Mulanthuruthy Synod of 1876, he had participated as representative of Parumala.

Parumala is an island placed between two rivers Achankovil and Pampa. It is about two kilo metres long and one and a half kilometer wide with a population of 2000 approximately. The Island lies equidistant from the towns of Chengannur. Tiruvalla and Mavelikara.

Following the discussions, with Mar Dionysius, Mathan gifted to the Metropolitan a plot of land in Parumala, where a Lower Primary School is located at present, on Chingam 16, 1048 (August 1872). A house which came to be called Azhippura for the clergy trainees and another for the Metropolitan were set up in the plot. From here. they used to go to the Parumala Church, raised by Mathan. Later, Athimoottil Mathan Occanda also handed over the land adjoining Azhipura. Finally the Parumala church and its compound (25 Cents) were also made over to Mar Dionysius as gift by the four sons of Mathan in 1060, following his death.

In 1053 (1877) Metropolitan Chathuruthy Mar Gregorios came over to Parumala and started training the clergy trainees. Besides developing the Seminary, the Metropolitan was anxious to have a church attached to the Seminary for the benefit of the trainees. Eighteen years after his coming to Parumala, the Metropolitan raised a beautiful church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul with additional alters in the names of St. Thomas and St. Mary. The consecration of the church was performed by Malankara Metropolitan Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius on Sunday, January 27, 1895. According to the late Rao Sahib O.M. Cherian, the Metropolitan had incurred an expenditure of Rs. 20,000/- for the construction of both the Seminary and the church.(Rao Sahib O.M. Cherian : Parumala Kochuthirumeni (1115{1939) (Malayalam) pp 33.)

Chathuruthy Geevarghese Mar Gregorios – Parumala Saint

Mar Dionysius and the whole Church were put to great grief on November 2, 1902 when the holy father, Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumula fame succumbed to death.

In his life-time, Mar Gregorios was known for strict observance of ascetic rigours in the footsteps of St. Antony and had gained divine powers. Stories of healing the sick, casting off devils, reconciling bitter feuds, etc, are known to many even to-day. Countless people get solace and rewards on his intercession. Mar Gregorios had endeared himself to the members of the Church so that Metropolitans even senior to him in age and standing and also young and old members of the Church called him’ Parumala Kochu Thirumeni’. In time of trials and tribulations, the ruling heads of Church, use to visit the tom b of this holy man seeking his guidance and comfort.

Born in the priestly family of Chathuruthy, Mar Gregorios had his early education in Syriac and theology under his uncle, Malpan Chathuruthy Geevarghese. Later, Mathews Mar Athanasius (Palakunnath) initiated the young boy to priestly order by ordaining him as deacon Geevarghese. Deacon Geevarghese continued his theological training under his uncle Malpan at Mulanthuruthy and thereafter under Konat Malpan at Pampakuda. Some times later, the deacon joined Yoyakim Mar Ivanios, the Metropolitan from Syria who was sojourning in Malankara, as private secretary as well as for learning Syriac from him. Not long after, Mar Ivanios ordained the deacon as a priest. Fr. Geevarghese ministered in the Mulanthuruthy church for a time residing at Vettikal Dayara. Vettikal Dayara was a little known institution; but Fr. Geevarghese during his short stay there, developed it. It was here that the future Metropolitan trained his body and mind by ascetic virtues in gaining communion with God. To-day it serves as head quarters of Kandanad Diocese.

Meanwhile, Pulikottil Mar Dionysius had other plans. The Metropolitan had established the frame of a future Seminary at Parumala in the South. Chathuruthy Fr. Geevarghese had attracted his attention in respect of his learning in theology, Syriac and ascetic life. Mar Dionysius soon put Fr. Geevarghese in charge of training deacons in theology, as well as teaching them Syriac. Mar Dionysius later raised Fr. Geevarghese into the monastic order of Ramban. While a Ramban, Patriarch Peter III consecrated him as Metropolitan Mar Gregorios for the diocese of Thumpamon, on December 10,1876 at Paravur.

For years, the Metropolitan served the diocese and was a strong defense against the reform movement. At last the holy prelate went to his heavenly abode in 1902.
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In 1947, the Holy Synod canonized Mar Gregorios as a Saint. Mar Gregorios shines as the lone Saint of the Church. The Saint’s tomb at Parumala today is a pilgrimage centre.

From the Book -THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF INDIA- PP 183-185 BY David Daniel


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