In the annals of the nearly century-old Malankara Orthodox, November 1, 2010 will go down as a day of great significance. With HH Baselios Marthoma Didymos I having abdicated the Catholicate crown due to failing health and ordination of Catholicos Elect Metropolitan Paulose Mar Milithios (HH Baselius Marthoma Paulose II) as the new head, the stage is also set for choosing another designated prelate of the Orthodox Church.
This is a unique situation and unparalleled in the history of the church.
New Kottayam – Devalokam based head, Mar Paulose Milithios, is the third distinguished son of Kunnamkulam, a major business centre north of Thrichur in Kerala.
Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dianasius I who established the Old Seminary, Kottayam in 1815 as a permanent head quarters for the Malankara Metropolitan and organised theological training centre for future clergies of the Church, was the first gift of Kunnamakulam for the Malankara Church.
Pulikkottil Dianasius II, who was the master-mind for the Parumala Seminary, Parumala Church, Kottayam MD Seminary and originator of many of the spiritual organisations of the church became the second gift.
In Mar Milthios, the Malankara community has a good writer, orator and above all a trustworthy, enthusiastic, sincere and hardworking bishop.
Born on August 30, 1946 as the second son of K I Iype-Kunjeetty couple of Kollannoor house, Mangad near Pazhanji of Thalappally taluk in Thrissur district, Mar Milithios was a reserved boy who was not interested in extra-curriculars or enjoyments of other boys of his age. His graceful appearance, attracted all to whom he came into contact. His mother Kunjeetty belongs to Pulikkottil family. The child was named as Paul after his grandfather. Infant Paul was baptized in his mother’s church at Pazhanji. Paul grew up as a well matured, pious and dedicated boy and become the apple of the eye of the villagers.
Paul had his preliminary education at the Magad Church School till 7th standard. High school education was at the Pazhanji Government High School which was established by Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dianisisus II. He attended church services regularly and became an altar boy at a young age.
He passed his SSLC in 1963 with a high grade. Due to the local necessity of priests, Paulose Mar Severios Metropolitan of Kollam-Kochi diocese could foresee the Call of God for his service in the young boy, Paul.
Paul studied Pre-University and BSc in Physics at Trichur St Thomas College. While studying for his graduation, his call was strengthened. Paul was an active member of MGOCSM unit of Trichur St Thomas College.
Fr. P.C. Cherian, the former General Secretary of MGOCSM inspired him for the priestly services. The affection bestowed by this young deacon of that time encouraged Paul and inspired him for the dedication of clergical services who was staying with Deacon P.C. Cherian.
In 1969, Paul joined the Theological Seminary by the initiative of Dn. P.C.Cherian at Kottayam for his theological studies under the discipleship of Dr Paulose Mar Gregorios, Fr Abraham and Fr Koruthu Malapan. He completed theological studies in GST from Orthodox Theological Seminary and BD from Seramboor University.
In 1972, Paul was ordained for the first stage of deaconate in Parumala Seminary. He was ordained as a full deacon at Koratty Seheyon Seminary. On June 2, 1973, Dn Paul was ordained as priest.
Fr Paul celebrated his first Holy Qurbana at Mangad St Gregorious Church, served the Mooleppat Mar Baselios Mar Gregorios Church for a short while. Later Fr Paul completed his MA in Sociology from CMS College Kottayam and conducted holy services at Aduppootty St Mary Magdalene Convent Chapel and Kottayam Medical College Chapel.
From 1975 onwards Fr Paul served as the vicar of Ernakulam St Mary’s Church for nine long years. Rev Fr K I Paul was always closely associated with MGOCSM activities of Malankara Church.
Catholicose Mar Basalios Marthoma Mathews I foresaw the call of Fr Paul to His episcopate and choose him as a candidate. The Malankara Association held at Thiruvalla on December 28, 1982 elected Fr Paul to be elevated to the episcopate.
On May 3, 1983 Fr Paul was ordained as Ramban along with other elected Bishop candidates by then Catholicate designate HG Mathews Mar Coorilose Metropolitan and started living in Parumala seminary along with the co-Rambans for two years under the guidance of late HG Yuhanon Mar Severios for learning holy literatures, administration and traditions of the church.
By this time Ramban Paul had transformed himself as a famous retreat father of repute.
On May 15, 1985 at 38, Ramban Paul was ordained as a Bishop with title Paulose Mar Milithios at Puthiyacavu St Mary’s Church by Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I.
He is the first Metropolitan after Parumala Thirumeni who was ordained Bishop below the age of 40. Four other Bishops, Mathews Mar Epiphanios, Philppose Mar Eusabius, Geevarghese Mar Ivanios and Thomas Mar Athanisios were also ordained along with Mar Milithios.
Kunnamkulam was formed as a new diocese for the Church on April 14, 1985 with some of the churches of Talappally taluk of Kochi diocese and other neighbouring churches. The newly ordained Bishop Mar Milithios was appointed as the diocesan Metropolitan of the newly formed diocese of Kunnamkulam.
When he took over the charge on August 1, 1985, there was no diocesan headquarters. Initially the new Metropolitan lived in an annexed room of Arthat Church. With determination and hard work and co-operation of fellow believers of his diocese he could construct a beautiful diocesan centre with a chapel in the vicinity of Arthat church for Kunnamkulam diocese within a span of five years.
His Grace was unanimously elected successor to the Catholicose of the East and Malankara Metropolitan Baseliose Mar Thoma Didymos I on October 12, 2006 at St Gregorios Nagar, Parumala Seminary by the Malankara Syrian Christian Association, the 4,051-member church parliament of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
The Episcopal Synod meeting held earlier at Theological Seminary, Kottayam had unanimously recommended Paulose Mar Milithios, Bishop of Kunnamkulam diocese as candidate for the election of Catholicose-designate with full support of the Synod and the Managing Committee.
On October 29, 2010, in a special session of the Holy Episcopal Synod at the Catholicate Palace, Devalokam, the Pontiff who decided to abdicate, will consecrate his successor, Catholicos Elect Metropolitan Paulose Mar Milithios, on November 1 during the annual feast of St Gregorios of Parumala.
As the Orthodox community passes through testing times, let us invoke the blessing of the Almighty to shower His choicest blessings on the new Catholicos to give him the vision and the direction to shepherd the flock. Here’s wishing all the best for the new Pontiff and pray for all the blessings to Thirumeni from heaven.