PHILADELPHIA: Fr. Alexander James Kurien, a priest of the Indian Orthodox Church and a senior staff member of the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C. celebrated the 25th anniversary of his Holy Ordination to the priesthood on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at St. Gregorios Orthodox Church located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
Yesudasan Pappan Cor Episcopos, Fr. Shibu Venad Mathai, Fr. Joice Pappan, Abu Chemmassen, and twenty five plus altar boys of all ages joined in the altar to celebrate the Holy Qurbana. Over 500 friends and families from throughout the United States attended the Thanksgiving Holy Qurbana and follow-on ceremonies.
The felicitations from Baselios Marthoma Didymus I, His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, President Barak Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Mammen Mathew the Chief Editor and Managing Director of Malayala Manorama, Ex-Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, Ex Secretary of State Colin Powell, Metropolitans of dioceses of the Indian Orthodox Church: Nicholovos, Eusebius, Geevarghese, Pachomius, Athanasius, Yuhanon, Clemmis, Theopilos, Yulios, and Thimotheos. In addition, they read “Greetings, Patriarchal Blessings and Prayers for many more years” from: 1) Greek Ecumenical Patriarch, Constantinople, Turkey – His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew; 2) Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow, Russia – His Holiness Patriarch Kirill; 3) Georgian Orthodox Church, Tbilisi, Georgia – His Holiness Patriarch Ilia II; 4) Armenian Orthodox Church, Ejmiatsin, Armenia – His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II; 5) Syrian Orthodox Church, Damascus, Syria – His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I were read out at the public meeting.
Sunil Samuel, Saju Varghese, Kallelil Kuruvila , Korason Varghese, Shalom Mammen and Arun Philip, Abraham Joshua, Seema and Philps Thomas, Jos Thomas, Dr. Alex Polachirackal, Paul Mathai, and Dr. Swamidos spoke on the occasion. Representatives of various organizations and churches across the United States highlighted Fr. Alexander’s 25 years sacrifices and unconditional service to the American and Indian communities, various churches, and families.
Fr.Alexander Kurien has been a vibrant presence in the spiritual and social lives of so many people in the Washington DC metro area for about two decades. He’ll be long remembered as a visionary, an exceptionally talented organizer, an efficient motivator, a sincere friend, and above all a compassionate spiritual leader.
In recognition of his services, Yesudasan Pappan and Fr. Shibu Venad Mathai clothed Alexander Kurien Achen with “Ponnada”. They also clothed Ajitha Kochamma (Anna Kurien) with a “Ponnada” in recognition of her 25 years of sacrifices in Achen’s ministry and their 25 years of married life. The public meeting ended with a prayer by Fr. Joice Pappan.
Fr. Shibu Venad Mathai, vicar of St. Gregorios Church welcomed the gathering. Ciby Abraham and Gregory Varghese were masters of ceremony.
Fr. Alexander J Kurien- a Profile
Fr. Alexander came to the United States of America after finishing high school. He is the youngest son of Koshy Kurien and Pennamma Kurien of Kadackal House, Pallipad. Upon completing Bachelor of Arts in religion and business, Master of Philosophy, and Master of Divinity, he was ordained as a deacon in 1983 by late Lamented Philipose Mar Theophilos of the Mumbai Diocese and late Lamented Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios of the American Diocese. On June 28, 1987, he was ordained to priesthood at Kottayam Devalokam Chapel by Mathews Mar Coorilose (Later HH Baselius Mar Thoma Mathews II) in the presence of His Holiness Baselius Mar Thoma Mathews I, late His Grace Mathews Mar Epiphanios, and late His Grace Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios. He served at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church of Tampa, Florida during the first two years after his ordination. In 1989, he was appointed as the officiating priest of St. Thomas Orthodox Church of Baltimore, Maryland, and St. Gregorios Orthodox Church of Greater Washington, D.C., and became the vicar of both in 1990. In 2000, under Achen’s hard labor and leadership, St. Gregorios congregation acquired a church campus consisting 4.5 acres of land and church facilities, including a parsonage. After serving 18 years as the vicar of St. Gregorios Orthodox Church of Greater Washington he took a sabbatical from the day-to-day administration of the parish. He has conducted religious services in over 50 countries and had official meetings with Holy Patriarchs of Russian Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church in Constantinople and Jerusalem, Georgian Orthodox Church, Armenian Orthodox Church, Syrian Orthodox Church from Damascus; and the Archbishop of the Albanian Orthodox Church in Tirana, Albania. He continues to enjoy his ministry in close coordination with and under the guidance of the Metropolitan of the North East American Diocese of the Indian Orthodox Church, His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos.
Fr. Alexander leads a well-balanced spiritual and secular life. In addition to the theological studies, he has completed Master of Business Administration in Finance, Master of Science in Strategic Planning, Chartered Financial Analyst, Fellow of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Counselor of Real Estate Valuation, Certified Business Valuer, and Member of the Appraisal Institute.
He is currently employed as the Director of the Office of Strategic Planning at the United States Department of State in Washington D.C. Within his office, he directs the Knowledge Management and Long Range Planning Divisions, which manage eight major initiatives and programs. He has 26 years of private and public sector experience conducting and assisting in politically sensitive, high-level negotiations with private entities and foreign governments in 147 countries. His responsibilities include long-range strategic planning involving the Department’s overseas portfolio of more than 18,000 constructed assets valued at over $53 billion, publishes the Long-Range Plan consisting $13 billion in requirements, as well as the day-to-day oversight of the portfolio database and digital archival records. He has coordinated the holistic requirements for the construction of the three largest U.S. embassies located in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and ninety newly constructed embassies and consulates in five continents. He collaborates with 30 United States Government Executive Departments and agencies to accommodate their operational platform to conduct their mission in 324 embassies and consulates. He has won the international award for Excellence in Innovation and eighteen awards for exceptional performance from the United States Department of State. He is married to Anna (Ajitha) of Kallelil house, Karthikapally, and they have been blessed with three children: Alyssa, Natasha, and Elijah.