The Malankara Orthodox Church, established by St. Thomas, disciple of Lord Jesus Christ, Apostle and Patron Saint of India in AD 52 has sustained so far in its original charisma only because of God’s special care, abundant graces and blessings.
Many Churches which came into existence in almost the same time of the inception of Malankara Church, which became prominent and influential later, disappeared from the face of earth in course of time. In this context, the greatness of the graces and blessings bestowed upon our Church becomes significant.
Malankara Orthodox Church is one among the few Christian Churches in the entire Christendom, which could claim to have plenty of ancient and unique traditions, rich heritage, magnificent system of heavenly services, holy and attractive worship orders and blessed and meaningful rituals of very high standards. It is a truth that it enables us to get proud of our Church. It is well known to one and all that our Church remains as a National Church since its inception till date. Still many foreigners who reached India were only interested to dominate and to take control of our independent Church. All of them succeeded in their attempts. The history proves that the Portuguese, who reached in 15th century, the Syrians who reached in the 17th century and the British who reached in the 19th century had the same intention and aim.
As a result outbreaks happened in the Mother Church and new churches came up combining the faithful who were attracted to their faith and who had surrendered their identity and liberty to the foreign Churches. The children of Malankara church, which longed and still longs to remain loyal to the local heads of the Church, attributed the titles like leader of the tribe, Arkadayakon, Metropolitan etc. to their heads of the Church from time to time.
No one could deny the truth that there were all signs and symbols of the Catholicate visibly or invisibly in the Church from the day of inception till the establishment of the Catholicate in AD 1912. From 17th Sept 1912 the Catholicate remains visible in the Church with all sorts of due significance and brightness. As and when the Catholicate was confirmed by H.H. Moran Mar Ignatius Abdul Messiah Patriarch and elevated H.G. Murimattathil Paulos Mar Ivanios as the first Catholicose in India, on the throne of St. Thomas, with the title “H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Paulose I, Catholicose of the East”, there started the new era of the Church. It enabled the church to attain steady progress and development. The growth of the Church, both in the religious as well as the secular fields was the net result of the establishment of the Catholicate. As a result of the establishment of the Catholicate, our Church confirmed that she could elevate Catholicose or Metropolitans, at any venue in India or at any time, and also to consecrate the Holy Chrism as and when required. The Church has achieved a tremendous growth as a full-fledged one, having Dioceses and Parishes not only in each continent, but also in every nook and corner of the globe.
The Church as a whole pay the tributes to St. Dionysius Vattasseril, LL HH Moran Mar Baselios Augen I, Catholicose, who had struggled and sacrificed much for the establishment of Catholicate in India and to all their Holinesses the Catholicoses who had reigned the Church efficiently from time to time.
On 17th Sept 2012, it completes the centenary of the establishment of Catholicate in India. The present Catholicose H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulos II, is the 8th Indian Catholicose. At present the Holy Church is blessed to have more blessings with the presence, prayers and benedictions of the previous Catholicose, H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Didimose I.
Here comes the significance and importance of the Catholicate, Centenary and the related celebrations. For an average member of the Church, it is a great and golden opportunity to take part in the centenary celebrations and to express his or her love and reverence to God for all the blessings we gain from and through the Church. The Church is to be understood as the body of our Savior and we the members are the tiny parts of the great body. It is the privilege and prestige of one and all members of the Church to participate in the centenary celebrations in a way or other or at least through the continuous prayers for the Holy Church so that they could praise God Almighty for enabling all to be the proud members of this ancient and spiritually rich Church.
Many Programmes, which had been chalked out, have been implemented in the parish, regional, diocesan and Church level, aiming the spiritual, social and general progress of the Church. The Logo of the centenary celebrations was released at Niranam Church on 21st Dec 2010 and the official inauguration of the celebrations was held at Parumala on 2nd Nov 2011, the first event of the program was the celebration of the Catholicate day of the year with more colors and glory. It was desired to celebrate the day as the flag day of the Church and Catholicate flags were hoisted in Parishes, Church institutions as well as houses of members of the Church.
Three colorful ‘declaration rallies’ are planned to be held soon.
The first one will be from Thiruvithamcode Church, and it will end at Niranam Church, (these two churches were originally established by St. Thomas.) When the rally will cover the Diocesan centers of the southern Dioceses, special public functions will be arranged at various centers. The rallies are to publicize the rich St. Thomas heritage, traditions and the real glory of the Church.
The second rally is to start from the northern corner of Kerala and will end at Pazhaya Seminary, Kottayam. It will also cover all important stations and centers in between.
The third rally will start from Mylapore and will end at Mangalore. Various programmes have been organized in the Parish, Diocesan and regional levels. The Lenten period in August (from 1st August till the 15th ) was observed as the meditation days of preparation.
In the main cities in India and abroad, public meetings, seminars etc. were arranged with leaders of the local religion, other denominations, WCC. KCC. and NCCI. It is proposed to undertake key essential social services as the memory of the centenary celebrations. The project under consideration will be finalized and announced among our members shortly.
The spiritual organizations of the Church, in their central and diocesan levels are in the attempt to introduce their own remarkable and unique contributions in these regards with a sort of competitive spirit. There are schemes to provide houses to the homeless in the Church and to provide benevolent schemes for the poor and needy. Conducting memorial processions through the places which are the cradles of Nazrani heritage, arrangement of historical exhibition which might declare the Nazrani, Bible classes in Parishes, Presentation of documentary at various locations, and arrangement of competitions are taking place everywhere.
H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Paulos II, Catholicose has released a Kalpana in which exhortations have been placed to observe 100 hours continuous prayer chains from 11th Sept 2012 to 15th Sept 2012, in the Church Head Quarters as well in various Diocesan Head Quarters. The spiritual organizations in various parishes could follow the call and implement the same in their parishes successfully.
The newly constructed Secretariat complex in Devalokam will be named after the Centenary Celebrations’ memorial. The new church under construction in the place of the previous Coonan Kurish Church will serve as the memorial of the celebrations.
The sub- committee from the Holy Synod, consisting of about seven Metropolitans are earnestly engaged in the publication of a few authoritative and solid books on Canons, Liturgy, Faith, Traditions and rituals etc. and it is expected to be a five year project, as a part of the centenary celebrations.
Various committees are working in full swing for the success of the great event on 25th Nov. 2012. The Souvenir Committee is committed to bring out a book type souvenir, which would serve as a guide to our faith, traditions, history and all other needy topics. In addition to this, it is planned to bring out a pictorial souvenir, presenting certain unique and uncommon pictures.
The valedictory function of the celebrations will be held with a Nazrani Sangamam at Baselios Marthoma Nagar, at Marine Drive, Ernakulam on Sunday, 25th Nov 2012 in a large scale where tens of thousands of faithful are expected to attend. The public meeting chaired by H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulos II, Catholicose of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, will be officially inaugurated by H. E. Dr. A.P.J. Kalam, Former President of India and the renowned Scholar, highly talented Scientist and pride of India has kindly consented to inaugurate the same. Central and State Government Ministers as well as religious leaders like H.H. Dalai lama; H.G. Mar Joseph Powathil will grace the occasion and offer a few words of benediction.
The prayers and co-operation of all members of the Church in every nook and corner of the world are earnestly solicited for the blissful functioning of all events.
May God bless us all
Author Jose Kurian Puliyeril is the Secretary of the Catholicate Centenary Celebrations Central Committee