GERMANY: German publication, Meine Welt (My World), in its 3/2012 edition carried a short interview about Malankara Orthodox Christians in Deutschland, Germany. The interview with Rev Fr Laiju Mathew, Vicar/President of St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church in Germany was conducted by Jose Punnamparambil for Meine Welt.
The church falls under UK-Europe-Africa Diocese with HG Dr Mathews Mar Thimothios as the Diocesan Metropolitan, whose photograph was also carried along with the interview..
Currently around 16,000 Christians from the Indian State of Kerala live in Germany. The vast majority of them are St Thomas Christians who affirm their faith to apostle St Thomas. The Syrian Orthodox Christians from Kerala form only a minority group.
It consists of around 50 families with approximately 100 members. They live intensively in the German towns of Köln, Bonn, Bielefeld, Hamburg and Heidelberg.
The church is registered as an association under the name of St Gregorios Indisch Orthodoxe Kirche Deutschland (St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church in Germany) with an official residence in 52146 Würselen, Pleyerstraße 58.
The church has a self recruited priest whose subsistence is partially carried by the church members. The officiating priest is Rev Fr Laiju, resides at # 55122 Mainz, Am Gonsenheimer Spieß 1/Zimmer (room) 329. The church celebrates the Holy Mass to Orthodox rituals regularly in towns like Bonn, Köln, Bielefeld and other places.
In an interview, Fr Laiju Mathew spoke about church life of the Indian Malankara Orthodox, its members and the situation in the German scene of the church.
How active is the church life of the Orthodox Church members from Kerala in Germany? Is there appreciable cooperation of your church and the local churches like Catholic Church as well as Evangelical Church?
Fr Laiju Mathew: The Indian Orthodox Church in Germany is independent and stands on its own legs. We get support from the Catholic Church as well as Evangelical Church for our Holy Eucharist as well as for other important events, the room services are being provided.
How integrated are the Orthodox Church members from Kerala in the German society? Do you hold it for necessary that the Orthodox members from Kerala in Germany follow and hold on to their special customs, rituals, and traditions?
Fr Laiju Mathew: We hold on to all traditions which we have got from our forefathers handed over. We must not carry out changes independently; the Holy Synod has to agree these at first.
How do you see the future of the Orthodox Church members from Kerala in Germany?
Fr Laiju Mathew: If the church members of the second generation take an active part in our work, I see a good future for the church. Our church has a tradition of nearly 1,960 years and therefore I am confident that the Holy Spirit will lead us forever. There is no occasion for us to worry.