Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Viliya (Senior) Metropolitan has been greeted with affection and respect on his hundredth birthday by the officers of the Church of South India Synod. Most Rev. Thomas K. Oommen, the Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Vadapalli Prasada Rao, the Deputy Moderator, Rev. Dr. Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda, the General Secretary, and Adv. Robert Bruce, the Treasurer Shared the joy of joining the celebration of the hundredth birthday of Thirumeni. They said that Thirumeni’s presence and contribution in the Ecumenical field for more than eight decades are highly commendable and immeasurable. They specially mentioned the leadership he has given to the formation and progress of the Communion of Churches in India, which is the common Ecumenical platform of the Church of South India, Mar Thoma Church, Church of North India (and the Methodist Church in India). He has always been a friend and well- wisher of the Church of South India and has always shared a close friendship with the leaders of the Church. He is continuing that friendship with the present leadership, especially with the Moderator Most Rev. Thomas K. Oommen, and the leadership sees it as an honour for CSI.
The man of God ‘with the golden tongue’ (exactly as the meaning of the name ‘Chrysostom suggests), the Valiya Metropolitan, speaks directly to the hearts of the people of a century. In- depth theological truths and visions are permeated from him to the masses. Hence, we can see him as a philosopher, prophet and social reformer who have been influencing many generations through a century. The leaders of the CSI Synod hoped and pray that this presence in the Indian church and society and among the diaspora churches of the Mar Thoma Church will continue to inspire us in the days to come. They assure their prayers and the prayers of the 4 million people of the Church of South India while the Valiya Metropolitan celebrates his hundredth birthday on the 27th of April 2017.
May God continue to be with you, Thirumeni!
~ CSI Synod Communication Team
(A brief Bio- data of Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Viliya (Senior) Metropolitan)
Being born as the son of Vicar General Very Rev. K.E. Ommen, he graduated from Union Christian College Aluva. Christian Nurture and Gandhian movement motivated him to join the Mar Thoma Ashram at Ankola in 1940 to promote equality and brotherhood in society. He received Theological education at United Theological College, Bangalore and at St. Augustine’s College, Canterbury. He became an ordained minister of the Church in 1944 and was consecrated as Bishop with Alexander Mar Theophilus and Thomas Mar Athanasius in 1953.
The Administrative acumen of His Grace the praiseworthy and his life and work are an open book. The word Chrysostom means Golden Tongue and he really is a man of words. He is a spiritual leader, dynamic enabler, prolific orator, voracious reader, tactful negotiator, valiant defender of the law and democracy, compassionate at heart and a wonderful team man. He respects the diversity of opinion, but do not compromise ethical principles. He retains his nobility, humility and simplicity. He is a person with the golden tongue, acceptable to all people irrespective of caste, colour or religious commitments.
He was in charge of different Dioceses in India, Malaysia –Singapore, Gulf region and the United States. He was President of the National Christian Council of India and attends the Assembly of World Council of Churches at Evanston in 1954 and at Uppsala, Sweden in 1968. He has been president of different organisations of the Church and the Governing Councils of different colleges. He was an invitee to the second Vatican Council in Rome and made very valuable contributions to the ecumenical cause.
On August 8th, 2007 by God’s Grace he becomes the longest serving Bishop of any Christian Churches in India.
With his imitative and leadership, Church accepted Development programmes where he insisted the process of enabling the beneficiaries to become the agents of change along with targets of the programme. Church registered a society by name Christian Agency for Rural Development (CARD) in 1977 to implement Development projects.
In Kottayam, Trivandrum, Adoor, Ranny, Chengannur, Thiruvalla the Diocesan headquarters he lived, he met people who engaged in the subsistence economy and build up the network for their fellowship and mutual programmes.
Social Interventions and Reformations initiated by Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan
01. Started a pioneering housing Project for the downtrodden and the homeless of the society irrespective of their religion, cast or creed and completed 2500 homes within a short span of one year. He initiated on his project on his 90th Birthday revealing his empathy and vision for the people in the periphery of the society.
02. The Metropolitan through a registered organisation name CARD (Christian Agency for Rural Development) has helped economically backward communities of Kerala to improve their lot and achieve self-reliance.
03. Projects for the Children from the slums, especially for the orphans to provide shelter, education and empowerment through self-employment skills and training started functioning under his initiative.
04. Salem Bhavan
The women’s wing of the Mar Thoma Church, known as ‘Sevika Sanghom’ has a sheltering Children abandoned by the parents. However, as per the rules of the organisation, the boys must leave the Salem Bhavan once they are 18 years of old. In 1986 where18 boys were vacated as per rules and Thirumeni sheltered them all in his own residence. Later he rehabilitated them with jobs, shelter and family. They all call Thirumeni as 'Appacha', which means father.
05. Presently he is associated with renovation and extension of Kerala government Housing Programme for the poor Laksham Veedu project in one Lakh houses for the poor. In this state-wide project, Metropolitan is the facilitator for attracting donations from the public and society.
06. For the women empowerment and self-sustainability, the Metropolitan initiated many projects in the Church. In 2002 church accepted 20% reservation to women in General body and executive committees of the Church.
07. Initiated a process of collective thinking and action for the elderly people in the society and started a project in the church for visiting and helping elderly and lonely senior citizens at their homes itself rather than shifting them to Old Age Homes etc.
08. Mar Thoma opportunities School, Bangalore, stays as a beacon of Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan’s concern for the differently able children of our nation which has a small beginning with four mentally challenged children and a teacher in the church’s parish hall. Gradually it grew in strength to 80 children and 10 teachers.
09. Metropolitan is an ardent Advocate and passionate practitioner of Ecological concerns Green Theology. To foster more environment-friendly ways of living in this era of use and throw culture and resultant pollution problems, the Metropolitan very effectively uses all the available avenues, including the Maramon Convention, the second largest Christian gathering in Asia.
10. Metropolitan is a living role model in Kerala society for his views and philosophy of unity among the diversity of various religions and culture of our land. He earned respect from all in the Kerala society, not as a Christian bishop but also a true fellow human in pilgrimage. Metropolitan’s initiative in the faith dialogues helped to create a positive direction in the society.
11. The Metropolitan’s radical attitude in receiving Holy Communion from a lay leader woman at St. John’s CSI Church in Vellore, who was a member of his own Church, was unprecedented and helped in strengthening the role of women in Church activities.
12. The Metropolitan’s emphasis on the lay witness in the world of business, science and technology, professional, government and other social services is unparallel among the church hierarchy. The Metropolitan strongly advocated equipping the laity to fulfil their mission witness in upholding the values of the gospel in their workplaces.
13. He is striving forces for unity in diversity was part of the Church goal of unity of all Christian organisation. Eg. World Council, Christian conference of Asia Assemblies and programmes, participation and leadership at the Evanston and Uppsala Assembly of the WCC, ecumenical Bishops clergy conference, United Christian Movement (UCM) etc….
Books published about Bishop Chrysostom