The introduction of British rule and the subsequent arrival of English missionaries from early 19th century changed the life of people in Malabar (Kerala) in many respect. The most important contribution of these missionaries was the opening of a number of educational institutions. In those days the 'Keralites' were primarily a farming community and education was not very common among them. Syrian Christians were not exceptional. Education at that time was restricted to mainly the upper castes Hindus and when the British introduced a centralized government mechanism, the jobs generated either went to these people or the experienced Europeans who occupied high posts. However as time passed the other natives who passed out from these missionary schools also started to occupy government jobs and then it was the Christian community who gained the most. But this also had a negative impact as far as our Church is concerned; some of those, who got attracted towards the western culture of these Europeans and their religious practices, and on offers of jobs, left our Church to join the newfound churches led/supported by these European missionaries. The erosion happened in excess in South Travancore areas as the missionary concentrations were more there. For some unknown reasons the penetration level of these missionaries in North Kerala was bare minimum and for that reason the Syrian Church in Northern parts of the State (north of Kottayam) generally remained unaffected. It was in this context that our metropolitans decided to start schools under the management of the Church and when these discussions came up Mor Gregorios Thirumeni was very particular that it must be the English medium schools that has to be started. It was Mor Gregorios who was entrusted with the mission and Malankara Metropolitan Pulikottil Mor Dionysius V extended all support to him.
The first three major Schools started by Kochu Thirumeni were in the Northern dioceses. As mentioned earlier, in south Kerala there were already few schools run by the C.M.S. missionaries and the students studying there were mostly our people. So the Malankara Church decided to start schools in these areas as well. Accordingly His Grace laid the foundation for two schools in the south. Besides these, many other primary schools were also started by Kochu Thirumeni. A brief description of the five major schools established by Mor Gregorios Thiruemni is included in this page.
Following were the prominent Schools established by Parumala Thirumeni.
1. St. Thomas School, Mulunthuruthy
2. St. Ignatius High School, Kunnamkulam
3. St. Mary's School, Kunnamkulam
4. M.G.M. School, Thiruvalla
5. M.G.S School, Thumpamon
1 St. Thomas School, Mulunthuruthy
Mor Gregorious Thirumeni established the first school of the Jacobite Syrian Church at Mulunthuruthy, his native place. This English Medium School was initially run under the guidance of Parumala Thirumeni and 'Kochu Korah' of Chalil family. Later this was promoted as an High School, but in due course the school was taken over by the Government.
A poem written in Malayalam on Mor Gregorious Geevarghese (Parumala Thirumeni), by Chalil C. Varghese, the brother of Kochu Korah the co-founder of the St. Thomas School can be accessed by clicking HERE.
2 St. Ignatius School, Kunnamkulam
After the establishment of a school at Mulunthuruthy, Kochu Thirumeni's efforts was to establish an High School in Kunnamkulam, the home town of the then Malankara Metropolitan Pulikottil Mor Divanyasious V.
On 15th August 1899, an 'Aan Pallikoodam' (Boy's School) was started by Parumala Thirumeni near the ancient Arthat St. Mary's Church, Kunnamkulam and named it as ST. IGNATIUS SCHOOL, the title commonly used for all the Patriarchs of the Apostolic See of Antioch. (see the below excerpt from the book titled 'Arthat Palli Charitram' published in 1945 by P C Kunjathu, a member of the Malankara Orthodox Church).
Eyakku Mathu belonging to the Panakkal family of Kunnamkulam, was appointed as the first Manager of this School. He was a prominent person in the durbar of the Maharaja of Cochin and was a very close associate of our Kochu Thirumeni. During the Apostolic visit of Patriarch Ignatius Peter IV to Malankara in 1875, Eyakku Mathu has constructed a house at Kunnamkulam, specially to accommodate His Holiness and other dignitaries. For a while this Eyakku Mathu was siding with bishop Palakkunnath Methran, but later accepted the Apostolic faith of the Syrian Church on the influence of our Kochu Thirumeni. He was also the Chief Trustee of the Arthat church for many years and it was under his insistence the present road in front of Arthat Church was constructed despite the stiff opposition from certain quarters. Panakkal Eyakku Mathu died a few months before the demise of our Parumala Kochu Thirumeni and was buried in the extended portion of the Arthat St. Mary's church, Kunnamkulam.
Panakkal Eyakku Mathu
(Following is an excerpt from the book 'Arthat Palli Charitram'
published in 1945 by P C Kunjathu, - Page 23)
Three years later in 1902, this School was elevated as an High School and after the death of its founder manager, Panakkal Iypooru Pathappen administered the school. Irrespective of caste and creed many were admitted to this School which did not collected any fees for education. In 1911, this school was taken over by the Government (now Govt. Model Girl's H.S) . Locally the school is called as 'Methrachen's School' after its founder, St. Gregoriosi.
3 St. Mary's School, Kunnamkulam
One year after the beginning of the first school at Kunnamkulam, at a meeting convened by Mor Gregorios on 24th June 1900, the Church decided to start another School at Kunnamkulam 'Pareel Angadi'. This was named as St. Mary's School and Cheruvathoor Mathu Kunjathu was appointed as the first manager.
4 M.G.M. School, Tiruvalla
While staying at the Paliakkara St. George church in Thiruvalla during the Great Lent days of 1901, Parumala Thirumeni convened a meeting of the representatives of the nearby churches and requested their cooperation for starting a school under the diocese. Later an official meeting of the diocese was held under the president-ship of our Thiumeni in April 1902 and decided to name the proposed English Medium School as 'Syrian English School; its inauguration was planned in January 1903. The foundation stone for this School was laid by the 'Settlement division Peshkar' of Travancore, V. Nagayya. Thirumeni visited many churches to raise the required amount for the construction of this prestigious school at Thiruvalla. But before the school start functioning, Mor Gregorios passed away.
Later the diocesan council held at the Parumala Seminary under the presdientship of Pulikottil Methrachen decided to rename the School as 'Mar Gregorios Memorial English High School' after its founder St. Gregorios of Parumala. On 14th January 1903, this School was inaugurated by the Malankara Metropolitan Mor Dionysius V. Today this M.G.M. School stands as a memorial to the holy father.
5. M.G.S School, Thumpamon
The M.G.S middle School at Thumpamon is another of the schools started by Mor Gregorios of Parumala. In due course, it became an High School.
In recognition to Parumala Thirumeni's efforts in the field of education, the Travancore government honoured His Grace as the 'Trustee' of the committee that was constituted for the starting of a Government Girl's School in Thiruvalla. The then Maharaja of Travancore, 'Kerala Valiyakoi Thamburan' was the Chairman of this committee.
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