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PRIESTHOOD OF ST. GREGORIOS

 

 

 

(1)    Ordination as Sub-Deacon                   

(2)    Demise of Malpan (malfono) & young Deacon's illness

(3)    Continuation of his theological studies

(4)    Priestly Ordination of Deacon Geevarghese

 

                  

 

(1)  Entering Priest-hood / Ordination as Sub-Deacon (korooyo)

At a very young age itself Geevarghese had shown keen interest in spiritual matters. His devotion, humility and above all his Godly gift to sing the traditional Syriac hymns beautifully and perfectly, came to the notice of his uncle Malpan Geevarghese Kassiso*. The uncle wanted his nephew to be raised to priest-hood and the family members who knew Geevarghese's character too agreed to the Malpan's request. 

At the age of 10, on the 'SLEEBA Perunnal' day (Feast of Holy Cross) of the year 1857 (**Kanni 14, M.E.1033 / September 26th, 1857), the then Metropolitan of Malankara Palakunnath Mathews Mor Athanasius ordained the young Geevarghese, a 'KOOROYO' (sub-deacon), at the Karingachira St. George Jacobite Syrian Church ***.  

 

*Malpan' is the malaylam variant of the Syriac title 'malfono' ,which means 'teacher'

**In the past every church feasts were observed/dates were mentioned, based on the Malayalam calendar which usually varies for about 12-18 days with respect to the Gregorian calendar. That is why the feast of holy Cross which was celebrated worldwide on 14th of September in the year 1857 was celebrated in Malankara on 14th of the corresponding Malayalam month of Kanni which was actually 12 days earlier. Such differences in dates can been seen in many of the church records.

*** In the biography of Parumala Thirumeni published in 1903 by Malayala Manorma Co., it is mentioned that Palakunnath Methran who was on an annual visit to Kothamangalam has ordained Geevarghese a 'KOOROYO' at the Kothamangalam Mar Thoma Church (CheriaPally) - Ref:  Page 5, 1st edition.

 

 

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(2)  Demise of Kassisso Geevarghese Malpan & the young deacon's illness

Deacon Geevarghese continued his theological studies under his uncle Kassisso Geevarghese Malpan. A few others were also studying under the Malpan at that time. Deacon Geevarghese's long association with his uncle, which lasted for almost seven years, gave him a good exposure. Also he got the opportunity to meet lot of scholars of the church.

 Those were the days when child-marriage was very common and Geevarghese's father tried to get his son married when he attained 12 years. But our Geevarghese Seemashen who wanted to remain a celibate priest, strongly resisted, for which he got the support of his uncle too. Deacon's father and his well-wishers were bit disappointed at this and it is said that his father even quarreled with his brother Kassisso Geevarghese Malpan on this issue; however finally his father agreed to the wishes of his youngest son.

In those days there were no Syriac printing-houses and so all the books were to be hand written. During his stay there, deacon Geevarghese had helped his uncle by copying many of the Syriac prayer books and that too with utmost perfection.  In 1863, his uncle Geevarghese Malpan had an attack of small-pox, a dreadful disease that spread all over the region in those days. Understanding the seriousness of the infectious disease, the Malpan asked all his students to return to their houses. But Dn.Geevarghese was reluctant to leave him in that condition; he remained there and nursed his uncle with utmost care.  However the Malpan died on the 8th day of his illness on 23rd December, 1863. That was a sad moment for our deacon who loved his uncle more than anyone else.

Within a few days Deacon Geevarghese who attended his uncle in his illness, was also infected with a very dangerous variety of small-pox.  His elder sister Mariam came there to nurse Geevarghese. In those days it was very rare for a person to recover from an attack of small-pox. All the time, our young deacon was praying to God. Then on one day in his dream, Geevarghese had a extraordinary feeling that Mother Mary had appeared before him and asked him to devote the rest of his life for God.  He was cured very soon following this revelation.  The miraculous recovery strengthened his belief which prompted him to completely dedicate his rest of his life for the Church.

Tomb of the Syriac Scholar,  Srambikkal-Pallathitta  'Malpan' Geevarghese Kassisso

at the  Mulunthuruthy MarThoman Church ( died:- 23rd Dec 1863 )

The Syriac inscription in the tomb was written & encrypted by St. Gregorios Chathuruthy himself

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(3)  Continuation of Theological Studies

After his recovery from the dreaded disease, the deacon continued his theological education under Konattu Kassisso Geevarghese Malpan*of Pampakuda, one of the most famous Syriac scholars then living in Malankara.  A large collection of theological literature in the Konattu library was of great help for the deacon.  There he came in close touch with the Syriac books which helped him to have a good knowledge of Canonical laws and the Church history. During his studies with the Konattu Malpan, our young deacon was staying at his sister's house at Nedumpampakuda. (While staying at his sisters house, the deacon drew a cross on the wall of that house which was there till that house was demolished.  Malankara Malpan Very Rev. Curien Kaniamparambil Corepiscopa in his book on Parumala Thirumeni has mentioned that he in his childhood while visiting the house together with his parents had seen this painting which was on the eastern wall of a room).

*It was this Konattu Malpan Kassisso Geevarghese, who later became Metropolitan by name Geevarghese Mor Julius, ordained by the Patriarch Ignatius Pathros IV on 3rd December 1876 at the North Paravur St. Thomas Church. Of the six Metropolitans ordained by the Patriarch, it was Mor Julius Konattu the eldest and  Parumala Thirumeni the youngest.

European missionary activities & the arrival of Mor Koorilos Yuyakkim

This was a time when the European missionary activities was at its peak. These missionaries who started their activities from early 19th century initially extended all sort of support to the Syriacs pretending as their well-wishers. Only later did the Syrian Christians understood their hidden motives but then it was very late. The Syrian Church in Malankara was in deep trouble not only because of these missionaries but also due to certain defections from within. Palakkunath Mathews Mor Athanasius, who allegedly got ordained as Metropolitan of the Malankara Syrian Church in the year 1843 by producing fabricated records before the Patriarch Mor Ignatius Elias II, was said to be a close friend of these missionaries. His activities had created lot of confusion among the Syrian Christian faithful. Consequently a sizeable section of Malankara Church send an urgent petition to the patriarchate and accordingly to make further enquires and if necessary to take needful actions, the then Patriarch Ignatius Ya`qub II send Mor Koorilos Yuyakkim,  the bishop of  Turabdin as his emissary to India in 1846. In Malankara the delegate had to face unexplainable difficulties, at many times he was prevented from entering  churches and once he was even deported from the states of Travancore and Cochin by the  respective governments. In spite of all such difficulties he continued his mission by traveling the length and breadth of Malankara and tried to confirm the faithful in true orthodoxy. In 1865, he got a faithful companion in Pulikotil Mor Dionysius V Joseph who was ordained a Metropolitan by the Patriarch of Antioch.

Deacon Geevarghese joining with Mor Koorilos

Once during a visit to Konattu Malpan's house at Pampakuda, Mor Koorilos Yuyakim came to know about our young Syriac scholar, Chathuruthy Geevarghese Semmassen. When Mor Koorilose enquired about the deacon's willingness to accompany him, he readily agreed. This was the beginning of a new association which totally changed the life of Dn. Geevarghese.

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(4)  Priestly Ordination

Within no time Geevarghese became a beloved companion of Mor Koorilos Yuyakkim. The deacon could learn more on theology and Syriac from Bava. During this time Geevarghese came to know about our Church fathers of yesteryears, their life, commitment, Church's rich traditions etc., all of which instilled in him a level of  pride and interest. St. Anthony, the 3rd century Coptic monk became his role model. Stories of the sacrifices of our early Church fathers increased his aspirations to become a monk. 

Later when Geevarghese understood the relevance of proper Priesthood and "laying of hands", he decided to accept re-ordination from the first stage of priesthood as he was earlier ordained a Korooyo by Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasius, who was an excommunicated bishop* of the Syrian church. Thus in October 1864, the Reesh-Episcopa to Malankara, H.E.Yuyakim Mor Koorilos, re-ordained Geevarghese as 'KOOROYO' (Sub-deacon) and then as 'SHAMSHONO(Full-Deacon)  in October/November 1864.  

A year after in November/December (1865; M.E.1041), Yuyakim Mor Koorilos Bava, ordained Dn. Geevarghese a  Priest ('KASSISSO') and was later elevated as 'COREPISCOPA'. (In one of the first biographies of Parumala Thirumeni, published in 1903 by Mookkencheril Varkey, the year of these ordinations were mentioned as M.E.1040 ie; 1864)

The young Corepiscopa continued to be with Mor Koorilos Yuyakkim as his personal secretary for some more period. His close association with the Suryoyo Metropolitan was a turning point of his life. His general outlook towards the world became broader. He became a valiant protector of Antioch-Malankara relationship which we can witness through his later day life. Parumala Thirumeni, as he was called later, was a close confident of all the Antiochean Patriarch's.  He was the one who acted as a delegate in the absence of  any suryoyo bishops.  Again it was he who was authorized for the Ressessa collection (annual patriarchal-day collections) throughout Malankara which he done most sincerely and efficiently till his last . The very second school that he started was named after Patriarch Mor Ignatius Pathros IV and this was at Kunnamkulam in 1899. (The first school that he started was at his home town of Mulanthuruthy and was named after St. Thomas the Apostle).

* In 1846 itself, the Patriarch under advice from the regional Church has excommunicated Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasius, however there existed a great level of uncertainty among faithful as he could easily manipulate the facts with the support of the then British and Travancore Governments. So Palakunnath Methran continued his authority over the Syrian Christians and administered the Church for a while. It was during this period of great chaos that many attained priesthood from the deposed Metropolitan.

 

A Century old,  

Syriac Manuscript 

One of the  earliest Syriac books printed in  1877

Click the above images for the enlarged view of the

century-old Syriac manuscripts

 

 

 

 

 

 


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