Easow Mar Timotheos Episcopa
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Easow Mar Timotheos was an Episcopa ( bishop) of the Mar Thoma Church from 1975 to 1988. His missionary work before becoming a bishop was based on identifying himself with the economically backward people. He was engaged in poultry farming and agriculture. Even after becoming a bishop he cared for the needy and down trodden.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Missionary Work
- 3 Higher Education
- 4 Entering the ministry
- 5 Training in Japan
- 6 Episcopa
- 7 As an episcopa
- 8 Personal life
- 9 Diocesan bishop
- 10 Final days
- 11 Funeral
- 12 Bible institutions in memory of Easow Mar Timotheos Thirumeni
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Thonniyamala is a tiny village about 4 km away from Pathanamthitta town. Thankappan (Thankappan / Koshykunju- were his pet names- and in School records his name was V.T. Koshy – Valiyaparampil Thomas Koshy) was born on 25 Nov 1932, as the eighth child of Valiyaparampil Scaria Thomas and Achamma. (Achamma was a member of the Thasiyil Pulimoottil family of Karthikappally). Valiyaparampil is a branch of the famous Thazhayil family of Elanthur. They were members of the St. Thomas Mar Thoma Parish (Est. in 1899) in Thonniyamala. During the 1930s, there were only 40 -50 families in that parish. All its members were farmers. There was a Primary School (MTLP School –Est. in 1922) in which regular Sunday School classes were held every Sunday morning before the Church service. Members of the parish were very god fearing and they used to spend a lot of time in family prayer and learning hymns. Many families used a harmonium (a musical instrument common in those days) for their evening family prayers. Thankappan who was brought up in such an atmosphere was good at music. He liked the Hymns of Vidhuwan Kutty Achen (Rev. Justus Joseph).
Influence of Sunday school
Thonniyamala Sunday School was famous for its dedicated teachers. Children above four in the area, irrespective of cast and creed used to attend Sunday school. A very god fearing, dedicated man, Thazhemannil Mathaichen (T. K. Mathai) was the headmaster for many years. Thankappan was regular at Sunday School and took part in all activities of Sunday school, including competitions. Even after becoming a priest, he visited the Thonniyamala Sunday school and taught the children songs.
There was a prayer fellowship in the Thonniyamala Parish. Kuzhiparampil Avarachen Upadeshi was the leader. Every Monday and Thursday, meetings were held at the school. In addition to that, 4 days in a month were set apart for fasting and devotional meetings. From a very young age, Thankappan practised fasting, through these meetings.
After his primary education in the Mar Thoma L.P. School in Thonniyamala, he joined the Catholicate High School in Pathanamthitta, for higher education. He was a bright student and always topped in his class. During his school days he used to conduct prayer meetings for his friends. He used to carry Bible portions along with his text books. He was very active in social service. He and his friends used to help poor people to thatch their huts by collecting coconut leaves (Ola).
AMM Bible Institute, Tiruvalla
After passing SSLC, Thankappan joined in the AMM Bible Institute in Tiruvalla for a short course. During that time Thankappan got the divine call to go for Mission work in North India. As per the advice of Rev. P. I. Mathai, (Plavunkal Achen) who was then a teacher in the institute, Thankappan decided to go to the Sihora Ashram for missionary work.
Sihora, Madhya Pradesh
On 9 July 1952, Thankappan reached the Sihora Ashram. The Ashram inmates were amazed at his faith in prayer, his simple life, his complete dependence in God, and his eagerness for the evangelical work. Despite being a young lad of 20, they found a mature person in him. After three years of temporary membership he returned to Thonniyamala to continue his education.
Catholicate College, Pathanamthitta
In 1955, Thankappan joined the Catholicate College in Pathanamthitta for intermediate class. He passed intermediate examination with first class. His relatives offered him support to continue his studies. But as the Ashram had sought admission for him for theological training at the Leonard Theological College, Jabalpur, he opted to pursue his theological studies. It was a difficult decision to make, as on one side his relatives had been compelling him to get a secular job and to look after the family and on the other side the call from the Ashram was strong. Later history proved that he made the right decision at the right moment.
Leonard Theological College, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
In 1957, V. T. Koshy joined the Leonard Theological College for his B. D. degree. As he was not a graduate he did a one year Pre-Theology course and then his B. D. Course. George D. Mooken (later consecrated as Mar Aprem Mooken of the Chaldean Syrian Church, Trichur) was his class mate. They both were intelligent students and used to bag the best prizes at college. Even during his studies, he was involved in the work of the Ashram. He passed his B. D. degree with high marks and received special honours for his outstanding performance.
Entering the ministry
After doing his B. D. degree, he returned to the Ashram in 1960. He was ordained as Deacon on 15 October 1961, at the Ashram Chapel in Sihora and as Priest on 4 March 1962, at the Jabalpur Mar Thoma Church. Both ordinations were conducted by Rt. Rev. Thomas Mar Athanasius. He became the vicar of many North Indian parishes including Katni Parish. Koshy Achen was a man of deep devotion and led a prayerful life. He was a humble man and never desired positions. He was known as "Koshy Babu" among the villagers in and around Sihora. In order to uplift the poor villagers, he taught them poultry farming, cattle rearing and modern agriculture.
Training in Japan
Rev. V. T. Koshy was considerate to his juniors and sisters of the Ashram. He was sent to Japan for special training in Rural Development. After training he fully engaged himself in poultry and agricultural development. He was equally eager and interested in village evangelism and was engaged in pastoral work in the nearby Mar Thoma Congregations. He had a deep desire to start a training institute in Sihora to impart knowledge and to train young men in evangelism and rural development programme. But it was made possible only as his memorial.
In 1974, Rev. Koshy's name was proposed for the selection of Bishop. On hearing this he requested the Metropolitan not to put his name for the Bishop post. He considered himself unworthy for such a big calling. The then Metropolitan, Juhanon Mar Thoma asked Rev. V. T. Koshy to stay with him for a few days before making his decision. With the advice and compulsion of his senior ashram friends and others he finally agreed to stand for the Bishop election. It was very difficult for him to say good bye to the Ashram Fellowship. He never asked anybody to vote for him. While the election was going on in Tiruvalla, he spent time in fasting and prayer at the St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church in Kozhencherry.
On 11 January 1975, he was consecrated as Ramban along with Rev. P. T. Joseph (Rt. Rev. Dr.Joseph Mar Irenaeus). On 8 February 1975, he was consecrated as Bishop. In the meeting held immediately after the consecration ceremony, he humbly said that he was only poultry expert and that he compared himself with King David. King David was selected by God to be the king of Israel while he was looking after his father's sheep. God called Rev. V. T. Koshy while he was looking after poultry farms, to be the Bishop of the Mar Thoma Church.
As an episcopa
After the consecration he was posted as the Asst. Bishop of the Niranam Marmon Diocese, to work with Metropolitan Dr. Juhanon Mar Thoma. He was then sent to St. Augustine College, Canterbury, United Kingdom and the Wycliffe College in Canada for higher education. After that he became the Diocese Bishop of the Kunnamkulam- Madras Diocese. His main concern was the upliftment of the downtrodden both financially and spiritually. He was responsible for the establishment of the Chungathara Mar Thoma College and the Deaf and Dumb School at Kasargod. After the sad demise of Thomas Mar Athanasuis Suffragaon Metropolitan, he became Bishop of the Adoor – Mavelikkara Diocese and later he was in charge of the Delhi–Bombay diocese.
With Sunday school samajam
Easow Mar Timotheos Thirumeni was the president of the Mar Thoma Sunday School Samajam for seven years. To impart Biblical knowledge to the common people of the Parish, he started Adult Sunday School in parishes. To train the Sunday School teachers he introduced 'Centre Level Teachers Training' programmes. He was a regular participant of the Mar Thoma Students’ Conference and student camps.
With yuvajana sakhyam
Thirumeni was the president of the Yuvajana Sakhyam from August 1986 to January 1988. Though it was a short period his leadership was eventful. He encouraged many youths to work in North Indian villages as missionaries. His life itself was an example to the youths.
With sevika sanghom
While Thirumeni was the Bishop of the Madras – Kunnamkulam Diocese, he introduced many projects for the welfare of the poor women. He was behind the development of the associations SSWAC (Society for the Service of Women and Children- in Chandhakunnu, Nilambur) and ADWAC (Association for the Development of Women and Children- in Kunnamkulam). It was through his initiation that a women's hostel was constructed in Chandhakunnu, Nilambur for students and working women.
A man of reading
Thirumeni was a man who loved books. He had a thorough knowledge of the Bible and it was his habit to memorise verses whenever possible. After his demise, the Church donated all the books from his personal library to the Sihora Ashram Library in Madhya Pradesh.
A man of prayer and fasting
His life of prayer and deep spiritual experiences were his special characteristics. For him prayer was part of his life. He talked to the Lord as he would speak to his earthly father. He used to spend hours and hours in prayer. On certain days when there was a special need he would pray the whole night without eating any food. Thirumeni (bishop) used to fast regularly four times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday evenings and Sunday mornings. In addition to these he used to fast for special needs and requirements. During the construction of the Chungathara College, a huge amount was required to pay off the debts. Thirumeni, who was the Chairman of the college, abstained from dinner for forty days and spent time in prayer for help. Help did come from a charitable organisation in Germany and all debts were cleared.
Identifying with villagers and poor people
Easow Mar Timotheos was the only Mar Thoma Bishop who could fluently speak in Hindi – which is mostly spoken in North India. His 21 years of Ashram life in Sihora, in Madhya Pradesh, gave him a broad view of life in Indian villages. He felt sorry for them and tried his level best to uplift them by training them in poultry farming and cattle rearing.
He was willing to do any menial job. Here is one incident from the Sihora ashram. “ One of the beauty treatments which the Ashram used to get before the Ashram day was the spraying or rather leaping of the cow dung mix on the ground so that on drying the ground used to have a polished look.!. In those days the ashram did not possess many cows; where as the village neighbours to the ashram brought plenty of cows for grazing; which enabled the ashram staff to collect cow dung necessary for leaping. They used to be well equipped with baskets to collect the cow dung. Easow Mar Timotheos Thirumeni who was a permanent member of the Ashram used to enthusiastically participate in this job”
Bishop Timotheos was a simple and humble man. Even after becoming a bishop, he found joy in sitting with the common people on the floor, while attending prayer meetings. During his visits to the parishes in the Persian Gulf area, he showed special interest in the welfare of the Mar Thomites living in labour camps. He was never too busy or occupied to neglect a friendly visit to them.
While he was the Bishop of the Madras-Kunnamkulam diocese he was concerned about the development of the downtrodden, both financially and spiritually. He collected funds from the Persian Gulf Parishes for the development of Malabar. He was behind the establishment of the Chungathara College and the Deaf School in Kasargod.
Adoor Mavelikkara Diocese (1985–1987)
While he was in Adoor his priorities changed. He gave importance to the spiritual upliftment of people. Where ever he preached, the main message was on the fullness of the Holy Spirit. He became a strong supporter of the Charismatic movement in the Church. (“Charismatic" is derived from the New Testament Greek term charisma, translated "gift." Charismatic theology holds to a belief in a spiritual experience subsequent to salvation commonly known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This experience is usually accompanied by speaking in other tongues, or glossolalia, a term derived from the New Testament Greek word that is translated "tongue.") There was a tremendous change in his life. The conservative group of the Church found it difficult to digest the teachings of the Holy Spirit. The difference in opinions caused opposition.
Chungathara College and Wandoor Project
Easow Mar Timotheos has been Chairman of the Governing Board of the Mar Thoma College Chungathara, which was started out of his personal interest for the development of that region. He has been Chairman of the Committee directing the Wandoor Project for the integrated development of five Panchayats in that area.
School for the Deaf and Dumb at Kasargod
In 1979, the Mar Thoma Church started a School for the deaf and dumb children at Kasargod, under the initiative of Easow Mar Timotheos Episcopa. One of the priests with special training in this line is in charge of this school.
In 1988, before a visit to the parishes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Thirumeni met with Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who shared a common interest in the development of rural India. Thirumeni was greeted at Port Blair on 26 March 1988 by the Mar Thoma Church parish priest, Rev. C. Joseph, and a large group of parish members. It was the holy week and so Thirumeni had a very busy schedule. The church started its mission work in the islands in 1965 and had grown to 350 families (1500 members) with two priests and three evangelists at the time of Thirumeni's visit.
Thirumeni visited and conducted services for all of the Mar Thoma congregations in the islands, including holy communion at the Church of North India cathedral. On 2 April 1988, All India Radio in Port Blair broadcast his Easter message. The following week (10 April), Thirumeni was the chief guest of Parish Day celebrations. On 11 April, after conducting a marriage in the Port Blair church, Thirumeni suffered a heart attack at the airport while awaiting his return flight to the mainland. He was immediately taken to J. B. Panth Hospital in Port Blair, where he died at 3:20 pm.
The government authorities in islands were extremely helpful in making arrangements to send Thirumeni's body to Kerala. Through the intervention of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi a special Indian Navy plane was arranged and the body was taken to the Cochin Airport on Tuesday, 12 April 1988. From there the body was taken to the headquarters of the Mar Thoma Church at Tiruvalla. The funeral service was held on Wednesday, 13 April 1988 at the St. Thomas Church in Tiruvalla. A huge crowd was present to bid farewell to their beloved bishop. On 13 April, at 1:45 pm he was buried in the Bishops’ cemetery in the SCS Compound, Tiruvalla.
“The passing away of Rt. Rev. Easow Mar Timotheos is a great loss to the people of Kerala and particularly to the Mar Thomite Christian Community. The late Bishop's piety and dedication to spiritual causes and his work for the upliftment of the poor will be long remembered. In his death the country has lost a true evangelist of a rare caliber.”
“His zeal for mission made him dedicate his life for missionary work. He worked as a member of the Christa Panthi Ashram, Sihora for 21 years, commencing at the age of 20. He had his theological education at the Leonard Theological College, Jabalpur, and later at St. Augustine College, Canterbury, UK. His life of prayer and deep spiritual experience are his special characteristics. He was deeply interested in rural development activities. He has been in Japan on two occasions to obtain training in this subject……. Being also in charge of the parishes in the Persian Gulf area, he raised funds from there for the development of Malabar area…”
“Easow Mar Timotheos- a glowing morning star shined for the people of the land for a short while. At his sudden demise in 1988, the then Prime Minister of India Mr. Rajiv Gandhi testified Thirumeni as the 'great apostle of India'. That was the influence he extended in the hearts of the people with a small span of time.”
“After serving the Christa Panthi Ashram, Sihora for over two decades he was consecrated Bishop in February 1975. As the Bishop in charge of the Kunnamkulam- Malabar Diocese, he worked strenuously for the development of the parishes in the underdeveloped areas of Malabar. The Mar Thoma College at Chungathara was started in order to give facilities for higher education in Nilambur area. He gave warm support to the Wandoor Project taken up by the Christian Agency for Rural Development (CARD). As a committed person having evangelical zeal he helped many to find new life in Jesus. His sudden demise at Port Blair on 11 April 1988 is a great loss to the Church.”
Bible institutions in memory of Easow Mar Timotheos Thirumeni
- Easow Mar Timotheos Memorial Institute – Kunnamkulam. Biblical training is given to boys and evangelists of the Kunnamkulam Diocese. This is managed by Kunnamkulam Malabar Diocese.
- Easow Mar Timotheos Memorial Centre- Sihora, Madhya Pradesh was established in July 1989. The administration of this centre is jointly managed by the Church and the Evangelistic Association. The curriculum consists of a three-year course during which evangelists are trained mainly for the missionary work in North India.
- Easow Mar Timotheos Memorial Centre – Hoskote, Bangalore, Karnataka, Established in 1991 in the Hoskote Mission Compound. The administration of this centre is jointly managed by Mar Thoma Church and Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association. The curriculum in Kannada Medium consists of a three-year course during which evangelists are trained mainly for the missionary work in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Now Rev. James M. Koshy Veeramala (Keekozhoor) is serving as the Principal.
- Easow Mar Timotheos Memorial Hall – Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Timotheos Thirumeni was the diocesan Bishop in this area (1977–1984). So in 2001 when Dubai Mar Thoma Parish constructed their church building in Jebel Ali, as a token of their love and affection they named the church hall "Easow Mar Timotheos Hall" This is used for conducting services, gospel meetings and Sunday school classes.
- Mar Thoma Sabha Council (1989). Thandinmel Thelicha Deepam.
- Christhapanthi Ashram. (2004). Samarpitharude Sanghayathra. CSS, Tiruvalla.
- Christa Panthi Ashram-Sihora- Golden Jubilee Souvenir. (1992).
- Mar Thoma Syrian Church Clergy Directory. (1999).
- Mar Thoma Sabha Directory. (1999).
- Alexander Mar Thoma. (1986), The Mar Thoma Church Heritage and Mission.