Alexander Mar Thoma
|Most Rev. Dr.
Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XIX)
|Installed||23 October 1976|
|Ordination||7 June 1946.|
|Consecration||20 May 1953|
|Born||10 April 1913
|Died||11 January 2000.
Kumbanad, Kerala, India.
Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan was the head of the Mar Thoma Church with its center in Kerala state in south-western India. About his life he wrote in his autobiography, "My life was a filled with trials and tribulations, joy and sorrow, pain and gain, struggles and rewards. But it was by the grace of God, that stood like a pillar of cloud during day and like a pillar of fire at night, I was able to withstand them all."
In the state of Kerala, India, on the banks of river Pamba, surrounded by the villages Maramon, Ayroor, Thadiyoor, Pullad lies a village Kuriannoor that is well known for its beauty and peace. Maliackel family was one of the well known families here. A member of this family, Rev. M.C.George (Rev. Maliackel Chandy George) was a well educated, much respected vicar of the Mar Thoma parish in Kuriannoor. His son Kunjachen ( Alexander Mar Thoma) was born on 10 April 1913. His mother was Mariamma of Maramon, Anjilivelil family. The baby was baptised by Rev. A.V.Mathew, at the Maramon church and was given the name M.G.Chandy, (Maliackel George Chandy).
He began his schooling at the age of four. Because he was a very bright student the school gave him double promotion (skipped classes and promoted to the next class) Because of this by the time he completed eight years of education two of his elder sisters became his classmates.
But in 1923, when he was only ten years old, his father died and a great responsibility fell on his head. The whole village was sympathetic to the family, and encouraged to send him to famous schools away from his home village. But his mother was very particular that the children should live with her and so Kunjachen was sent to nearby High School at Kozhencherry. While he was at Kozhencherry school, he became a book-lover and voracious reader.
He continued his studies at Maharajas College, Ernakulam and at Union Christian College, Aluva. For the next one year he was looking around for a suitable teaching post but was not successful. With no major income he had to look after his mother, a brother and six sisters. At last after one year he got a teaching post at C.M.S.High school, Kottayam. There he taught Mathematics for 12 years. It was here he took interest in missionary work and began to take part in social activities.
To further his studies, he was making arrangements to go to Agra, when he was called by Dr.Abraham Mar Thoma Metropolitan to join the ministry. He accepted the offer and in 1945 joined United Theological College, Bangalore. During his holidays, on 7 June 1946 he was ordained as a clergy. He returned to Bangalore and in addition to his studies, was also the Assistant vicar to the Mar Thoma parish.
In 1948 he completed the course and was offered admission at Union Theological college, New York. He was able to obtain S.T.M. (Master of Systematic Theology). In 1949 he was at Hartford Seminary Foundation for his PhD. He received his PhD in 1951. The title of his thesis was, "Viśvarūpa Darśana : a study of the vision of God in the Bhagavadgītā".
After returning to India in 1951, he was appointed as the vicar of Manganam (near Kottayam) Marthoma church for about a year.
One day while he was vicar at Manganam parish, Juhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan paid a visit to the parish. While they were talking about the parish and the destitute home at Manganam, Kottayam, Metropolitan casually asked Rev. Chandy, if there was a call to be a bishop, what would be his response. He replied that he was not capable of such a high position.
But the church Mandalam (representative assembly) realised the need for three more bishops. Rev. M.G. Chandy was one of those who were selected to be a bishop.
On 23 May 1953, Juhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan assisted by Mathews Mar Athanasius Episcopa ordained Rev. M.G.Chandy as episcopa and was given the episcopal title, Alexander Mar Theophilus. Rev. P.Thomas ( Thomas Mar Athanasius) and Rev. Philip Oommen (Philipose Mar Chrysostom) were also ordained on the same day.
He was ordained as a suffragan in 1974 and was given the title Alexander Mar Theophilus Suffragan Metropolitan.
After the great swearing in 1653 it became necessary to appoint a bishop. For this purpose a special chair was made and Mar Thoma I the first bishop of Malankara church was enthroned. This throne, used for the consecration of Mar Thoma I, is in the possession of the Mar Thoma Church and is kept at Tiruvalla, It has been used in the installation of every Mar Thoma Metropolitan, to this day, so that the continuity of the throne of Mar Thoma is ensured. This was the throne used for the consecration of Mar Thoma XIX, Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan in year 1976
Juhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan died in September 1976. Being the senior bishop, Alexander Mar Theophilus Suffragan Metropolitan was enthroned as the next Metropolitan on 23 October 1976 at Kottayam and was given the name Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan.
For the development of under developed villages and for the low income group Metropolitan took interest to begin a number of developments projects. They included CARD (Christian Agency for Rural Development); STARD South Travancore Agency for Rural Development); for ladies SVS (Sthree Jena Vikasana Samithi) and MCRD (Marthoma Centre for Rehabilitation and Development). For backward children Nava Jyothi school and for hill tribes, Giri Deepthi school were established.
During this period a number of Marthomites settled in various parts of India and began to migrate to other countries. This made it necessary to get the assistance of various established churches in those areas. For this, Mar Thoma church came into close relation with suitable churches in various parts of India and around the world.
Mar Thoma Church was an active member of the World Council of Churches. Mar Thoma Church, Church of South India and Church of North India formed a joint council in 1978. Came into full communion with the Anglican communion. So in 1980 he attended the enthronement of Canterbury Arch Bishop Robert Runcie; and in 1984 attended its consultative council in Nairobi.
By 1999 his health deteriorated and he wished to pass on his responsibilities to his successor. So according to the decision of church Mandalam (representative assembly) he was elevated to the position of Valia Thirumeni (senior Metropolitan) on 23 November 1999 and the responsibilities of the church were given to his successor Philipose Mar Chrysostom Suffragan Metropolitan. Alexander Mar Thoma was the first Valia Thirumeni of the church.
By January 2000 he became weak and he died on 11 January 2000. He was interred in the Bishops' cemetery in the SCS Compound, Tiruvalla.
Juhanon Mar Thoma
Mar Thoma XVIII
|Metropolitan of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church
Philipose Mar Chrysostom
Mar Thoma XX
- Mar Thoma Church
- Syrian Malabar Nasrani
- Saint Thomas Christians
- Christianity in India
- List of Catholicoi of the East and Malankara Metropolitans
- List of Syrian Malabar Nasranis
- Juhanon Mar Thoma
- Philipose Mar Chrysostom
- Deiva kripayude Thanalil. (In the shadow of the grace of God). Page 9.
- Alexander, Dr. P.J., Valia Metropolitan. Page 102.
For further reading
- Dr. Alexander Marthoma Metropolitan. (1985) The Mar Thoma Church – Heritage and Mission.
- Dr. Alexander Marthoma Metropolitan. (1998). Deiva kripayude Thanalil. (In the shadow of the grace of God).
- Juhanon Marthoma Metropolitan, The Most Rev. Dr. (1952). Christianity in India and a Brief History of the Marthoma Syrian Church.. Pub: K.M. Cherian.
- Zac Varghese Dr. & Mathew A. Kallumpram. (2003). ‘’Glimpses of Mar Thoma Church History’’. London, England. ISBN 81/900854/4/1
- Chacko, T.C. (1936) Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charithra Samgraham’’. (Concise History of Marthoma Church), Pub: E.J. Institute, Kompady, Tiruvalla.
- Eapen, Prof. Dr. K.V. (2001). ‘’Malankara Marthoma Suryani Sabha Charitram’’. (History of Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church). Pub: Kallettu, Muttambalam, Kottayam.
- Mathew, N.M. '’Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram'’, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume 1.(2006), Volume II (2007). Volume III (2008) Pub. E.J.Institute, Thiruvalla
- Valia Metropolitan (Malayalam) Published by Mar Thoma Sabha Publication.(2001).