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HomeArcheparchy of TiruvallaA Century of Compassion: Thiruvalla Archdiocese Marks Archdiocesan Day with Grand Celebration...

A Century of Compassion: Thiruvalla Archdiocese Marks Archdiocesan Day with Grand Celebration and Charitable Initiatives

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In a magnificent celebration that encapsulated both reverence and communal unity, the Malankara Catholic Church’s Thiruvalla Archdiocese observed its Archdiocesan Day and Archbishop’s Day with remarkable grandeur. Hosted at the Cathedral of St. John, the event drew an impressive gathering, including various representatives from over 134 churches under the archdiocese. The archdiocese encompasses the dioceses of Moovatupuzha, Bathery, Puttur, and Thiruvalla.

The day commenced with the Holy Qurbana, presided over by His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and the Major Archbishop of Trivandrum, who had arrived a day in advance to partake in the celebrations. Joining him were several esteemed bishops, including His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Joshua Mor Ignathios from Mavelikkara, His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thomas from Bathery, His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Mar Irenios from Pathanamthitta, His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Mathews Mar Pachomios from the Eparchy of St Ephrem Khadki-Pune, and His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Antony Mar Silvanos, along with the local Archbishop, His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Mor Koorilos.

Cardinal Cleemis’ Homily: Reflecting on the Archdiocese’s Rich History

In a deeply moving homily delivered after the mass, His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos shared profound reflections on the historical journey of the Thiruvalla Archdiocese. His words painted a vivid picture of an archdiocese birthed from humble beginnings into a lighthouse of faith for Central Travancore.

Cardinal Cleemis began by commemorating the foundational moments of the archdiocese, initiated by Mar Theophilos over 91 years ago. He highlighted how what started as a mere eparchy under Mar Theophilos’ guidance blossomed into a pivotal spiritual centre, eventually becoming the pride of Central Travancore. His narrative wove through the decades, touching upon the resilience and faith that propelled the community forward through various adversities.

He recounted the trials faced by the early community, particularly when many of their churches, initially simple sheds, were consumed by fire. Yet, the spirit of the community was undeterred as they rebuilt their places of worship, an act Cardinal Cleemis described as akin to renewing the church in its most literal sense—rising from ashes to stand stronger and more united.

The Cardinal also reminisced about a significant milestone—the silver jubilee celebrated in Kottayam. He shared a personal memory from 1974, which marked not just the passage of 50 years since the establishment of the Syro Malankara Church but was also the year Mother Teresa visited Kerala. His anecdote about witnessing Mother Teresa’s presence in Kottayam during those jubilee celebrations brought a sense of historical reverence and spiritual depth to his reflections.

As the archdiocese nears its centenary, Cardinal Cleemis expressed a poignant sense of the swift passage of time since those foundational days, emphasising that the journey of a hundred years is a testament to the enduring faith and the ever-evolving legacy of the Malankara Catholic Church. Through his homily, the Cardinal not only honored the past but also invigorated the faithful with a renewed sense of purpose and continuity as we approach this significant milestone.

Cardinal Cleemis on the Essence of Archdiocese Day: A Call for Spiritual and Communal Action

During the commemoration of the Archdiocese Day, His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos offered profound insights into the significance of the day, emphasizing not just a celebration but a call to deeper spiritual and communal involvement. The Cardinal eloquently articulated how the essence of the day is intertwined with God’s plan for humanity and the Church’s active role in manifesting this divine blueprint through continuous commitment and participation.

Spiritual Engagement Beyond Rituals

Cardinal Cleemis drew a compelling analogy between the Church’s liturgical activities and a theatrical play, where behind-the-scenes efforts are akin to the Church’s liturgical preparations. He noted that in today’s fast-paced world, where scenes on stage change with the push of a button, the Church too experiences rapid transitions. However, he stressed the importance of understanding the profound spiritual underpinnings of these transitions rather than mechanically moving through rituals.

He highlighted the meticulous work of the seminarians of the archdiocese, praising their quick and careful execution of duties, which he described as the pride of the community. Yet, he reminded everyone that while the mechanics of rituals, detailed in the Thookasa (the liturgical book), are important, they must not overshadow the spiritual essence. The Thookasa outlines what to do and how to do it, from vestments to liturgical actions, but Cardinal Cleemis called on the faithful to grasp the deeper spiritual meanings—viewing these practices as calls to enrich one’s soul as if directly summoned by Heaven.

Cultural Practices and Community Responsibilities

Addressing a contemporary issue, the Cardinal critiqued the practice of teaching Indian classical dance within the church premises, suggesting that such activities should instead take place in appropriate venues like auditoriums. This shift, he argued, would maintain the sanctity of the church while still fostering cultural expression.

Focus on Social Outreach and Charity

Further elaborating on the church’s social responsibilities, Cardinal Cleemis reflected on the church’s commitment to eradicating homelessness within the community. He shared updates on significant initiatives under the Thiruvalla Archdiocese’s guidance, where substantial progress has been made towards housing the homeless—130 homes completed and 220 more in progress. These efforts, he noted, are vivid demonstrations of God’s love through the church, even amidst financial constraints.

He shared a light-hearted yet poignant anecdote about a conversation with a bishop from the Latin church who noticed the frequent prayers for debt relief in malankara masses. Cardinal Cleemis humorously revealed that these prayers were indeed a nod to the archdiocese’s financial burdens, underscoring the real challenges they face while maintaining a commitment to life-giving charity projects.

Cardinal Cleemis’ address was a powerful reminder of the dual call of the Archdiocese Day: to deepen spiritual life and to actively engage in transformative community service. It underscored the importance of aligning ecclesiastical practices with profound spiritual insights and social responsibility, urging all present to embody the teachings of the church in every aspect of their lives.

Launching the Ivanian Projects: A New Initiative for Housing and Community Support

In a compelling call to action, Cardinal Cleemis introduced the Ivanian Projects during the Archdiocesan Day, a significant initiative aimed at confronting homelessness within the community. Named after Mar Ivanios, the revered founder of the church, these projects underscore the church’s foundational commitment to serve and uplift the less fortunate among us.

Community Engagement and Support

Cardinal Cleemis passionately appealed to the clergy and faithful to re-envision their approach to community service. He emphasized the project’s goal is not merely to construct a set number of houses but to genuinely alleviate the suffering of neighbours and fellow parishioners. Highlighting the unsettling reality discovered through surveys—many still live under tarpaulin coverings—he called for a united effort to ensure that every family has a stable and dignified home.

He cited the example of Thomas Pithav of Bathery, who has made land available for building homes for the homeless, as a benchmark for other dioceses to follow. This act of generosity is a template for how each diocese can contribute to this noble cause.

Rethinking Church Festivities and Resources

The Cardinal proposed a radical yet practical shift in how the church organizes its resources. He suggested reducing the number of annual church festivals from 10-12 to just one, and shortening extended 15-day festivals to only two days. The rationale is to redirect the substantial funds typically spent on these events towards building homes for the homeless. This approach has been successfully implemented in the Trivandrum Major Archdiocese, where the decision to forego traditional carols allowed 217 churches to redirect their efforts and resources, resulting in the construction of 67 homes.

Guidance and Implementation

His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Mor Koorilos, referred to affectionately as Koorilos Thirumeni, is tasked with guiding this initiative. Cardinal Cleemis stressed that this isn’t about starting new fund collections but is about optimizing existing resources to better serve the community’s needs. He reminded everyone of the church’s humble beginnings and the importance of staying true to those roots as the church continues to grow.

Centenary Celebrations and Future Plans

Looking ahead, Cardinal Cleemis outlined the roadmap leading up to the church’s centennial celebrations. Starting in 2024 from Parasala and culminating in 2030 at the Thiruvananthapuram major archdiocese, each diocese will host a year-long focus on the journey towards the centenary. This 6-year long observance is not only a celebration of the church’s 100-year legacy but also an opportunity to deepen its commitment to social justice and community support.

By launching the Ivanian Projects on such a significant day, Cardinal Cleemis reaffirmed the Syro Malankara Catholic Church’s dedication to its mission of showing God’s love through action, and he invited every member of the community to partake in this transformative endeavour.

Symbolic Launch of the Ivanian Home Project and Celebratory Acknowledgements

As the day’s events unfolded, a significant ceremonial moment marked the inception of the Ivanian Home Project—a lighting of the lamp ceremony. This act symbolized the ignition of hope and the communal commitment towards eradicating homelessness in the community. The ceremony was graced by prominent figures from the church’s pastoral and lay organizations, including Dr. Varghese K Cherian, the Pastoral Council Secretary; Abigail, President of the MCCL; Cyriac John, President of the MCYM; Shibu Chungath, President of the MCA; Rosemary George, President of the MCMF; Leny Abraham Pakanikuzhiyil, President of the Vincent de Paul; and Beena Jacob, President of the Legion of Mary. Their joint participation with the bishops in lighting the lamp was a powerful testament to the unity and shared vision within the church.

The need for the Ivanian Home Project was underscored by recent surveys indicating that within the 134 churches surveyed, there are 443 homes that need to be built. The lighting of the lamp served as both a symbolic and practical beginning to this ambitious undertaking, aiming to provide stable and dignified homes for those in need.

Community Contributions and Welcoming New Leadership

In an inspiring display of community support, Shibu Sakaria A, a member of Kallissery church, contributed significantly by donating the funds necessary to build a house. This generous act was recognized during the ceremony, with Mr. Shibu handing over the funds directly to Baselios Cleemis Thirumeni, further highlighting the community’s active participation in the church’s charitable projects.

Furthermore, the day was also marked by the warm reception of Mathews Mor Pachomios Thirumeni, the youngest bishop recently ordained. He was welcomed into his new role with traditional honors, including the presentation of a shawl by Cleemis Thirumeni. Additionally, a monetary token was presented to him by the Thiruvalla Archdiocese, intended to support the mission work in the Pune Khadki region, signifying the support and expectations for his continued service in his new capacity.

Conclusion

The events of the day, filled with significant speeches, spiritual reflections, and communal activities, not only reinforced the Thiruvalla Archdiocese’s commitment to its religious and social missions but also set a strong foundation for future endeavours. The launch of the Ivanian Home Project, supported by the church’s leadership and community members, marks a new chapter in the church’s history, one that promises to extend its legacy of service and compassion well into the future.

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