Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Holy Bible: A documentary

The Holy Bible, the first Book is the record of the revelation of God to man, through Prophets and Jesus Christ. The documentary looks at the journey the Holy Bible has traveled from its origin when there was non paper or printing press to the current day when it has been translated to numerous languages. The Bible or part of the Bible has been translated to more than 2400 languages. The Holy Bible contains the old testament and the new testament.

View the documentary at

Posted as additional viewing material for Class 9, Unit 1 & 2

Rajesh Vargheese

Saturday, April 11, 2009



"The salt of the earth" figuratively means in the plural, 'the finest citizenry',
and in the singular, 'one among them'. In the course of His Sermon on the
Mount, Jesus addresses the listeners individually and collectively as the
salt of the earth. He reminds them that salt renders itself good for nothing
when it loses its taste. The reminder serves to warn against their losing
sight of their mission in life and leading bland, unsavory, meaningless lives.

During the Lord's earthly ministry, pure salt was a very scarce commodity,
and therefore, quite dear and often a suitable medium of exchange in terms
of its stability in value. Hence, the use of the figure of speech is in context
to challenge the listeners to evaluate what they really 'are', and what they
'can be' in God's kingdom on earth by being like pure salt without blemish.

The Lord's message is as much relevant to us individually as Christian
believers, and collectively as a parish/diocese/ church in the 21st century as
it was to the listeners then. In modern usage, we often refer to a diligent
and dedicated worker as being 'worth his/her salt'. That means, the worker
concerned MERITS IN FULL, what he/she earns as salary, by virtue of
personal commitment, perseverance and resultant improved productivity.
The word 'salary' itself is derived from the word 'salt'. In fact, salary means
'salt-money' .

We read in Job 6:6, "Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt."
The same is a fact of life even today. Salt is extremely useful in our
day-to-day lives when used in its appropriate quantity. Salt is immensely
valuable for what it does. Salt SEASONS; PRESERVES; PURIFIES;
without salt is inconceivable. So must be Christianity and its adherents to
the present-day social life.

Millions around the globe remain literally drained of their spiritual dignity,
emotional security, mental peace and physical well-being. They desperately
look for props to cling to while living through the abject misery of their broken
lives. Just as salt seasons and causes flavor to come alive, Christian
believers and their churches of various denominations must strive to redeem
them by imparting flavor and zest to their otherwise wretched lives. They
have to be provided with at least a semblance of hope worth living for.

Like salt, Christianity has to be consistently an efficacious 'preservative' in
the face of rapidly vanishing values of life such as respect for the sanctity of
life; chivalry; chastity in thought, speech and action; courage of conviction;
personal integrity and so on. A society solidly founded on sound moral
tenets and values will become a forlorn dream unless Christianity does its
part in protecting and PRESERVING moral values on a war footing.

In 2 Kings 2:20-22 is the narrative of how Elisha made a polluted spring of
water wholesome by dropping salt in it from a new bowl with a prayerful
pronouncement of blessing over the water. Salt has antiseptic properties to
heal. In olden days new-born babes were given a saline bath to ward off or
avoid infections. Christianity has to play the role of 'purifying salt' by being a
relentless uncompromising voice of sanity and moral rectitude against the
rampant corrupting influences that threaten modern civilization. Social ills
will then be certainly healed, heralding the dawn of a better morrow.

Mark 9:49 reads: "For every one will be salted with fire." It implies that a
burning sensation is common to both salt and fire. As far as cuts and
bruises are concerned, salt is an irritant. Christians and their churches of
various denominations must also act as 'irritants' in a sick society. The
decaying modern culture badly needs and calls for the salt of Christianity and
the Lord's empowering gospel to break away from the stinking status quo,
and start afresh in newness of spirit.

Just as salt permeates and penetrates water, churches of various
denominations are to deploy their human resources to reach out to, and
penetrate all the different social strata, with the life-giving gospel of our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ, instead of keeping it hidden under a bushel. A
sweeping spiritual revival will then ensue giving hope and healing to billions.

Christians are required NOT to be conformed to this world. They are to be
strikingly different from non-Christians in their thought and behavioral patterns.
Apostle Paul, therefore, exhorts us: "Let your speech always be gracious,
seasoned with salt." (Col. 4:6) We owe it to ourselves and to our Lord to
conduct ourselves in such an exemplary manner as to be able to draw non-
Christians to the Lord of Glory.

I conclude this message by posing to myself the question: "Am I, my parish,
my diocese, my church pure salt or salt that has lost its savor?"


Nakkolackal V. L. Eapen,
St. Gregorios Church, Austin, TX.

IT IS FINISHED. (Jn.19:30)

"IT IS FINISHED." (Jn.19:30)

The Lord's above pronouncement from the cross at Calvary represents
the DIVINE perspective. Its emphasis is, therefore, NOT on the
Sacrificial Lamb, but on the final outcome of the sacrifice - i.e. the
fulfillment of the Heavenly Father's sovereign will. If paraphrased to
represent the HUMAN perspective, it would read: "I have finished it."

The Lord's emphatic declaration, "It is finished," leaves no room for
skepticism. However, to appreciate what has been finished, and at
what stupendous cost it has been finished, we need spiritual discern-
ment besides a sound understanding of the relevant Scriptural texts.

God's New Covenant with Israel, spelt out in Jer. 31:31-34 and alluded
to in Ezek. 36:24-28, has the following four (04) provisions: (i) Re-
generation: God's law will be ingrained in their minds and written on
their hearts; (ii) Israel's Restoration: Yahweh will be their God and
Israelites will be His people; (iii) The Holy Spirit's Direct Ministry:
They will ALL be individually instructed by the Spirit of God; and (iv)
The Assurance of Full Justification: Their sins will be forgiven and
remembered no more. The shed blood of the Lamb of God on Calvary's
cross guarantees to Israel its New Covenant while assuring forgiveness
of sins to believers comprising the Church, which forms God's New
Israel. In Rom. 11:25-26, St. Paul anticipates a day when all Israel
would accept Jesus as the Messiah and His death on the cross as the
atonement for their sins. "A hardening has come upon part of Israel,
until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be

The cross is as much a symbol of 'divine justice' as it is of 'divine love'.
Divine justice dictates that the wages of sin is death. The reference
here is NOT to 'physical' death, but to 'spiritual' death. Spiritual death
means 'separation from God'. That is, the indwelling spirit, which is the
"inward being" (Ps. 51) or the "inner man"/woman (Eph. 3:16), becomes
separated from God as the inescapable consequence of sin. This is
attested in Isaiah 59:2. "But your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God." When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden
fruit, they instantly died spiritually. Consequently, they lost their
fellowship with God and their God-centeredness, and became self-
centered, and scrambled for fig leaves to cover their nakedness. What
has been finished at Calvary is the BRIDGING OF MAN'S SEPARATION
FROM GOD in accordance with the rigorous, but just and fair require-
ments of divine justice. The Sinless Christ became our sin on the cross,
and died in our place, not only physically, but also spiritually, to appease
God's wrath against us. The Lord's SUBSTITUTIONARY SPIRITUAL
DEATH on our behalf implies His momentary separation from God the
Father, necessitating the heart-rending cry, "My God, My God, why hast
Thou forsaken Me." (Mt. 27:46) The strange salutation is profoundly
significant in that it is NOT, 'My Father, My Father', as it should
otherwise be. Suffice it to say that God punished Christ as though He
had committed our sins. On the other hand, when we believe in Christ,
God accepts us as though we were as righteous as Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21)
In Biblical terminology, it is called "reckoned"/imputed righteousness.
(Rom. 4:6)

The Lord Himself affirms in Lk. 22:37, "For what is written about Me has
its fulfillment. " The Lord's clarity of vision as to His epoch-making mission
at Calvary is apparent in Lk.12:50. "I have a baptism to be baptized with;
and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! " It was indeed a
baptism of fire; an acid test of His obedience and faithfulness. Accord-
ingly, the Lord "offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and
tears, to Him, Who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard
for His godly fear." (Heb. 5:7) The Lord also thoughtfully prepared His
disciples for the impending tragedy.

The mission at Calvary has four (04) primary purposes: (i) Bearing our
iniquities; (ii) Carrying our sicknesses; (iii) Washing away our sinful-
ness and purchasing with His precious blood the forgiveness of our sins;
and (iv) Dying physically to rise from the dead, and thus to destroy for
ever the power of death.

Isaiah, who lived 700 years before Christ, perceived in his spirit, the
spiritual, mental, emotional and physical agony of the dying Christ on
the rugged cross, and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote:
"He (the Father) shall see the fruit of the travail of His (the Son's) soul
and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the Righteous One, My
Servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and He shall bear their
iniquities." (Is. 53:11) "He shall bear their iniquities," means that He
shall suffer substitutionary spiritual death.

Again, Isaiah saw in his spirit Lord Jesus Christ at the whipping post
being ruthlessly lashed by the Roman soldiers, and Isaiah cried out:
"Upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His
stripes we are healed." (Is. 53:5) The stripes, left on the Lord's back by
the soldiers' strokes with the whip, are a provision for our divine healing.
In other words, the Lord took upon Himself our ailments and diseases
to be nailed to the cross, and gave us in return health and healing with
His stripes. It is NOT coincidental, but prophetic, that David writes in
Psalm 103: "Who forgives all your iniquity," (because of the spilled
blood at Calvary), and "Who heals all your diseases," (with the stripes
on the Lord's back).

The Lord's mission having been triumphantly 'finished', it is up to us, the
believers, to claim and receive Calvary's everlasting victory over Satan,
sin, sickness and death, as our own inheritance during this Holy Lenten


Nakkolackal V. L. Eapen,

St. Gregorios Church, Austin, TX.


Professing Christ is a far cry from possessing Christ. Living a selfless life in
absolute obedience to Christ's commandments is the only way to possess Christ
and be His disciple(s). What distinguishes a spiritually vibrant parish is the
parishioners' habitually 'loving one another' in the same way as Christ has
unconditionally loved them. (Jn. 15:12) Loving one another is enjoined as
imperative in Christian discipleship. (Jn. 13:35) Apostle Paul calls it a debt
that we "owe" (Rom. 13:8) to one another regardless of pelf, position or power.
Apostles Peter and John commend it as a way of life to be diligently pursued and
passionately preserved for mutual edification. (1 Pet. 1:22; 1 Jn. 3:11&23;
4:7,11&12 and 2 Jn. 1:5) Furthermore, Apostle John exhorts us: "Little
children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth." (1 Jn. 3:18)

Parishioners' loving one another must manifest itself in the way they
instinctively think, speak and act. The following are a few among the many
channels of expression of their mutual love and adoration.

1. Greeting one another: (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12 & 1 Pet. 5:14)

In the first three cited references above, Apostle Paul emphasizes the need for
greeting one another "with a holy kiss" while in the fourth and last, Apostle
Peter reiterates it using a similar expression, "with the kiss of love". The
kiss envisaged by the Apostles is by way of informal routine unlike the formal
'kiss of peace' we cherish having during the Holy Qurbana. In a spiritually
vibrant parish, members tend to greet one another, with a warm and cordial
embrace and with spontaneous cheer and courtesy, especially when they come
together for light refreshments after the Holy Qurbana. The temptation to
remain secluded in prisons of one's own making cannot then arise at all.
Inspired as they are with love for one another, 'other people' and 'common
events' do not generally feature in their sublime conversation. Instead, they
tend to discuss shared moral goals and values; precepts and principles; norms
and standards. Even the tone and tenor of their conversation will be mutually
elevating and empowering as is summed up in Eph. 5:19.

2. Rejoicing in the Lord and in one another: (Phil. 4:4)

A parish community, that steadfastly upholds love in all its internal dealings
with one another, tends to blossom out as a 'joyful' community, rejoicing in the
Lord always and consequently in one another.

3. Living in harmony with one another: (Rom. 12:16 & 1 Cor. 1:10)

A joyful parish community evolves into a 'peaceful' community in due course,
ironing out differences and forging consensus amicably. The parish community is
then at peace with itself, with other parishes and with God.

4. Bearing with one another in a spirit of forgiveness: (Eph. 4:2 & Col. 3:13)

When interactive love, joy and peace permeate among the parishioners, they tend
to be graciously 'patient' with one another's shortcomings, and refrain from
"passing judgment on one another." (Rom. 14:13)

5. Accepting one another and serving one another: (Rom. 15:7; Gal.5:13 & Eph.

The offshoot of 'patience' outlined in (4) above is 'kindness' in accepting one
another as one really is, and being servants of one another in "humility". (1 Pet. 5:5)

6. Encouraging one another out of goodness: (1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 3:13 & 10:25)

By 'goodness' is NOT meant 'inherent' goodness, but goodness attained by the
parishioners through the practice of virtues in successive stages starting from
'pervasive love'. At this stage, they are able to overcome their envy, and begin
encouraging one another to scale greater heights of success in their respective
professional and/or personal pursuits.

7. Teaching and admonishing one another in faithfulness: (Rom. 15:14 & Col.

All parishioners cannot be at the same level of spiritual growth and awareness
at any given time. Those lagging behind need to be helped out by the
enlightened and discerning in 'faithfulness' which is yet another fruit of the

8. Submitting and being hospitable to one another in gentleness: (Eph. 5:21 &
1 Pet. 4:9)

'Gentleness' ranks eighth in the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22)
Gradually, when parishioners climb up to the eighth rung of the spiritual ladder
through self-surrender, the Holy Spirit enables them to submit to one another
gently without self-importance or pride. They also tend to practice being
hospitable to one another.

9. Exercising self-control in thought, speech and action: (Gal. 5:22)

At this final stage, parishioners are strengthened by the Enabler to gain
control over themselves and be temperate. The steady ascent, step after step
from 'permeating love', eventually culminates in self-mastery and control,
indispensable to overcoming the world and its temptations, and living abundantly

Gal. 5:22 reads: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. " Only when ALL the
parishioners bear the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit in their daily lives, does a
parish become spiritually vibrant in its true sense. Becoming and being a
spiritually vibrant parish, has therefore to be a protracted ongoing process.
Providential grace is the one key to achieving final victory.


Nakkolackal V. L. Eapen

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Seven Bishops Consecrated by H.H. Baselios Marthoma Didymus I

His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Didymus I consecrated seven new bishops
today (February 19., 2009) at St. George Orthodox Church, Puthupally,
the Oriental Georgian pilgrim centre of The East. HH was assisted by
H.B Paulose Mar Milithios, Catholicate designate and all the other
bishops. The new bishops are H.G. Yuhanon Mar Polycarpos, H.G. Mathews
Mar Theodosius, H.G. Joseph Mar Dionysius, H.G. Abraham Mar
Epiphanios, H.G. Mathews Mar Themothios, H.G. Alexios Mar Eusebios and
H.G. Yuhanon Mar Dioscoros.

Post your wishes at

May the Lord shower his blessings on all the new bishops and may their
service bring a positive impact for the church and the society.

ICON Moderators


Sunday, February 1, 2009

H.G. Pathrose Mar Osthathios: Through the words of H.G Geevargheese Mar Osthathios

H.G. Pathrose Mar Osthathios: Through the words of H.G Geevargheese
Mar Osthathios

In the biography of H.G Geevargheese Mar Osthathios, 'Ethu
Karthavagunu' (This is the Lord) there is nice article by H.G
Geevargheese Mar Osthathios on H.G. Pathrose Mar Osthathios. (which
appeared in the February edition of the Church Weekly in the year

H.G. Pathrose Mar Osthathios had passed away on February 2nd, 1968. In
this article, H.G Geevargheese Mar Osthathios tries to put together a
last farewell speech that H.G. Pathrose Mar Osthathios would have made
to the church if he was alive. While it talks more, let me take two
excerpts from this article that is always applicable.

"A request: This is a request I have made to the well off churches of
Malankara Sabha many times. Let me remind you once again before you
lay me to rest. Even when many of our well off churches have many sets
of bells, decorated umbrellas, patten, chalice, candle stands, how
unfortunate is it that some of the churches in Malabar and high ranges
dont have any church equipments....."

"Dear friends, I will pray for you. Please do not build me a big tomb,
instead use that money to build small houses for our new christian
brothers who we always call 'our happiness and our crown'......"

Today, we are glad that our leaders have taken the steps to make H.G.
Pathrose Mar Osthathios thirumeni's dreams a reality. The aggressive
plan laid out as part of the Catholicate day collections aims to
provide housing for all the financially poor members of the Servants
of the Cross by 2012.

May HG's soul rest in peace.

1. Ethu Karthavagunu by Thomas Neelarmadom. (Page 784-788).
2. Catholicate day plan:

Rajesh Vargheese
Austin, TX

Friday, January 2, 2009

H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Geevarghese II: A Tribute

H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Geevarghese II: A Tribute

January 3rd marks the memorial of H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Geevarghese II, The Third Catholicos of the East. (6 June 1874 - 3 Jan 1964) Through prayer and fasting he received strength from God to lead his people for long years, courageously, inspiring his people to work for their church and for the glory of God. Following the peace pact of 1958, he had the good fortune to guide the destiny of the unified Malankara Church. The deep spirituality and wisdom of this Catholicos earned him the title 'Valiya Bava', or 'The Great Catholicos'. He entered the eternal realms on 3 January 1964 at Develokam Aramana and was laid to rest beside the Devalokam Aramana Chapel.

Please visit
for viewing the tribute page.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Malankara Orthodox Church in the year 2008

Dear friends in Christ,

As the year 2008 leaves behind its memories, and we look forward to the year 2009 with hope, we must thank the Lord for guiding the
As the year 2008 leaves behind its memories, and we look forward to
the year 2009 with hope, we must thank the Lord for guiding the
Malankara Orthodox Church during the year.

There were many memorable events in the year 2008, some, we cherished
with joy and the sense of progress, some, we accepted with tears. The
church made progress in every walk of its life. The grace of the Lord
was with us in every moment. The signs of a strong leadership truly
emerged. The urge to reach out to the poor was ever more. The unity of
its people was evident.

There were many memories, big and small, some of them have been captured at

All in all, a memorable year. Thank you Lord.

We wish everyone a very happy new year filled with
heavenly blessings. May the Lord bless all of us.

Rajesh Vargheese

Monday, December 15, 2008

Remembering HH Baselios Geevargheese I

Dear friends,

The 80th rememberance perunal of the second catholicose of the
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, HH Baselios Geevargheese I is being
celebrated at Vallikat Dayara, Vakathanam from December 7th to
December 17th.

His Holiness was born in 1870. He was ordained as 'Koruya' on 13 June
1885, as deacon in 1892, on 16 August 1896 as priest and on 23 August
as Ramban(Monk) by Metropolitan Kadavil Paulose Mar Athanasios. He
served as the Manager of Thrikunnath Seminary, Aluva from 1908 to
1910. On February 1913, he was consecrated as Metropolitan Geevarghese
Mar Philexinos. He was the Metropolitan of Kottayam and Angamaly
diocese. He made Vallikattu Dayara his administrative headquarters. On
30 April 1925 at Niranam, the Holy Synod installed him as the
Catholicos of the East. Through prayer and fasting he achieved
spiritual strength, which helped him to guide the Malankara Church
into green pastures. He passed away on 17 December 1928 at Neyyoor
Hospital. He was laid to rest on the northern side of Vallikattu

The profile of HH Baselios Geevargheese I:

The detailed program and flyer of the perunal is available at

Rajesh Vargheese

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Unbelievable! - Malankara Sabha Maha Sammelanam

Unbelievable! - Malankara Sabha Maha Sammelanam


Unbelievable! Unbelievable! Unbelievable! is all I can say. My eye has never before seen anything close to what I saw at the St.Thomas Nagar, Baselious College grounds, Kottayam. It was indeed a maha sammelanam that many have seen for the first time.


Taking into account all the hardships that the church had to go through to get to this point and the time it had in hand to get the countless people from all parts of Kerala and beyond, it was a Herculean task to make this a grand success.


The grace of the Lord and the hard work of thousands and thousands of church loving people resulted in large number of people  showing up for a well organized peaceful and powerful meeting and making it an unbelievable success. Young and old, men and women joined alike to make this a memorable event.


This meeting was so well organized, its beyond words of appreciation. The thousands of volunteers did a amazing job that there was no visible police presence inside the grounds.


The Rally was led by H.H, followed by bishops, bishop elects, clergy. Behind the leaders, the students from Kottayam seminary, and sisters from various institutions followed. Behind them, the people from each diocese (in alphabetical order) followed. All in all, an amazing rally. 


The speaker stole every moment and crowd was jubilant all through the meeting. The association secretary started of with a highly energetic welcome speech. The speakers used the podiums to crush false propaganda and myths that are spread by various groups and societies. They used the occasion to educate the faithful of the true interpretations. The meeting was addressed by Dr. George Joseph, H.H (message read by H.G. Mar Coorilos), H.G. Paulose Mar Militios, H.G Thomas Mar Athanasius, H.G.Dr Thomas Mar Athanasius, H.G.Mathews Mar Severius, Rev. Fr Abraham Johns Konat, Rev.Fr. Mathai Edayanal, M.G. George Muthoot, Alexander Karakkal, Very Remban Thomas Paul and Smt. Priya Jacob. The words of each of the speakers were very much thought provoking.


The true sons of this church have once again shown everyone, that we listen to our H.H, and we are here to serve the church. All it takes is for H.H to send out the word.


If we could pull this through so successfully within 14 days of H.H's kalpana, it should only give us an idea of what this church is capable of. We proved once again that nothing can stop us. The politicians can play their games, prevent us from using stadiums and resources, but the Lord will give us what we need. 


Let's thank the Lord for the success of this meeting and continue to pray for this church.



Rajesh Vargheese

Reporting for ICON from St. Thomas Nagar

Mar Baselios College Grounds


Friday, October 3, 2008

Seminary Day - An interview with Rev. Fr. Johns Abraham Konat, Priest Trustee, MOC

The Malankara Orthodox church designates the first Sunday of October as the Seminary Day. This year it will be celebrated on October 5th, 2008. Our Orthodox theological seminary in Kottayam and the St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary in Nagpur are providing exemplary service in training our spiritual leaders. In an effort to create a greater awareness about our seminaries, Rev. Fr. Johns Abraham Konat, Priest Trustee, MOSC and Professor, OTS shares few of his few of his thoughts on the seminaries.

Rajesh Vargheese

Saturday, June 14, 2008

ROOF Project May Update: Keys Handed over

The house that was being constructed as part of the ROOF project (part of the 10th anniversary projects 2007) at Cumbemettu, Idukki has been completed. The house was blessed and the keys were handed over to the benefeciary during the second week of May, 2008 by the vicar of St.Marys Church, Cumbemettu. In addition to vicar, Rev. Fr. K.T. Jacob and Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Varghese attended the blessing ceremony.

We thank Rev. Fr. K.T. Jacob, Grace Charities for providing us the follow-up on the construction progress.

We thank the Lord for the opportunity to reach out to this family in need. We thank all our well wishers for the prayers and support.

For more details about the project, please visit

Rajesh Vargheese,
Austin, TX

Saturday, April 5, 2008

ROOF Project March 2008 Update

The house that was being constructed as part of the ROOF project (part of the 10th anniversary projects 2007) is progressing steadily at Cumbemettu, Idukki. These are the pictures of the house construction as of March 2008. The internal wiring and flooring has been completed. Part of the exterior of the house has been plastered. The remaining plastering and painting work in under progress now. According to current plans, the house construction will be completed and keys will be handed over to the beneficiary during April 2008.

We thank Rev. Fr. K.T. Jacob, Grace Charities for providing us the follow-up on the construction progress.

For more details about the project, please visit

Rajesh Vargheese,
Austin, TX

ROOF Project February 2008 Update

ROOF Project February 2008 Update

The house that was being constructed as part of the ROOF project (part of the 10th anniversary projects 2007) is progressing steadily at Cumbemettu, Idukki.

The roofing has been completed. Currently, (Feb 08) internal wiring and other flooring work are being carried out. These are the pictures of the house construction as of February 2008.

Thanks to Rev. Fr. K.T. Jacob, Grace Charities for providing us the follow-up.

For more details about the project, please visit

Rajesh Vargheese,
Austin, TX

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Great Lent, Our traditions and our next generations

The Great Lent, Our traditions and our next generations

As we enter yet another Great Lent, it might be a good idea to ask ourselves and our children: how prepared are we for this great lent? How will we do during this great lent? Will we be successful in resisting the temptations to do the things that we gave up at the beginning of the great lent? Will we be any closer to Jesus? Will we take the extra time to pray? Will we pray for the less fortunate?...

Our church has a very rich tradition of special lent prayers, kumbidal and other traditions during the Great Lent. The special prayers during the great Lent have a lot of meaning in each word that is included in it. Our grand parents and our parents used to follow these with great
importance. As we disintegrate into nuclear families, will these traditions be handed over to the next generations? The more important question is: do we ourselves pray these special prayers, thereby giving our children a chance to hear these and learn these? Or do we think it's not important to pray these? Or even assume that the next generation is not going to be interested in it.

We must do everything to pass on these traditions to our next generations. If language if the only barrier, we must work to overcome it. It might be my ignorance, but I am not sure if there are English versions of these prayers for the children that do not know Malayalam.

Also, the great Lent is the time to build the character of our next generation to share and care for others. They must pray and help their less fortunate friends who are orphans and helpless.

In addition to our families, our Sunday schools and other spiritual organization's must take a proactive approach in passing on these valuable traditions to the next generation. We have to be positive in our thoughts that the next generation will be interested in these. It does not hurt to give it to try. I am sure our children will appreciate receiving these traditions.

Two years ago, at our Sunday school at St. Gregorios Church, Austin, TX, we created a guide called the Great Lent guide with some special lent prayers translated into English and made it interesting to the kids by adding activities for them every day of the 50 days of the Great Lent. We also used this guide to make them aware of the orphanages our church has. Each day was assigned to a charitable organization, and the kids would pay for them on that day. The children were really interested and excited to use this guide and hence we again did the same last year. The point that I'm trying to make here is that if we spend the energy and effort to make it interesting and informative for them, they will surely appreciate it.

If anyone is interested, please feel free to download this guide from our website [ ] under the title 'The Great Lent Guide'. There are no copyrights, nor do we need any acknowledgments. Please feel free to change the church name as you need. A generation that strongly believes in our rich traditions and embraces the culture of caring and sharing is the biggest acknowledgment that one can ever dream of. May this Great lent help us
get closer to Jesus.

Rajesh Vargheese
Austin, TX

(ICON repost from 2007)

Friday, January 25, 2008

H.H. Moran Mar Baselius Marthoma Mathews II in memories

H.H. Moran Mar Baselius Marthoma Mathews II in memories

January 26, 2008 marks the second anniversary since H.H.Moran Mor Baselius Marthoma Mathews II, the Catholicose of the East, the 89th successor to the Apostolic throne of St. Thomas and the 6th Catholicose in Malankara Orthodox Church joined the creator after finishing his mission on this earth.

HH was a great orator and possessed vast knowledge in many areas. On this day, we remember HH through his golden words through a documentary 'Thirumozhikal'.

Thirumozhikal is a documentary featuring the words of H.H. Moran Mar Baselius Marthoma Mathews II and was created by CROSS (Christian Revival for Saving Souls) Media.
Special thanks to John Thomas, CROSS Media, Dubai for this wonderful compilation and many other Christian productions.

Rajesh Vargheese

Sunday, July 15, 2007

40th day: Memories of H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius

40th Day: Memories of H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius

Today is the 40th day since we came in terms with the heart breaking and unbelievable tragedy. As we remember thirumeni's contributions to this church, we must continue to pray for thirumeni's soul and work towards making his dreams a reality.

His life was a life of prayer and service to the poor. Here are some of the precious moments as we remember him on his 40th day.

[Note: Please click the play button on the player to start the slide show.]

Rajesh Vargheese

Saturday, July 14, 2007

An Interview with H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius: English text

An Interview with H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius: English text

Recently many individuals and churches have requested us for the download option for the interview with H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius. We have worked with the people who have approached us with this request. If anyone else wanted it and could not contact us, we would like to let everyone know that the download option is enabled and if any one wishes to download, feel free to do so.

The purpose of the interview was to create awareness about Idukki among the people. This interview also gives a clear idea of thirumeni's values, focus and vision. Hence, feel free to link this interview to your websites, download, edit or use the interview in any form as long as it is inline with the purpose. There are no copyrights or credits required.

Even though thirumeni was one of the youngest bishops, his values and visions are valuable guides for us in the future. To spread the vision of thirumeni to a larger audience, we have translated the interview to English text. We hope this will enable our younger generation to learn more about the visions of thirumeni. The English text of the interview is available at

You can also reach this through the common page that contains the information about thirumeni. We will continue to add more information on this page in the days to come. If you would like to link this page, please feel free to do so. Also if you have information or resources
on thirumeni, please send us your link. We will be glad to link your page to this page. The page is located at

May his values and visions become a reality in the near future.

Rajesh Vargheese

Monday, July 2, 2007

TID-6: Idukki Diocese and IOC: What did we do right?

TID-6: Idukki Diocese and IOC: What did we do right?

As we learned earlier, Idukki diocese had its share of 'good days' and 'not so good days'. IOC has spent lot of effort towards the faithful of Idukki diocese. IOC gets a lot of credit for the good days of Idukki diocese. We will look at some of the things that IOC did for the betterment of the people for Idukki diocese.

The visionaries of IOC were the first ones to think about the faithful of Idukki. This led IOC to walk into Idukki and be the first denomination to setup a diocese in Idukki to care for the faithful of Idukki. To venture into a terrain to serve the poor people of Idukki without being pulled back by the challenges was one the greatest acts of Christian love.

IOC appointed a very capable leader (H.G. Barnabas thirumeni) to establish its diocese in Idukki. The disciple and service mentality of its leadership helped make the right choices for Idukki diocese. As we saw earlier, this action triggered great development of the Idukki
diocese in the early days.

With IOC's organizational structure and resource sharing model, IOC provided all the help needed for Idukki diocese in its early days. IOC provided support from neighboring diocese in the form of clergy and other resources.

IOC has always provided assistance to Idukki diocese to sustain the salaries of priests belonging to churches that could not afford their salary share.

The mission society has provided small grants to Idukki diocese from its Mission Sunday collections even though there were no organizations operated by the mission society.

IOC has provided help to build churches and sustain maintenance of the churches from the Catholicate day collection and from the Devalokam account.

IOC has responded to emergencies that have occurred in Idukki. When a church had collapsed due to rain, IOC did provide a major helping hand in the reconstruction of the church.

IOC also has been proactive in ensuring the long term growth needs of Idukki diocese. To balance the inequalities of the standards of education, IOC has quotas for each diocese in its admission process to the Seminary. These have ensured that Idukki has priests from among
its own people.
During the term of the previous H.H Bava thirumeni, a thirusheshipu of Parumala thirumeni was setup in Puttady. This attracts thousands of faithful to this place and thereby helped retain the faithful.

IOC selected peermedu as one of its locations to setup an IOC run Engineering College. This definitely has a positive impact on the local economy and provides more job and educational opportunities.

Lately, IOC appointed another very capable metropolitan (H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius) to take over the administration of Idukki. This was prompted a revival of Idukki from its 'not so good days'. IOC continues to shoulder its responsibility to Idukki through the

Apart from the things that IOC directly did, the IOC churches across the world have been a major source of help for the diocese.

The list goes on. IOC does get lot of credits for the good things that it has done in Idukki.

To be continued…

Next Article: TID-7: ID: What could we have done better: The Discontinuous Leadership?

Rajesh Vargheese

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

1 day to Mission Sunday: Pray, Preach, Participate

1 day to Mission Sunday: Pray, Preach, Participate

In the last few days, we looked at the multi dimensions of the Indian Orthodox Mission. Over the years, the IOC mission has done so much that the articles on the dimensions can continue for many days.

We are a day away from Mission Sunday. Today instead of looking at what the IOC mission has done, we will look at what we can do for the IOC mission during this year's Mission Sunday.

Clearly, Sanjoy's earlier mail sheds light on what we could do. This Sunday, we can do at least three things for the mission.

1. Pray: The IOC mission would have been no were without the grace of the Heavenly father. It's our responsibility to pray for IOC's mission that Heavenly father will give us everything that's needed to take this mission to greater heights. Pray for the selfless leaders like HG
Osthathios thirumeni and Very Rev. Philip rambachen and the many unsung heroes who have toiled their lives for this mission and continues to be a part of this mission. Pray for our missionaries.
Pray for the needy.

2. Preach, learn and educate: Almost all our clergy have a very good understanding of our mission. They must preach the importance of this day and the mission to their church members. There might be something about the mission that we know. We must educate some one who does know that. There might something about the mission that we do not know. We must take the efforts to learn it. The greatest focus must be on the children. Parents must educate them about the importance of the day and the mission. We must communicate to them how the offertory of this Sunday is being used and how it helps to reach out to the needy. We
must create the awareness about the needs of the world and how the church is trying to reach out through our organizations.

3. Participate: We saw the multi dimensions of the IOC mission. To sustain such a mission needs the participation of everyone. There are many ways to be a part of the mission. Even if we did not go the mission fields, we still can be a part of the mission. The mission that preaches the teaching of Jesus also believes in the value of the 'widows 2 cents'. Hence, it is not at all difficult for anyone to participate in it. With what ever you have you can support the mission
in your own ways. If you are convinced about the need of such a mission, on mission Sunday we can be a part of the mission by supporting these initiatives through the Mission Sunday cover
collection. The three questions we must ask ourselves on Mission Sunday are:
a. Did I Participate?
b. Did my family participate?
c. Did my church participate?

The greatest encouragement for the people working for the mission field would probably be to know that every one of the 25 lakh people participate in the mission and are behind them.

If we do our part, there is no doubt that the IOC mission will reach greater heights in the future and will continue to be the source of hope for many.

Rajesh Vargheese

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

2 days to Mission Sunday: Natural calamities and Disasters

2 days to Mission Sunday: Natural Calamities and Disasters

Today, we will look at yet another dimension of IOC's mission
initiatives: Natural calamities and disaster relief and rebuilding.

The IOC's mission has always been in the forefront during almost all
major natural calamities and disaster relief and rebuilding.

In 1977, after the aftermath of the killer cyclone in Andhra Pradesh,
IOC's mission took over the charge of rebuilding 2 villages.

In 1999, yet another killer cyclone hit Orissa. IOC responded by
building over 200 concrete houses for the cyclone affected people.

In 2001, IOC also has done a commendable job after the Gujarat earth
quake by building 88 houses in Ajpar village of Kuch District.

In 2004, the IOC mission society and the National Relief Service of
Orthodox Church (NARSOC) joined hands together and did a commendable
job in building 40 homes in Kerala for the tsunami affected people. It
also did provide assistance in Tamilnadu and Andaman.

IOC is blessed with people like HG Osthathios thirumeni and Very Rev.
Philip rambachen who have been few of the many who have made IOC's
mission a multi dimensional source of hope for many.

Rajesh Vargheese

Monday, June 25, 2007

3 days to Mission Sunday: Kalahandi Development Project

3 days to Mission Sunday: Kalahandi Development Project

During the last few days, we have been looking at the different
dimensions of IOC's mission initiatives.

On day 6, we saw how IOC's mission initiatives address the current day
killer diseases. On day 5, we saw how IOC's mission initiatives
addressed the yesterday's killer diseases.

Today we will look at another dimension of IOC's mission initiatives:
an initiative to address something that we all take for granted: food.
While diseases take many lives, that is not the only cause. There are
causes that are hard to comprehend. One such cause is a man loosing
life due to the lack of food. In its efforts to fight hunger in a
place where people die of hunger, IOC launched the Kalahandi
development project.

Kalahandi has been in the headlines many times for drought and
starvation. People die here because of starvation. It is sometimes
referred to as the 'Somalia of India'.

Long time ago, there was an article in 'The Hindu' newspaper about the
people of Kalahandi and how they prepare for the drought season. As
the drought approaches, they start to eat less and less every day, so
that their stomachs can adjust to the season. And when they do not
have any food, they are forced to fast. For these people, fast is not
a choice, but a harsh reality of life.

IOC mission operates a hospital (BMP Mission hospital) and four
satellite dispensaries. It also operates a balagram in Attamguda which
is the home for 30 boys.

Kalahandi Development Project
BMP Mission Hospital, Uditnarayanpur P.O.
(Via) Bhavanipatanm Kalahandi Dist.
Orissa 766001
Phone: 06670-231099

ICON Archives on Kalahandi Development Project

Rajesh Vargheese

Sunday, June 24, 2007

4 days to Mission Sunday: An Unique Mission Sunday

4 days to Mission Sunday: An Unique Mission Sunday

Every year, the first Sunday of July is designated as the mission
Sunday. This year it falls on July 1st. This year's mission Sunday
also shares the day with two other important days.

July 1st is also the birthday of H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius thirumeni.
Thirumeni was born on July 1st, 1955. It is also the day that marks
the completion of the second anniversary of thirumeni taking charge as
the metropolitan of Idukki diocese. Thirumeni took charge of Idukki
diocese on July 1, 2005.

Even though the mission society does not have many projects directly
in Idukki diocese, H.G. Dionysius thirumeni was trying to make up for
the slack. On June 9th, 2007, thirumeni was planning to lay the
foundation stone of the first old age home in Idukki diocese.
Unfortunately, the events of June 6th left it uncompleted. We must
pray that this will become a reality in the near future.

The mission Sunday is the day that we pray for all the organizations,
not just the ones operated by the mission board. During this year's
mission Sunday, we must especially pray for Idukki diocese in addition
to all the other organizations. We must remember thirumeni and thank
Heavenly Father for furthering the mission of IOC in the most backward
areas of Idukki through thirumeni's hands.

Rajesh Vargheese

Saturday, June 23, 2007

5 days to Mission Sunday: St.Gregorios Balagram, Yacharam

5 days to Mission Sunday: St.Gregorios Balagram, Yacharam

The start of the reach out initiatives of IOC dates back long ago.
Today those organizations that were started decades ago are the
success stories of IOC's initiatives.

20 years ago, by the grace of Almighty God, and the vision of our
leaders, a bold step was taken in spite of inhibitions and
apprehensions to reach out to rehabilitate the children of leprosy
patients. Today, St.Gregorios balagram, Yacharam, Andra pradesh is the
home for 111 children of poor leprosy patients.

St.Gregorios Balagram
Nirmalgiri, Yacharam P.O
R.R. District, Andra Pradesh 501509

Phone: 841 424 3234
Email: ybalagram (without the space after @)

ICON Archives on St.Gregorios Balagram, Yacharam

Rajesh Vargheese

6 days to Mission Sunday: St. Gregorios Daya Bhavan, Kunigal

6 days to Mission Sunday: St. Gregorios Daya Bhavan, Kunigal

As we talk about AIDS, the name of our country comes up, as India have
the largest number of HIV infected people in the world. One in eight
people infected with HIV in the world resides in India and it accounts
to ~5.7 million people.

There are 6 states (Manipur, Nagaland, Andhra Pradesh, TamilNadu,
Karnataka and Maharashtra) that are very badly affected, with HIV/AIDS
prevalence rates greater than 1%.

IOC has always been on the forefront in the fight against killer
diseases. In the 80's IOC's mission fought against leprosy, today it
is fighting against AIDS. It has made the fight against AIDS a top
priority. We can see this in the mission statement of IOC that HG
Meletius thirumeni shared with us in this forum. Ref:

In its fight against AIDS, St.Gregorios Daya Bhavan is one of the
newest ventures of Malankara Orthodox Mission Board to care for the
children of AIDS patients. It is located at Bhaktarhalli, Kunigal
Town, 80 kms away from Bangalore.

St. Gregorios Daya Bhavan
No. 69, Vanighere Village
Bhaktharahalli P.O, (Via) Kunigal, Tumkur Dist
Karnataka - 572 120, India

Phone: 0816 320075

ICON Archives on Daya Bhavan and AIDS

Rajesh Vargheese

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

10 days to Mission Sunday: An Interview with H.G. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios

10 days to Mission Sunday

We are 10 days away from July 1st, the Mission Sunday. On that Sunday,
we read the kalpana of one of the greatest living assets of IOC, H.G.
Geevarghese Mar Osthathios Thirumeni. On that Sunday, we have special
prayers for the needy, the missions across the country and people
working to serve the needy.

It's hard to imagine what the IOC mission would look like if it was
not molded and perfected by H.G. Osthathios Thirumeni. Thirumeni has
been the strongest voice and the torch bearer of IOC's reach out
initiatives. Thirumeni is the president of the Mission board of the
Indian Orthodox Church (IOC). He is equally accepted across religions
as the champion of social justice. Thirumeni is the founder of the
mission training center of IOC. Thirumeni's hands and his mission have
reached the underprivileged of the society and has spanned from
Pudupaddy, Kerala to Kalahandi, Orissa.

His vision for IOC is probably the closest to his creator's will: a
church focused in reaching out to the needy. Even though he resigned
as the metropolitan of Niranam diocese, he continues to work as the
president of the mission board, keeping the focus of IOC's mission in
perspective to the greatest teaching of Jesus Christ. His values are
unique. His concern for the poor is divine. His achievements to reach
out are beyond words. He is priceless.

To know him, to hear his ideas, to share his dream of a true church of
Christ, we would like to share an informal interview with H.G.
Geevarghese Mar Osthathios Thirumeni. Please visit

Thirumeni has been very vocal in many of the answers during the
interview. The answers might sound strange to us when we hear it for
the first time. The reason for it is that we probably are so far away
from the place where Thirumeni wants to reach. Thirumeni wants social
justice. It's probably light years for us to reach there, but at least
as we can start. As thirumeni suggested, we can start with charity.
And again, we must listen to the interview by being in the shoes of a
person who has the frustration of starting a hospital, but unable to
run it because there are no doctors to serve, the frustration of
starting a training center, but no students to attend and many

On that Sunday, and everyday, pray for this great gift of God to IOC.
Pray for his long life. Pray that we get more leaders who share
thirumeni's values. Pray for the mission of Christ.

Rajesh Vargheese

Saturday, June 16, 2007

TID-5: Idukki Diocese of IOC: The rollercoaster over the last 25 years

TID-5: Idukki Diocese of IOC: The rollercoaster over the last 25 years

I am sure the tone of the last article (the golden era) does not match
with the initial tone for the series (the financially backward). One
can ask if the start was considered 'golden' why we have ended in this
state. Where did we go off track?

To understand the current state of Idukki diocese, we have to look at
the last 25 years of its existence as Idukki diocese. Based on ups and
downs, the 25 years can be divided into three time periods.

1. The Golden Era: (1982-1992): This is the time period under the
leadership of H.G. Barnabas thirumeni. This time period extends from
the formation of Idukki diocese to the time when H.G. Barnabas
thirumeni left the Idukki diocese to take his new assignment. As seen
in the previous article, this period saw that foundation of Idukki
diocese being laid. The emphasis was on creating congregations,
building churches in the most rural and financially challenged areas
thereby creating the opportunity for people to receive the body and
blood of Christ.

2. The Blackout era: (1992-2005): This is the time period in which
there was no permanent full time metropolitan to lead Idukki diocese.
A time that the people of Idukki was abandoned like the lost sheep
without a Shepard. In the absence of a good administration, Idukki
diocese started to decay in all respects. The weaknesses in
administration led to the weakness in spiritual growth. When IOC's
concern for the people of Idukki dipped lower than the lowest
standards, we started loosing people to other denominations. Our
churches started to shrink. We lost the momentum that H.G. Barnabas
thirumeni had painstakingly accomplished. We will discuss specific
details in later articles.

3. The Revitalizing era: (2005-till date): The time period under the
leadership of H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius, the current metropolitan of
Idukki diocese. After many years of wandering as the lost sheep,
heavenly father answered the prayers of the people of Idukki. A
vibrant Shepard at last took over the ruins of Idukki diocese and
started his journey in search of the lost sheep. The Shepard had a
very clear focus: regain the lost glory of Idukki diocese and reach
out to the lost sheep by providing them all assistance for their
spiritual growth. The Shepard worked and continues to work feverishly
towards this goal. His efforts started to revitalize Idukki diocese
once again. The decay of Idukki came to an end, new life started to
emerge. At last the people of Idukki diocese saw a ray of hope.

One of the greatest blessings that heavenly father has showered on IOC
is in the form of its recovery from the deep downs to greater heights
during the most difficult times. In the next few articles, we will
look at why we had a roller coaster ride over the last 25 years and
the role of IOC in the 'good' and 'not so good days' of Idukki

To be continued…

Next Article: TID-6: Idukki Diocese and IOC: What did we do right?

Rajesh Vargheese

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

TID-4: Idukki Diocese of IOC: The Genesis

TID-4: Idukki Diocese of IOC: The Genesis

The Idukki diocese of the IOC was formed in 1982, within 10 years
after the birth of Idukki district. The IOC had an early start in
Idukki being the first denomination to setup a diocese in Idukki to
care for the faithful of Idukki.

The challenges of the terrains, weather, the lack of infrastructure
and the labor pains of being the first denomination to reach out did
not deter the first metropolitan of Idukki, H.G Mathews Mar Barnabas
thirumeni from walking miles and miles to lay the foundation of Idukki
diocese. The simplicity and capabilities of thirumeni was a perfect
fit for Idukki and its people. Though many others looking from outside
were upset to see thirumeni traveling in the local buses, thirumeni
had one aim in mind: the betterment and the spiritual growth of the
people of Idukki.

The time that H.G Barnabas thirumeni was the metropolitan of Idukki
diocese was probably the golden era of Idukki. Thirumeni built
churches in remote places for people who could have never done it
otherwise due to their financial challenges. Thirumeni gave the
spiritual and organizational structure for the Idukki diocese. Apart
from the churches, and a small aramana (along with the chapel) that
were established in Idukki, thirumeni started a mission hospital for
treating the poor patients. This is still the only charitable
initiative of IOC to this date in Idukki.

The greatness of H.G Barnabas thirumeni is in the fact that even after
he left the Idukki diocese, he continues to shoulder the Idukki
diocese by funding them to make more things happen. Many of the
churches in Idukki have only one or two Sunday services a month.
Thirumeni's dream is to increase the number of services in these
churches every month. For churches that have only one service a month,
thirumeni helps to make it twice a month and so on.

The people of Idukki have great respect for H.G Barnabas thirumeni to
this day for his selfless efforts in Idukki. [The good words that I am
writing about H.G Barnabas thirumeni should not be mistaken as
'sugaring' of our diocesan bishop (American diocese).] These
impressions and words are not based on stage speakers, but are based
on the feelings of the local people. I want to highlight one specific
observation that I made during casual talks with people of Idukki.
Even though the people of Idukki are very happy with their current
bishop (H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius), and have great words for his
initiatives, they rarely talk about Idukki's achievements without
mentioning the name of H.G Barnabas thirumeni. They never seem to
forget the great work thirumeni started 25 years ago.

The genesis of Idukki will not be complete without mentioning the
people who worked tirelessly along with thirumeni, the clergy from
kottayam who traveled all the way to Idukki to take care of the
spiritual needs of the people of Idukki and everyone who helped
nurture the Idukki diocese in its early days.

All in all, a great start for the Idukki diocese of IOC.

To be continued…

Next Article: TID-5: Idukki Diocese: The rollercoaster over the last 25 years

Rajesh Vargheese

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Idukki Diary (TID): Continuing the Series after the Sunset

The Idukki Diary (TID): Continuing the Series after the Sunset

The primary goal of 'The Idukki Diary' (TID) series was to create
awareness about the challenges of Idukki diocese. Until article 3 of
the series, we had a vibrant Shepard who was aggressively working for
the betterment of Idukki Diocese. All we had to do was to support him
and strengthen his arms to reach farther goals. We had the hope that
as long as we do our part, Idukki diocese surely would become the
'Success story of IOC'.

In the past, Idukki diocese has been at the crossroads of success and
failures multiple times. And at these crossroads, we had taken the
road of success at times and the roads of failures at other times. To
give us the bigger picture, I had articles (article 5 and later) in
the series that looks at both sides of the coin on how Idukki diocese
was treated by us at times in the past.

I am sure at least some might not like the critic viewpoint; but I
want to assure you that there are reasons why the articles would be
vocal on our small failures in addition to our success moments. The
reasons were

1. To get a clear perspective of the state of Idukki diocese that H.G.
Augen Mar Dionysius thirumeni inherited and why such a situation had

2. To acknowledge the sacrifices that thirumeni made while accepting
the role of the Metropolitan of Idukki diocese and how our efforts
were needed to sustain his role.

3. To funnel more effort and focus from all angles to make up for the
neglect of Idukki diocese over the years.

4. To understand the development that has occurred in Idukki during
the last few years and how we can keep it going.

On June 06, 2007, Idukki diocese had its greatest shock of its
lifetime. The modern day Architect of Idukki diocese, H.G. Augen Mar
Dionysius passed away leaving behind a lot of unfulfilled dreams for
Idukki diocese. The sun had set on Idukki.

Never ever did I think that we would be at the crossroads of success
and failures once again so quickly. Never even in my dreams, did I
ever think of a situation where thirumeni was not there to keep the
wheels of Idukki rolling.

And at this moment, I believe we probably want to add one more aim to
our list: to avoid repeating our journey on the roads of failure by
not making the right decision at the crossroads.

We have a responsibility to keep the wheels of Idukki rolling and
realizing the dreams of thirumeni. We and especially our leadership
must be sensitive to the needs of Idukki and must execute on the
vision that thirumeni had for the Idukki diocese.

As we are currently breathing through the moments of decision making,
I would like to bring the challenges of Idukki diocese quickly through
the 'The Idukki Diary' series. The series would appear more frequently
that its current frequency of a week. I request everyone to join the
discussion and to be the voice of Idukki. For those who tuned in late,
the archives of TID part 1-3 are available in the ICON archives or at

The series would continue with the assumption that thirumeni is
running the show in Idukki because as soon as we take him out of the
picture, many things might not hold true. Also the words on thirumeni
were based on the true impressions I had written when he was alive and
is not based on the emotions after he passed away.

It's our humble request to everyone to be the voice of Idukki in your
own positions. Please provide feedback to your leaders so that we can
quickly find bishops to take over the wonderful work of thirumeni and
steer it to completion.

Thirumeni was a perfect fit for Idukki diocese. It might be difficult,
but not impossible to find a replacement for the leadership of Idukki
diocese. If we look at the characteristics of the ideal fit for the
leader of Idukki diocese, it is really interesting. It is not the
'education' that people look for, but it is the 'empathy' that the
people look for. It is not the 'Doctorate' that matters, but it is the
'Down to earth Service' that matters. It is not the 'Theology' that
you work with, but it is the 'Tears of the poor' that you work with.

It's extremely important for the IOC leadership to act quickly in
appointing the right leadership for Idukki diocese. If we don't do the
right things, we will inherit one more Ankamaly diocese. If we do the
right things, we will continue to have the Idukki diocese of
2005-2007. The choice is obvious, but where we end up will be decided
by the actions of our leadership.

May the prayers of Dionysius thirumeni and his sacrifices guide us in
these crucial moments. May heavenly father give our leaders the needed
strength to overcome all challenges.

Rajesh Vargheese

Sunday, June 10, 2007

H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius: The Long Lasting Tribute

H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius: The Long Lasting Tribute

On June 06, 2007, H.G. Augen Mar Dionysius thirumeni, the metropolitan
of Idukki diocese completed his mission and joined HIS heavenly
father. During his lifetime he dedicated himself to HIS Heavenly
Father's will and served the poor. He lived serving the poor and he
died serving the poor.

On June 07, 2007, the land of Valikattu became blessed once again to
be the resting place of yet another great spiritual father of our
church. Thousands from all walks of life poured in to pay the last
respect to thirumeni.

Thirumeni was a great visionary. As part of his vision for Idukki
diocese, he had many dreams in line with his creators will. He had
started aggressively on many of these dreams. The untimely departure
of thirumeni has left many of his dreams for Idukki diocese

The tribute to thirumeni must not end with the wreaths and the
incense. The true long lasting tribute to thirumeni is to celebrate
his life: a life of prayer and service to the poor and to execute his
dreams that he had for the betterment of the people of Idukki diocese.
The wheels of Idukki must continue to roll. The greatest disgrace to
thirumeni would be for us to abandon the great work that he had

Though he might not be with us physically, he is always with us in
spirits. We have his prayers; we need our efforts to see that his
vision of Idukki becomes a reality. The greatest tribute to thirumeni
is for each of us to pitch in to help in our own ways to realize the
dreams that thirumeni had for Idukki.

May all of us be inspired by his life and service and subject
ourselves to will of almighty father to serve the poor and the needy.
May his prayers guide us.

Rajesh Vargheese

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The 30 days to Mission Sunday

The 30 days to Mission Sunday

Indian Orthodox Church (IOC) has always been a strong proponent of
embracing the greatest teaching of Christ. Its mission to reach out to
the needy has touched many hearts and continues to do so everyday.
Under the leadership of H.G. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios thirumeni, the
mission of IOC has grown tremendously over the years and has been the
source of hope to many. Thirumeni's hands and his mission have reached
the underprivileged of the society and has spanned from Puthupaddy to

In its efforts to spread the awareness of its mission in serving the
neediest of the societies, IOC has designated the first Sunday of July
as the Mission Sunday. On this day, special prayers are held for the
needy, the missions across the country and people working to serve the

This year, Mission Sunday will be observed on July 1st. We are 30 days
away from Mission Sunday. Every one of us is a missionary of IOC. We
must help each other understand our mission and its challenges. On
Mission Sunday, when we pray, we must have a clear understanding of
what we are praying for. The next 30 days is the time for us to help
each other understand our mission better.

In line with this need, it's my humble request to all thirumeni's,
achen's and the entire ICON community to write articles related to the
mission of our church. As some one wrote in the forum earlier that
opinions are free here, we need yours. If you do not know anything
related to the mission, please post your questions. I am sure someone
will provide the answers to the questions. If you live close one of
these organizations operated by the mission society, please share the
stories and how these have influenced people. Share your ideas on what
you would like to see the church and individuals do to further the
mission focus of our church.

If H.G. Osthathios thirumeni in his 88th year can work so hard to
reach out as far as Kalahandi, we at least can lend our ears and our
hands to share the good work with our fellow Christians across the

Let this 30 days make us more aware about our church's reach out initiatives.

Rajesh Vargheese

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

TID-3: Our Perception of Idukki: The Paradoxes and the Realities

TID-3: Our Perception of Idukki: The Paradoxes and the Realities

In the previous article, we glanced through a lot of positive things
about Idukki. Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. There are
many paradoxes that could change our perception of Idukki.

Even though Idukki is the largest district of Kerala, 97% of its area
is covered by rugged mountains and forests. 50% of Idukki is reserved
forests. Only 4.5% of the land is considered mid land (20-100m above
sea level). The terrain and weather has its own challenges for its

Even though Idukki produces 66% of the power needs of Kerala, only
35.8% of the houses in Idukki have electricity.

Even though Idukki is a favorite tourist spot, it is only accessible
through roads. It does not have rail or air link. There are places in
Idukki that are not even accessible through roads. Idukki lacks the
infrastructure needed for the development of industries. These include
electricity, communications and transportation nightmares.

Majority of the people of Idukki migrated to Idukki in search of jobs
in the plantations and other construction sectors. (ex. dams) The
major cause of the backwardness results from the slowdown of the
economy due to the drop in prices of produces and commodities. This in
turn made plantations less profitable. The drop in prices of produces
resulted in the closing down of small and medium size tea factories.
The closing down of factories resulted in the lack of employment
opportunities in the plantations and its factories leaving many people
unemployed. Currently, if you travel through the terrains of Idukki,
you can see rusted and broken buildings of tea factories all along.
The big ones still survive. The owners of the small factories
abandoned their factories and have divided the tea plantations into
extremely small plots and handed over it to the workers for harvesting
the crop. They pluck these tea leaves and sell it to the other
factories. This is probably the lifeline that's keeping their kids get
their meals every day.

The limited educational opportunities, distance to these institutions
and lack of transportation add up to the long term under development
of the Idukki.

While Idukki is the perfect spot for vacations, life is a challenge
for the local people of Idukki. As factories closed and education and
employment facilities decreased, many people migrated out of Idukki.
Majority of the people who are left there are the people who are
either very well off (a very small percentage) or the people who do
not have any other place to go. And it's the state of their churches
and living realities that we read in the Orthodox Herald article
'Karuna thedunna devalayangal'.

All in all, if our perceptions are based on our few days of
vacationing in Idukki, there is a high chance that our perception
could be far different from the harsh realities. And by now we
probably have an answer to the question I had in the previous article
(How can Idukki be financially backward?).

Yes, based on all the challenges that we saw, Idukki can be a
financially backward place and the reality is that Idukki is a
financially backward place.

To be continued…

Next Article: TID-4: Idukki Diocese of IOC: The Genesis

Rajesh Vargheese

Sunday, May 20, 2007

TID-2: History, Geography, Economics and our Perception of Idukki

TID-2: History, Geography, Economics and our Perception of Idukki

The first time when I heard Idukki was 'financially backward'; I
wondered how could a land so rich in natural beauty, tourism, hydro
electric power and plantations be poor.

Our perceptions of a place depend mostly on what we commonly hear and
see. The good news is that Idukki has so many positive traits (natural
beauty, vacation spots and so on) and our perception is that it is
wonderful place. The not so good news is that the positive traits mask
many of the challenges and the hardships of the people. (poverty, lack
of education and so on). We will first look at the perceptions that
give a positive impression about Idukki. Later we will look at the
paradoxes in the next article.

Even though Idukki district was only formed in 1972, the modern
history of Idukki tracks back to the late 18th century with the advent
of the European planters. Historically, people migrated from other
places of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in search of jobs in the plantation.

Geographically, Idukki is the largest district of Kerala and accounts
for 12.9% area of Kerala. Idukki shares its boundaries with developed
districts such as Kottayam and Ernakulam. Idukki is not a densely
populated district. It accounts for only 3.7 % population of Kerala.

Idukki is a district blessed with natural beauty of the high ranges,
valleys and plantations. Thekkady, Munnar, Vagamon are few among the
best tourist destinations in Kerala that is located in the Idukki

Idukki is a well suited place for the agriculture of tea, cardamom,
pepper, coconut and rubber. Agriculture is the main occupation of the
people of Idukki. Famous for its tea plantations and spices, there are
many tea factories.

Idukki is known as the power house of Kerala. 66% of the power needs
of Kerala come from the eight hydroelectric power plants in Idukki.
The Idukki dam is the largest arch dam in Asia.

With all these positive traits, one would ask a question: How can
Idukki be financially poor?

To be continued…

Next Article: TID-3: Our Perception of Idukki: The Paradoxes and the Realities

Rajesh Vargheese

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Idukki Diary: Understanding the Challenges of Idukki Diocese

The Idukki Diary: Understanding the Challenges of Idukki Diocese

Idukki diocese is one among the 25 dioceses of the Indian Orthodox
Church (IOC). Formed in 1982, the IOC's Idukki dream saw a great
momentum in its early days during the time of H.G. Barnabas thirumeni.
Today, even though the diocese is celebrating its 25th year of
existence, it always had the ill fame of being the 'most financially
backward diocese'. It's hard to imagine that IOC which is known for
its mission and reaching out culture would have such a diocese and 25
years of its attempts to elevate it has seen a slower than expected
success rate.

One of the main reasons of its backwardness is the lack of awareness
among the people about the challenges faced by the people of Idukki
and its diocese.

In the recent times, there have been serious efforts to bring
awareness among the people about the challenges of Idukki. This series
is indebted to the Orthodox herald (OH) and the ICON forum for
kindling our curiosity to understand the challenges of Idukki. The
Orthodox herald article 'Karuna thedunna devalayangal' was probably
the starting point of the modern media awareness of the harsh
realities of Idukki diocese. In addition to the OH initiatives, ICON
has made true strides in bringing the issues of Idukki Diocese to
light. Thanks to all the writers and readers of ICON for reaching out
to the needs of Idukki.

This series is an attempt to build on these awareness initiatives to
bring the challenges of Idukki diocese closer to us. Most of the data
is based on the information from the local people, clergy and the
metropolitan of Idukki diocese. I realize that the sample of people
interviewed for the data is extremely small, and hence if I overlook
view points or present incorrect information/comments or inferences,
please feel free to correct me (with references) as I am open to
learning the facts.

All articles will be tagged with prefix TID (The Idukki Diary). In
addition to the ICON archives, the series will be available at

In addition to the awareness, the prayers of many, the presence of a
strong administration under the leadership of H.G Augen Mar Dionysius
(the current metropolitan of Idukki diocese) and the helping hand of
many churches across the globe, there has been a revitalized effort by
IOC to address the challenges of Idukki diocese. While this is a great
start after a break, the momentum must continue. Our ultimate goal
must be to erase the ill fame tag of 'the most financially backward
diocese' and replace it with 'Idukki diocese: the IOC success story'.

To be continued…

Next Article: TID-2: History, Geography, Economics and our Perception of Idukki

Rajesh Vargheese

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bible Quiz questions and answers from the prayer meeting (March 17, 2007)

1.  At which hour did Jesus cry out "Eli, Eli, La-ma sa-bach-tha-ni? 

     Ninth hour

2.  Who owned tomb in which Jesus was kept for 3 days?


3.  Who rolled the stone closing Jesus' tomb? 


4.  Annunciation to St.Mary is celebrated on which day?

     March 25

5.  Who was sitting at the tax office when Jesus called for a greater service?

     Levi/St. Matthew

6.  Who is the ruler of the demons?


7.  Which group believed there is no resurrection? 


8.  How many women are mentioned in the genealogy of Christ?


9.  How many chapters in the book of St. Matthew?


10.  Which chapter did Elsa mention in her speech about the last supper?

         St. Matthew 26:26

GE: March Prayer Meeting Message Summary: by Allen Vargheese and family

The message was based on Acts 3:1-10: Miracle of healing a lame man by Peter & John


Summary of the passage: A lame man at the gate of the temple asks Peter & John for alms. In the name of Jesus Christ, Peter gave a hand to the lame man and lifted him and he was healed. He goes along with Peter and John to the temple that we could never enter and praises the lord.


The message focuses on the four characteristics of lame man. 


1. His problem


He was stuck at the gate and was unable to go inside the church.


He sees others getting blessing but not for his problem.


His foundation was not strong.


In our life, we get stuck in life when things dont go as planned. Satan keeps pulling us back.


St. Luke 22:31

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

Simon was pulled by Satan, so he will us.


Example of problems in life: Un-forgiveness, Alcoholics


2 Cor 10:4

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;




2. His position


He is lying in front of a beautiful gate. He represents an ugly problem in front of Beautiful gate


Ex. of such situations in life: A Beautiful home (family) with an ugly problem (Alcohol addiction)


He was so close to the temple, but could never enter it. So even though he was so close, he was so far.


He could see others getting the blessings, but he could not get a blessing. His position could be the source of disappointment.


His position had lot of problems



3. His progression


He was begging at the beginning, but when Peter gave a hand and he was healed.


He progressed from a lame man to a cured man

He progressed from a waiting at the gate to entering the temple

He progressed from begging to praise the lord.


Lesson: In the name of Jesus, many things change. His problems vanish with the helping hand of Jesus.



4. His praise


When he was cured in the name of Jesus, he went to the temple and thanked God


Our foundation must be strengthened in the name of Jesus



How did people remember the 9th hour ?

1. The chief hours of prayer for the Jews were the third and ninth. Ninth hour corresponds to the evening sacrifices.


2. It was the very hour in which Jesus had died on the cross. And hence it has significance for Christians to offer the sacrifice in the temple.




Allen, Jisa & Rajesh