Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XIV) Palakunnathu

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About Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XIV) Palakunnathu

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mar_Athanasius

[edit] Entering the ministry

While still in school, he was ordained as a Semmasu (deacon) In 1858, and as a Kassessa (clergy) in 1859. Soon after returning from Madras in 1862, Rev. Thomas joined duty at the Maramon parish, in his home village. He was an orator and was very particular to give messages during worship services. People from nearby parishes used to come and attend his services and to listen to his messages. He asked the people to give their health, wealth and time to the benefit of others.

By this time the duties of Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan doubled and he needed the help of an assistant. So Rev.Thomas was transferred to Kottayam and took charge of certain duties of a Metropolitan.

Those who were loyal to Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan suggested to consecrate Rev. Thomas as a Metropolitan. Though he was reluctant at the beginning, due to the compulsion of the clergy and the people finally Metropolitan agreed.[3] On June 1, 1868, Mathews Mar Athenasius Metropolitan assisted by Joseph Mar Koorliose, Alathoorey, (1856-4888) of Malabar Independent Syrian Church ordained Rev. Thomas and was given the Episcopal title Thomas Mar Athanasius. He became the Metropolitan of Malankara Church after the demise of Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan on July 16, 1877.

Condition of the church in 1877

In June 1876 there was held a synod at Mulamthuruthi presided over by the Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Pathrose IV, who was on a visit to Malabar. This helped to tighten his hold over the Syrian Church in temporal as well as in spiritual affairs. Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan and his followers inspired by the reformation of the Church did not attend this synod.[4]

Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan followed in the footsteps of his predecessor. Two strong groups were in the church at this time. One owing allegiance to the Metropolitan and supported independence and purification of the church (called Metran Kakshi) and the other under the control of Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious II, (1833-1909) spearheading orthodoxy and subservience to Patriarch of Antioch (known as Bava Kakshi).

[edit] Litigation

Soon after Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan took charge as Metropolitan of the Church, Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious II, made a claim that he and the fellow trustees were the lawful owners of the Church and demanded the possession of the Seminary and control of the assets of the Church. Dionysius filed a case at Alappuzha civil court on March 4, 1879 (O.S.No.439 of 1054).

During the course of this litigation, Metropolitan was asked whether it was possible to take a decision according to the opinion of the majority. Metropolitan answered, “The Episcopal throne of Patriarch was the throne of St. Peter, while the throne of Malankara Church was that of St. Thomas. Malankara Church is as old as the Church in Antioch, equal in status, and both are independent. The land, where the Seminary stands, the funds and the materials were donated by the Government of Travancore to its subjects. So even if the majority agrees, it is not right to take away the land and property from them and give it away to foreigners.”[5][6]

In the final verdict two of the judges of the Royal court decided in favour of the defendants and Justice Ormsby decided in favour of the plaintiffs. Thus when the verdict was announced on July 12, 1889. Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan lost all the properties claims. The court verdict was only about the Church properties, and it mentioned that the consecration, the authority of Thomas Mar Athanasius as Metropolitan and the properties of the individual parishes were not under the jurisdiction of the court.[7].

Before announcing the verdict Maharaja of Travancore asked the Diwan (chief minister) to convene a meeting of both parties. Representing Metran Kakshi Mar Athanasius Metropolitan and Church trustee Punnathra Chandapillay Kathanar attended while Mar Dionysius and Mr. E.M.Philip represented the Bava Kakshi. Diwan informed them that, “When the verdict is announced one party will lose all their places of worship. So the winning party should allow the other Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious II, agreed to this reluctantly but Thomas Mar Athanasius refused.

Division of the church

After this verdict, Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan was driven out of Old Seminary.[8] All his belongings were thrown out of the room including the “Throne of St.Thomas,” the decorated chair that was used for the consecration of the head of Malanakara Church. This was the throne that was used when Mar Thoma I, was ordained in 1653.[9]

[edit] The two churches

The inevitable result of this verdict was that the church was divided into two. Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan became the head of the Metran Kakshi, while Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious II, became Malankara Metropolitan for the Bava Kakshi (the supporters of the Patriarch of Antioch).

When the Anglican missionaries (C.M.S.) formed a new church in 1878, they gave it the name C.M.S. Church. They called Malankara Church, Jacobite Church. But when the Church was again divided, they gave the name "Reformed Church" to the Metran Kakshi. Later, Jacobites adopted the name Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and Metran Kakshi adopted the name Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church or Mar Thoma Church.

[edit] Mar thoma church

It was during this most difficult period, the Church publication, Malankara Sabha Tharaka began in 1893. It guided the people in their study of the Bible, and explained the teachings of the Bible and of the church. Among all these great disappointments, Marthoma Evangelistic Association, the missionary wing of the Church was born. The first meeting was held on September 5, 1888 at Kallisseri. A clergy and eleven evangelists attended. Since then, this Evangelistic Association sent missionaries through out and into the world, with the support of all the Marthoma parishes. In 1895, it took charge of Maramon Convention and organized the first meeting on March 8, 1895, This lasted for ten days and was and still continues to support the missionary work of the Church. This Convention has grown to such an extent that it is now the greatest Christian gathering in Asia

Soon after this Metropolitan had a stroke and he died on August 10, 1893. He was laid to rest at Maramon Marthoma church. He was not able to consecrate his successor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulikkottil_Joseph_Mar_Dionysious_II

After the death of Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan, Thomas Mar Athanasius took charge as Metropolitan. Then Joseph Mar Dionysious II made a claim that he and the fellow trustees were the lawful owners of the Church and demanded the possession of the Seminary and control of the assets of the Church. Dionysius filed a case at Alappuzha civil court on March 4, 1879 (O.S.No.439 of 1054). In the final verdict announced on July 12, 1889. Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan lost all claims to the church properties. It mentioned that the consecration, the authority of Thomas Mar Athanasius as Metropolitan and the properties of the individual parishes were not under the jurisdiction of the court.[5]. So litigations for individual churches began.

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