Dr Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan (89), the supreme head of the Mar Thoma Church and India’s voice in the global ecumenical movements, has passed away. He breathed his last at 2.40 on Sunday morning. Dr Geevarghese Mar Theodosius Suffragan Metropolitan, Thomas Mar Timotheos and church secretary Rev K.G. Joseph were present at the time of his death.
He was the Metropolitan of Mar Thoma Church for 13 years. The decision on the funeral will be taken after the synod.
The Metropolitan was undergoing treatment at the Believers Medical College Hospital in Thiruvalla for the past few days after his health condition deteriorated due to pancreatic cancer. His health had worsened in the past week. The anointing service was held last Monday at the request of the Metropolitan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of the Metropolitan.
Dr Joseph Mar Irenaeus became Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church on October 2, 2007, following the resignation of Metropolitan Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom due to health reasons.
Joseph Mar Thoma was a leading church leader in the country, who was at the forefront of the struggle against social evils, in the field of charity and in church unity movements.
The Metropolitan, who brought about revolutionary changes in the church, devoted much of his life to the marginalised, including the homeless, the sick, the poor, the needy, the disabled, and transgender. He started the Prathyasa Bhavan in Pathanapuram and Jyothis in Mavelikkara for the disabled. He also launched the Navjeevan movement for children in Mumbai’s Red Street and a project to bring transgender people to the forefront.
The church’s project of 100 houses for flood victims is also an example of the Metropolitan’s kind heart. He also lifted the ban on women attending night meetings at the Maramon Convention. To this end, he also changed the schedule of the convention.
The Mar Thoma Metropolitan, who was earlier Joseph Mar Irenaeus Suffragan Metropolitan, was born on June 27, 1931, as P T Joseph, also known as Baby, to Lukose, the son of Maramon Palakunnathu Titus II Metropolitan’s brother Kadon Thomas, and Mariamma, of Maramon Puthoor House.
Palakkunnath Kadon Thomas P. Lukose of Maramon Convention Nagar, Karyadiyil Mariamma of Kattanam, Kirikattu Saro Rajan of Venmani are his siblings.
He was educated at Kozhencherry, Maramon, Aluva UC College, Bangalore UT College, Virginia Seminary, Wycliffe Oxford, St Augustine’s Canterbury, and received his doctorate from Virginia Seminary, Serampore University and Allahabad Agricultural University
Dr Joseph Marthoma, a member of Maramon Mar Thoma Parish, was ordained on June 29, 1957. He became a kasseessa (priest) on October 18, 1957, and Ramban on January 11, 1975.
He became Episcopa along with Easow Mar Timotheos, on February 8, 1975, Suffragan on March 15, 1999 and Metropolitan on October 2, 2007.
He was a Vicar of Ranni, Kozhikode, Kundara and Madras Parishes; travelling secretary of Mar Thoma Evangelical Association; held leadership and other positions in Kerala Council of Churches, National Council of Churches in India, Christian Conference of Asia, Asian Bishops’ Conference, World Council of Churches, Christian Agency for Social Action CSI-CNI, Mar Thoma Church United Committee and the Mar Thoma-Jacobite Dialogue.
He started Thiruvananthapuram Hospital and Guidance Centre, Thiruvananthapuram Marthoma Residential School, Ayur Marthoma College of Technology, Jubilee Mandiram, Kottarakkara, Anchal ITC and many other institutions.
He led a march in Delhi to defend the rights of Dalit Christians. He gained world attention with his participation and leadership in south Travancore development-missionary work, Hoskote-Ankola missionary work, Latur, Odisha, Gujarat, Bengal and Andhra Pradesh earthquake and flood relief operations, Tsunami relief operations and peace talks in Nagaland, Manipur, East Timor, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
He was a special invitee to the UN World Conference on Religions. It was also under his leadership that the Maramon Convention centenary silver jubilee became a historic event.