THE SYRO-MALANKARA CATHOLIC CHURCH
MAJOR ARCHIEPISCOPAL CURIA
CATHOLICATE CENTRE, TRIVANDRUM - 695004, KERALA, INDIA
Fourteenth Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod
(22, 23 September 2013)
His Beatitude Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos convoked the Fourteenth Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church at the Blessed John Paul II Synod Hall of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia at the Catholicate Centre, Pattom, Trivandrum from 22 to 23 September 2013. The Holy Episcopal Synod (HES) began with the concelebrated Holy Qurbono led by Most Rev. Thomas Mar Koorilos, the Secretary of the Synod.
The members present at the Synod were: Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos (President of the Synod), Most Rev. Thomas Mar Koorilos (Secretary of the Synod), Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios, Most Rev. Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom, Most Rev. Joshua Mar Ignathios, Most Rev. Joseph Mar Thomas, Most Rev. Abraham Mar Julios, Most Rev. Vincent Mar Paulos, Most Rev. Jacob Mar Barnabas OIC, Most Rev. Thomas Mar Anthonios OIC, Most Rev. Samuel Mar Irenios and Most Rev. Philipos Mar Stephanos.
Most Rev. Thomas Mar Eusebius was absent. Most Rev. Joshua Mar Ignathios was absent at the first two sessions of the Synod. Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Timotheos, the Bishop Emeritus of Tiruvalla is granted permanent leave of absence due to his old age health conditions.
Most Rev. Thomas Mar Anthonios OIC, the Curia Bishop and the Chancellor of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia, recorded the minutes.
The First Session of the Synod began at 9 p.m. on 22 September 2013. At the outset, Most Rev. Thomas Mar Koorilos, the Secretary of the HES, congratulated His Beatitude Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, the President of the HES, on his appointment as Cardinal of the Universal Church on 24 October 2012. The Synod-in-Session was the first after this appointment. While he congratulated the new Cardinal, he also placed on record the gratitude of the HES towards Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and the Holy See for their great gesture of honour and recognition accorded to the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. His Grace also added that with this appointment the Father and Head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church has a participation in the Petrine Ministry in the Universal Church. It is a symbol of the complimentarity of the St. Thomas Apostolic tradition of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church with the Petrine Roman tradition. It is also the crowning and full recognition of the Reunion Movement initiated by the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios for the communion of the Malankara Church with the Catholic Church. His Grace also said that the presence of the representatives of the Christian denominations, the major religions of India, namely, Hindu and Islam, and the political parties of Kerala at the consistory of the new Cardinal at Vatican on 24 November 2013, as a consolidation of the friendly and ecumenical relationship the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church fosters in our country. He also thanked the Government of India for the official delegation sent to Vatican to participate at the consistory.
His Grace Mar Koorilos also congratulated Most Rev. Joshua Mar Ignathios, the Bishop of Mavelikara and the Eparchy of Mavelikara, who hosted the 83rd Reunion Day Celebrations. The celebrations were a success. It was a testimony of the presence of our Church in Mavelikara. The celebration has inspired the Faithful of our Church in their commitment to faith life. He also congratulated Mar Ignathios for the construction of the beautiful Cathedral that is now consecrated.
His Beatitude Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos, the President of the HES, delivered the opening message of the Holy Episcopal Synod. His Beatitude welcomed all the Bishops to the Fourteenth Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod. He thanked Most Rev. Thomas Mar Koorilos for the words of congratulations on behalf of the HES on his appointment as Cardinal in the Universal Church. His Beatitude praised God for the wonderful way in which He leads the Malankara Church. He also expressed his gratitude to the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for his great solicitude for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. His Beatitude highlighted the personal decision of His Holiness in this matter as a sign of the great love of the Holy See to the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
His Beatitude based his opening message on 2 Tim 4:1-5. His Beatitude said, “As we are gathered as a Holy Episcopal Synod, we have so much to thank God for the abundance of grace he has showered upon us. The Episcopacy and the HES are a succession of the service of the Apostles. We also carry forward the service entrusted to us by our venerable predecessors. We have to preach the Word of God in season and out of season. Where necessary, we have to convince, rebuke and exhort and be unfailing in our teaching as St. Paul exhorts us. As in the days of the Apostle, so in our days, there are people who would not endure sound teaching but accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings. His Beatitude, in the words of St. Paul, exhorted the Synod Fathers to be always steady, enduring suffering and to do the work of an evangelist in fulfilling the ministry.”
Before concluding the opening message, His Beatitude expressed his anxiety over the severe persecutions faced by our sister Churches in the Middle East. His Beatitude said: “The present socio-political situation in this region compels our brothers and sisters to quit their land of origin where they lived Christian faith since the time of our Lord.” His Beatitude condemned the attempts to uproot Christian presence from the Holy places of its origin as an affront to the human history and dignity. On behalf of the HES, His Beatitude expressed the solidarity of SMCC with the Christians in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan.
Then His Beatitude declared the Synod open.
Leave of Absence Granted
The Synod then took up the request of Most Rev. Thomas Mar Eusebios for leave of absence from the Holy Episcopal Synod. He could not travel out of the USA as he did not yet get a permanent residence in the USA, for which he had applied. He has to reside in the USA until he gets it. The HES accepted the request and granted him leave of absence from the 14th Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod.
Next, the HES took up for consideration the request of Most Rev. Joshua Mar Ignathios, Bishop of Mavelikara, for leave of absence from the first two sessions of the Synod. The Holy Episcopal Synod saw that his presence was very important at the thanksgiving Holy Qurbono and the First Communion Service organized by the parishioners after the consecration of St. Mary’s Cathedral Mavelikara and the 83rd Reunion Day Sabha Sangamam. The Holy Episcopal Synod accepted the request and granted him leave of absence.
Submission of the Catholicos Day Offering
Next on the Agenda was the submission of the Catholicos Day Offerings. All the Bishops submitted to His Beatitude the Catholicos, the collections from their respective Eparchy/Region.
The following list gives their contributions:
1. Major Archieparchy of Trivandrum - Rs 2,87,539/-
2. Archieparchy of Tiruvalla - Rs 75,000/-
3. Eparchy of Marthandom - Rs 30,000/-
4. Eparchy of Muvattupuzha - Rs 50,000/-
5. Eparchy of Mavelikara - Rs 50,000/-
6. Eparchy of Bathery - Rs 30,000/-
7. Eparchy of Puttur - Rs 15,000/-
8. Eparchy of Pathanamthitta - Rs 50,000/-
9. Exarchate of USA - US $ 10,201/- (Rs 6,12,060/-)
10. ETRI - Rs 60,078/-
Total - Rs 12,59,677/-
THE PRESENTATION OF THE AGENDA
His Beatitude, the President of the HES, presented the following proposed agenda of the Synod:
2. Inaugural Address by His Beatitude the Catholicos
3. Submission of the Catholicos’ Day Collection – Year 2013
4. Report of the Thirteenth Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod
5. Decisions of the Thirteenth Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod
6. Report of the Extraordinary Holy Episcopal Synod held on 21 September 2012
7. Evaluation of the functioning of the Synodal Commissions
8. Progress of the Cause of Canonisation of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios
9. Evaluation of the ecclesiastical administration of the SMCC - Holy Episcopal Synod, Permanent Synod, Major Archiepiscopal Curia, Major Archiepiscopal Ordinary Tribunal
10. Financial Situation of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia
11. Report on the progress of the Suvishesha Sangham
12. Year of Faith, Golden Jubilee of Vatican Council II, and Common Celebration – 60th Feast of Commemoration of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios and 83rd Reunion Day Celebration, etc…
13. Report on the visit of Most Rev. Abraham Mar Julios to New Zealand
14. Proposal for a pilgrimage for Syro-Malankara Bishops in the Year of Faith
15. Information on ETRI
16. Presentation of the draft of the Thukkasa
17. Other relevant matters, if any, with the consent of the President
The Synod Fathers proposed to add the following topics:
1. The Matters concerning St. Mary’s Malankara Seminary
2. Matters concerning Faith Formation/Catechism and MCCL
3. Matters concerning the Eparchy of Puttur
The Synod Fathers approved the proposed agenda.
Presentation of Reports
The Report and Decisions of the Thirteenth Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod convoked from 5 to 8 March 2012 was read out. Observations of the members and corrections proposed by them were recorded. The report of the Extraordinary Holy Episcopal Synod, on the visit of His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Al Rai, the Patriarch of the Syrian Maronites, on 21 September 2012, was also read out. The content was evaluated by the HES and corrections were proposed. The reports were proposed to be passed by Most Rev. Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom. The proposal was supported by Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios and they were passed.
Points Arising out of the Reports
1. On the Integration of the Knanaya Malankara Community into the SMCC: His Beatitude the Catholicos shared the developments on the integration of the Malankara Knanaya Catholics of the Archieparchy of Kottayam into the SMCC. His Beatitude informed that on the grounds of the rules of endogamy among the Malankara Knanaya Catholics, no decision could be taken on the matter. Personal interests of some have also an influence in the matter. Hence, the Archieparchy of Kottayam set up no commission, the matter remains as it is.
2. Proposals for canonical provision for ETRI and extension of the boundaries of the Eparchies of Marthandom and Puttur: His Beatitude informed the HES the communication from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in Rome, through the Apostolic Nunciature in India. It is observed by the Holy See that the present proposals would amount to all-India jurisdiction. Hence, a viable alternative was to be proposed. His Beatitude had sent a modified proposal asking for an Eparchy to be erected in the north of India comprising of the civil states of North India. The region in South India consisting of the civil states of south India excluding the territorium proprium of the SMCC could be placed under the pastoral care of an Apostolic Visitator appointed by the Roman Pontiff. It was also informed to the Holy See that the canonical provisions could be effected appointing Bishops from among the Bishops who are members of the present HES.
3. On the MBOC and MCCL: His Beatitude brought to the attention of the HES that the MBOC programmes were often conducted in the church itself. This amounts to the loss of respect to the sanctity of the church. He advised that henceforth, where parishes have parish-halls, the programmes should not be conducted in the church.
4. Need of Approval office-bearers of the MCA and MCYM from the Eparchial Bishop: It was brought to the attention of the HES that, sometimes, the members elected as office-bearers of the MCA and MCYM lacked discipline and ecclesial vision. To avoid such situations, it was proposed that as prior approval of the Eparchial Bishop for parish committees is stipulated, the eparchial committees elected for the MCA and MCYM should obtain prior approval from the Eparchial Bishop before they take the oath of office.
5. Catholicos Day Collection: It was suggested that His Beatitude the Catholicos might ask for an offering from all the institutions of our Church to be sent to the Major Archiepiscopal Curia on the Catholicos Day.
1. Evaluation of the Functioning of the Synodal Commissions
The Coordinator of the Synodal Commissions, Most Rev. Thomas Mar Anthonios, was asked to share with the HES the state of affairs of the Synodal Commissions. He recounted that the commissions were instituted in 2005 by the preparatory Council of Bishops convoked at Cherupushpagiri Tiruvalla in preparation for the formal inauguration of our Church as a Major Archiepiscopal Church. The Synodal Commissions are the organs of the Synod to nourish the faith life and the apostolic activities of our Church. The HES lives through the Synodal Commissions. They are organs that execute the decisions of the Synod. It is through the service of the Synodal Commissions that the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony of our Church are researched and developed. These contributions are what makes our Church relevant to the modern world and adds to the ritual patrimony of our Church.
The Synodal Commissions that deal with the liturgy, catechism, MCA, MCYM, MCCL, etc. seem to be functional as these organisations were already active in our Church. However, other commissions have not started functioning, as they are still to take up their tasks with proper vision and mission.
Mar Anthonios also asked the HES to specify the parameters under which effective co-ordination activities could be done. As for example, whether he could be present for the meetings; whether he is to be informed of the decisions of the meetings, etc.
Each Bishop then narrated the activities of the respective commission of which he is the Chairman.
2. Progress of the Cause of Canonisation of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios
His Beatitude the Catholicos asked Most Rev. Thomas Mar Anthonios, the Postulator of the Cause of Canonisation of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios, to present to the HES the present state and progress of the canonical work with regard to the Cause. He informed that the three areas of the canonical work, namely, the Theological Commission (which by its canonical nature is known only to His Beatitude the Catholicos), the Historical Commission and the Board of Inquiry into the life and virtues of the Servant of God, are progressing. He explained that the most voluminous of the work is that of the Historical Commission. The commission headed by Rev. Fr. James Puthuparampil OIC has, Rev. Fr. Cherian Varicattu from the Eparchy of Kothamangalam and Rev. Fr. Joseph Poovathumtharayil from the Major Archieparchy of Trivandrum, as its members. To help them in their work, about 50 persons (priests, sisters, seminarians and lay men and women) are now engaged. They, under oath taken before His Beatitude the Catholicos, help the commission in the translation work of the documents collected and in data-entry. The commission is striving hard to complete their work at the earliest. Mar Anthonios also pointed out that the canonical work goes hand in hand with the spread of the fragrance of the sanctity of the Servant of God and the spiritual renewal it brings about among the People of God. He said that in these years there is increase in the number of the Faithful, who pray at the tomb of Mar Ivanios, and who report favours received through the intercession of the Servant of God. Similarly, the increase in the number of participants in the padayatra and the feast of commemoration of the Servant of God on 15 July with spiritual preparations starting from the 1 July is another sign of the spread of the spirit of renewal in the Church imbibing the sanctity of the Servant of God.
His Beatitude the Catholicos also informed the HES that he obtained the permission from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to open and inspect the tomb of the SG. His Beatitude said that it would be done towards the close of the Eparchial phase of the work of the Cause observing the guidelines for the same. His Beatitude also said that it would be informed to the members of the HES in due time.
His Beatitude advised that “The prayer for the Canonisation of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios” be prayed by all our children before they begin their Sunday School classes.
To the suggestion that a picture of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios could be made available to all our families, His Beatitude said that he would see to it and that the picture will be printed and made available at all our Bishops’ Houses from where they would be distributed to our homes.
3. Evaluation of the Ecclesiastical Administration of the SMCC - Holy Episcopal Synod, Permanent Synod, Major Archiepiscopal Curia, Major Archiepiscopal Ordinary Tribunal
This evaluation dwelt on the present state of affairs of these canonical institutions and offices. It was pointed out that a systematic approach in these matters could improve the services of these offices in the day-to-day life of our Church and its future. For instance, setting up a synodal committee to prepare drafts of the subjects on the agenda of the Synod, was proposed.
It was also suggested that a planning committee could be set up well in advance, in order to prepare for the forthcoming Malankara Catholic Assembly to be convoked in the year 2017. The subject to be treated by the Assembly could also be decided as early as possible.
The need of arranging a meeting of and a course for all those who serve in our Eparchial Tribunals was highlighted during the sharing.
4. Financial Situation of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia
Rev. Fr. Thomas Parakkel, the Finance Officer of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia was called in to present the accounts of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia. He presented the audited report and accounts of the Curia for the financial year ending 31 March 2013. He also presented an account updating all the income, expenditure and debts of the Curia as on 20 September 2013. The Finance Officer gave clarifications where explanations were called for. The Curia has a debt of Rs 1,32,87,381/- to be cleared.
On the question of income to cover the expenditures of the Curia, the earlier suggestion that His Beatitude the Catholicos may write a letter to all institutions of our Church asking for their offering on the Catholicos Day was discussed again. The HES decided to implement the suggestion.
On the question of each Eparchy sending the Sunday offerings during the Holy Qurbono on days like Laity Day, Youth Day and Seminary Day to the Major Archiepiscopal Curia, it was opined that the Eparchies have expenses in this regard. Hence, the provisions of the CPCSMCC be waived off in this regard.
On the need of converting the first floor of the Mar Gregorios Block of the Catholicate Centre, it was suggested that the work should be postponed until funds are available after clearing the debts.
5. Report on the Progress of the Suvishesha Sangham
Rev. Fr Antony Kakkanatt, the Executive Secretary of the Synodal Commission for Evangelisation and the Secretary of the Suvisesha Sangham was invited to the HES to present the report of the Suvisesha Sangham. He presented to the HES the guidelines prepared and given to the members of the Suvisesha Sangham and other details concerning it. He explained to the HES the vision and mission of the Suvisesha Sangham and the spirituality that is being evolved and lived by its members. This spirituality is founded on the radical living of the spiritual traditions of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. It is based on the intense reading, studying and living the Word of God, praying the liturgy of the hours, observing the fast and abstinence prescribed for the various nombu observed in our Church, leading a sacramental life centred on the Holy Qurbono, imbibing the sanctity of life of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios as expressed in the spiritual patrimony of evangelization he bequeathed to the SMCC, etc.
Fr Antony expressed satisfaction at the formation for the Suvisesha Sangham at the ecclesial level. However, he requested the personal attention of the Eparchial Bishops in its formation at the Eparchial, District and Parish level. He opined that if an average of 10 Faithful from each parish is formed in the spirituality and life of the Suvisesha Sangham, the SMCC will have an army of 10000 dedicated Faithful to live and proclaim the Word of God and to live the spirituality of the SMCC in a radical way. He also suggested that an Annual Prayer Assembly of the Suvisesha Sangham could be organised along with the Reunion Day Celebrations.
The HES appreciated the spirit, dedication and commitment of Rev. Fr. Antony Kakkanatt in the formation of the Suvisesha Sangham. The HES also appreciated the committed service of Rev. Sr Francina DM and Rev. Sr. Namita SIC and all other collaborators of the Suvisesha Sangham. Most Rev. Jacob Mar Barnabas, the Chairman of the Synodal Commission for Evangelisation and the President of the Suvisesha Sangham complemented the report of Rev. Fr. Antony on the Suvisesha Sangham adding his own further observations. The HES thanked him and Fr Antony left the Synod Hall.
Most Rev. Jacob Mar Barnabas appreciated the spirit of dedication of Rev. Fr. Antony. He suggested that Fr. Antony be invested with an appropriate title in recognition of his various contributions to the Church.
6. Year of Faith, Golden Jubilee of Vatican Council II and Common Celebration – 60th Feast of Commemoration of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios and 83rd Reunion Day Celebration
The seminars organised by the Synodal Commission for Theology and the seminars organised by the MCCL, MCYM and MCA together with 83rd Reunion Day Celebrations were activities organised to convey and imbibe the message and spirit of the Year of Faith and the Golden Jubilee of Vatican Council II at the ecclesial level. Hence, it was suggested that concluding celebrations could be organised at the Eparchial and other regional levels by the Eparchial Bishops, Exarch and Apostolic Visitator.
On the evaluation of the celebration of the 60th Feast of Commemoration of the Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios, the HES appreciated the progress of the spiritual fervour that pervades the celebration. HES observed the increase in the number of participants at the spiritual programmes of the feast as a sign of spiritual renewal that envelopes our Church through the intercession of the Servant of God.
The Fathers of the HES unanimously appreciated the grand success of the 83rd Reunion Day Celebrations and Consecration of the Eparchial Cathedral at Mavelikara. The vilambara rally, the inauguration of the celebrations, the seminar on “The Contribution of the SMCC in Nation Building”, the All Religions Meet, the Ecumenical Meeting, the Consecration of the Cathedral, the seminars and gatherings organised by the MCCL, MCYM and MCA, the Reunion Day Holy Qurbono, the public meeting in the presence of Archbishop Salvatore Pennachio, the Apostolic Nuncio and Sri Oommen Chandy, the Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala, etc. were well planned and meticulously executed. The Preshita Rally of the Reunion Day was the crown of the celebration and it was a wonderful and fervent testimony of our faith life.
It was a testimony of our presence in Mavelikara and an acknowledgement of the leadership that Most Rev. Joshua Mar Ignathios gives to the people of Mavelikara. We could unite all people of goodwill, irrespective of religion, Christian denominations and political affinities, through the celebration.
Concerning the Preshita Rally the members of the HES opined that the nature and the need of the place where the celebrations are organised are important in deciding on it in the future.
7. Report on the Visit of Most Rev. Abraham Mar Julios to New Zealand
Most Rev. Abraham Mar Julios, who visited the Malankara Catholic Faithful in New Zealand, reported to the HES his observations in organising our community in New Zealand. He first visited Auckland, stayed with the Bishop of Auckland, and visited our people. There are only very few families of our Church in New Zealand. Hence, it is not feasible that we send immediately a priest for their pastoral care. The Bishop of Auckland is willing to accept a priest in his Diocese, who could also do some higher studies there. However, he cannot give the priest a scholarship. Considering the situation, it was suggested that the priest who would eventually be stationed in Australia, periodically visit our people in New Zealand also.
8. Proposal for a Pilgrimage for Malankara Bishops in the Year of Faith
This proposal was not found feasible. It was also felt that it will not be exemplary for the Faithful.
9. Sharing from the ETRI and Eparchies
Each Bishop was given time to share with the HES some of the important developments in his Eparchy/ Region.
Most Rev. Jacob Mar Barnabas, the Apostolic Visitator to the ETRI narrated that a group of Pentacostalists in Orissa approached him for joining the Catholic Church. Although there are canonical hurdles, for the good of the souls and for the good of the faith, he has initiated contacts with the group and their faith-formation is progressing. He hopes that eventually, the situation can be rectified. He also said that some of our lay missionaries were very enthusiastically committed to the work of evangelisation among these people.
Mar Barnabas told the HES that the possibility for the formation of a SMCC community in Raipur is emerging. He also informed that our community had been facing uncertainties in Jaipur for sometime due to the lack of priests. His Excellency also shared with the HES that at the disease and death of Rt Rev. Ramban Aprem and when Rev. Fr Philip Vazhakunnath was seriously sick and admitted in the hospital, our people showed a tremendous amount of love, solidarity and spirit of prayer. All the expenses for their treatment were also borne through the offerings of our people.
Mar Barnabas shared with the members of the HES some of the new developments in the ETRI. He informed that the services Rev. Fr Varghese Mattamana would be availed as a Co-ordinator General of the activities of our ETRI besides Rev. Fr Daniel Kuzhithadathil who is the Chief Co-ordinator General
Mar Barnabas also brought to the attention of the HES that the ETRI needs more priests for the pastoral care of the Faithful. The presence of a few priests who were doing language courses in view of going abroad was very useful to fill the lacuna. However, the Faithful are scandalised that so many priests are sent abroad for services while there is a dearth of priests for the pastoral activities in the ETRI. He stressed the need of encouraging priestly vocations to the ETRI.
Mar Barnabas also informed the HES the difficult situation arising out of the non-payment of the balance amount of the money due to Bethany Ashram as per the agreement with them on the transfer of ownership of the properties. So far, he could not mobilise the required amount.
Most Rev. Vincent Mar Paulos informed the HES that two new missions were started in the Eparchy of Marthandom. He shared that he experienced a deep sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the flourishing of these missions and in the life of the Eparchy of Marthandom.
He also informed the HES that efforts are progressing to erect the Ashram founded by Rev. Fr Crispin as an Eparchial Pious Association, similar to the “Unity” in the Major Archieparchy of Trivandrum.
Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios, the Bishop of Puttur, shared with the HES his endeavour to buy some land for the Eparchy and the problems he faces in this matter.
Most Rev. Joseph Mar Thomas welcomed the decision of the HES to celebrate the 84th Reunion Day at Bathery along with the consecration of the Eparchial Cathedral under construction. He welcomed everybody to Bathery. He informed the HES that the Faithful of the Eparchy is enthusiastic in taking up and celebrating this event.
10. Presentation of the draft of the Thukkasa
The Order of Rubrics of the liturgical celebrations in the SMCC, the Thukkasa that was jointly promulgated by Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios and Bishop Zacharias Mar Athanasios was revised by the SC for Liturgy. The draft was introduced in the HES for its approval.
Some general directives given apart from the main text of the Thukkasa were taken up for discussion. It was felt they were to be integrated into the text at their proper context.
At this point, the state of the liturgical celebration in our monastery, Kurisumala Ashram, came in for evaluation. It was felt that a study has to be conducted on the so-called indianised celebration of our liturgy in the Ashram.
It was also pointed out that it was not necessary to add the title “Cardinal” to the Catholicos of our Church in the first thubden. This Title has no liturgical relevance when commemorating the communio with the “Father and Head” of our Church. The need of unity in the celebration of our liturgy was stressed.
The Synod Fathers felt the need of a detailed study and analysis of the draft of the Thukkasa before giving synodal approval to it. Hence, it was agreed among the Synod Fathers that they gather at Bethany Ashram Desom, Aluva on 9 December 2013, a day before the KCBC Meeting at POC Ernakulam, and study the draft.
During the discussion on the matter, it was informed to the HES that the Syro-Malankara Catholic Exarchate of America would print the Qyomto (Canonical Sunday Prayers after the Feast of the Resurrection) in English.
11. Matters Concerning the St. Mary’s Malankara Seminary
Most Rev. Abraham Mar Julios, the Chariman of the Seminary Commission reported to the HES some of the disciplinary actions that had to be initiated in the section of Philosophy Students of the Seminary. Contrary to instructions given to them, some of the seminarians were using laptops and mobile phones in their rooms. There was abuse of the computer. This was found out. Four seminarians had been dismissed.
Mar Julios also informed the HES that there were improvements in the seminary on matters of discipline, spiritual direction, provision of good food, etc.
The pastoral ministry of the students of Theology came in for evaluation. It was felt that they being allowed to go to parishes on Saturday evening and stay their overnight do not bring in the desired results. Instances of indiscipline and serious abuse of the circumstances have been reported. Similarly, the practice of some Seminarians getting money from the Procurator of the Seminary without the knowledge of the Eparchial Authorities was also discussed. In the light of the evaluation of these matters, the HES decided:
1. The Seminarians, who are designated to help in neighbouring parishes on Sundays, shall go out from the Seminary on Sunday morning only and have to come back to the Seminary the same day before 6 p.m. (There is no need of spending the night in Rectories or other places). The Rector of the Seminary has to select and assign only such parishes that are suitable distance-wise, so that all can abide by this direction.
2. The Rector has to inform the respective Eparchial Bishop, where his seminarians are sent to render pastoral assistance, and inform them the name of the Parish Priest and his contact numbers.
3. It is not a good practice that the Procurator of the Seminary gives advances to Seminarians and collects the money from their Eparchies after several months or years. Seminarians have to receive permissible amount of money from their Eparchial Finance Officer or Minor Seminary Rector. Exceptions may be granted only for urgent medical expenses, which, however, should be given with the prior consent of Eparchial Finance Officer or Minor Seminary Rector of respective Eparchies.
12. Other Matters
i. Matters Concerning the MCA
Most Rev. Joshua Mar Ignathios, the Chairman of the Synodal Commission for the Laity proposed certain amendments in the bye-laws of the MCA for the following reasons:
1. Adequate representation should be given to ETRI, ETROI in the Central Committee of the MCA, so that the number of Vice-Presidents and Secretaries and Joint Secretaries could be increased.
2. The MCA/Laity in the ETRI and ETROI should be organised
3. Mathrusangam, the organisation of the mothers/ladies of our Church, has to be recognised as separate ecclesial organisation in our Church.
It was also proposed that a change in the bye-law of the MCA is needed, so that the concerned Local Hierarch can approve the election to the Eparchial and other higher bodies of the MCA.
ii. Matters Concerning the MCYM
Most Rev. Vincent Mar Paulos gave a short description of the events conducted and to be conducted by the MCYM. He proposed to the HES to add two more office bearers to the central secretariat of the MCYM, so that all Eparchies and ETRI and ETROI of the SMCC are represented.
It was also proposed that a change in the bye-law of the MCYM is needed, so that the concerned Local Hierarch can approve the election to the Eparchial and other higher bodies of the MCYM.
iii. Matters Concerning Faith Formation
Most Rev. Philipose Mar Stephanos, the Chairman of the Synodal Commission for Faith Formation shared with the Synod Fathers, some of the suggestions that emerged at a meeting of the Directors of Sunday School/Catechism:
1. There is a need of an ongoing evaluation of the textbooks prepared for catechism / Sunday School in our Church. It is suggested that the textbooks in use for the last 10 years need a revision.
2. Power-point texts can be prepared for presentation of the textbooks and as teaching-aid, where they can be technically used.
3. At present, there is only one common gathering of the MCCL at the ecclesial level – during the Reunion Day Celebrations. More such programmes can be thought of. Similarly, steps have to be taken to integrate all children’s associations of the Eparchies with their old names into the MCCL. More importance has to be given to the personality development of our children through the MCCL.
Regarding the revision of the textbooks, it was opined that the textbooks have been introduced only recently and that they have been well accepted. Hence, although ongoing revision in accordance with the time is good, one has to be very careful. About the other suggestions, all opined in favour of them.
iv. Permanent Diaconate:
It was brought to the attention of the HES that as per the earlier decisions of the HES to promote Permanent Diaconate in our Church, there are people, who after the prescribed formation, awaiting the decision of the concerned Eparchial Bishops. On this matter, it was decided that the Eparchial Bishop shall execute this after consulting the Presbyteral Council.
v. Common Pastoral Course for the Deacons of Our Church:
Most Rev. Thomas Mar Anthonios, the Chancellor of the SMCC, brought to the attention of the Synod Fathers that it is time to organise the common pastoral course for the current academic year, as the comprehensive exams of the Deacons of the Malankara Seminary and of Bethany Ashram would be completed by the end of November. All opined that as in the previous years, the course be organised by the Chancellor of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia at the Catholicate Centre towards the end of November or at the beginning of December 2013.
vi. The Fifteenth Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod
It was decided that the Fifteenth Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod of the SMCC be convoked from 10 to 14 March 2014 at the Blessed John Paul II Synod Hall of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia. The Synod will begin with the Holy Qurbono at 9 a.m. During the Synod, the Fathers of the HES would meet, in separate gatherings, the staff of St. Mary’s Seminary, the Superiors General of the Congregations and the Abbots and Abbesses of the Monasteries of our Church and the Secretaries of the Synodal Commissions.
His Beatitude gave the concluding message in the session of the Holy Episcopal Synod that began at 5 p.m. on 22 September 2013. His Beatitude thanked the Synod Fathers for their presence at the Synod after a hectic schedule of activities, especially of the 83rd Reunion Day Celebrations. He underlined that the Synod-in-session was a very fruitful. He urged the Synod Fathers to carry forward with constant commitment and equanimity the ministry of the Church as St. Paul tells us through 2 Tim 4:1-5, the Word of God we mediated upon at the opening of the Synod. His Beatitude said, “It is our responsibility as Bishops, as Ministers of the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist, to keep up the flame of the Spirit of God burning. The bond of love and unity among us Bishops is very important. The good relationship is our strength. Let us face the challenges with the power of the Spirit. Take care of the weak; strengthen the Church. The mercy and providence of God that strengthen us and our Church is immeasurable. There is no other community that is so much strengthened by God’s abundant mercy and power. As our venerable ancestors were strengthened by the Lord to tide over the challenges and difficult times they faced, so are we today empowered by the Lord to face the manifold spiritual, financial and social challenges that we face today”.
His Beatitude thanked Most Rev. Thomas Mar Koorilos, the Secretary of the HES for his words of greetings on behalf of the HES on His Beatitude being appointed Cardinal in the Universal Church. Personally, His Beatitude thanked the Synod Fathers for their love, solidarity and prayers.
His Beatitude expressed appreciation at the implanting and getting rooted the Suvisesha Sangham of our Church and appreciated the work done in this regard. His Beatitude also encouraged with words of appreciation the Laity, especially the MCCL, the MCYM and the MCA for their commitment in building up the Church. His Beatitude also thanked everyone who worked behind the scene for the success of the HES.
Committing the entire SMCC and the Synod Fathers to the motherly intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Beatitude declared the Fourteenth Ordinary Holy Episcopal Synod closed.
The Fourteenth Ordinary HES ended with prayers and the final blessing given by His Beatitude the Catholicos.
Archbishop Thomas Mar Koorilos
Bishop Thomas Mar Anthonios OIC