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UK: Indian church leader dead

Last updated on: March 11, 2008 13:13 IST

Dr Thomas Mar Makarios, metropolitan of the Canada, Britain and Europe Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, died on February 23 at Newcastle General Hospital, London.

Dr Mar Makarios, 82, was seriously injured in a car accident on January 5 and remained on life support system thereafter.

He was going to the airport after a visit to a parish in Britain when another car hit the one he was travelling in.

One of the church's senior bishops, he lived at the Episcopal Diocesan House in Buffalo in New York.

Dr Makarios was one of the most familiar faces at any Malayalee gathering in the US for several decades. His speeches were major attractions at conventions like the Federation of Kerala Associations in North America.

Reverend K C Thomas (original name, Mar Makarios) entered the priesthood as a deacon February 23, 1951. He was ordained as a priest the next year by His Holiness Catholicose Baselios II.

His death came on another February 23, in his 57th year of priesthood.

Dr Mar Makarios was a pioneer in many fields. He went to New Delhi as the first vicar of the first Orthodox Church there soon after his ordination. 

Later, he went to study in Britain, Germany, France and Switzerland. He came to the US in 1963 and earned a Bachelor of Divinity from Nashota House in Wisconsin, a master's degree in theology from the Virginia Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in theology from the Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.

He returned to India and taught church history at the Orthodox Theological Seminary for some time.

He was consecrated as a bishop by His Holiness Catholicos Ougen I in 1975 and appointed the first metropolitan priest of the new diocese of Bombay.

Those days, all the parishes of the church outside India were part of the Bombay Diocese.

In 1979 the American Diocese with New York as headquarters was formed and Dr Mar Makarios became the new metropolitan.

The American diocese was divided in 1992 and a new diocese of Canada, UK and Europe was formed. Since then Dr Makarios headed the new diocese.

His brother, the Very Reverend K C Mathew is a Cor Episcopa in the church; another brother, Lazarus Ramban, is a monk. One of his sisters is a nun.

The funeral was on March 3 at the specially constructed enclosure at the Catholicate house in Devalokam, Kottayam.

The funeral services were led by Catholicose Baselios Marthoma Didymos I, supreme head of the church.

The funeral was delayed due to the procedures for autopsy in Britain. The bishop was a US citizen and the funeral was planned in India, resulting in complications that delayed the sending of the body.

The Orthodox Church, believed to be established by the Apostle St Thomas, one of the disciples of Christ, is headed by Catholicose of the East with its headquarters in Kottayam.

The Canada-UK Diocese is one of the 22 dioceses of the church, which has about 10,000 followers in the US.

The American Diocese organised special prayers to condole the death. The Very Reverend Paulose Adai Cor Episcopa presided over a condolence meeting organised by the diocese at the St Gregorios Church in Queens, New York.

Mar Jacob Angadiath, bishop of the Chicago St Thomas Syro Malabar Diocese, said the death of Mar Makarios is a great loss for Christians and all those who knew him.

A meeting of the Fokana national committee in Philadelphia noted the services of the bishop to the organisation since its inception a quarter century ago.

President Sasidharan Nair and secretary Aniyan George spoke about the great loss Dr Makarios's death was for the community.

"Makarios Thirumeni always stood for the unity and fought a number of battles against divisive forces within the Christian world and within the Malayalee community. He was a fighter with great faith in God and that spirit kept him alive during the last few weeks after the accident," Alex Koshy, president of the World Malayalee Council, said.

George Joseph in New York