St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church
1009 Unruh Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111
Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose
1827 Faunce St., Philadelphia PA19111
Tel.: 215.464.0523, e-mail: email@example.com
Tel.: 267.902.8500, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Board of Trustees:
Idiculla Thomas (2007-2009)
Mohan Samuel (2006-2008)
Ninan Mathai (2005-2007)
Managing Committee Members:
Rajesh Geevarghese Thomas George
Aju Jacob Jose K. John
Paul John Benny Mathew
John Panicker Mathew Samuel
Thomas Skariah Alex P. Symon
Achen Varghese Brown Varghese
Accountant: Jiji Mathew
Auditor: George Vattethu
Prayer meeting Coordinator: Daniel Varghese
Diocesan Assembly Members: Sam Jacob Kurisinmoottil & John Panicker
Malankara Association Members: George Varghese & P.V. Kuncheria
St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church
1009 Unruh Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111
Annual Report for the year 2007
Glory be to God!
It is with great sense of jubilation that I present the Annual Report of our parish for the year
2007. Our parish was found in 1976, and struggled with ‘growing pains’ for a few years. Ever
since its reorganization in 1996, our parish has been on a tremendous path of growth, thanks to
the blessing of God Almighty, visionary leadership of our Vicar Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, and
selfless dedication and service of its members. Our parish here in Philadelphia, the City of
brotherly love, has become a symbol of Christian spirit, unity and cooperation. It has become a
model to follow, for many in the American Diocese, and in the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox
Church in general. In this Annual Report, you will see the glimpses of our activities,
accomplishments, and challenges too. May God continue to bless us all!
Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose serves as the Vicar/President of our parish. Rev. Fr. Aju Mathews was
appointed by the Diocesan Metropolitan as the Assistant Vicar effective September 1, 2007. (Aju
Achen took a personal leave effective December 1, 2007.)
Office-bearers for the year 2007 (Elected by the General Body, on December 3, 2006):
Treasurer: Roy Chacko
Secretary: Oommen Kappil
Managing Committee Members:
Rajesh Geevarghese Thomas George
Aju Jacob Jose K. John
Paul John Benny Mathew
John Panicker Mathew Samuel
Thomas Skariah Alex P. Symon
Achen Varghese Brown Varghese
Board of Trustees:
Idiculla Thomas (2007-2009)
Mohan Samuel (Previously elected for 2006-2008)
Ninan Mathai (Previously elected for 2005-2007)
Accountant: Jiji Mathew
Auditor: George Vattethu
Prayer meeting Coordinator: Daniel Varghese
Malankara Association Members
Mr. George Varghese and Mr. P. V. Kuncheriah served as the elected representatives to the
Malankara Association. Parish Vicar is a standing member of the Association. The elected
members’ term ends in 2010.
Diocesan Assembly Members
The General body held on October 14, 2007 elected Mr. Sam J. Kurisinmoottil and Mr. John
Panicker as the Diocesan Assembly members for a period of five years (2007-2012). Our Vicar
also will represent our Church as a Diocesan Assembly member.
Other Nominees (Selected by the Managing Committee):
Asst. Treasurer Brown Varghese
Assistant Secretary Paul John
Newsletter Editor Aju Jacob
Web Manager Paul John
Our parish office has been open during the day time most of the year. This was made possible
mainly because of the dedication and sincerity of Rajan Padiyara, who volunteered to serve as
the Office Manager. Anooj Thomas served as the Assistant Manager. Our Achen’s presence in
the Office after 4 pm on week days was a tremendous help. Other Office bearers were available
on an as needed basis. The collective efforts helped towards the smooth functioning of the office.
Managing Committee Meetings
The Managing Committee, along with the Board of Trustees met monthly on a regular schedule,
to plan various activities, and discuss the affairs of the parish. The representatives of our
Spiritual Organizations also attended these meetings as invitees. This year, a total of 19 such
meetings were held. The Vicar/President serves as the Chairman of the Managing Committee
General Body Meetings
General Body meetings were held to address various matters affecting the parish. Five General
Body meetings were held this year. The General Body held on February 4, 2007 accepted the
Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year 2006. This meeting also accepted the
budget for the year 2007. Half-yearly accounts were presented in the General Body meeting held
on July 22, 2007. The Special General Body meeting held on Sunday, October 14, 2007 decided
to conduct Holy Communion Services in Malayalam and English on alternate Sundays. A
Special General Body Meeting was held on Sunday, October 11, 2007 to discuss the proposed
By-Laws of our Church. The meeting reviewed Articles 1 through 4. It was decided to conduct
further meetings to finalize the By-Laws. The General Body meeting held on December 16, 2007
elected the office bearers for the year 2008.
The following sub-committees worked along with the Managing Committee for the smooth
operation of the affairs of our parish:
1. Building Committee
Responsibilities: Oversee the physical condition of the Church building complex,
major installations such as Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
system, contact contractors for estimates for repair, recommend and oversee repairs.
Coordinator: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose
Members: Rajan Padiyara, Roy Chacko, Oommen Kappil, Rev. Dn. Daniel
Yohannan, Paul John, Varghese P. Abraham, Regi Mathai, Jacob Kuruvilla, John
Panicker, Idiculla Thomas, Achen Varghese and Daniel Varghese.
2. Refreshments Committee
Responsibilities: Arrangement of refreshments for priests and people, purchasing of
items for routine and non-routine refreshments in our parish.
Coordinator: Jacob Zachariah
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Oommen Kappil, Regi Mathai, Varghese P.
Abraham, Thomas George, Chacko P. Chacko, Kondoor E. Chacko, Jacob M.
Zachariah, Thomas Skariah, Aleyamma Varghese, and Geevarghese K. John.
3. Program Committee
Responsibilities: Organize spiritual, social and recreational programs including
festivals, picnic, conventions, special days of celebrations, participation of parish in
diocesan activities etc.
Coordinator: Jose K. John
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Oommen Kappil, Roy Chacko, Brown
Varghese, Paul John, Philip Varghese, Varghese P. Abraham, Ninan Mathai (SS
HM), Mariamma Joseph (MMS), Jacob Chacko (MGOCSM), Sajan Thomas
(OCYM), and Binny Cherian (Couples’ Forum).
4. Building and premises upkeep Committee
Responsibilities: Oversee the cleanliness and appearance of the interior and exterior
of the building and its premises, bathrooms, supervise janitorial services, arrange
lawn care, snow removal, trash management etc.
Coordinators: Ninan Mathai and Joseph Vakkayil
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, George Abraham, Jacob M. Zachariah, George
Varghese, Cijo Joseph, Kunjappy Koshy, Thomas Abraham, Thomas Vakkayil.
5. Choir and Liturgical Committee
Responsibilities: Training the Choir for all worship and sacramental services, prayer
meetings, conventions, retreat and other related events; arrange sacramental and
worship books, manage public address (PA) system etc.
Coordinator: Idiculla Thomas
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Rajan Padiyara, Lijy Raju, Anooj Thomas, Reji
6. Library Committee
Responsibilities: Collection, organization and loaning of books, periodicals,
electronic media; fund raising for the functioning of the library, organize educational
seminars and workshops etc.
Coordinator: Mathew Samuel
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Oommen Kappil, George Varghese, Binny
Cherian, Ashok Paulose, Alex Symon, George Vattethu, Joseph Vakkayil
7. Recreation & Gym Committee
Responsibilities: Organize sports and games, recommend and/or order equipments for
the gymnasium, maintain the gymnasium and its equipments properly, coordinate
access to the gym etc.
Coordinator: Rajesh Geevarghese
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Oommen Kappil, Mathew Samuel, Robin Raju
8. Reception Committee
Responsibilities: Identify and welcome visitors and new members; provide
information about our parish, services, spiritual organizations and facilities.
Coordinator: Benny Mathew
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Oommen Kappil, Susan Mathew, Alex Daniel,
Sam Jacob Kurisinmoottil.
9. Public Relations Committee
Responsibilities: Publish newsletters, brochure etc, prepare announcements of PR
nature for members and media, promote inter-parish and inter-church relations, foster
relationship with elected officials, promote visibility and image of our parish,
maintain parish web site, scheduling and booking of events in the banquet hall for
members and the public etc.
Coordinator: Parish Secretary (Oommen Kappil)
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Paul John, Rajan Padiyara, Roy Chacko and Aju Jacob.
10. Charity Committee
Responsibilities: Collection of funds for charity projects; review applications for
assistance and recommend disbursement of funds.
Coordinator: Brown Varghese
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Roy Chacko, Oommen Kappil, Regi Mathai
11. Legal Advisory Committee
Responsibilities: Review situations requiring legal action and make recommendations
to the Managing Committee; consult with parish authorized attorney or other
attorneys as required.
Coordinator: Parish Secretary (Oommen Kappil)
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Idiculla Thomas, Ninan Mathai, Mohan Samuel, Rajan
Padiyara, Paul John.
12. Finance Committee
Responsibilities: Coordinate fundraising activities, monitor payment of dues and
contributions, coordinate special collections, assist with accounting functions etc.
Coordinator: Parish Treasurer (Roy Chacko)
Members: Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Oommen Kappil, Mathew George, Jiji Mathew,
Brown Varghese, Mohan Samuel, John Panicker, Idiculla Thomas.
New Member Orientation
On January 20, 2007, a special dinner meeting was held to welcome and honor the new families
that joined our parish family during the year 2006. The meeting was hosted by the combined
Managing Committees and Board of Trustees for the year 2006 and 2007. It was a great
opportunity for all to get to know each other and enjoy a loving fellowship. Many senior
members talked about their experience and blessings. The new members spoke about their past
involvements, their goals and expectations.
Our membership growth has been significant during the year. As of December 31, 2007, we have
a total of 132 subscribed member families. In addition, our parish caters to the spiritual needs of
17 more families who are yet to become subscribed members. We are elated to welcome the
following families to our Parish family:
1. Ashok Paulose & Family
2. Mathew V. Thomas & Family
3. Binny Cherian & Family
4. Jose V. Abraham & Family
5. George Varughese & Family
6. Varughese M. M. & Family
7. John P. Mathai & Family
8. Shibu Thomas & Family
9. John Polayil Abraham & Family
10. Gibson Thomas George & Family
11. Robin Varughese & Family
12. Sydney T. Mammen & Family
13. Sunil Thomas & Family
14. Prince John Puliprath & Family
15. Jiju Alex & Family
16. Varghese Panicker & Family
Every Sunday, Morning Prayer starts at 8:45 am followed by the Holy Communion Service. As
per the decision of the Special General Body Meeting held on Sunday, October 14, 2007, Holy
Communion Services in Malayalam and English are conducted on alternate Sundays. Birthday
prayers, prayers for the sick, prayers for the departed and prayers for those on family way are
said during the Holy Communion Service. Holy Communion Service is held every Wednesday
at 6:30 pm also. Special intercessory prayers in the name of St. Mary are said after the
Communion Service every Wednesday.
We have a very vibrant and enthusiastic group of spiritual organizations such as Sunday School,
Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Student Movement (MGOCSM), Orthodox Christian Youth
Movement (OCYM), Morth Mariam Samajam (MMS), Couples’ Forum and Men’s Forum. They
have been conducting their routine activities as per their goals. In addition, they actively
participate and/or take leadership in the general activities of our parish. Sunday School is held
every Sunday from 12-1 pm. MGOCSM meetings are held routinely from 1-2 pm. OCYM,
Couples’ Forum, MMS and Mens’ Forum meet every other Sunday from 12:30 -1: 30 pm.
Please refer to the report submitted by each of these organizations to read the detailed report on
Started as a forum for young couples, it has evolved into a fine forum for all married couples,
regardless of age. Binny Cherian served as the Coordinator of Couples’ Forum. It meets every
other Sunday after the Holy Communion. Please see the detailed report to read more about the
activities of Couples’ Forum.
Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Student Movement (MGOCSM)
The following were the Office bearers of MGOCSM:
President : Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose
Vice President : Robin Raju
Secretary : Jacob Chacko
Treasurer : Aju Jacob
Asst. Treasurer : Libu Geevarghese
Asst. Secretary : Prisa Zachariah
Our MGOCSM unit is one of the strongest in the American Diocese. It conducted several
programs including the Coffee shop, retreat etc which attracted not only the members from
Philadelphia area, but also from several states from Massachusetts to Florida. Its leaders have
shown that they have the experience and capability to coordinate very meaningful programs for
the benefit of our youngsters. The involvement of its members in the activities of our parish has
been exemplary. Most notable were the Harvest Festival, Christmas Eve celebrations, OVBS etc.
It’s very encouraging to note the participation of its members in the Altar, Choir and Sunday
I thank the office bearers and all the members for their participation and cooperation in the
activities of our parish. I also would like to express my gratitude to Rev. Fr. Aju Mathews and
Rev. Dn. Geevarghese John for rendering their guidance and support to MGOCSM.
Martha Mariam Samajam (MMS)
The following were the Office-bearers of MMS.
President : Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose
Secretary : Mariamma Joseph
Treasurer : Omana Varghese
Asst. Treasurer : Saramma Raju
Asst. Secretary : Annamma Geevarghese
MMS comprises a pious group of members that focus on prayer and Bible Study. It worked
together with the parish rendering its valuable support in all activities. It was behind the
successful conduct of every program including the Perunnal, Prayer Meetings, Harvest Festival,
Christmas celebration and so on. Its members played a notable role in fund raising for the parish
as well. The spirit of unity and determination was always remarkable, which was evident in its
participation of programs including the Diocesan level quiz competition.
Abraham Varghese was the Coordinator of Men’s Forum. Men’s Forum caters to spiritual
nourishment of men of all ages. Prayer meetings were held at Church after the Holy Qurbana.
The members play very active role in the spiritual and social activities of the parish.
Orthodox Christian Youth Movement (OCYM)
The following were the Office-bearers of OCYM:
President : Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose
Vice President : Binu Mathew
Secretary : Sajan Thomas
Joint Secretary : Jerin Juby
Treasurer : Jaison Daniel
Assistant Treasurer : Cibu Joseph
Program Coordinator : Anooj Thomas
Committee Members : Jose K. John, Philip Varghese
OCYM is one of the most active organizations of our parish, and is in fact the backbone of our
parish. Its membership comprises a group of young and energetic members. Its participation and
leadership in several projects including Harvest Festival, Picnic, Caroling, Christmas Eve
celebrations etc are commendable. OCYM always looked for opportunities to better serve our
parish. Apart from its spiritual initiatives, one such example was its decision to purchase utensils
for our kitchen. I thank the office bearers and all other members for their thoughtfulness, selfless
service, unity and cooperation.
The following were the Office-bearers:
Headmaster : Ninan Mathai / Rev. Dn. Daniel Yohannan
Asst. Headmaster : Jacob Kuruvilla (Senior Division)
Asst. Headmistress : Susan Samuel (Junior Division)
Sunday School represents the future of our parish, and our Church in general. Over 100 students
study in classes from Pre-Kindergarten to 12th Grade. We have over 20 staff members. Our
children won the championship in the area level competitions, and won the highest points in the
general competitions in the diocesan level. The participation of the staff and students in the
activities has shown beyond doubt that we have an excellent pool of highly talented staff and
students. I express my sincere thanks to all the staff members and students for their dedication
and cooperation. I also thank Mr. Ninan Mathai who has been serving as the Sunday School
Headmaster until he relocated to West Virginia with family. Congratulations to Rev. Dn. Daniel
Yohannan who assumed the office of the Headmaster. It’s noteworthy that Mathew Samuel, our
own staff member serves as the Area Sunday School Inspector.
Acolytes (Altar Assistants)
The following persons served as Acolytes during the past year.
Daniel Varghese, Shibu Thomas, Sajan Thomas, Rajesh Geevarghese, Jobin Jacob, Jibin Jacob,
Jerin Juby, Alex Pothen, Steve Kurian, Renju Padiyara, Tom Kappil, Jobin Regi, Issac Samuel,
Jacob Chacko, Abel Ninan, Cijo Joseph, Anoop George, Bibin George, Sanju John, Shibin
Koshy, Jubi Mathai, Joel Panicker, Ajin Thomas, Aju Jacob. Daniel Varghese served as the
Team Leader. The guidance of Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Rev. Dn. Geevarghese John and Rev.
Dn. Daniel Yohannan are praiseworthy.
Music is a vital part of our theology and worship experience. Choir serves as a major vehicle for
incorporating people into the Church. It offers a common language that can be understood and
shared by all of us regardless of our uncommon background. Our Choir has been making
significant contribution in leading our services, and helping our entire congregation sing together
as a big family. The Choir meets regularly for training under the efficient leadership of Idiculla
Thomas, Rajan Padiyara and Lijy Raju. Our Choir under the leadership of Reji Jacob was
instrumental in coordinating the Choir for the Joint Orthodox Convention. Liji Raju is the lead
key board artist.
Members of the Choir include the following:
Reji Jacob, Prince John, Teena Prince, Idiculla Thomas, Anu Thomas, Ashley Varghese, Sonia
John, Sherin Koshy, Sibi Varughese, Melissa Abraham, Seena Varughese, Manju Jacob,
Christina Thomas, Lijy Raju, Kripaya Varghese, Melissa Thomas, Blessy George, Betsy George,
Rajan Padiyara, Sneha Jose, Achu Susan George.
Ecumenical Fellowship of the Indian Churches in Philadelphia:
Thomas Vakkayil and Mathew Samuel represented our parish in the Ecumenical Committee. Our
parish members actively participated in the activities and in fundraising. Thomas Vakayil needs
special appreciation for leading the charity fundraising for the Ecumenical Fellowship.
Budget and Cost Control
The expenditure of our parish was guided by the annual budget passed by the General Body on
February 4, 2007. We tried to keep the cost down, considering the financial conditions of our
members. The contribution to the Building Fund was made voluntary this year. The subscription
rate was kept at the previous year’s level. We negotiated with the Gospel of Grace School
Authorities, and allowed them to use additional space in our building complex. This helped to
generate additional income. The prices of different vendors were compared before making
purchases for items like the Utility Shed. Competitive bids were solicited for many services
including Building Insurance, Pest Control etc. Advertisements from members and non-members
were solicited for Newsletters, fliers etc which helped to defray the cost. The Parish Directory
was printed at no cost to the parish, thanks to the advertisers. Our members gladly volunteered to
provide breakfast to the clergy and guests on Sundays. These may seem like small savings, but
the underlying principle was significant. A tiny hole is enough to sink a large ship. We tried our
best to spend carefully and save responsibly as if we are operating with the money borrowed
from our own children’s education fund. Thanks to everyone’s continued support. We were able
to make additional payments to our bank loan on a regular basis.
Donations by Members
In addition to paying the mandatory dues, several members contributed generously to our parish,
in cash and kind. Rajesh Geevarghese donated a TV for the Library. Anooj Thomas, Anoop
George and Jerin Juby collectively donated a electronic Keyboard/Organ. Many brought
liturgical books and other sacramental items when they returned after vacationing in India. Many
donated books, educational videos, games, periodicals etc to the Library. We gratefully
remember their generous contributions. God will bless the ‘cheerful giver’.
First Fruit Auction
During the summer time, several members brought home-grown plants, fruits and vegetables to
church, reminiscent of the age old tradition of offering to God. We thank them all for their
thoughtfulness and generosity. We also thank the members who auctioned those items, many
times at a cost much higher than the reasonable value, out of their earnestness to support our
First Pay Check
Several young members donated all or part of their first pay check to Church, as a thanksgiving
to God. We thank all the donors for their inspiring act of generosity. May God continue to bless
Contribution from Non-Members
Several people who belong to other parishes in the Philadelphia area visit our parish
occasionally, and support us in many ways. Some of them have donated in cash and kind. One
such donation was a Xerox copier with a variety of features. We thank Mr. George Mathew for
this generous donation. During this year, we were able to able to save a significant amount of
money in copying cost thanks to this copier. A few other members donated in cash. (Their names
are withheld as per request.) We thank everyone for their generous contributions.
Annual Family Picnic
West Goshen Community Park in West Chester, PA was the venue for the Picnic, which was
held on Saturday, July 7, 2007. The food was great, the games were fun and the friendly
atmosphere was heart-warming. Door prizes and other prizes to the winners of the games were
awarded at the conclusion of the Picnic. We had a good turnout, and the nature also cooperated
to brighten our spirits on that sunny Saturday. Hats off to Rajesh Geevarghese (Picnic
Coordinator), Sajan Thomas (Ticket Sales Coordinator), Jacob Zachariah (Food Coordinator),
and all the volunteers for a job well done!
“A family that prays together stays together!” Our Saturday Prayer Meetings have been a great
opportunity for our Parish Family members to get together and worship together in a more casual
setting. Singing together, studying Bible, listening to devotional addresses, praying for the sick
and the suffering, praying for the departed, were part and parcel of our fellowship. The offertory
from the Prayer Meetings was used for charitable causes. Prayer meetings were held at the
residences of 17 members.
Daniel Varghese served as the Coordinator of the Prayer Meetings.
Our Parish has been the center of activities in the Philadelphia area. We opened our doors and
hearts to welcome everyone. We are honored by the visits of the following clergy:
H. G. Mathews Mar Barnabas, Diocesan Metropolitan,
H. G. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Asst. Diocesan Metropolitan,
H. G. Thomas Mar Makarios, Canada and Europe Diocese
H. G. Yuhanon Mar Militos, President, OCYM
H. G. Gabriel Mar Gregorios, Trivandrum Diocese
H. G. Zachariah Mar Theophilos, Malabar Diocese
Very Rev. C. M. Philipose Remban Cor-Episcopa, Bangalore.
Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa
Very Rev. Johnson Cor-Episcopa
Very Rev. Yuhanon Remban, Perunadu Bethany Asramam
Rev. Fr. C. C. Cherian, Dir. Library, Theological Seminary, Kottayam
Rev. Fr. P. C. Thomas, Manager, Diocesan Office
Rev. Dr. Mathew C Chacko, Vicar of St. Baselios-Gregorios Church in New Brunswick.
Rev. Fr. Jobson Kottappurathu
Rev. Dn. John Sankarathil, Detroit
Rev. Dn. Philip Mathew, NY
Rev. Fr. Babu Varghese (Shebaly)
Rev. Fr. K. K. John
Rev. Fr. Bijesh Philip, Theological Seminary, Nagpur
Rev. Fr. Saji Daniel
Rev. Fr. Mathai Edayanal
Rev. Fr. Cyril Davy
Rev. Fr. K. O. Philip Cor-Episcopa
Rev. Fr. Jacob George, Thachedathu
Rev. Mother Mariam, Pathanapuram
Rev. Dn. Siby Kuriakose
Rev. Fr. Reji Mathews, Theological Seminary, Nagpur
Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Erakkathu
Rev. Fr. K. P. Varghese, Baltimore
Rev. Fr. Joshua John, Mumbai
Rev. Fr. Philip Zachariah, New York
Rev. Fr. Babu George, Kadampanadu
Rev. Fr. Moses Gorgun, Germany
Rev. Fr. Isa Oygur, Germany
Rev. Br. Stephanus Budak
Rev. Fr. Dr. Raju Varghese, Sunday School Director
Rev. Fr. Laby George
Rev. Fr. N. S. Varghese
Relocation and Farewell
John Abraham and family relocated to Chicago due to job related reasons. Ninan Mathai and
family relocated to West Virginia, also for better prospects. These families have been very active
in our parish in various capacities. We wish them continued success in their careers, in the
education of their children, and in all their future endeavors. May God continue to bless and
strengthen them to serve Him wherever they go. It’s a pleasure to note that Ninan Mathai and
family continue to maintain its membership in our parish.
Orthodox Vacation Bible School (OVBS)-2007
Our church was home to about 250 students belonging to six parishes in Philadelphia area
(including ours) from Thursday, Aug 2nd until Saturday, Aug 4th, 2007. Among them, around 90
were from our own parish. It’s a blessing that we got a facility big enough to accommodate them
all. It’s important that we don’t just ‘count our blessings’, rather, we must share our blessings,
and use our blessings for His glory. Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me, the
Kingdom of Heaven belong to such as these.” Let’s praise the Lord for giving us the opportunity
to bring the children towards Him. A team of teachers from the area parishes along with the
volunteers from our own parish under the leadership of Mathew Samuel (Area Inspector) worked
diligently to conduct this 3-day event.
Jaden, born to Drs. Praveen and Rinu Gollapudi
Elijah Kuncheriah, born to Lincy and Dr. Shibu Kuncheriah
Jayden T. Mathew, born to Mariamma and Mathew Thankachan
Joel Mathew, born to Asha and Mathew Alex
Anugraha Thankam John, born to Beena and Paul John of Lansdale
Amos Vaidyan, born to Sheena and Kochukoshy Vaidyan.
Noel Cherian, born to Mercy and Binny Cherian.
Josiah Thomas, born to Susan and Shibu Thomas
Sophia Elizabeth Jacob, born to Anu and Aju Jacob
Simeon Mathew, born to Bindu and Santhosh V. Mathew
Every child is a blessing and gift from God. As we welcome our newest and the youngest parish
family members, let us pray that God continue to bless the parents to raise their children as
blessings to this parish and to the world we live in.
The following children were baptized in our parish:
Diya Sara Thomas, daughter of Gigi and Shaji Thomas
Eben P. Mathai, son of Sijo and John P. Mathai
Jayden T. Mathew, son of Mariamma and Mathew Thankachan
MaryGrace Pothen, daughter of Liz and Alex Pothen
Elijah Kuncheriah, son of Lincy and Dr. Shibu Kuncheriah
Anugraha Thankam John, daughter of Beena and Paul John
The following children were baptized in India:
Joshua George, son of Leni and George Mampallil
Alaina Mathew, daughter of Riny and Saju Mathew
Samantha Philip, daughter of Saji and Philip T. Varghese
Joel Mathew, son of Asha and Mathew Alex
May God bless the children and their parents.
Passing away of Mrs. Saramma Mathew, our Member
Mrs. Saramma Mathew, wife of the late Mr. Mathew Ponnachan, one of our members was called
to eternal rest on March 16, 2007. She had been sick for around six months. The funeral was held
on Wednesday, March 21, 2007. She had been a pious member of our Church, with a warm and
friendly demeanor. Our parish always pulled together in times of difficulties. Once again it
showed that we are a caring community that can “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with
those who weep.” Our parish family will miss her dearly. Survivors include her daughter Anu
and son Anish. We express our deep condolences to Anish and Anu at the physical departure of
their beloved mother. Let’s hope and pray that her soul is in paradise.
When our beloved ones leave this world to their eternal home, we feel sorrowful. But we can be
sure that they are at a better place where there’s no sorrow or weeping. We remember the
following family members who went to their heavenly abode. Memorial Prayer meetings were
held at the residences of our members, whenever feasible.
Mrs. Saramma Thomas, Mother of Idiculla Thomas
Mrs. Pennamma Thomas, sister of Thomas Varghese (Tabor Road)
Mr. George K. Mathew, Daniel Varghese’s wife Lilly’s twin sister’s husband
Mrs. Mariamma Oommen, mother of Jessy Padiyara and Oommen Geevarghese.
Mrs. Mariamma Joseph, mother of Sosamma Raju
Mr. M. G. Baby and Mrs. Mariamma Baby, parents of Shibu and Santhosh Baby
Mrs. Sosamma Thomas, mother of Annamma Geevarghese
Mr. Saji Alex, nephew of Idiculla Thomas
Mrs. Saramma Mathew, grandmother of Gigi Thomas, Lansdale.
Mr. T. V. Mathai, father of Ninan Mathai
Mrs. Lillykutty, sister of Annamma Jacob
HG Augen Mar Dionysius enters heavenly abode
HG Augen Mar Dionysius, Metropolitan of the Idukki Diocese, entered his heavenly abode, on
June 6, 2007 after a car accident near Ponkunnam. HG was 52. HG was considered as a rising
Sun of our Church. HG was on his way to Kumali from Kottayam, to distribute books and
uniform for poor children. H.G. was on the mission to help the poor, and Thirumeni gave his
own life during that mission. A Memorial Service and special prayers were held on Wednesday,
June 6, 2007 in our parish.
H. G. Stephanos Mar Theodosius, A Blessed Icon!
HG was one of the most respected bishops of our Church. HG was the face of the Orthodox
Church in North India. He earned his reputation as a humble person, and a great servant of the
less fortunate because he denied the luxuries that come with the position of a bishop, and instead
decided to live among the poorest in the rural areas in North India. Over there in the areas where
Thirumeni worked, the only means of transportation was still bullock carts. Here’s one bishop
who walks on foot to serve the powerless and voiceless multitude. HG was unique and an
exception. HG makes us proud to be a member of this Church. May this Holy Father’s life
inspire us. A Memorial service was conducted in our Church on Wednesday, November 7, 2007.
It was organized by the Joint Orthodox Fellowship of Philadelphia.
Very Rev. Thomas P. Mundukuzhy Cor-Episcopa
Mundukuzhy Achen was the Director of Sunday Schools in the American Diocese for over 22
years. Author of several books aimed at educating the children and the laity, Achen dedicated his
life to serve the growing generation in this country. He valued the power of knowledge, and was
always in the forefront to impart knowledge to others. There are not many in his age group who
realized the power of internet and technology to disseminate information and educate others. He
was called to his heavenly abode on March 20, 2007 at the age of 74. May his soul rest in peace.
Engagements and Weddings
Sheba Thankachan, daughter of Mrs. & Mr. Thankachan K. Mathai got engaged to Denney
Kuruvilla. The couple got married soon after, here in Philadelphia.
Joby Joseph, son of Mrs. & Mr. Joseph Varghese of our parish got married to Shalini Mathew in
Philadelphia. The ceremony was officiated by our Vicar Rev. Fr. MK Kuriakose.
Ann T. Raju, daughter of Mrs. & Mr. Raju T. Chandy of our parish got married to Vinay B.
Daniel in India.
We congratulate the newly married couples, and wish them a blessed married life.
Congratulations to Rev. Fr. Aju Philip Mathews
Respected Aju Shemmassen was ordained a priest on Saturday, March 24, 2007 in our parish.
HG Mathews Mar Barnabas was the chief celebrant. Several clergy and laity were in attendance.
Achen conducted Holy Communion Service in our parish for the first time on Sunday, April 1,
2007. Achen was felicitated by many including members from our parish.
Congratulations to Rev. Dn. Daniel Yohannan
The Holy Ordination of Daniel Shemmassen was held on Saturday, April 21, 2007 in our parish.
This was the first time a member of our parish got ordained as a Deacon. HG Thomas Mar
Makarios Metropolitan led the ordination ceremony, assisted by several other priests. A public
meeting was held immediately after the service to honor the newly ordained Shemmassen. May
God continue to bless Shemmassen, and use him for His mission.
Bible Study By Rev. Fr. Mathai Edayanal
Rev. Fr. Mathai Edayanal led a Bible Study for our members on May 20th, after the Holy
Qurbana. Achen who is well known as a professional and religious Teacher captured the hearts
and minds of the audience during his brief presentation. Using simple language and anecdotes,
Achen stressed the importance of learning the fundamentals of our faith.
Achen manages Mar Baselios Boys home and Girls home in Palghat district for underprivileged
children. Many members supported his charitable projects with financial contributions.
Fasts, Feasts, Saints and Fathers
Canonical fasts were observed according to our faith and traditions. Memorial prayers were said
remembering St. Gregorios of Parumala, the first declared saint of our Malankara Orthodox
Church, and other saints and fathers of our church. Let their intercession lead us and strengthen
us in our spiritual journey.
St. Thomas Day
Our Patron Saint’s Day was celebrated on Saturday, June 30th and Sunday, July 1, 2007. H. G.
Mathews Mar Barnabas, the Diocesan Metropolitan was the chief celebrant and guest speaker on
Saturday, June 30th and Sunday, July 1, 2007. A traditional procession/Rasa was held along the
roads surrounding our Church building Complex after Holy Qurbana on Sunday, July 1st. It was
a proclamation of our faith, tradition and rich cultural heritage. It was the first time in the history
of our parish that we ever had a procession on the road. The orderly procession of members and
friends of our Church under the banner of our Church, with Holy Cross, the picture of St.
Thomas on a decorated Jeep, accompanied by traditional drums etc was a remarkable one. Media
coverage was provided by Asianet TV, Sangamam newspaper and Orthodox Herald. Special
thanks go to Jose K. John, the Coordinator of Program Committee, and Philip Varghese,
Holy Week Services
Evening Prayer was conducted every day during the Great Lent. During the Passion week, our
Church was open every day for prayer and meditation. Morning prayers, noon prayers and
evening prayers were said regularly. Many faithful made use of this opportunity to come and
spend the time in meditation and prayer in the house of the Lord. Rev. Fr. Bijesh Philip, faculty
of the St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary in Nagpur was the chief celebrant during the
Passion week. Several clergy from the Philadelphia area were guest speakers. Traditional
refreshments were provided to the faithful after noon prayer and evening prayer.
Lenten Retreat was conducted on Saturday, March 17, 2007 under the leadership of Rev. Fr.
Jobson Kottappurathu. Several members made use of the opportunity for Holy Confession, and
received the Holy Communion the following day. I thank the Youth Movement for coordinating
and sponsoring this event.
Good Friday Vigil: MGOCM held an All-night prayer Vigil on Good Friday. Rev. Dn.
Geevarghese John led the vigil. Rev. Fr. Bijesh Philip was the guest speaker.
MOCF Convention: Our parish hosted the Malankara Orthodox Christian Fellowship (MOCF)
Convention (a joint convention under the auspices of the Orthodox parishes in Philadelphia). The
Convention has held on Friday, August 3rd and Saturday, August 4th. Prof Jacob Kurian Onattu
was the main speaker. Devotional songs sung by the Choir under the leadership of Reji Jacob,
our own member, were very melodious.
OCYM Convention: A spiritual Convention was held on September 8, 2007 in our parish. Rev.
Fr. Philip Zachariah, New York gave the devotional address. The OCYM took special initiative
to organize this convention.
Our Church was the venue for the Annual Ecumenical convention organized under the auspices
of the Ecumenical Fellowship of the Christian Churches in Philadelphia. The convention was
held from Friday, October 26 through Sunday, October 28th in the evenings. The distinguished
preachers included Rev. Fr. Philip Zachariah, Prof. Koshy Thalackal and Rev. Susiel Varghese.
CRF Convention: Christian Revival Fellowship (CRF) conducted its annual convention on July
20th-22nd in our Church.
Meeting of Altar Assistants’ Association (AAA):
The first meeting of the AAA-Philadelphia Region was held in our parish on Sept. 30, 2007.
AAA’s President H. G. Gabriel Mar Gregorios Metropolitan led the meeting.
World Day of Prayer
World Day of Prayer was observed on Saturday, March 3, 2007 in our Church. Members from
various denominations in Philadelphia area participated. The program was coordinated by the
Ecumenical Fellowship of the Indian Churches in Philadelphia.
Participation in the Diocesan Activities
Diocesan Assembly Meeting: Our Parish hosted the meeting of the Diocesan Assembly of the
American Diocese on March 25, 2007.
Aramana Fund: As our Diocese purchased a new building to be used as its headquarters, many
of our members contributed generously. Diocesan Share is collected from members as a
mandatory contribution, and is sent to the Diocese as usual.
Family and Youth Conference: This Conference, under the auspices of the American Diocese,
was held on July 18th-21st. A few of our members participated in the Conference.
The Parish Meeting held on Sunday, September 23, gave our members, regardless of age and
gender, a unique opportunity to voice their opinion on Church affairs. The main focus of the
discussion was to ensure meaningful participation of our youngsters in our holy liturgy. The
meeting recommended conducting Holy Communion services in Malayalam and English, on
alternate Sundays. Thanks go to all members for their genuine participation and involvement.
Our Library was inaugurated by H. G. Mathews Mar Barnabas, the Diocesan Metropolitan on
Sunday, July 1, 2007. HG inaugurated the library by lending a book to George Varghese, one of
the senior members and volunteers who worked hours and days to catalogue the books in the
new library. Our Library will be a resource center for those who seek knowledge and
information. The Library Committee is planning to conduct educational lectures, training courses
etc are in the coming months. Our members contributed a lot of valuable books, videos and
games. Many members volunteered their time and talents for painting the room, cataloguing,
network connection, installation of software, development of software for automated bar-code
scanning of the books and media, and so on. We express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who
cooperated with this venture. Congratulations to Mathew Samuel, Ashok Paulose, George
Vattethu, George Varghese, Philip John, Binny Cherian, Alex Symon, Anooj Thomas and a team
of volunteers who worked behind the scenes to open our Library. All our books are scientifically
classified and catalogued by our Vicar who is a professional Librarian. This helps us expand the
library keeping the same organization according to Dewy Decimal Classification System.
Community Service Activities
While our primary focus is to enhance the spiritual well being of its members, we never ignored
our responsibilities towards the well being of our fellow brothers and sisters outside our parish.
Stem Cell Screening for donation, Blood Screening for Blood Pressure and Sugar levels, Blood
donation Drive, and charitable services were all part of this outlook.
Stem Cell Screening
Trinu Thomas, a member of St Stephens Mar Thoma church, New Jersey was diagnosed with a
rare form of Leukemia. She was a married 26 year young lady. She needed a stem cell transplant
to survive. A Screening Drive for Stem Cell donation was held on May 6th in our parish. Around
60 members from our parish volunteered. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her sickness, and was
called to her eternal home. Regardless, our acts of caring will never go unnoticed by the
heavenly Father. God will reward those who volunteered for this screening. Special thanks go to
Robin Raju and MGOCSM members for coordinating this service.
PIANO Conducts Blood Screening
On June 17, 2007, PIANO (Pennsylvania Indian American Nurses’ Organization), conducted a
free blood screening in our Church Auditorium for pressure and sugar levels. Several of our
members made use of this service, and it also helped raise awareness. Asianet TV broadcasted
this event on Saturday, June 23, 2007. We thank Mr. Vincent Emmanuel, Coordinator of this
program, and PIANO for conducting this community service event.
Blood Donation Drive
We are a caring and sharing community, and we showed it this time, by donating blood. Several
veteran donors as well as first time donors donated blood during the donor drive held in our
Church for the first time, on July 15, 2007. Working with Red Cross, we have started a new
tradition. Let’s do it again every year. This is one of the ways we can give back to the
community where we live in, where we raise our children, where we will spend the rest of our
lives. As the Scripture reminds us, ‘It’s better to give than receive.’ Thanks go to Jesly Alex for
her leadership in coordinating this special event.
Our Charity Fund was around $ 40000.00, and was distributed after careful consideration. The
source of income included prayer meeting offertory, Wednesday Service Offertory, designated
contributions by members etc.
Considering the financial hardships, we gave a total of $ 2500.00 as educational and/or sick aid
to four individuals in India. In addition, we considered the requests from two churches in Sultan
Battery and Idukki dioceses which are financially very poor. We donated $ 2500.00 to St. Johns
Church in Sultan Battery, and $2500.00 to Mar Gregorios Church in Chettukuzhy, Idukki. The
Chettukuzhy Church, which comprised mostly of farmers, couldn’t afford to replace a badly
needed roof. When the plight of this church and many other churches in the Idukki Diocese was
recently reported in ICON (Indian Christian Orthodox Network), one of its members offered to
donate a matching contribution of $ 0.50 for every dollar donated to this cause. When this person
was informed of our parish’s decision to help the Chettukuzhy Church, he sent us a matching
contribution of $ 1250.00 as he promised to ICON. So a total of $ 3750.00 was donated to the
Idukki Church. The member who donated $1250.00 happens to be a former member of our own
parish, who doesn’t want to disclose his name. We thank him for his generosity. With our
sponsorship, the Chettukuzhy church could replace its roof. Our donation will serve as a
Christmas gift for that parish.
The St. Johns Orthodox Church, Moolankavu, in Wayanad is a poor parish of very few members.
Their old church collapsed and it was a huge challenge to that parish with very few members to
erect a church for them. Now it will be possible for them to complete the construction. May God
bless all those who contributed generously to the Charity Fund.
Family Welfare Fund
During the past few months, we encountered a few situations where our members needed
emergency financial support. Our General Body rose to the occasion and instituted the Family
Emergency Fund. Many members wholeheartedly contributed to this fund. Thanks to the
generosity of our members, we could help a few of our own members.
Charity-Our Parish Responds to Rev. Fr. T. J. Joshua’s Request
Recently, Dr. Mrs. Mariamma Joshua, wife of respected Joshua achen, and the driver of her car
passed away in a tragic accident in India. They were on their way to the airport to pick up Achen.
The driver belonged to a very needy family. His first child was born just days after his death.
After Achen’s request was read in our parish, many members volunteered to help the driver’s
widow. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, a total of $ 2400.00 was donated to this family.
Mothers’ Day Celebration
Mother’s day was celebrated on May 13th at Church. Representing all the children, Jacob
Chacko, Secretary of the MGOCSM spoke in appreciation of the unconditional love and
sacrifices of the mothers. Later, everyone enjoyed the delicious cake. On Saturday, May 26th,
MGOCSM organized another program in honor of the Mothers. The program included speeches
and prayer that was followed by lunch.
Fathers’ Day Celebration, June 17th
Fathers’ day was celebrated on June 17th at Church. Our Vicar, Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose spoke
on the responsibilities of fathers, and the influence of fathers on the children. Representing all
the children, Jacob Chacko, Secretary of the MGOCSM spoke honoring the fathers. Later,
everyone enjoyed the delicious cake.
Free Internet Training
As part of the instructional series, free Internet training session was offered by the Library
Committee. A few of our members made use of this beneficial service.
Language is part of a culture. Our members understand the benefits of teaching our mother
tongue to our children. Malayalam School was conducted for a few weeks under the leadership
of Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Brown Varghese and Rajan Padiyara who served as the Teachers.
The School was discontinued due to scheduling conflicts and/or poor enrollment. We hope to
reopen the School soon.
On Saturday, July 28, the talented and renowned artists of Sariga Arts entertained our audience
with melodious music and well choreographed dances. The Mimicry program added more flavor,
offering an evening of enjoyment. Thanks go to Jose K. John, Program Committee Coordinator,
Thomas George, Ticket Sales Coordinator, Morth Mariam Samajam members who provided
snacks, MGOCSM members who managed the Soft drinks, and all who supported this event.
Harvest Festival, celebrated on October 6th was indeed a festival for the whole parishioners. The
Grocery Store, introduced for the first time by the OCYM was a novel attraction as well as a
service to the Philadelphia community. The traditional Indian dress Exhibition and sale
organized by Martha Mariam Samajam was another major attraction. The Sunday School
organized a Religious Store, Gift basket auctions etc. Even the children participated
enthusiastically by managing their own booth for used books and games. The booths for games,
snacks and drinks organized by the MGOCSM were enjoyed by many, especially the youngsters.
The ‘Five Star Nadan Thattukada’ organized by the OCYM had to be extended to the evening
hours due to popular demand. The ‘Unaru Restaurant’ operated by the Martha Mariam Samjam
served authentic homemade Indian dishes during lunch hours. A brand new 42-inch LCD TV
was auctioned off during the ‘American Auction’. Thomas Varghese was the winner of the TV.
It’s praiseworthy that Thomas Varghese family was generous enough to return it back for
auction. The TV was further auctioned by Betsy George for a full price, thus enabling us to
generate additional revenue. Several new and gently used items donated by our members also
were auctioned off. Artists from our own parish and the greater Philadelphia community
entertained the audience with dances, music and Mimics Parade. Special thanks go to Aji
Panicker’s team for its excellent dance performance. A lot of volunteers under the leadership of
Jose K. John, the Program Committee Coordinator, worked behind the scenes to make the
Harvest Festival a memorable event.
Thanksgiving was celebrated on Sunday, November 18, 2007. Thanksgiving lunch offered after
the Holy Communion service came with all the traditional trimmings. Everyone enjoyed the food
that we prepared in-house and that we purchased from caterers. On the occasion the traditional
‘Thanksgiving Offertory’ was taken. It fetched approximately $10,500.00, which was added to
the Building Fund. It was great that our people still continue to be thankful to God for His
From December 1 until December 23, 2007, our caroling team visited the houses of our members
and spread the Christmas message. It’s noteworthy that the presence and prayers of Rev. Fr. M.
K. Kuriakose, Rev. Fr. Laby George and Rev. Dn. Daniel Yohannan was inspiring. It was a
joyous and blessed experience for all the participants. We thank all the families that welcomed
the carolers with their warm spirit and refreshments. Binu Mathew, Vice President of OCYM
served as the Carol Coordinator.
On December 24th, for about three hours, our children and adults presented a variety of programs
to enlighten and entertain the audience. The highlights include nativity show and short plays by
Sunday School students, social drama by OCYM, Biblical drama by Martha Mariam Samajam,
dance by MGOCSM, Carols by various members etc. Rev. Pastor Kelly gave the Christmas
Message. Jose K. John served as the event Coordinator.
Felicitation of Graduates
The recent graduates from our parish were felicitated during a brief ceremony held on Sunday,
July 15, 2007. Agin Thomas, Geena Regi, Sonia John, Jobin Regi, Renju Padiyara, Susan
Chacko, Soben Benny, Christina Thomas, Jensina Pothen, Justina Pothen, Anne T. Raju,
Reynold Idiculla (Rony), Jomy Joseph Sheeba Thankachan, Steve Kurien and Somi Peediyakkal
were among the graduates. Achen congratulated the graduates for their accomplishments, and
thanked them for inspiring others.
As our membership grew, we felt the need to help our members get to know each other better,
and foster better relationship. Publishing a Parish Directory listing all the members in each
member household was one sure step in this direction. We also added the home parish of the
head of the household. During the process, our Parish database also got updated with accurate
information. Thanks to the support of the advertisers, the Directory was printed with no financial
burden to our Parish. Paul John, Assistant Secretary of our Parish did a commendable job in
updating the database and printing the Directory. Thanks go to everyone who cooperated with
Being several years old, our Church building needed several upgrades and routine maintenance.
Most challenging issue was addressing the building code violations. Among the 26 violations,
some were minor while some others were labor intensive electrical and mechanical problems.
The services of our member John P. Mathai and his brother (who are licensed electrical
contractors) were instrumental in completing the electrical works on schedule. Thanks to the
dedication of several members, all violations were addressed successfully. Major works included
installation of new automatic fire extinguisher system in the kitchen, upgrading fire
extinguishers, exit signs, automatic/self-closing fire doors, etc. A new utility shed was purchased
and installed behind the kitchen. This is being used as a detached storage for garden supplies,
flammable liquids, cooking gas cylinders and other items that can’t be stored in dwelling areas.
A new double sink with cabinetry was installed in the men’s bathroom. The Sunday School room
needed repairing of the walls with wooden panels. It was completed by a team of volunteers.
New draperies were installed in this room. The roof of our church needed repairing for leaks at
times, which was repaired as it occurred. Replacement of one section of the roof was in the
plans. Quotations were sought, and have been reviewed and approved. Due to poor weather
conditions at the time, it was decided to postpone the work for next year. The Building
Maintenance Committee under the leadership of our Achen, who was its Coordinator, met
several times to evaluate the needs. Special thanks go to Rajan Padiyara who spent several hours
and days to coordinate the repair works. Services of some of our members including Varghese
P. Abraham, Philip Varghese, Thomas George, Regi Mathai, Idiculla Thomas and Paul John
were remarkable. I gratefully appreciate the help of all those who volunteered for repair and
Our Newsletters have served as an effective medium to communicate with our members on
various topics. Newsletters were published typically on the first Sunday of the year. Aju Jacob
served as the Editor. I thank Aju and respected Kuriakose achen for working with me as the
Editorial Board. Thanks go to Anooj Thomas and Regi Mathai for their help in printing the
newsletters. Paul John was always earnest in uploading the newsletters on our parish web site,
Paul John did a commendable service in managing the website www.stthomasphiladelphia.org.
The entire design was revised, new features were added, and the content was updated in a timely
manner. From time to time, many visitors came to our parish after finding the information on the
net. Paul was very prompt in updating our website with current information.
About the future
Our parish has grown tremendously during the past several years. Our membership growth is
steady and encouraging. Our cash flow and financial status are strong. Our spiritual activities are
enriching. Our reputation as a leader in the Philadelphia area, and in the Diocese in general is
unquestionable. Our achievements come with higher expectations, and strong challenges. I
believe we need to discuss and make decisions on issues that can positively impact our journey
to the future.
Our children represent our future. We need to ensure that our young children are participating
meaningfully in our Holy Sacraments. How loyal and confident are they to be the leaders of our
parish and Church tomorrow? Are we enabling them to carry the mantle to lead our Church in
the coming years?
There are many young adults who are not traditional worshippers, or supporters of our parish.
They shy away from our regular schedules due to social, cultural and linguistic issues. How can
we reach out to them in a systematic and effective way? We need to start saving enough to face
the economic challenges of the future. We own an old building. Due to its age, we will be
spending a significant amount of money for repairs and maintenance. As time goes, and as our
membership grows, we will need to find a better, if not bigger facility to conduct our services.
Are we planning wisely to become financially stronger? Are we planning to provide enough
services based on our spiritual and cultural needs? I’m sure we will get to discuss such issues in
the coming months.
I thank God Almighty for giving me the opportunity to serve as the Secretary of this blessed
parish of ours. Sincere thanks and appreciation go to all, who helped to make this year a
productive, progressive and blessed year. When we look back at the activities of the year, we can
see the collective efforts and cooperation of everyone making it an enjoyable year for everyone.
The clear commitment of so many of you to the life of our parish resulted in our successes listed
in this report.
We pledge allegiance to our Church, founded by St. Thomas, the Apostle to India, and his
successor, His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Didymus I, the Episcopal Synod, H. G. Mathews
Mar Barnabas, our Diocesan Metropolitan and H. G. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Assistant
Metropolitan. Let the intercession of St. Mary, St. Thomas, Mar Gregorios, Mar Divannasios,
and all other Church fathers bring blessings from God Almighty.
On behalf of Roy Chacko, the Treasurer, Managing Committee, Board of Trustees, and myself, I
thank each one of you for your support and cooperation. To some degree or other, each one of
you supported me, and inspired me, and I’m indebted to you for that. I would like to mention the
selfless service of a few extra ordinary people who made a lot of difference during the past year.
Our parish is blessed to have Kuriakose Achen as our Vicar and leader. It’s been a pleasure
working with Kuriakose Achen. Achen deserves respect for many reasons. He is very humble,
hands-on, caring, practical and positive. Two characteristics that stood out mostly that helped me
were, one, his ability to diffuse tense situations. When tough situations come up, he handles them
calmly and objectively. That is true leadership. A leader has to be a firefighter. Secondly, he
transmits confidence and optimism to everyone around him. In spite of his enormous
responsibilities in our parish, Achen is very involved in our ecumenical community, and he
earned enormous respect. He is the greatest Ambassador of our parish. On behalf of our parish
members, I thank Achen for successfully leading our parish to where we are now, and for his
inspiring leadership. I also thank his family, especially Kochamma for her understanding and
unconditional support to Achen’s ministry. The support from the family gives strength to Achen,
and it helps each one of us as members of this parish family. Let us all continue to uphold Achen
and family in our prayers.
For a parish with our strength, additional support from clergy can make a difference. As a
deacon, and later as our Assistant Vicar, Rev. Fr. Aju Mathews has been a leader to the youth
and an inspiration to the parents. Rev. Dn. Geevarghese John was instrumental in leading the
programs including the Bible studies for the youth. Our own Rev. Dn. Daniel Yohannan has been
of significant support to our Achen, and to our parish in general. The Seminarians, our future
priests, were always a source of inspiration. I express my gratitude to each one of them.
Roy Chacko did an excellent job as the Treasurer. He was very organized, and always on top of
all accounting matters. He was keen about doing it right from the very beginning. Teaming up
with Brown Varghese, the Assistant Treasurer, the accounting functions were done with a
professional touch. I thank Roy, Brown and their families for everything they have done for our
parish during the past year.
The Board of Trustees and the Managing Committee members worked diligently as a team in the
planning and execution of all the activities. We disagreed at times, but with mutual respect. We
had different approaches to handling issues. But in the end, what mattered to us was our shared
goal of the smooth functioning and growth of our parish. Thank you all for your hard work with
a tremendous spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.
As Assistant Secretary, Paul John wore multiple hats. He managed the web site, maintained the
parish database, created the Parish Directory for the first time, helped in repairing of rooms, and
the list goes on. He did all these at a time when his family needed him most, as he became a
father for the first time. Personally, he was my best friend and my advisor. I thank Paul for his
sincerity and dedication.
Jose K. John was one of the busiest among the Managing Committee members. As the Program
Coordinator, he did a lot of work to coordinate several activities including the summer
entertainment program, Harvest Festival and the Christmas Eve program. I express my gratitude
to Jose for a job well done.
Coordinating the refreshment on regular Sundays and on feast days, and keeping everyone happy
in a parish of our size is challenging. Jacob Zachariah handled it well, with the cooperation of
many including Chacko P. Chacko, Ammamma (Mrs. Aleyamma Varghese), Kondoor Chacko,
and the list goes on. Occasionally, we got to cook in our own parish kitchen. It was hard work
for many, yet the pleasure of working together (and of course eating together) as a family was
priceless. Thank you all for the teamwork.
As the Coordinator of the Annual Family Picnic, Rajesh Geevarghese did an excellent job to
make sure that it was an enjoyable get together for everyone. Conducting an entertainment
program with fundraising as another goal is really challenging. Thomas George didn’t hesitate
to accept this challenge, and he did a good job. He always volunteered to help cheerfully. Joseph
Vakkayil and his team did a commendable job in keeping our Church building and premises very
neat. Our Prayer meetings were well coordinated by Daniel Varghese. We saw our Church
bustling with visitors, and the Reception Committee under the leadership of Benny Mathew
generated significant goodwill. I thank everyone who played a part in our successes. I thank the
office bearers and members of MGOCSM, OCYM, Sunday School, Couples’ Forum, Martha
Mariam Samajam, Mens’ Forum, the Choir, Altar Assistants for their cooperation and hard work.
Many thanks to the past office bearers especially Alex Symon, Idiculla Thomas, John Panicker,
Philip Varghese, Regi Mathai and Varghese P. Abraham for their words of wisdom.
Let me say a word of thanks to Mr. Tyron who did many plumbing and electrical repairs on short
notice. Mr. Carmelo Rodriguez and family did an exceptional job in keeping our church clean
Managing the building and the office of a growing parish with such a large facility is
challenging. But we did remarkably well, thanks to the dedication and sacrifice of Rajan
Padiyara who volunteered as the Office Manager. He handled the daily mail, phones,
maintenance, repairs, rentals, record keeping, and a lot more. I’m deeply grateful to Rajan and
his family for dedicating so much time for our parish. Anooj Thomas is known to many as the
Manager of the sound system on Sundays. However, he handled a lot more than that. Whenever
he was available on weekdays, he would be in the church. If he had a minute to spare, he would
do cleaning, organizing, and anything else he can think of, all without being asked. Rajan and
Anooj made themselves available at the church any time of the day or night, whenever possible.
My grateful appreciation and thanks go out to both of them, and pray that God reward them for
their unconditional dedication and love towards our parish.
Personally speaking, it has been an honor to serve as the Secretary of our blessed parish. The
support from my family was significant during the year. Let me take the privilege to express my
appreciation to my wife Maya and my children Tom and Betsy for their understanding and
support. I also thank the families of all the office bearers for their sacrifices, support and
I cherish the moments of joy in working together with so many wonderful people, on so many
projects. I’m grateful to you for your kind words, support and cooperation. Our parish is growing
strong because of the dedication and teamwork of everyone, regardless of position. Let Holy
Spirit guide us in the Christian spirit of love and cooperation so that we can continue to grow and
Let His name be glorified.
For the Managing Committee and Board of Trustees,
Oommen Kappil, Secretary