H.G. Mor Gregorius Gheevarghese Laid to Rest
February 23, 1999
The metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Diocese of Kottayam and the President of the Synod of the Malankara Church, His Grace Mor Gregorius Gheevarghese, entered into eternal rest on February 22, 1999 at 8:20 pm. Mor Gregorius was under medical care at P.V.S. Hospital in Ernakulam since December 1998 and was most recently hospitalized on February 16th.
The mortal remains of Mor Gregorius were taken to the Perumpilly St. George Simhasana Church late at night on February 22nd stopping enroute at St. Mary's Zunoro Church, Elamkulam, Nadamel St. Mary's Church, Tripunithura and St. George's Church, Karingachira. The first service of the funeral for the late metropolitan was conducted by H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas at Perumpilly at 2 am on February 23rd. The second service at 10 am was officiated by H.E. Mor Abraham Clemis and the third service at 12:30 pm by Mor Yulius Kuriakose.
At 1:45 pm, the mortal remains were taken in procession to the Mulanthuruthy Mar Thoman Church for the "nagari kanikkal"--bidding farewell to the altars served which is a traditional part of the funeral services for departed clergy. A bidding farewell rite was also held at the chapel in the name of Parumala Mor Gregorios enroute. The services at the Mulanthuruthy Church were lead by Chor Episcopa Sleeba Mangat. The ancient Syrian Christian village of Mulanthruthy saw an unprecedented gathering of people who came from far and near to pay their last respects to their departed bishop.
The procession returned to Perumpilly at 4 pm. The final bidding of farewell to the altars, the clergy and the faithful was then held. The bishops and priests lifted the mortal remains of Mor Gregorius seated on the chair to kiss the wall at the three doors and at the sanctuary of the church during the bidding of the farewell. The final service of the funeral was then officiated by Mor Dionysius Thomas, Mor Clemis Abraham, the Chief Metropolitan of the East and Bishop of the Knanaya Diocese along with Syrian Orthodox bishops Mor Dioskoros Benyamen Atas (Sweden), Mor Osthatheos Benyamin (Simhasana Churches), Mor Yulius Kuriakose (Patriarchal Vicar for Malankara), Mor Timotheus Thomas (Outside Kerala) Mor Gregorius Joseph (Cochin), Mor Philoxenus Yuhanon (Malabar), Mor Polycarpose Gheevarghese (Evangelical Association) and hundreds of priests. Many thousands of faithful bade a tearful farewell to their beloved bishop who had given able leadership to the church for nearly three decades. At 5:30 pm, the body seated on the bishop's chair in full vestments was lowered into the tomb on the northern side of the sanctuary by the bishops and the priests. The bishop's body was covered with frankincense in it's final resting place, according to the tradition. The beloved metropolitan who lead the Syrian Orthodox Church in Malankara ably during a time of crisis thus became a part of its history.
Bishops of several churches paid their respects to the late metropolitan when the mortal remains were kept for public viewing at Perumpilly. They included the Catholicose, Baselius Mar Thoma Mathews II, Catholicose-designate Thomas Mar Timotheos, Gheevarghese Mar Osthatheos (Niranam), Mathews Mar Barnabas (USA) and Thomas Mar Makarios (USA) of the Malankara Orthodox Church, Dr. Sam Mathew, Bishop of the CSI Church and President of the Kerala Christian Council, Catholic Archbishops Dr. Daniel Acharuparambil (Varapuzha) and Kuriakose Kunnassery (Kottayam), Bishop Mar Mathew Mulakkat, Thomas Mar Kurilose (Tiruvalla) and Joseph Mar Ignatius (Trivandrum).
Metropolitan Mor Dionysius Thomas will henceforth preside over the Synod in Malankara. Mor Timotheus Thomas has assumed the spiritual care of the archdioceses of Kottayam, Quilon, Niranam and Thumpamon in addition to his responsibilities as bishop of the dioceses in India, outside Kerala.