The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) expresses its deepest condolences at the passing away of Most Rev Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan, the Emeritus Metropolitan of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, on 5th May 2021 at the age of 104.
“As the senior most Bishop of the Christian community in India and a Bishop who inspired many through his thought-provoking theological insights coated with humour, he will ever be remembered by the church in India”; said the Most Rev Dr P. C. Singh, the President of NCCI and the Moderator of Church of North India. Metropolitan will be remembered as a courageous prophetic ecumenist who envisioned ecumenism in relationships – relationship with peoples of different faiths and ideologies.
Born in Kerala in 1918, Mar Chrysostom began with community-oriented work in Ankola, Karnataka from 1940 to 1942 prior to his theological studies in the United Theological College, Bangalore. He was ordained as Deacon on 1st January 1944 and as a Presbyter on 3rd June. He was consecrated a Bishop on 23 May, 1953 and became the Metropolitan of the Church on 23rd October 1999. The Metropolitan voluntarily retired from administrative responsibilities on 1st October 2007.
The life and witness of the Metropolitan is a text book for those who are involved in the ministry of the Church and for everyone in the ecumenical fraternity. By being with people in their varying circumstances, sharing in their experiences and struggles, the Metropolitan celebrated life – transcending all the boundaries set by society. Thus, many research papers, books and documentaries have been published on his life. He was known for his sense of humour in communication through which he sought to communicate the philosophical perspective to life in lucid and plain terns. In this endeavour he went beyond religion to break sectarian outlook. His humorous speeches and talks have also been a favourite topic among many authors for their books.
The Metropolitan was an ardent advocate of ecumenism and he served different ecumenical bodies. He served National Christian Council (former name of National Council of Churches in India) as its president. He also gave leadership to Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) and the Kerala Council of Churches. He represented the Mar Thoma Church as its official delegate in many assemblies of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and those of the Christian Conference of Asia. He was also one of the observers in the second Vatican Council.
NCCI thanks God for the life of Metropolitan Chrysostom and for his relentless effort to make the Gospel of Christ a living reality in the life of people. The continuation of his legacy in advocating for justice, human rights and freedom will be a great challenge, but is an imperative part of the ongoing mission of bringing healing, joy and wholesome laughter to a divided world.
Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI