Re: The Brahmavar Community's Marriage Woes
- Respected Noel achen & others,
It is sad to hear about the problems of Konkani Orthodox community and the sheep stealing of RC Church. If we look at history Catholics has always been like this. The saddest thing is that still they continue to do this to our church that are in ecumenical dialogue with them. May God forgive them!
During my college days once I attended MGOCSM meeting in our Thiruvithamcode church. Our late H.G Mathews Mar Ephipanios Thirumeni was there in the church. I got an opportunity to speak to H.G. I asked H.G 'Despite of being a parish established by St. Thomas, why there is only 11 families in this parish?' H.G replied that it is because 'Each one went to each church'. Since Thiruvithamcode is far away from our main areas we did not give much attention to them, as a result they left us. H.G openly admitted that our church lacks professionalism. H.G also told me that a neigbouring RC church now claims that St. Thomas built their church; as a result pilgrims who are supposed to come to Thiruvithamcode church are going to that church.
Why i wrote this here is that if we do not listen to the problems of our Konkani community, the same fate will happen to them also. I hope our church leaders who are members of this forum will take this matter to our leadership. We and Jacobites have the same faith. I am wondering if Jacobites are able to make an inter church marriage agreement with RC, why we are not able to do so? Our late H.G Alwaris Mar Julios thirumeni has undergone lot of hardships for the Konkani Orthodox community. May God bless our Konkani community!
- Most Respected Noel Achan,
Thank you for highlighting a very pressing concern of the community.
The email id to send matrimonial profiles, and the planned website are good first steps. May they gain traction.
The Orthodox priests from the Konkani community like your good self can do more. Why not make personal visits to other Orthodox Churches to celebrate the Holy Mass on a Sunday after taking permission from the concerned Metropolitan?
You can start in Outside Kerala dioceses, where the Holy Mass can be celebrated in English. To draw attention to your unique heritage, you can chant the Hootomo or deliver a prayer in Konkani. Our people will surprise you with their warmth on being acquainted for the first time with a part of the church about which they do not have much knowledge.
While delivering the sermon, or during the post Holy Qurbana introductions, you can drive across the message that young eligible bachelors from the Konkani community need brides from the Keralite wing of the same church on an urgent basis, because the survival of the community is at stake.
Based on what you've written, it's going to be a win-win for both.
Look Within To Identify Your Own Strengths
I note with some disappointment, however, your criticism of your Mother Church. Both with regard to the supposed lack of missionary vision in preventing the dwindling of the community from about 4,000 families to the present 1,000, as well to the lack of Synod level vision in thrashing out an agreement on matrimony with the Roman Catholic Church.
You are not alone in indulging in such self-flagellation about the Mother Church. It's a regular feature in this forum. But it's not very helpful. The Roman Catholic Church's past history doesn't give us any comfort with regard to their honourable conduct even with such an agreement in place. It would be wiser not to go down that path. The bishops who have opposed it in the past have taken a wise stand.
Since you mentioned the Malankara Rite Catholic church being active in the theater, my thinking went along a different trajectory. I discovered that the Konkani Orthodox community has some unique assets which can be tapped to great advantage to grow the community.
At present, your community runs about six schools and colleges. I am listing them below:
Two Kannada Medium Primary Schools
SMS PU College
SMS Degree College
SMS English Medium School (CBSE)
SMS English Medium High School (State Syllabus)
All of them have been started by missionaries who worked in your midst from the Malankara Orthodox Church.
In a small town like Brahmavar, ownership of six such institutions should have provided you with great leverage to grow the community. For some reason, that's not happening.
Since you mentioned the Malankara Catholic Church, I hope you know that it was founded by a breakaway bishop from your Mother Church by name Geevarghese Mar Ivanios in the 1930s. Today it's a growing church whose head is a Cardinal and Major Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church.
But when Mar Ivanios broke away, he didn't have many followers. But he had with him some very useful assets. These were the 64 schools belonging to your Mother Church entrusted to him for safekeeping by his mentor and spiritual father Vattasseril Mar Dionysius.
They were entrusted to him when Vattasseril Thirumeni left to visit the Patriarch in Mardin to broker peace in 1923. The schools were not returned even after Mar Ivanios defected.
Mar Ivanios wielded appointments to these schools as a powerful tool to garner funds as well as to grow his new-found faction. The prolonged litigation to get the schools back ended only in 1963. First 24, and then 17 schools were returned. By then probably the Malankara Rite faction had milked all of them dry for whatever they were worth.
The learnings from managing these schools were later transferred to the Mar Ivanios group of institutions in Trivandrum. You should visit the campus. It's a veritable city within a city, with about seven or eight institutions.
All function as employment agencies for the Malankara Catholic Church. Mar Ivanios College, the oldest institution there, is filled with faculty who originally belonged to the Orthodox Church, but who changed allegiance to the Malankara Catholic Church because it had been made very very clear to them that career advancement depended on it.
Heck, when I studied there many years ago, there was even a married Marthomite Reverend in the English faculty, who had defected with family to advance his career!
Please follow this link to look at the staff list of Mar Ivanios College, the oldest in the campus:
If you have some exposure to Keralite Christian names, you will figure out that only a handful of people in this list are non-Christians. One wouldn't be surprised if almost all the Christians are Catholics too.
This is what is known as the community employment factory model.
Some people may nurse the doubts that such a model may undermine that institution's acceptance among the general public. Nothing of that sort actually happens. Once an institution is known as a Christian minority-run one, expectations are baked into the general public's perception that it would be overwhelmingly staffed by employees from the same community. Therefore, such an institution doesn't get any brownie points for being inclusive in its appointments. There is simply no goodwill to be gained from that. The fairness question is something else. I'm not going into that here.
In the case of the Mar Ivanios College mentioned here, it's an institution noted for its third-rate faculty. But it makes up for it with some first class infrastructure, huge campus, emphasis on sports and games, and a strike and violence-free environment. In Kerala, this is enough to attract the best and the brightest of students.
It's not just this college. An overwhelming majority of the faculty and the non-teaching staff from all the colleges and schools in that campus belong to the Malankara Catholic Church.
They number around at least a thousand. Their families, dependents, their private tuition businesses, networks, connections to students who become future leaders of the state, etc. create a powerful economic eco system from which the Malankara Rite Catholic Church gathers its strength and resources.
Unworthy as we are, in the six schools and colleges run by your community in Brahmavar, our missionaries from the Malankara Orthodox Church have placed in your hands the right tools to raise resources and grow your numbers.
Do not be like the servant in the parable of the talents who hid his one talent in a hole in the ground. Raise resources and expand these institutions. If possible, start new ones. Say an engineering college or a medical college. Your Mother Church can help in all these.
Put in place tough policies in these schools and colleges. Wield them as a weapon. Even the Catholic faculty, and their extended families, in these institutions, will fall in line once it is made clear that career advancement depends on allegiance to the Orthodox Church. Don't make it easy for people to be employed in these institutions and still nurse private views that non-Catholic Christians are heretics or some such nonsense. Apply the screws. It will work wonders.
Then you will have better leverage when negotiating with the Roman Catholics for whatever it's that you want to negotiate.
Georgy S Thomas
--- In IndianOrthodox@yahoogroups.com, "noel" <noellewis700@...> wrote:
> One of the serious problems that the Brahmavar Konkani Orthodox Community is facing is regarding the matrimony of its members. As the community itself consists of below 1000 families (thanks to the missionary vision of the Malankara Orthodox church, we have lost around 4000 families in the past), and most of them are inter- related, itï¿½s very difficult to find life partners.
> As such, the search goes to our nearest and the major Konkani Apostolic church in our region, namely the Roman Catholic Church. The approach of the clergy and members of the said church is very negative; as the regard us "schismatic - heretic". Hence, problem arises especially with the marriage of our boys- when they approach, the girls of the Roman Catholic Church; the Clergy intervene, and with tactful, unethical, unchristian way (signing "dispensation" form, taking oath on Bible- to join the roman church, harassing & issuing warnings of social boycott to the Girls family if they allow to marry to an Orthodox member, etc.), they make the boys to join the Roman Church, who have no other option : either forsake the mother Church or remain Bachelor for the rest of the life.
> The result is the community is dying - we are loosing our members. It seems, that many of our Church heads, had wanted for an agreement regarding marriage issue, with the Roman Church in the recent past just as the Patriarchal faction and many of the oriental and byzantine Orthodox churches have done; but it was opposed by a few Bishops (reasons unknown - I assume, lack of vision).
> The solution can be found if our Church Heads do understand the life situation, and start to think practically. We the priests of Brahmavar konkani Orthodox community appeal to the Synod, to take immediate steps in this regard. And we think there is no great deal in striking an agreement on this particular matter. (If the Early Church of the book of Acts, could do away with the circumcision and many other Jewish laws to accommodate gentiles; we donï¿½t think there is no damn little thing to bring about an agreement on the issue of matrimony between the members of two great Apostolic churches - since, there has been great consensus on many other Sacramental issues in the recent past.) If you donï¿½t, there is already the Malankara Rite of the Roman Church, and the Jacobite faction who are already having eye on this community.
> Meanwhile, we have started a matrimonial unit. The profiles can be sent to this email address: konkaniorthodoxmatrimonial@...
> The reason to post about this on ICON is that we want to appeal to the members of the Malankara church to spread this information and invite proposals from your local region.
> Please note that the marriage to the Konkani Orthodox Community boy can be fruitful and less burdensome. Let me tell you why:
> 1. There's no dowry, even if someone asks it will definitely not exceed Rupees One Lakh (including Jewellery)
> 2. The expenses of the marriage are borne either on 50:50 basis, or on the no. of invitees by each party
> 3. The qualification they require from a girl in majority cases is graduation or below.
> 4. Boys get married here, between the ages of 28 - 32; the reason behind this is; only after being well settled- having a good job and enough money to run a family, they prefer marriage. So, the financial security provided is high.
> 5. Issues of divorce or marital problems, is seldom heard. Involvement in unethical, illegal activities is also seldom heard- basically because the community holds very conservative family values. So, the social security is also high
> The above information we have shared on purpose, as we understand that there are many Kerala/Malayalee Orthodox families who can't afford to pay dowry; there are many girls who just hold either graduation or 10th grade, may be still less; and there are still many others who have passed average matrimonial age of 25, prevalent in the Malankara Orthodox community. And these are unaware, that there are able people within the Orthodox community, who can be life partners.
> So, here's an opportunity to them, which will definitely feed our necessity. So, we request you to please share this information and send the profiles to: konkaniorthodoxmatrimonial@...
> There are even plans to start website very soon. The service is absolutely free- no commission or fees. It is a service to keep this community alive - the only community outside Malayalee population. So please help in our mission.
> Noel Achan, Brahmawar
- Dear Litto,
There is no principles, but only scruples, in the sheep-stealing business that is done by appeasing, threatening and even by using all religious and atrocious terrorism. Alwarese thirumeni's woes and fate should be an eye-opening and monumental example against the wishful thinking of our people. There is nothing holy in the sheep-abducting market. Even our own clerical hierarchies believe that 'you are Peter, upon which I build my church', Mt.16, without understanding the latent secrets associated with that mysteries. As I have discussed the real meaning before in this site, it is proved that key to Heaven is the priestly authority of the forgiveness of sins. Our members who are not conversant with true biblical mysteries believe that St.Peter is the real rock, not moving stone, upon which the church is built. They proved themselves as the fishers of men of ignorance, not believers.
Whether we make an agreement with the Catholic and Jacobite churches for inter- marriage because most of our Bramahvar diocese members are being swallowed by Roman and Jacobite churches, as there are 4,ooo of our members are gradually enticed to the Roman church; consequently our identity in the diocese may be wiped out eventually. We have made such contracts and alliances right from Portuégése, C.M.S. Malankara Reeth, Jacobite churches over the centuries, but ultimately our sheep will be grabbed by entering through the back door and drag our hierarchies in between the devil and deep sea. Have ecumenism and the Indian National council of churches and W.C.C helped us in any way? Catholicose is a misnomer to the Roman church, yet with strong objections Roman and Jacobites have Catholicoses in their churches. What can we do when the imperial churches try to gulp us by hook or by crook methods?
We must open our eyes and don't induct ourselves in a fool's paradise. We may also realize that God shows mercy towards us because of the Holiness of God, for His name sake we are not wiped out from the face of the earth, not by our merits. A Bride must be on earth for Him to take us in His Bridal chamber. 'Fear not you little flock.....'.
E.S. John, Australia
- Dear Achen,
As Litto said, it is beyond compreshension as to why we cannot atleast make an agreement with Catholics, if we are unable to properly take care of the Konkanni Orthodox Community. This is yet another example of the insensitivity of our church towards its general flock.
While we criticize the Malankara rite as well as the Pentecostals for sheep stealing, it may be self concealment if we do not admit that our own negligence, insensitivity and non professionalism which is at the root of all these problems (if at all the church agrees that these are problems!!)
Let me wish you, fellow priests and elders in Konkani community; all Success, in the positive actions you are taking.
Abey Jacob, Bangalore.
- Dear Mr. Georgy S. Thomas, I do understand your zeal for the Church. But, going through your letter, i just don't know how educational institutions can help in matrimonial issues. The educational institutions do help to create a educative, financially rich community no doubt, and as you said retain people. But, how it can provide Brides and Bridegrooms...? As much you regard your Mother Church, so much do all of us here. In fact, what was posted was on ICON was the impulse of all the priests of the Brahmavar Community (which include both konkani & malayalee priests). The person who really motivated us to start matrimonial unit is a senior member of a dayara & former priest of Brahmavar Community who served here for more than 20 years. So, this whole thing stems from the side of priests. Priests if they come to certain conclusion; they come to it by understanding the whole situation. And one more thing, as you know, Priests, are one who dedicate their lives to serve the Church : So, you can easily understand what zeal runs through their blood for the Church. So, please don't try to see us Church Haters.....or Floggers. Do you think, we should put smiling face, deny the negligence, cover our hurts & shower all "praises" - "All is Well, All is Well", and allow things to go in the same manner? If in detail, every negligence was shown would have been written here: even you would have agreed to it. If only we make known, the reality, then only there can be positive changes. You gave a good plan for Achens to travel on Sunday to non-brahmavar parishes. But you should know, we ourselves lack priests & have to cover 500 km radius every Sunday, to do Qurbana in our parishes, attend to the prayer meetings, & to other spiritual needs. Many of our own parishes don't get qurbana on Sunday, and we have do it on weekdays for them. Certain other times we do 2 qurbanas in a day, especially in the time of feasts. And, Bingo, we don't get alternate Achens to carry on our duties in our absence. And if we don't attend, then we are on the verge of loosing our people. But of course as you already said, we already have network with all the churches in karnataka region, in regards to matrimony. And we have been doing this for a quite a long time- more than 7 years. The reason, it was posted on ICON, was to draw the attention of the Synod, and also to reach out to a wide section, who may help us by submitting profiles of the needy candidates.
Fr. Noel Lewis, on behalf of priests of the Brahmavar Community.
- Dear Noel Achan,
Thank you for your kind reply.
When you put in place policies to facilitate the whole community to grow, the marriage pool too will grow automatically.
That would be a better approach than to worry about who's marrying whom.
I cited the example of Geevarghese Mar Ivanios, the founder of the Malankara Catholic Rite, just to show how it's possible to grow a community by creating resources out of thin air.
Remember, he was not even a bishop with a diocese under his charge. He was just the bishop of a monastery. But when he defected, the monastery continued with the Mother Church.
But through skillful use of available resources (the schools placed in his control due to fortuitous circumstances, and a printing press), he could grow his community. Nobody realised that school management could unlock resources until he started practising it.
Regarding my suggestion about priests travelling to non-Brahmavar parishes, please take the help of someone like Fr. Ashwin Fernandes, who's of your own background, and who is now presently based out of Kottayam. There are also many other Konkani speaking Malayalee priests in our church, who are serving in non-Brahmavar parishes. Make a database of all of them and start tapping them.
You have already taken many good initiatives like regular videography of community related events and the email ID as the first step for a marriage portal. When you start doing things, opportunities open up.So good luck to you. Please continue your efforts. The ICON family will be with you to support you.
Georgy S Thomas, Bangalore
- Dear Mr. Georgy Thomas,
> These were the 64 schools belonging to your Mother Church entrusted to him for safekeeping by his mentor and spiritual father Vattasseril Mar Dionysius... First 24, and then 17 schools were returned.Could you share with us the name and location of these 64, 24 and 17 schools?
> Mar Ivanios College, the oldest institution there, is filled with faculty who originally belonged to the Orthodox Church, but who changed allegiance to the Malankara Catholic Church because it had been made very very clear to them that career advancement depended on it... Please follow this link to look at the staff list of Mar Ivanios College, the oldest in the campus:From this list, could you point out the names of the faculty who converted from the Orthodox Church for career advancement?
Saju Alex, Austin, Texas
- Respected Saju Alex,
I dont know the answers for your questions. However it is a fact that Malankara Catholics converted many Orthodox Christians by giving jobs and admissions. One of my relative joined Malankara Catholic Church to get job in their school. Management did not buy any capitation fee from her, but they asked her to convert in return of giving posting. I remember reading the biography of Late H.H. Mathews 2nd Catholicos. In that it was mentioned about the incident which lead to the establishment of St. Gregorios college, Kottarakkara. One active church member in Kundara parish has to convert to Malankara Catholic Church to get admission under management quota in Mar Ivanios college. Our church members felt that such incidents should not happen again. That led to the establishment of St. Gregorios college.