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Indian church's supreme leader to visit Rockland

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060606/NEWS03/606060324/1019/NEWS03 Indian church s supreme leader to visit Rockland By SUZAN CLARKE
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2006

      Indian church's supreme leader to visit Rockland

      (Original publication: June 6, 2006)

      The Indian Orthodox Church in America is gearing up for the arrival of its
      worldwide leader, a monk who on his first visit to this country as
      denominational head will celebrate Mass at St. Mary's Indian Orthodox
      Church in Suffern.

      On June 17, a crowd will gather at the church to await the arrival of a
      stretch limousine bearing His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos
      I, the catholicos, or supreme head, of the church's 2.5 million members

      He was elevated to the official rank of catholicos of the East and
      Malankara Metropolitan on Oct. 31. He is the 90th successor to the throne
      of St. Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ who is believed to have
      established the denomination in India.

      The previous catholicos, Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II, died in January.

      Members of the 60 families making up St. Mary's membership will dress up
      for the special occasion, said Father Raju Varghese, a Hawthorne resident
      who is president and vicar of the congregation.

      Men will wear dark suits with white shirts and red ties, women will wear
      traditional saris, and children will wear white shirts, boys with dark
      shorts and girls with dark skirts, Varghese said.

      "They feel like Jesus is coming in the middle of them, because he's just
      like the pope for the Roman Catholic Church," Varghese said, describing his
      congregation's excitement over the catholicos' visit.

      A 10:45 a.m. reception for the chief prelate will follow the 8 a.m. Mass,
      said Varghese. Then, the catholicos will preside over a groundbreaking
      ceremony for the expansion of the church at 66 E. Maple Ave.

      Didymos I will visit numerous Indian Orthodox congregations on his six-week
      visit to America, said Philipose Philip, a member of the denomination's
      North American diocesan managing committee and member of St. Mary's.

      The catholicos' tour will include stops in Illinois, Oklahoma and Florida.
      St. Mary's will be his first stop.

      Philip, who has met the 85-year-old leader before, was present at Didymos
      I's elevation last year.

      "I was lucky enough to be part of his enthronement ceremony," Philip, a
      Congers resident, said yesterday.

      He described the current catholicos as a spiritual man.

      "He's really very religious, leading a very pious and powerful life, really
      very moral," Philip said.

      "I have talked to him. He gives good advice and is very quiet," Philip
      added. "He's very humble, a very humble person, I would say."

      The Indian Orthodox Church, also known as the Malankara Orthodox Church,
      has more than 74 parishes in North America with about 20,000 members.
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