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Ecumenical Christmas Celebration, 2008 - Philadelphia

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  • Rev. Fr. K.K John
    Dear all Ecumenical Christmas Celebration, 2008 report Important: (1) Before going into the summary report of the caption let me bring to your kind attention
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 20, 2008
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      Dear all

      Ecumenical Christmas Celebration, 2008 report


      (1) Before going into the summary report of the caption let me bring
      to your kind attention that Rev Dr Joy Joseph a priest of CSI Church,
      Kerala, came to USA as a visiting Profession with his wife and three
      children. Unfortunately, he died of Colon cancer, a month ago in
      Staten Island, NY. Needless to say, they had no medical coverage and
      enough financial background. We all know how hard it is without
      coverage or income. The sudden and unexpected death has devastated
      the family and they are put in a very sad situation. They now live in
      an apartment in Staten Island. As Christians, it is our duty to help
      this family. Christmas is a time of giving and sharing. A request for
      help was posted in Kerala Express weekly a month ago. Rev Fr Jose
      Daniel Paitel brought the matter to my attention and I presented it
      in the executive committee met on Dec 2. The committee unanimously
      decided to (1) donate any sum collected as offertory on Dec 14, over
      and above the budget amount, (2) present the matter at the
      celebration venue and (3) announce in all parishes and raise fund.

      The churches may either pay directly to the family or through the
      Ecumenical fellowship. I consider it is better to go through
      Ecumenical fellowship, instead of piecemeal serving. You may
      recollect that I had sent an appeal to all of you. Some churches have
      already informed they raised some fund. Josachen appealed to the
      audience to generously contribute and I hope some did. We have $500
      (approx) towards the fund. Those who wish to directly pay to the
      family please note the address:

      Mrs. Mary Joy Joseph (Kochamma)
      # 27 Area Place,
      Staten Island, NY 10314.
      Ph 718 698 1680.

      (2) In humility and with great satisfaction I take delight to present
      a brief summary of the 22nd Ecumenical Christmas Celebration that
      took place at the auditorium of Cardinal Dougherty High School under
      the auspicious of the Ecumenical Fellowship of the Indian Churches in
      Philadelphia on December 14, 2008.

      18 churches, 25 clergies and more than 1500 faithful participated.

      True to the saying, `Well begun is half done,' we started the
      procession on time, at 4.00 PM. The ecumenical flag went ahead.
      Ecumenical banner followed. The traditional Kerala drum party went
      next to the banner. Men carried decorated umbrellas (mutthukuta) of
      various shades. Children, women and men clad in uniform attire,
      holding placards inscribed thereon the name of church to identify
      each parish/church slowly walked in double-line-formation behind the
      umbrellas. Executive committee members, Deacons, priests,
      Corepiscopos, Guest of honor, Rabbi Jean Claude Kline, EFIC Chairman,
      Fr KK John, Chief guest, H. G. Zechariah Mor Nicholovos,
      Metropolitan, shaded under canopy (nadapandal) followed in order, and
      each one took position as prearranged. Altogether it was a
      spectacular sight. Lighted candle was in the agenda but somehow it
      was not employed. The banners that went ahead took position at both
      sides of the stage, the umbrellas formed a line behind the chairs and
      the children, women and men took seats in the auditorium. TV channels
      and Media were busy recording the scene for broadcasting. As never
      before the auditorium was nearly filled to its full capacity. The
      procession ended when the guests and the clergies occupied the chairs
      on the stage. The procession involving more than 300 participants was
      by no means a small task. Mr. Vincent Immanuel coordinated and
      directed the procession. He deserves immense credit for a job well

      Chief guest Mor Nicholovos, Metropolitan lighted the lamp to mark the
      beginning of the function. It is an ancient Indian tradition to light
      the lamp to at the outset of a public function. Christians follow
      this tradition from time immemorial. It symbolizes the presence of
      Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Fr KK John EFIC
      Chairman lighted the traditional Christmas tree.

      Then the Ecumenical worship began, with invocation of the Holy
      Trinity the introductory prayer by the bishop, Prayers, Intercessions
      and Gospel, shared by all clergies and people responding in one
      voice "Amen" and "Lord, have mercy on us". Miss Leah read from the
      Old Testament. Rev Thomas Joseph read Gospel. Ecumenical Choir,
      composed of 34 members from participating churches sang the melodious
      Christmas songs reverberating the whole audience. By no means it is
      easy task to synchronize 34 sounds into one melody. It needed a lot
      of practice. Mr. Shinu Abraham was the Choir director. He is a very
      highly gifted singer and we are blessed to have him with us; my
      special thanks to Shinu, singers and background/sound managers.
      Worship part came to an end with benediction by the bishop. Rev Fr.
      Jose Daniel Paitel, religious affairs chairman coordinated the
      worship service. He deserves appreciation for a job well done.

      Then we moved to the Public Meeting. Fr. KK John, EFIC Chairman
      welcomed the guests and the gathering with opening remarks and
      observations about the function and future of the Fellowship. HG Mor
      Nicholovos, Chief guest delivered Christmas Message of peace and
      goodwill. The guest of honor, a Jewish Rabbi shared his thoughts
      about the recent terrorist activity in Mumbai and expressed his
      gratitude to Indian community having been help and consolation to the
      injured victims and the bereaved. Rev Fr MK Kuriakose read a
      resolution supporting the Government of India for the fight against
      terrorism and condemning the acts of terrorism everywhere, in India,
      and especially in Mumbai recently. The next item was distributing the
      prize for raffle winners. Mr. CP Shaji won the first prize. He
      donated it ($200/-) to charity. I appreciate his noble example, may
      his tribe increase. St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church won the prize
      for selling the maximum tickets. They donated the amount back to
      charity. I thank Kuriakosachen for his great support and gesture of
      goodwill. My observation is that, there was not enough enthusiasm in
      the sale of raffle. I do not judge the reasons for the steep downfall
      nor nail down anyone as irresponsible but the situation demands
      introspection. Christian faithful in America, particularly
      Philadelphians, are famous for the acts of charity but this time it
      seems an exception. The total proceeds of the raffle goes to the
      victims of terrorism in Orissa through Indian Red Cross Society as
      decided in the Ecumenical Executive Committee meeting. Mr. Vijay
      Maymadom was coordinator for charity fund raising.

      Ecumenical Souvenir is an important source of income to defray
      expenses. Mr. Thomas T Daniel, Public Relations Chairman and Chief
      Editor worked very hard and it paid results. Chairman, Secretary and
      many office bearers worked hand in hand for the success. The team
      spirit was unprecedented and commendable. This year's souvenir (22nd
      edition) is special in many ways. (1) Print and paper quality are
      excellent and error-free, cover page is carefully selected to fit for
      Christmas, the theme being "Peace on earth." (2) We raised a
      substantial income; not only we exceeded the budgeted target but also
      hit all time record. (3) All 19 churches cooperated well by paying
      their share in advance. (4) We printed 850 copies, i.e. 100 copies
      free by the ABZ printer. (5) Considering the fact that last year the
      fellowship ended up in loss of revenue and we took over with zero
      balance, this year we have substantial balance to carry over after
      meeting all expenses. I take special delight to record my
      appreciation and thanks to Mr. Sunny for a great job well done, all
      the advertisers and well-wishers who helped us and ABZ Printers for
      completing a quality job well on time. H G Mor Nicholovos thirumeni
      released the souvenir, giving a copy to Very Rev K Mathai
      Corepiscopo. Then we distributed the souvenir copy to all attendees.

      This year we have three outgoing clergies. (1) Rev Fr Jacob Christy,
      Vicar of Syro Malabar Catholic Church. He actively served in the
      fellowship for 6 years and as Chairman in 2005. I had the privilege
      to work with him in our historic "Peace Rally and Prayer". I am yet
      to find another priest of noble character, fully free from ego, full
      of humility, respecting others with guileless smile. (2) Rev Shaji M
      Thomas, Vicar of St Thomas Mar Thomas Church, Delaware Valley and (3)
      Rev Mathew Skariah, area Youth Chaplain of Mar Thoma Church. Their
      association was truly a pleasure. Rev MC Skariah, Vicar of Ascension
      Mar Thoma Church introduced the outgoing priests and the Chief Guest
      awarded each of them suitably worded Plaque. I wish them all the best
      in their future. Mr. Thomas Paul, Joint Secretary and security
      affairs announced the ground rules. Mr. Oommen Kappil, EFIC
      secretary, said Vote of Thanks. Public meeting came to an end with
      the benediction by thirumeni.

      Mr. Oommen Kappil, EFIC Secretary was Master of Ceremonies. His team
      spirit, fairness in actions and commitment are exemplary. He worked
      very hard for the success of the programs with an impartial attitude
      and deserves immense credit. Our cherished goal was the progress of
      the Ecumenical fellowship and I surmise, we succeeded to a great
      extend. Thank you Raju.

      The most important part of our celebrations as always was Cultural
      programs. The opening program is traditionally a professional dance
      based on Christmas theme. I must mention that Mrs. Aji Panicker is a
      contributor right from the beginning of our fellowship in 1987 when
      she was the only one who taught dance class to our kids. But later
      others also came in the field, I do not know when. Parents tend to
      lean on a party depending on where their kids are being trained in
      dance. It is also seldom that our people come to consensus based on
      merits alone and so in order to avoid disputes and uphold fairness,
      the sequence of all programs including the opening program were
      decided by casting lot. Apostles cast lot to displace Judas Iscariot.
      I do not know a way fairer than that. Each church was given 7
      minutes. Unlike in the recent past, member churches showed
      extraordinary interest to associate with fellowship activities and
      thus we had the highest ever attendance and programs from churches
      (total 16). This naturally involved more time. The concluding program
      was song by all clergies. This was a maiden attempt, aimed at keeping
      the audience till the last program. Though there was no enough
      preparation, I hope we did satisfactorily. Rev Thomas Joseph led the
      song. He is a gifted singer and orator, thank you achen. Mr. Gibson,
      another talented singer operated the keyboard, thank you Gibson. The
      program was stretched out a bit because of too many items; we could
      not help otherwise in the interest of increased participation. The
      programs concluded at 9.30 PM with benediction by Very Rev K Mathai
      Corepiscopo. Mr. Joseph Mathew, cultural activities chairman, a poet
      himself, was Master of Ceremonies. I have pleasure to record that he
      worked tirelessly to put together the programs and showed extremely
      impartial attitude by demonstrating exemplary demeanor to accommodate
      all with equal opportunity.

      Media presence was another blessing. Asianet TV, Kairali TV, Kerala
      Express, Malayalam Pathram, Malayalam Vartha, Malayali Sangamam, etc
      were represented to cover the event. M/s Vincent Immanuel, Sunil,
      James, Joby George, Jose Malackel, Abraham Mathew, Sunny Anappara and
      George Natavayal, but for their support, timely publishing the
      fellowship activities, our celebrations would have not been so
      successful. I record our thanks to all of you.

      On the whole public evaluation was very encouraging. Many people said
      that never before the attendance was so high, the programs were well
      arranged and started on time. The ending time of course could not be
      under control. The problem is that people wait to register until the
      last minute. If we stick to a deadline for registering programs we
      may be able to solve this problem to some extend. We should not
      forget, the increased number of programs was the best reason for good
      attendance. Another criticism was about my remarks in the welcome
      speech. I still consider, it is better to address the problem rather
      than hiding and pretending everything if fine when not. Even those
      dissented did not question my honesty. My intention was good, truth
      is always bitter. If anyone thinks that other communities are unaware
      of our bickering, they are wrong. They know better than we know about
      our unfair competitions, backbiting, jealousy, sibling rivalry and
      disunity. Suffice it to say, all the office bearers and I upheld the
      public decorum above selfish/partisan interests. When weighing the
      positive and negative comments, the former far outweighs the latter
      and that is real consolation.

      Thank you friends, members of the committee, general body and clergy
      for giving me an opportunity to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus
      Christ, through your goodwill.

      Please forgive if I did anything wrong that hurt you and pray for me,
      KK Johnachen.
      # 002
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