Rev. Fr. Zacharia Varghese. AXIOS!
- Rev. Fr. Zacharia Varghese. AXIOS! The first American-born and raised Priest of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church!.
Rev.Dn.Zach the elder son of Mr.P.C. Varghese Poykkattil is called to the Holy Priesthood by His Eminence Mor Titus Yeldho Archbishop & Patriarchal Vicar of the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America today (Saturday, May 26th 20120) at his home parish, St.Ignatius Syrian Orthodox Church, Carrollton, Texas.
Rev.Fr. Zachariah has been a member of the SOCMNet for several years and have actively participated in discussions related to the faith, history and tradition of the Syriac Orthodox Church. We pray for the blessings from God on Rev. Fr. Zachariah to fulfill the duties of the priest and to lead the Syriac Orthodox faithful in their spiritual life and also to strengthen them in the Orthodox faith and tradition of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
Rev. Fr. Zacharia Poycattle Varghese, M.D. was born in 1976 in Dallas, Texas. His father, Poycattle C. Varghese, and mother, Alice P. Varghese, were among the founding members of St. Ignatious Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, Dallas, which has grown to become the largest parish in our Archdiocese. His paternal grandfather, Poycattle V. Zacharia, was trustee, longtime volunteer, and benefactor of St. Thomas Orphanage parish while member of Perumbavoor Bethel Suloko Church. His maternal grandfather, Varghese Chacko Chakkaserril, served as the General Secretary of the Kerala State Pensioner's Board as well as Sunday School teacher at Marth Shmooni Simhassana Church, Peroor, Kottayam, where he remains a pillar. From an early age Dn. Zach displayed an interest in Bible study, Christian service, and science. While in high school he helped found an ecumenical campus ministry which sustained young minds long after his graduation.
In October of 1996 Dn. Zach was ordained as Mzamrono (singer) at St. Ignatious MSOC and became the first native born North American to enter the sub-diaconate of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church. He quickly partnered with senior clergy and various leaders to energize youth on a local, regional, and national basis. In consultation he developed conferences, retreats, and Bible programs. As its first working secretary, he was instrumental in creating the constitution for the newly formed Mor Gregorious Malankara Syriac Orthodox Student Association, the predecessor to today's MGSOSA.
Upon receiving a Full Tuition Presidential Scholarship, he attended Austin College in Sherman, Texas, the state's oldest continuously chartered college and renowned for pre-medical studies. Alongside coursework in biology and philosophy, he became a principal of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, helping to resuscitate the group's effective Christian witness. He was also a founding member of Chi Tau Chi, a local Christian fraternity which revolutionized the campus' social atmosphere in award winning fashion. He was specially recognized by the school's Leadership Institute and was asked by campus senior administration to deliver the benedictory prayer for his class's graduation convocation.
While an undergraduate Dn. Zach created a self-styled internship at Kolenchery Medical Mission Hospital in Kerala, where he rotated with prominent attending physicians and gained insight into chaplaincy and community medicine. He also participated in mission programs to Nicaragua and Mexico.
Before starting medical school Dn. Zach had the blessed chance to stay with the monks of St. Augin Monastery in Switzerland for a period of three months. He became even more fascinated with the universal and beautiful nature of the Syriac Orthodox Church. He also developed a deep enjoyment of cultural exploration.
In his first summer as a medical student at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Dn. Zach partook in a medical mission to Nigeria which included evangelistic excursions into the countryside. At the end of his second year, Dn. Zach journeyed back to Kerala and was blessed to marry his life partner Manju, an environmental scientist and clinical data specialist (d/o Aramath & Lillies Thomas, Puthencruz, Kerala), who joined him States' side in September of 2003. Dn. Zach and family served at St. Mary's MSOC, Houston.
Dn. Zach and Manju are blessed with a baby girl named Rachel Alice, born a year before psychiatric residency training commenced at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Austin Campus. During this time period, Dn. Zach received a scholarship to begin studies in public health and led the current MGSOSA's first all-Archdiocesan wide youth specific outreach, the web based Ruho.org project.
Now settled in Austin, Texas and part of the founding membership of St. Thomas Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, Dn. Zach chose to specialize in systemic behavioral health after successfully completing his clinical internship. He is interested specifically in the design of scientific behavioral health programs deployed cooperatively with faith groups. Accordingly, he is appointed Visiting Scholar in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Texas while expecting to complete an additional master's degree this summer at the UT School of Public Health. He also continues as a research associate with the UT Dell Center for Healthy Living, one of the region's premier behavioral health research institutes.
Dn Zach plans on pursuing formal seminary training while designing outcome focused faith based healthcare initiatives. He desires to reserve plenty of time for ministry. He was ordained as Mshamshono (full deacon) in Austin on March 2010. Currently, he serves as Vice-President of St. Thomas MSO Church, a Sunday School teacher, and as a MGSOSA Southern regional youth adviser, all the while teaching at church gatherings throughout the Archdiocese. Recently, he helped lead an MGSOSA team to perform mission work and public health research in the Dominican Republic. Dn. Zach is also a contributor to Malankara World, a global web endeavor seeking to bring Orthodox ministry to the kitchen table.
Fr. Zach's family and those of his two brothers, Mr. Jacob and Dr. Nidhy Varghese (Houston) and Mr. Paul Varghese engaged to Ms. Nissi Chacko (Dallas), as well as his brother-in-law Mr. Promod & Mrs. Snoby Thomas (Bangalore), seek to serve the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church as faithful members by the grace of God.