CHIANG MAI: The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) extended greetings and best wishes to the former President of the CCA, His Beatitude Dr Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the supreme head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in India, on the eve of his 90th birthday which falls on 27 June 2020.
In a special message of greetings extended on behalf of the CCA to the seasoned Asian ecumenical leader, Dr Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the CCA Moderator Archbishop Dr Willem T.P. Simarmata, and the CCA General Secretary, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, recollected Dr Joseph Mar Thoma’s ecumenical contributions.
The CCA Moderator and the General Secretary in a joint message stated, “On behalf of the CCA, we take this opportunity on this special occasion to acknowledge and recognise your valuable contributions to the Asian and global ecumenical movement in manifold ways. We came to know that a special Eucharistic and thanksgiving service will be offered on 27 June 2020 and special prayers will be offered by many people, especially the Mar Thoma diaspora around the world, which will be live-streamed. It is with profound happiness that we will also join many around the world to pray for you, and thank God for your life and ministry.”
The two top officials of the Asian ecumenical movement conveyed the CCA’s message to the nonagenarian ecumenist of Asia, in which they stated that the Mar Thoma Metropolitan’s leadership in various international ecumenical events over half a century have been deeply appreciated and valued by the ecclesial and ecumenical communities at the international level.
“Your participation in Asian and global ecumenical events have always stimulated and asserted the need for an Asian ecumenical identity at the global ecumenical arena. Your passion and concern in building bridges between churches and in promoting unity, together with your faith, commitment, and strong conviction, as well as your zest for instilling hope in the minds of people at times of despair, are admired by many beyond ecclesial boundaries,” observed Archbishop Dr Willem T.P. Simarmata and Dr Mathews George Chunakara in the CCA’s message of greetings.
Born on 27 June as P.T. Joseph, his childhood was shaped in the context of a noble tradition. He was ordained a priest in 1957, a bishop in 1975, and in 2007 as Mar Thoma Metropolitan and the 21st Malankara Mar Thoma Metropolitan to occupy the Holy Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas after the re-establishment of the episcopacy in the 17th century. He is the fifth Malankara Mar Thoma Metropolitan from a distinguished Christian family in Kerala, the southernmost Indian state with one of the most ancient communities of Christians.
Under normal circumstances, a large number of people from all walks of life would have gathered at the headquarters of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church on 27 June 2020 to celebrate the 90th birthday of their shepherd and spiritual leader. However, a mass gathering of that scale has been cancelled in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Eucharistic thanksgiving service will be offered on 27 June 2020 at 8:00 AM (IST) and special prayers will be offered by many people across the world especially the Mar Thoma Diaspora. The Eucharistic service will be live-streamed.