The head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, passed away in the early hours of October 18 at a private hospital in Thiruvalla, Kerala. He was 90 and battling pancreatic cancer.
Born on June 27, 1931, he was given the name P.T. Joseph. He belonged to the Maramon Palakunnath family which was the ancestral home of Abraham Malpan, one of the leaders of a reformation in the Malankara Church in the mid-19th century that paved the way for the formation of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
In 1957, he joined the church as a priest. In 1975, he was given the episcopal title of Joseph Mar Iranaeus. He was consecrated as the Supreme Head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church on October 2, 2007 following the abdication of the then Mar Thoma, Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom owing to ill-health. Mar Chrysostom, who celebrated his 100th birthday in 2017, continues as the senior Metropolitan.
President Ramnath Kovind tweeted his condolences: “His Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan will always be remembered for his ideals, compassion and contribution to society. His noble teachings will continue to inspire people. In this hour of grief, my thoughts and prayers are with his countless disciples.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who addressed via videoconference the Metropolitan’s 90th birthday celebrations in June, condoled the Bishop’s demise on Twitter: “His Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan was a remarkable personality who served humanity and worked hard to improve the lives the poor and downtrodden. He was blessed with abundance of empathy and humility. His noble ideals will always be remembered. RIP.”
Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammed Khan condoled the demise of Joseph MarThoma Metropolitan. In a message, he said: “I am deeply grieved by the demise of His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan , head of the MarThoma Church. His service to humanity, especially to the marginalised, will ever be remembered. My condolence.”
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in his tribute said Dr Joseph Mar Thoma led a life dedicated to fearlessly combating social evils. He also remembered his numerous contributions to Indian society as it grappled with natural disasters such as the seasonal floods in Kerala.
Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Theodosius Suffagran Metropolitan is expected to succeed as the new head of the Marthoma church.