The former head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the longest-serving bishop in India, Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom, passed away owing to age-related ailments on May 5. He was 103.
Mar Chrysostom was discharged from a hospital in Thiruvalla on May 4. He breathed his last at a private hospital in Kumbanad around 1.15 am.
The funeral will be held at 3 p.m. on May 6.
An outstanding religious dignitary with a genuine humanitarian outlook and global vision, Mar Chrysostom was awarded Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour, by President Ram Nath Kovind in 2018. He is credited with implementing and formulating many projects to improve the social, economic and cultural lives of the poor and deprived.
Born on April 27, 1918 in Nadukkeveetil family, Karthikappally, he had inherited the missionary zeal from his father Rev. K.E. Oommen Kassessa, a priest of the Mar Thoma Church. After school education in Maramon, Kozhencherry and Eraviperoor, he obtained BA Degree from Union Christian (UC) College, Aluva.
He soon got involved in missionary work in Ankola, Karnataka. After working there from 1940 to 1942, he started Theological studies in United Theological College, Bangalore. He was ordained Deacon, and months later Kasessa (priesthood), in 1944. In 1953, he was consecrated as Bishop. He remained a bishop for 68 years, the longest serving in church history.
Mar Chrysostom became the Metropolitan of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in 1999. He voluntarily retired from administrative responsibilities in October 2007, and was succeeded by His Grace Joseph Marthoma who passed away last year.
Famous for his humour, the bishop was popular across the political and religious spectrum. Many books and documentaries have been published containing his humorous speeches and talks.
“I tell jokes mainly to cement some of life’s most fundamental principles inside our people’s minds. When they remember a joke, they may recall the principle I talked about,” he said in an interview.
On the centenary of his birth, acclaimed Malayalam film director Blessy produced a documentary on the life and ideals of Chrysostom. Running over 48 hours, it gained entry into the Guinness Book of World Records in the category of ‘longest documentary’ ever.