Reflections on Mar Makarios Thirumeni
Pray for Mar Makarios, who, having survived a severe motor vehicle accident on January 5th, continues intensive care treatment in England.
From: Geoffrey M. Gyrisco
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Since I was blessed to meet Mar Makarios Thirumeni several times, it seems appropriate to say a few things about him, so that more members of our congregation may know of his work. Though late in years and frail in body, he possessed great spiritual strength, a keen mind, and traveled extensively across a diocese that at one time comprised all of the U.S., Canada and Europe, as well as making frequent trips to India. Unlike other bishops--who lived, worked and traveled in regal grandeur--Thirumeni's staff to administer the vast diocese comprised perhaps three persons, and he traveled with a single assistant.
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in America, Canada and Europe was not he result of a planned missionary effort. Rather, Christians from Kerala, in southern India, arrived in America, and then began establishing congregations in far flung cities. Thirumeni did much to organize these widely dispersed congregations into a diocese.
I will never forget how at the annual church retreats, though gentle in manner and seemingly frail in body, (and indeed a broken arm seemed to take a very long time to heal) he spoke with an exceptionally keen mind and a strong voice.
Thirumeni was a strong supporter of mission work, in a church where many question its outreach to those who did not originate in Kerala, in southern India. He recognized that the precious jewel of early Christianity, preserved in the hills and coasts of Kerala, in the mountains of Eretria and Ethiopia, the mountains of Armenia, and the mountains of Syria and Lebanon, deserved to be shared with many persons of diverse backgrounds. In particular, he was a strong supporter of our mission here in Madison, Wisconsin, and of its largely Eritrean and Ethiopian membership.
He possessed an exceptionally keen spiritual mind. On one occasion, when many achens had spoken for a very very long time, and the congregation was very very hungry, he spoke last, and connected our physical hunger to important spiritual matters in a powerful 7 minute homily.
Our patriarch, the Catholicos of India and all the East, relied heavily on Thirumeni. When a sad legal dispute within our church, which had been the subject of court cases for over 90 years reached the Supreme Court of India, the Catholicos sent Thirumeni to New Delhi to find a lawyer to represent us. Thirumeni had not lived in New Delhi in 30 years, did not know anyone, and did not know where to turn. An influential Hindu family recognized him, although a Christian, as a man of great holiness, and took him in. They also provided the connections to obtain the legal representation we needed.
I am sure that more profound things could be written about this great man. These are a few that come to my mind.
Let us pray that the Lord will be merciful to Thirumeni and all of us. This tragic accident is a reminder that the work that Thirumeni has begun is soon to be passed on to all of us.
Holy Transfiguration Mission