Friday, May 01, 2009

Local church members to attend memorial sculpture unveiling

A delegation of members of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Madison, Wisconsin will attend a dedication ceremony at Alma College, Michigan, on Saturday, May 16, 2009, during which a figurative sculpture representing the spiritual ideals of the late Bishop Thomas Mar Makarios will be unveiled.

Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church is a small multiethnic Malankara Orthodox Syrian mission parish that meets at 621 N. Sherman Avenue, Suite B3, (Madison, Wisconsin) on Sunday mornings. More information about the church is available by calling 608-242-4244. Since 2001, it has been a mission parish of the Mission Society of St. Gregorios of India founded by Bishop Makarios.

Bishop Makarios, who had been the bishop of the Mission Society of St. Gregorios of India until his death, was also a much-beloved professor of religious studies at Alma College who passed away in February 2008. In his 25 years at Alma, he introduced students to Indian philosophy and culture and helped develop the Alma India Program, which has a relationship with the Mathen Mappilai Memorial Public School in the village of Ayroor in the state of Kerala.

Many Alma students have performed volunteer work at the school over the years. In addition, the Bishop was a prelate of the Malankara Orthodox Church of India. He was founder of the American Diocese and the first Metropolitan Bishop of Canada, UK and Europe, and South Africa.

Following his passing, an Alma College campus committee selected Michigan artist Mark Chatterley to create a campus sculpture that memorializes the Bishop's impact on the faculty and students of Alma College.

"Mark Chatterley's figures have a very timeless, universal feeling to them," says Carrie Parks-Kirby, faculty artist and committee member. "Even though he never knew or met the Bishop, he took our descriptions and came up with a sculpture that is very fitting and descriptive of our former friend and colleague."

The sculpture depicts a central figure with wings standing, arms raised and palms together in a prayerful gesture. The wings, at close inspection, are made up of figures that get progressively smaller.

"This beautiful work of art provides a fitting and enduring reminder of the Bishop's legacy at Alma College, in his beloved church, and in the world religious community," says Alma President Saundra Tracy.

"It's a beautiful image for a leader of a church and teacher who impacted so many individuals," says Parks-Kirby. "The sculpture is not a likeness of the Bishop but represents his spiritual wisdom, love and leadership of the people around him."

The clay sculpture cast in bronze will be located at the center of the Alma College campus along a sidewalk amidst a grove of evergreen trees.

Alma College is a selective liberal arts college committed to academic excellence and development of responsible leaders. Alma's undergraduates thrive on challenging academic programs in a supportive, small-college environment emphasizing active, collaborative learning and close student-faculty interaction. The College offers coursework in 28 majors, plus pre-professional programs in law and medicine.

In addition to India, Alma College also offers international study and research opportunities in Australia, Austria, Ecuador, England, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Peru and Scotland.

In Midwest America, only one other Indian leader has a dedicated public statue: Mahatma Gandhi in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

For more information:

  • Holy Transfiguration Publications: books by Fr John Brian