Archbishop’s Visit to Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in India Continues – Day 3
Archbishop Michael Jackson is currently visiting the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, also known as the Indian Orthodox Church. The church is based in the Indian state of Kerala and during his visit the Archbishop will worship in a number of parishes. He will also attend a number of presentations and talks.
Today (Tuesday July 30) the Archbishop visited the Church of the Nine Saints where there is the Shrine of St George at Puthuppally, Kottayam. He was greeted by the priest who has been in post for just a month and by members of the parish including a member of the Indian Orthodox Community from Cobh whose fellow–parishioners worship in All Saints’ Church, Blackrock, Cork. Not only is this church uniquely dedicated to the nine saints venerated in Orthodox India but it is a place of pilgrimage for Christians and other Faith traditions right around the world who revere the memory of George.
One of the priests spoke of how the project that the church had set itself in 2019 was to build 20 houses for people with no homes in response to their deprivation and irrespective of their Faith affiliation. Even three days in Kerala give a very different perspective on what is meant in this country by Inter Faith engagement and encounter and activity. It is intrinsic to the Christian self–understanding to meet the human need in the name of God first and last. From there the Archbishop and his host Father Ashwin Zefrin Fernandis travelled to the home of Father Anish John who is Malankara Orthodox priest in Dublin and whose parish uses both St George and St Thomas’s on Cathal Brugha Street and St Catherine’s, Donore Avenue. He had invited the Archbishop to meet his wife and two daughters and his mother and to share lunch with them.
From there they went to the International Dialogue Centre which was blessed and dedicated by the Trustees of Nilackai St Thomas Ecumenical Centre Trust in 1896. The Centre stands in the middle of a jungle and offers scope for uncluttered reflection and prayer. It can accommodate over 100 people and offers retreats for members of different congregations from different denominations across Kerala. A new and larger community church is currently under construction and will be ready in December. The Centre is staffed on a monthly rotational basis by a cleric from each of the participating traditions. In spite of the steep incline, an elephant had made its way up to a vegetable patch just outside the front door on Sunday evening and cleared the decks except for the green chilli plants!