|JULY 2005||THOSE WHO LED US||
[Prof. Joseph K. Alexander is the former Director of Collegiate Education of Kerala State. He is currently Chairman of Kerala regional branch of Indian Institute of Public Administration [IIPA] and Member of Governing Board, IIPA Delhi. He is also the founder member and Vice President of Mar Gregorios Rehabilitation Center [MGRCB] which is an offshoot of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Students Movement (MGOCSM)]
Born on 29th April 1836 in the region of Goa, currently a State of Indian Republic, H.G. Alvares Mar Julius was ordained as a Priest of Catholic Order in 1869. As a priest and a staunch freedom fighter of Goa, the eminent personality, Fr. Alvares, served in his land for spiritual and social upliftment of his countrymen for a span of eighteen years during 1869-1887. His philanthropy, patriotism and yearning for freedom from foreign Portuguese yoke, journalistic acumen and his aristocratic birth had won a good number of followers for him in Goa and South Canara. Due to the political and religious constraints of that time in his own region, Fr. Alvares left Goa in 1887, geographically rerouted his mission area and started to concentrate his social and spiritual activities among his folks in Brahmawar. [Brahmawar is a place situated in South Canara near Udippi, which is currently in the Karnataka State of India]
After a while of landing to Malankara in 1887, Parumala Mar Gregorios Metropolitan of Malankara Orthodox Church ordained Fr. Alvares to the monastic order of Ramban. On 29 July 1889, Ramban Alvares was consecrated as a Metropolitan with title Alvares Mar Julius at the Old Seminary, Kottayam by Malankara Metropolitan Pulikkottil Mar Joseph Dionysius II and St. Geevarghese Mar Gregorios [Parumala Thirumeni, the first canonized Saint of Malankara]. The newly consecrated Metropolitan Mar Julius was appointed as the Archbishop of India and Ceylon for the diocesan area of outside Kerala of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
Dn. Alexander was a matriculate from S.B. College, Changanacherry. According to the wishes of the community and his family, he was ordained as a Deacon by H.H. St. Gregorios of Parumala. Further, he joined old Seminary, Kottayam and started learning Syriac and Theology. Dn. Alexander started publishing a magazine on behalf of the Church called 'Suviseshakan'. To increase circulation and to pursue evangelical work he used to visit and deliver sermons at almost all Parishes in Travancore. In 1902 Dn. Alexander married Achiamma, daughter of Shri Chandy Kunju Marett. [Quoted by Prof. Joseph K. Alexander & Achamma Ammini Joseph]
The peripatetic missionary work of Brahmawar Mission slowly and steadily spread to many places in Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra. Dn. Alexander learned the languages of these places, so that he could directly converse with the congregation in their own vernacular language. Bibles in Kannada, Marathi, Telugu and Hindi were found in Achen's collection of books. The Church continued its mission work by sending priests for the St. Mary's Church of Milagris and other mission works at Brahmawar. Priests who later served at Brahmawar are: Thumpamon Koshy Achen, Kuriakose Achen, Geevarghese Achen.
A Primary School was started at Brahmawar with donations and from the fund raised by conducting a lottery with help of lay workers like Vettiyil Ms. Annamma of Vakathanam. She was serving among the women in Brahmawar till 1930, when parents called her back for a late marriage. In 1930's girls from Brahmawar who studied in Primary School were brought for high school education to Balikamadam Girls English High School at Thiruvalla. This practice was continued till the school at Brahmawar was upgraded to a high school. During the short Onam vacation these children were accommodated as honourd guests in Christian houses at Thiruvalla. The author recollect 3 girls each staying in our house at Mepral, probably in 1936 and 1937.
It is this school that has eventually bloomed into a College. Currently there is one Degree College, one Junior College, two U.P School, one English Medium School functioning here. The liturgical services conducted here are in Malayalam, Konkani and Kannada. As part of the Brahmavar Mission there are 5 Churches, which belong to the Madras diocese. Now Rev. Fr. Lazer of Pathanapuram Dayara is in charge of the Institutions at Brahmawar.
As the Anglican Bishop of Bombay gave Dn. Alexander a scholarship to study theology at the Bishop's College, Calcutta, the Deacon had proceeded to Calcutta for his theological studies. When the St. John's Church at Mepral was re-opened and Vicar Kanianthra Vathapallil Achen was too old to do the ecclesiastical services, Dn. Alexander was recalled from Calcutta by the Parishners. Thus, the deacon had to return from Calcutta in 1911 without completing his studies. He came to Manglore and Archbishop Alvares Mar Julius ordained him as a priest in 1911.
While at Brahmawar, one Fr. Noronha a Manglorian was his friend and a coworker in the mission field. Many years later Fr. Alexander revisited Brahmawar and God willed so, because that was the date on which his friend Fr. Naronha died. Fr. Norona went and established an out-post of his mission in Thiruchirappally. When this writer was a student there in St. Joseph's College (1944-48), he visited this small community and their Church. The old priest of that time was another Fr. Norohna who knew this old Fr. Narona. One Mr. Ponniah owner of Ponniah School was a rich member of this community. Later Pathanapuram Dayara purchased the Ponniah School from him.
Archbishop Mar Alvares had ordained two priests and a deacon from Travancore-Cochin area for Malankara Church. Besides Rev. Fr. Kanianthra Joseph Alexander, Rev. Fr. Lukose of Kannamkottu and Rev.Dn. David Kunnamkulam were the ones ordained by Mar Alvares. Fr. Kanianthra Joseph later became a Cor-Episcopa and was the Vicar General [from 1949 till his death in 1955] of the Niranam Diocese of late Thoma Mar Dionysius of Malankara Orthodox Church.
[In 1892, Archbishop Mar Alvares consecrated an American Priest, Joseph Rene Vilatte, a native from Paris, who was titled as Mar Timotheus, Archbishop for the Church of the Mother of God in Wisconsin of the Archdiocese in America, with consent of Jacobite Patriarch H.H. Peter III of Monastery of Sapran at Mardin of the border of Syria and Kurdistan.]
Bishop Mar Alvares was living in the Arch Bishop Palace in Brahmawar and serving the people till 1913. In 1913, he left Brahmawar and went back to Goa for the reason which is unknown. He had to suffer a lot of persecution at the hands of the Portuguese. He spent the rest of his life for collecting food for the poor people in Goa. His Grace Entered into eternal abode on 23rd September, 1923 at Ribandar, Panji, Goa and interred mortal remains in Goa. It is true that some research at the initiatives of late H.G. Philipose Mar Theophilus and H.H. Basalios Marthoma Mathews I prompted Rev. Fr. K.M. George and Rev. Fr. T.E. Issac, the then parish priest at Goa, to fish out the location of the burial. The tomb of Alvares Mar Julius was discovered on January 1, 1967 from St. Inex Municipal Cemetery, Panji, Goa by H.G. Mathews Mar Athanasios. The Holy Relics were translated from St.Inex Cemetery to St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Panji by Philipos Mar Theophilus on October 5, 1979 .
Feedback From Prof. Dale Griffith:
I found your 'Life of Bishop Alvares' extremely interesting, but I was crest-fallen when you did not mention that the rite used by this saintly bishop was the traditional Latin Rite corrected for use in Orthodoxy. Is there a reason that this was
omitted in the article? Bishop Alvares was the first bishop in the Orthodox Church to celebrate according to the Latin rite for centuries and the founder of Latin rite Orthodoxy. I should think that this is important.
Author's Reply: Prof. Dale Griffith's comment is genuine. In fact the Holy Mass conducted by Rev. Fr. Norohna in the Thiruchirapally Church, in 1947, which I attended once or twice, was in Latin with Tamil responses from the congregation. I missed that point. I could have added that in my article. But this fact was known perhaps only to the then Bishops in Malankara Orthodox Church including the then Dn. K. J. Alexander and Koshy Achen who were there in Brahmawar with His Grace. Moreover, Koshy Achen and other priests who came after him conducted the Holy Qurbana in Syriac and Malayalam. So this Latin rite was applicable only to H.G. Alvares and priests like Rev. Fr.Norohna and their congregation. So it is not surprising that this fact has not been mentioned by anyone in Malankara in their writings on H.G. Mar Alvares. I myself would not have known about this, had i not attended the Holy Qurbana of Fr. Norohana at Trichy. But from the standpoint of Prof . Dale Griffith, it is an important point. So let us thank Prof. Dale Griffith for pointing out this lacuna.
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