A word about Thirumeni ......

His Grace Mathews Mar Epiphanios was born on November 25, 1928, and was the elder son of Mr. M. Kurikeshu and Mrs. Sosamma, Koottarazhikathu Puthenveedu, Chenkulam, a small beautiful village on the banks of Ithikkara River. Thirumeni spent the majority of his childhood days at his maternal house in Vengoor. His Mother’s elder sister married Mr Chacko (third son of Mr Mathunni) and settled in Vengoor as “Dathu”. Thirumeni undertook his elementary education in Devi Vilasam Middle School,Thevannoor St.George English Medium School, Chathannoor, and NSS High School, Chathannoor. He did his higher secondary education at St. John’s College, Palayamcode, Tirunelveli (1948-50). He secured his secular degree in Physics from University College Tiruvananthapuram (1950-53) and completed G.S.T (1954-58) and secured his Bachelors degree in education from St. Joseph’s College, Mannanam. He did special courses in Education at Basic Training College Thrissur (1963) and in English at Regional English Institute Bangalore (1969).

The turning point of His grace spiritual life was the meeting with the then Metropolitan of Kollam Diocese, His Grace Mathews Mar Coorilos (later His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Mathews II Catholicos) at Chenkulam St Gregorios chapel consecration ceremony in 1953. This meeting made, thirumeni realise his calling and without even consulting his parents, he accompanied Coorilos Thirumeni. Later H G Mar Coorilos ordained him as a sub-deacon at St. George Dayara, Othera, in March 1957. In April 1957, His Grace Mathews Mar Athanasius, (later His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Mathews I) ordained him as deacon. On March 25, 1958, His Grace Mathews Mar Coorilos Metropolitan ordained him as a priest at St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, Kottarakara. The newly ordained priest celebrated his first Holy Mass at Catholicate Aramana Chapel, Devalokam. His Holiness Baselius Geevarghese II Catholicos appointed him as the assistant vicar of Mar Elia Chapel, Kottayam in 1958. Later in 1959 he became the vicar. He also served at St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Kollam (1964-1984), St. George Orthodox Church, Thiruvananthapuram (1967-69), St. George Orthodox Church, Punalur, Mar Baselius Orthodox Church, Vazhuvady, St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, Kottapuram and Mar Kuriakose Orthodox Church, Arunnoottimangalam.

For a considerable period, he served as a teacher at various schools. He was the member of the managing committee twice and was the diocesan secretary of the Kollam diocese three times. He was also the vice-president of St. Thomas Orthodox Vaidika Sanghom and the Superior of the Bethlehem Ashramam, Chengamanadu.

The Malankara Association met at MGM High School Thiruvalla on December 28, 1982 and elected him as Episcopa. He was professed as a Ramban on May 14, 1983 at Parumala Seminary by the then Catholicos designate His Grace Mathews Mar Coorilos Metropolitan. On May 15, 1985, His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Mathews I Catholicos consecrated him as Episcopa with the name Mar Epiphanios. From 1985 His Grace Mathews Mar Epiphanios was serving as the Assistant Metropolitan of the Kollam diocese. On October 25, 1991 His Grace was elevated as the Metropolitan of the Kollam diocese. From January 10, 1992, His Grace served as the diocesan Metropolitan of the Kollam diocese. His Grace also served as the Metropolitan of the Trivandrum diocese from 1999 to 2004.

His Grace also served as the President of the Orthodox Syrian Sunday School Association, and member of the working committee of the Church. The salient features of the character of Thirumeni were simplicity and tranquillity. This character gave him the name “Sowmya Thejas” of Malankara . He was always seen with a smile. In spite of the hectic work schedule His Grace found time to visit the houses of relatives in times of death and marriage. He has become a role model because of his humility, grace in leadership and dedicated service to the Church. As a Bishop he has been a good shepherd to the people.

Thirumeni entered eternal rest on February 9, 2009, 11.15 AM. With the Saints and Holy Fathers, he will be interceding for us all.

(Excerpts taken from the newsletter article “Remembering Mar Epiphanios” of St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Philadelphia, The USA)