Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the supreme head of the Thiruvalla-headquartered Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church passed away early yesterday, church officials said.
He was 89.
The Metropolitan was battling cancer and was admitted to a private hospital at Thiruvalla for a few days.
Until recently he was conducting the weekly Sunday mass at the Thiruvalla church, located about 130km from here. The last rites would be held at the church headquarters at 3pm today.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences.
“His Grace the Most Rev Dr Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan was a remarkable personality who served humanity and worked hard to improve the lives of the poor and downtrodden. He was blessed with abundance of empathy and humility. His noble ideals will always be remembered,” Modi, who inaugurated the Navathi celebrations (commencement of age 90) online in June this year, said.
Born near Thiruvalla in 1931, the Metropolitan then known as P TJoseph was ordained as a priest in 1957. He was elevated as a bishop in 1975 and took the name of Joseph Mar Irenaeus.
He was elevated as suffragan metropolitan (Metropolitan designate) on March 15, 1999, when Philiphose Mar Chrysostom, the suffragan metropolitan, was designated as the officiating metropolitan.
And when his superior decided to retire on October 2 2007, he was made the supreme head of the church and took the title of Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan.
Known as a tough task master, the Metropolitan was a revered personality not just in the church, but in the civil society.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recalled his work in uplifting the weaker and the oppressed. “It’s a huge loss for all,” Vijayan said.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the Metropolitan’s work across sectors will always be remembered and his demise has created a vacuum.
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