St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church’s Founder Vicar Called to His Heavenly Abode

Farewell, O Faithful Shepherd of the Holy Church!
Continue to Pray and Intercede to the Lord God for us!

His Grace Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios, Metropolitan of Canada, Europe, and South Africa, passed away today, February 23, 2008, in New Castle General Hospital in U.K. seven weeks after a serious car accident hospitalized him. Mar Makarios was the first Metropolitan of Bombay, as well as North America, of the Malankara Orthodox Church. An internationally-known and respected historian, theologian, story-teller, and visionary of the Malankara Orthodox Church, he was a man of “many firsts,” leaving a significant imprint in the history of Malankara Church. He will be deeply missed and eternally remembered.

Mar Makarios was born on May 26, 1926 to Chacko and Mariamma Kuttikandathil in Ayroor, Kerala, India. After completing his education in various schools and colleges, he enrolled for theological studies at the (Malankara) Orthodox Theological Seminary at Kottayam. He was ordained a priest in 1952 by His Holiness Catholicos Geevarghese Baselios II. As a first assignment, he went New Delhi and organized congregations, becoming the first vicar of Orthodox Church in New Delhi.

Fr. Thomas was well-versed and insightful in the areas of Church History, Orthodox tradition, and Canon Law. As a result, he was able to advise the lawyers of the church in various capacities that resulted in the historic verdict by the Supreme Court of India for the Orthodox Church in 1958. Fr. Thomas continued his studies in various religious institutions in England, Germany, Switzerland and France. He came to the United States in 1963 and continued his theological studies. He earned a Bachelors of Divinity degree from Nashota House in Wisconsin, a Masters of Sacred Theology from Virginia Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate in Theology from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.

Mar Makarios and St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Greater Washington DC

During his schooling and stay in Richmond, Virginia, Fr. Thomas organized the St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Greater Washington parish in 1965 with monthly services with a handful of participants that included Orthodox, Marthomites, Catholics, and CSI individuals. He served as the parish’s first vicar with the assistance of Dn. Varghese Pattamady. In fact, the first baptism he conducted in America was that of our own Dn. George Mathew in August 1968 at Howard University Divinity Chapel. Fr. Thomas returned back to India some years later and served as a professor of Church History at the (Malankara) Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam, Kerala, India.

In 1975, Fr. Thomas was elected to the episcopacy of the Holy Church and was consecrated as Metropolitan Thomas Mar Makarios by His Holiness Catholicos Augen I. In the same year, he was appointed as the first Metropolitan of Diocese of Bombay. One year later, the parishes in America and Canada were brought under Bombay Diocese. The Managing Committee and the Holy Episcopal Synod took a significant step and declared the establishment of the American Diocese in January 1979. His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I, Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan, came to America in July 1979, enthroning Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios as the first Metropolitan of America, setting up his headquarters in Buffalo, New York. With a love and gift for teaching, in 1985, Mar Makarios began teaching Religion at Alma College in Michigan. Because of his various achievements and contributions to the Holy Church and American society, Alma College awarded him the degree of Doctor of Divinity Honorees Causa in 1990.
Mar Makarios was an avid story teller and was frequently the chief guest at weddings and anniversary functions. Despite numerous problems and difficulties of the infant diocese, Mar Makarios set a strong foundation for the American Diocese and shepherded the Diocese until 1991, when His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas was appointed to America. There were thirty-five official parishes in America at that time. In 1993, he was appointed as the Metropolitan of Canada, Europe, and South Africa.

Mar Makarios, well-respected and honored in the Malankara Orthodox Church, had a vision for the Malankara Church, which can be summarized as:

“The church needs to change – just like the 4th century church was not exactly a carbon copy of the 1st Century church, so also the 21st Century church cannot be an exact carbon copy of the 1st century church or the 20th century church. Change is not a threat. Change is Growth and growth is change. The Church needs to continuously adapt to the new society.”

Concluding a month-long tour of his congregations and parishes in U.K., Mar Makarios was involved in a car accident January 5, 2008 while on his way to New Castle Airport. Plagued with multiples injuries, including rib fractures and severe chest and spinal injuries, he was admitted in Newcastle General Hospital, where he remained in critical condition. After nearly fifty days in the hospital and following two major surgeries, Mar Makarios gave up his spirit to His Lord and left his earthly abode on February 23, 2008. The St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Washington DC parishioners grieve the loss of its first vicar and pray that he finds rest and solace in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.