The Diocese of Delhi was carved out of the outside Kerala Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in the year 1975. The Diocese in the National Capital Region had been functioning as the backbone of the Church right from the time of its inception. The Diocese has been blessed in terms of the able leadership it has received time and again and the sincerity of its people, who living away from their homeland, have left no stone unturned in their pursuit of the growth of the Church in the regions where it was never been known.
The Diocese was first entrusted to the pioneering visionary and a world renowned scholar, the late lamented Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios, of blessed memory, whose tireless and bold leadership was quintessential in leaving his imprint in the early stages of Church. The growth of the Church, especially in terms of the large number of parishes and institutions, had been the result of Mar Gregorios’ tireless efforts. At present what the Diocese boasts of can be attributed to the great vision of the late lamented Job Mar Philoxenos, the second Metropolitan of the Diocese of Delhi.
The Diocese of Delhi is amongst the thirty dioceses of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church that spans both India and abroad. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is an autocephalous, autonomous and indigenous church that belongs to the family of Oriental Orthodox churches. It traces its origin to the evangelical activity of St. Thomas, the Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ in the 1st century (52 AD). The Church is headed by the Catholicos of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan; presently it is His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II. The Diocese of Delhi is under the spiritual and temporal authority of its current metropolitan, His Grace Dr. Youhanon Mar Demetrios.
The Diocese of Delhi
The headquarters of the Diocese of Delhi, more often known as the Delhi Diocesan Centre is situated at 2, Institutional Area, Tughlaqabad, New Delhi – 110 062. The Delhi Orthodox Diocesan Council is the society registered by the Delhi Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in 1979 (Reg. No. 10502 of 1979) under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 with the Registrar of Societies, Delhi. The primary objectives of the Council is to provide and administer the parishes, congregations, monasteries and convents, medical and educational institutions and cater to the welfare of humankind, especially for the upliftment of the poor and the downtrodden by means of various charitable and service-oriented endeavours.
The Orthodox Christians have been acknowledged worldwide as a faith community which is centred upon worship, study and service. The contributions rendered by the Church in the field of education, health care, missionary work has always been manifold in terms of leading to an overall upliftment and development of not just the Kerala Christian community but also for the people at large irrespective of the caste, creed, colour and language etc.
Once the nucleus of the Orthodox Church in north India was formed in the capital of the country, the growth of parishes in adjacent centres was rapid and the establishment of the Diocese of Delhi followed in a few years. The Diocese of Delhi spans not only the region of Delhi & NCR but is also spread to the different states in north India.
Today, there are thirteen parishes in and around Delhi alone – Hauz Khas, Janakpuri, Tughlaqabad, Sarita Vihar, Mayur Vihar-I, Mayur Vihar-III, Rohini, Dwarka, Dilshad Garden, Ghaziabad, Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad. Overall, there are forty five parishes, spread over major cities in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana and the United Arab Emirates.
There are 25 educational institutions under the Council, which have acclaimed laurels and maintains their reputation not just for the quality education they impart but also in terms of their notable contributions to the nation. A special mention needs to be made regarding “Aanchal”, a centre for the differently abled children at Sector-3, Rohini, which is the embodiment of love in action.
The Diocese of Delhi in general and the Council in particular has been doing a commendable job in terms of striving hard towards the fulfilment of its goal of rendering a place of worship and communion for its members and also achieving the service motto of its society. The Society has been remarkable in terms of the marked contributions in the field of education, health care, village upliftment that it provides to the society at large through its educational institutions, rehabilitation centres, children’s home, old-age home, counselling centres and community development programs.
Mar Philoxenos Centre for Human and Social Development, Shantigram
Mar Philoxenos Centre for Human and Social Development was set up as a consolidated organisation in memory of the late Metropolitan Job Mar Philoxenos who had initiated the developmental projects in Shantigram, Mandawar. Beginning with an integrated social development programme at Mandawar, Sohna Tehsil in Haryana, it is an ambitious project taken up by the Council. This project strives to work among the poor for the rural development of the surrounding village and is established in an area of 20 acres of land consisting of a CBSE affiliated school, a free medical dispensary and a bala bhavan. An old age home and rehabilitation centre have also been proposed for the future. Free health care camps and social awareness programmes are organised on a regular basis.
St. Dionysius Retreat Centre, Aravalli
The Aravalli Retreat Centre can be seen as the conceptualisation of the long standing dream of the late Metropolitan Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios, the first bishop of the Diocese of Delhi. This project houses a chapel and a retreat centre. The project responds to the increased depersonalization within the global society due to the stresses brought about by today’s living conditions and the resulting psychological consequences. The project endeavors to provide a secluded area for those seeking solace and tranquility, where people can experience a peaceful environment and attain realization of their inner selves.
Thought for the Month
By all accounts (narrated only in the Synoptic Gospels) the birth of Jesus is an event revealed only to a select group of people. When we put together the birth narratives we will find that those who are recipients of this birth are the poor shepherds and the Wise Men in addition to St. Joseph and St. Mary. As such it must be seen as an event that received scant attention and by and large the general public is exempt from this revelation. This is one of the reasons that the Eastern Orthodox Churches prefer to celebrate the appearance of Jesus at His baptism (Epiphany) rather than the Christmas. For, at His baptism the declaration of Jesus’ identity was clearly made public.
Why only this restricted announcement? Even with the angelic hosts announcing the event only the shepherds become aware of the significance of the child born in a stable in Bethlehem; St. Luke does not indicate that anyone else became aware of this announcement. We also have to ask why only the Wise Men in St. Matthew’s gospel? Were there no other persons who qualified for this revelation? The answer to these questions lie in the fact that these two categories of people alone met the condition who found favour with God as the angels pronounced. The shepherds were poor in spirit, which meant that their economic and social situations left them with no other support other than God. They could not avail of the subverting influence of gold or silver or political and social clout to gain a privileged positions. Their only hope was in God alone. Similarly the Wise Men sought to meet the great God who would alter the destiny of humankind and nations. They were not mesmerised by the glow of the star or of the lure of worldly wisdom. They sought the One God, and that One God alone. It is probably for these reasons that they alone were able to perceive the greatness of Jesus’ humble birth.
As we celebrate the Christmas with its joy and revelry it would be appropriate to ask ourselves if we own the necessary characteristics displayed by these two groups. Is our life based on God alone or does God come as a footnote to our power and prestige? What is it that we seek after during this Christmas season? Another fat bonus that swells our accumulated financial resources or the many gifts that provide us with fleeting joy? Let us be aware of the fact that even though the first coming of Jesus was announced to a restricted few, His Second Coming will be universally visible. And when we are called to account before our Lord and King, certainly to characteristics He will seek in us will be our complete faith in Him alone and that we have surrendered ourselves totally, body, mind and soul to Him. We have to also keep in mind the fact that at that juncture we will not have the option of either rejecting or accepting Jesus Christ.
For a moment let us imagine the scene around the crib. The birth of Jesus had the additional benefit of integrating all of creation. In addition to the Holy Family there are the angels, the Wise Men, the shepherds and the cattle. While such a scene is not found represented in the gospels it is nonetheless a familiar Christmas card picture. It certainly carries a message. Do our celebrations and services serve to unite all creation or are we isolated in commemorating the birth of Christ within our own preferred circles. The integration of all creation is an intrinsic part of the theology of the Eastern Church, yet another reason why it prefers the celebration of the baptism of Jesus as opposed to the Christmas. However, in this season of Christmas let us try to include all within the circle of our joy and happiness. Let us announce the divine birth to all so that all creation can join in the joyful celebration of our God becoming human so that we could become transformed into His likeness.
I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a joyful New Year!
AANCHAL – Centre for Differently Abled Children
“Aanchal” is the vibrant nerve centre of activity set up and governed by the SGCS (St. Gregorios Charitable Society), a non religious society, registered under the Societies Registration Act XX1 of 1860, at Plot No. 4, Block ‘C’, Sector 3, Rohini, Delhi-110085 with the main aim to educate and train children facing mild to moderate […]
St. Dionysius Retreat Centre, Aravalli
The Aravalli Retreat Centre can be seen as the conceptualisation of the long standing dream of the late Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios, the first Metropolitan of the Diocese of Delhi. This project houses a chapel and a retreat centre. The project responds to the increased depersonalization within the global society due to the stresses brought […]
History and Background The Orthodox Church has traditionally been built on the strong foundation of missionary, service and charity related activities. The basic inspiration for this work comes from the communitarian way of life of the early Christians and the early Church fathers. Founded on the bedrock of the living examples set by St. Gregorios […]
St. Thomas Mission High School, Lucknow
The management and functioning of the St. Thomas Mission School, Lucknow was taken over by the Diocese, based upon a decision finalized by the General Body of the Lucknow Church and Diocesan Council. The St. Thomas Mission School is affiliated with ICSE Board, with 700 students from Pre-nursery to Class XII, with 24 teachers, 4 office […]
The Delhi Orthodox Centre
The Delhi Orthodox Centre is the realisation of the vision and earnest endeavours of the first metropolitan of the Delhi Diocese, H.G. Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios. Exactly thirty years ago, the Cente was inaugurated by the then Vice-President of India, Shri R. Venkatraman and was dedicated to the service of the Diocese, the Church and […]