With a membership of 500, and a regular attendance of 2000 people, Holy Qurbana (two services) is celebrated on all Sundays and other Feast days. 26 prayer groups regularly meet every month covering a large segment of people scattered across various places in Delhi. Sunday school is conducted regularly for 260 students with 16 teachers. MGOCSM (40 members), Youth Movement (50 members), Martha Mariam Samajam (75 members), AMOSS (28 members) and Diaspora (15 members) are functioning very actively with various programmes arranged throughout the year. The parish charity projects, led by St. Mary’s Orthodox Christian Youth League, have also been effectively implemented with active participation of all our members. The financial year also witnessed the renovation of the Parish Hall and also the installation of the CCTV’s in the Cathedral premises.
St. George Chapel, Aya Nagar
The parish has a chapel at Aya Nagar and Holy Qurbana is celebrated on first and third Sundays in the Chapel for the convenience of residents in the area. Rev. Fr. Paul Thomas is the Priest in Charge of the Chapel. The construction of a ‘kurishumtotthi’ in front of the chapel was completed and the beautification process of the premises is under way.
The parish runs two schools, viz. St. Paul’s School, HauzKhas; among the most prestigious schools in Delhi with 2200 plus students and 78 teaching staff & 21 non-teaching staff and St. Paul’s School at Aya Nagar. The School is on its way to become a premier Senior Secondary School in the area as can be judged from the number of applications received for admissions with 1200 students with 34 teachers and 23 non-teaching staff.
St. Paul’s School, HauzKhas
St. Paul’s School, HauzKhas has attained the stature of a top school in South Delhi and raised the bar to international standards with quality focus academic and non-academic activities. The school organizes International Exchange program with various countries like Pakistan, Japan, United States, Italy, Germany, Switzerland etc. In our endeavor to integrate teaching with technology the school has upgraded its IT facility to international standards through Multi-media labs and Smart class facility for all classes. This year the students did extremely well in class XII CBSE Board examination. We achieved 100% results with very high scores and the school average is 79%. St. Paul’s School is the recipient of many prestigious International Awards. Mr. Joseph P. Cherian joined the school as its new Principal.
St. Paul’s School, Aya Nagar
The School, recognized to run till 8th Standard by Directorate of Education, Delhi State Government, in its ninth year of operation has become the most sought after School in Aya Nagar and nearby areas. The School was established with the objective of providing affordable education to the students in the area which can contribute to the social development of Aya Nagar. The school follows a system of Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) which has proved to be positive and successful for attaining the desired results and has evoked a satisfactory response. Additional classrooms have been created in the current year. A plot of 1.07 acres of land was purchased during the year which is a part of the school’s continuing efforts for creation of additional infrastructure.
Sponsorship at Parumala Cancer Centre: The Cathedral has been financially and emotionally supporting the cancer patients for few years and on this note the parish funded an Operation Theatre at the Parumala Cancer Care Centre at a cost of 20 lakhs.
Service to Needy: The Cathedral has extended scholarships and fee concessions amounting to more than Rs.1.27 Crores to students from deserving and economically weaker sections of the society. Additionally, the charity activities of the Cathedral are being led by the St. Mary’s Orthodox Christian Youth League which undertakes various charitable activities totalling to more than Rs. 22.35 Lakhs such as – educational assistance to school, college, nursing students; interest free loan for higher education; supporting the activities of Shantigram Project of Delhi Diocese; Free education programme for children at Balmiki slum, Malviya Nagar; sponsoring of children at various orphanages run by the church; marriage assistance; assistance for medical treatment; monthly pension scheme for widows and many such projects. Considering the high incidents of cancer, the parish has started a “Cancer Aid Fund” and collected an amount of Rs. 2.35 Lakhs to support the needy cancer patients.
The MGOCSM Unit of the Cathedral has set off a Basket Ball championship, St. Mary’s Basket Ball championship with participation from our churches in the diocese and other sister churches in Delhi. The fund generated from the registration and other sources for this tournament has been earmarked for medical needs under the St. Mary’s Sports & Social Outreach Program.
St. Mary’s Medical Centre, Aya Nagar: St. Mary’s Medical Centre, the community development program of the Cathedral is providing quality health care facilities to more than 16000 people in a year providing best medical care to the poor people in the surrounding areas of Aya Nagar. Medical Centre is an approved “DOTS CENTRE” under “Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme” where medicines are made available to TB patients in nearby areas through the Government of India scheme. Free medical camps under the “Village Health Mission Programme” are conducted on a regular basis where hundreds of patients benefit. The Medical Centre, a fifteen bedded facility registered under Government of Delhi, offers 24 hours service and has almost all the specialty departments including Gynaecology. Since the Gynaecology services are provided at very nominal rates ladies who were being treated at home have started coming to the Medical Centre leading to reduced mortality rate at childbirth.
The Cathedral, the mother parish of Delhi Diocese is leaving no stone unturned to work towards the development of the Diocese, the Orthodox Church and also for the welfare of the Society at large.
Rev. Fr. Shaji George
St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral
C-3 SDA HauzKhas, New Delhi
Rev. Fr. Pathrose Joy
Mr. Shaji Paul
Mr. Thomas Mathew
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!