Dubai: Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom, Metropolitan Emeritus of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the longest-serving bishop in India, passed away at a private hospital in Kerala early Wednesday due to age-related illnesses, church officials said. He was 104.
An outstanding bishop with a genuine humanitarian outlook and global vision, Mar Chrysostom was awarded the Padma Bhushan by President Ram Nath Kovind in 2018.
He is credited with implementing and formulating many projects to improve the social, economic and cultural condition of the poor and deprived.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan, saying he touched people with his kindness, compassion and service.
"Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan, one of longest serving bishops in India had touched millions with his religiosity, compassion and service, specially to needy and downtrodden. He was honoured with Padma Vibhushan also. My condolences to his followers," Kovind tweeted.
In his tweet, Naidu said he was saddened by the demise of the bishop who has done yeoman service to humanity throughout his life.
"Saddened by the demise of Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan. As the longest-serving bishop in India, he has done yeoman service to humanity throughout his life. He will be fondly remembered for his kindness and warmth that touched one and all," Naidu tweeted.
Prime Minister Modi said that the bishop "will be remembered for his rich theological knowledge and many efforts to remove human suffering."
Born on April 27, 1918 in Karthikappally, Kerala, he inherited the missionary zeal from his father. After graduating from Union Christian (UC) College, Alwaye, he was ordained as Deacon of the Church in 1944. Nine years later, in 1953, he was consecrated as bishop.
Mar Chrysostom became the Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in 1999 and voluntarily stepped down from the top post in 2007. Though officially retired, the bishop used to take part in church services and moved around in a wheel chair. He was a bishop for 68 years.
Known for his wit, he was a sought after person for events of various churches and other organisations. A pleasant attitude and a unique style of speaking, replete with humorous statements, endeared him to the people.
Many books and documentaries have been published containing his humorous speeches and talks.
Condolences have started pouring in for the bishop.
Three time former Kerala Chief Minister and former Defence Minister A.K. Antony said: "He was not just the head of a particular Church, but he was one who was liked by all cutting across religions. At times when issues surfaced in the state, he came to the front to restore peace and communal harmony. When I was recently convalescing at a hospital in Delhi for a while, he came in a wheel chair to see me and comforted me," said Antony.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the passing of the beloved Metropolitan is going to be a loss for all, as he portrayed humanity, and was the strength of the weak and downtrodden.
"He was known for his progressive thoughts and actions. And to live beyond 100 years in itself is considered to be very lucky and he not only lived beyond 100, but used his life for the well being of others," said Vijayan.