Former head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the longest-serving bishop in India Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom died due to age-related ailments on Wednesday, a church spokesman said. He was 103 years old. Chrysostom. Born Philip Ommen on April 27 1918 in Karthikapally, Chrysostom’s 103rd birthday was marked at a hospital in Thiruvala. He was discharged from the Thiruvala hospital on Tuesday and breathed his last at a private hospital in Kumbanad, Pathnamthitta district at around 1.30 am on May 5.
Chrysostom, who was known for his speeches that were filled with wit and wisdom, lampooning rigid beliefs and systems in society, inherited the missionary zeal from his father, Vicar General KE Oommen.
After graduating from Union Christian College, Aluva, Chrysostom was ordained as a priest in 1944 and became a bishop in 1953. He became the Metropolitan of the Marthoma Church in 1999 and remained in service till his retirement in 2010 due to age-related problems. One of the oldest bishops in the country, he was a bishop for 68 years. The religious dignitary with a genuine humanitarian outlook and global vision 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. In 2017, the church announced a programme called Navodaya movement for welfare and mainstreaming of the transgender community to mark his 100th birthday. Several books and documentaries have been published containing his humour-filled speeches and talks. Film maker Blessy had made a comprehensive biopic on him. Chrysostom was close to some of the tallest leaders of the country including former President K R Narayanan and prime minister A B Vajpayee.
Social media is currently flooded with tributes to the late Metropolitan.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has offered condolence calling his death a big loss to the country Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “Mourning the passing of the most remarkable prelate I’ve ever met, Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, who passed away today aged 104 after serving as bishop for nearly 68 yrs. Wit, wisdom& erudition personified. RIP.”
A Twitter user wrote, “His grace Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan; our Valiya Thirumeni was the epitome of cheer, humility and kindness. It was such a blessing to have had him as our leader. I wish more of us could pay our respects to him physically.