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Condolence message from the WCC general secretary on the passing away of His Eminence the Rt. Rev. Dr Zacharias Mar Theophilus, Suffragan Metropolitan of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Condolence Message from the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit to the Metropolitan of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church

28 December 2015

To:

His Grace the Most Rev. Dr Joseph Mar Thoma,
The Metropolitan,
Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church

I am deeply saddened to hear that His Eminence the Rt. Rev. Dr Zacharias Mar Theophilus, Suffragan Metropolitan has been called to eternity. On behalf of the World Council of Churches I wish to offer my sincere condolences to you, the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, his bereaved family and all those who mourn the loss of this exemplary minister of the Gospel of Christ.

His Eminence Dr Zacharias Mar Theophilus made immense contributions to the Church and the Ecumenical Movement in various capacities. Consecrated a bishop of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in India in 1980, he served as Diocesan Bishop in different dioceses in the country. He also served as Bishop of the North America-Europe Diocese of the Mar Thoma Church and was based in New York, USA from 1993 to 2003. His episcopal ministry was marked by a remarkable commitment and an ability to respond to the spiritual and social needs of his context as evidenced by his contributions to the strengthening of the mission work in the dioceses that he ministered.

I had the privilege of meeting His Eminence when I visited Kerala in 2011. His longstanding association with the ecumenical movement is a wonderful example of a strong and steadfast commitment to all it stands for. Having attended the WCC assemblies in Canberra, Harare, PortoAlegre and Busan, His Eminence was a faithful bearer of the global fellowship. He served as a member of the Central and Executive Committees of the WCC for two terms; from 1991-1998 and 1999 to 2006. Alongside this he was also a member of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC, a member of the WCC Asia Regional Group (1999-2006) and the WCC-CCA Joint Working Group. He represented the WCC in various ecumenical and pastoral solidarity visits as part of the Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010). Even as we mourn his loss we are grateful to God for the many ways in which His Eminence enriched the Church and the Ecumenical movement through his leadership and witness.

At this time of separation and sorrow, may the following verses from 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 offer all of us who mourn the needed strength and solace: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.”

May the comfort and consolation of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” become real to us in our time of need.

As we thank God profoundly for the life and witness of His Eminence Rt Rev. Dr Zacharias Mar Theophilus, may his soul rest in peace and rise in glory and may his memory be eternal.

 

Geneva 27 December, 2015

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary
World Council of Churches