Catholicos Baselios Thomas I
) is Maphriyono
of the Syriac Orthodox Church
and the regional head of Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church
. His official title is Catholicos of India
although sometimes called Catholicos of the East
. It was on 26th July 2002 he was enthroned as the Catholicos
and the head of the Church in India. He is the regional head of the 1.5 million Syriac Christians
of India, a Christian community believed to have been established by Apostle St. Thomas
in a place called Maliyankara
, near North Paravur
in South India in AD. 52.
Catholicos Baselios Thomas I was born in the Cheruvillil family of Vadayambadi in Puthencruz
to Mathai and Kunjamma on July 22, 1929.
Early part of the life of Mor Baselios Thomas I was full of sufferings. Though he belonged to an aristocratic family, by the time he was born the family had seen bad days. As a child he had frequent bouts of illness which affected his education. His mother used to take the young boy frequently to the nearby Malekurishu Dayro where the relics of late Patriarch St. Elias III had been interred. One night, as his mother prayed with the young boy on her lap, she had a vision which prompted her to dedicate the boy to the service of the church. Within days, the boy's illness was entirely cured.
His priestly formation was under the guidance of Mor Philoxenos Paulos (later Catholicos Baselios Paulose II
) who ordained him korooyo
in 1952 and mshamshono
at Kadamattom Church in 1957. In 1958, he was ordained priest by Mor Yulius Elias Qoro in September 1958 at Manjinikkara. He was the 43rd priest from the Cheruvillil family. C.M. Thomas served as the vicar of St. Peter's church, Puthenkurishu from 1959 while also serving churches at Mookkannur, Vellathooval, Keezhumuri, St Peters & St Pauls Orthodox ChurchFort Cochin, Valamboor and later at Calcutta and Trichur. In 1960, while vicar at Puthenkurish, he played a key role in rebuilding the church; parishioners fondly recollect their priest working with them during the reconstruction. From 1967-74, he served as the organizing secretary of Kolenchery Medical Mission Hospital. In 1970, he served as the organizer for the North Indian mission at Bhilai and in 1974 as the secretary of the Pourasthaya Suvishesha Samajam. Since his ordination as korooyo, at age 24, Thomas was active in preaching the gospel in the remote parts of Kerala. From his vision and zeal to spread the gospel arose the St. Paul's prayer fellowship and the Puthenkurish gospel convention which is held annually from December 26-31.
Thomas was elected to the episcopate by the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Association meeting at Karingachira St. George Church in January 1974 and was consecrated metropolitan of the Ankamaly diocese, the largest Syriac Orthodox diocese, by Mor Ignatius Ya`qub III
on February 24, 1974 at Damascus along with Mor Gregorius Gheevarghese Perumballil
. The two metropolitans played a significant role in leading the church during the crisis of the seventies. After the passing away of Mor Gregorius Gheevarghese in February 1999, Mor Dionysius assumed the Presidency of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church Synod (Patriarch Faction) and was elected Catholicose-Designate at the delegates meeting held at Puthenkurishu on December 27, 2000 and again by the Malankara Association reconstituted under the newly formed constitution on June 6, 2002.
On July 26
, Mor Dionysius was consecrated Catholicos by name Baselios Thomas I in a rite officiated by Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
at Ma`rat Sayyidnaya
. As the head of the Church in India the Catholicos presides over the Holy Episcopal Synod of Malankara Church which includes all the Metropolitans of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India. He is also the Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church.
The Catholicate office of Mor Baselios Thomas I
functions at the Mor Ignatius Zakka I
centre in Puthencruz
near Kochi, which is also the headquarters of the Syrian Orthodox Church
in India. He resides at Mor Ignatius Seminary at Kothamangalam