Thomas Kanjirappallil Oommen was consecrated and installed as the Bishop of the central Kerala diocese of the Church of South India (CSI) at the CSI Holy Trinity Cathedral here on Saturday.

He has become the 12th bishop of the diocese formed in 1879, succeeding Bishop Thomas Samuel, who retired at the age of 65.

The ceremonies began with a reception to the Bishop-designate at 9.15 a.m. at the gateway to the cathedral. The cathedral choir, the clergy, the office-bearers of the synod and the bishops followed in procession to the sanctuary of the cathedral.

Bishop S. Vasantha Kumar, CSI moderator, was the chief celebrant of the installation ceremony that began at 9.30 a.m.

Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, head of the Mar Thoma Church; Bishop G. Devakadaksham, CSI deputy moderator; and Bishop K.G. Daniel, commissary to the moderator; were the concelebrants.

The presentation of the Bible and the pastoral staff by the celebrant and his subsequent declaration to the faithful signified the consecration. A Holy Mass followed.

The bishops B.S. Devamani, J. Prabhakara Rao, John S. Sadananda, K.P. Kuruvilla, K.J. Samuel, Sam Mathew, J. W. Gladstone, Michael John and George Isaac; Zacharias Mar Theophilus, Suffragon Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church; and the Rev. Thomas Samuel participated.

Thousands of the faithful had thronged the cathedral and its surrounding compounds to witness the ceremony.

Church's responsibility

The new Bishop, in his address at the conclusion of the ceremonies, said religion could not be viewed in isolation from the polity.

“Both the government and the Church are responsible for ensuring the welfare of their people. Whenever people's interests and societal peace are at stake, the Church will speak for the exploited and the oppressed, even if it is a lonely voice,” he said.

He highlighted the importance of reviewing and redefining the educational mission of the Church.

“The diocese has a great heritage in the educational mission and the new policies pose a major challenge to the rural schools started by the forefathers for the emancipation of the marginalised segments who were denied education on the basis of caste. If education was denied on the basis of caste back then, financial background is the criterion on which it is deprived now,” the Bishop said. The Church cannot remain a mute spectator to such exploitation, he added.

V.N. Vasavan, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, K.C. Joseph and Joseph M. Puthussery, MLAs; municipal chairman Sunny Kalloor; CSI synod general secretary M.M. Philip and treasurer Bennet Abraham were present.

Public reception

Later in the day, a public reception was held within the premises of the cathedral. Mar Thoma Senior Metropolitan Philipose Mar Chrysostom inaugurated the event.

Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran; Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy; Kerala Congress(M) leader K.M. Mani; Jose K. Mani, Kodikkunnil Suresh and Anto Antony, MPs; Mr. Vasavan, Mr. Joseph and two more MLAs, Thomas Chazhikadan and Alphons Kannamthanam; Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil of the Syro-Malabar Church; Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Chrysostomos of the Niranam diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Church; Metropolitan Thomas Mar Themotheos of the Kottayam diocese of the Jacobite Syrian Church; and Metropolitan Kuriakose Mar Severios of the Knanaya diocese; were among those who paid tributes to the new Bishop at the function.

Keywords: Thomas Oommen