Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the supreme head of the Thiruvalla headquartered Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church passed away early Sunday, said, church officials. He was 89.
The Metropolitan was battling cancer for a while and was admitted to a private hospital at Thiruvalla for a few days. Till recently he was conducting the weekly Sunday mass at the Thiruvalla church, located about 130 km from here.
The last rites would be held at the church headquarters on Monday at 3 p.m.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death and tweeted, “His Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan was a remarkable personality who served humanity and worked hard to improve the lives the poor and downtrodden. He was blessed with an abundance of empathy and humility. His noble ideals will always be remembered,” tweeted Modi, who incidentally inaugurated the Navathi celebrations (commencement of age 90) online in June this year.
Born near Thiruvalla in 1931, then known as P.T.Joseph, he was ordained as a priest in 1957 and was elevated as a bishop in 1975 and took the name of Joseph Mar Irenaeus.
He was elevated as suffragan metropolitan (Metropolitan designate) on March 15, 1999, when Philiphose Mar Chrysostom, the suffragan metropolitan, was designated as the officiating metropolitan.
And when his superiors decided to retire, on October 2, 2007, he was made the supreme head of the church and took the title of Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan.
Known as a tough taskmaster, the Metropolitan was a revered personality not just in the church, but in the civil society.
Condoling the death, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recalled his work in the upliftment of the weaker and the oppressed, especially the work he did among the children at the Red street in Mumbai and also for the transgenders.
“It’s a huge loss for all,” said Vijayan.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the Metropolitan’s work across sectors will always be remembered and his demise has created a vacuum.