KOCHI: Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem-II, the supreme head of the Syrian Orthodox Church, will arrive in Kerala on February 7 for an 11-day-long Apostolic Visit to India. This is the first time Patriarch Aphrem is coming to India after he was elected the supreme head of the Orthodox Church in March 2014.
His engagements during the nine-day stay in Kerala include visit to various churches; installation of churches; pilgrim conferences at Manjanikkara Dayara and Kottayam; speech at ‘Maramon convention’ and meeting with State Government officials.
On February 16, he will leave for Chennai, where he will preside over the installation of St Thomas Church at Anna Nagar. From Chennai, the Patriarch will proceed to Delhi where he will meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
A high-level delegation, comprising six metropolitans, will accompany the Patriarch during his trip to India.
The Patriarch will be accorded a warm welcome at the Cochin International Airport by Catholicos Baselios Thomas-I, metropolitans, laity representatives and State ministers. In the evening, he will preside over the regional synod of the Church at St George Cathedral, Karingachira.
On February 8, he will celebrate a Holy Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, Manarkad. There will be a reception meeting at Nehru Stadium, Kottayam, which will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. On the same day, the State Government will host a dinner in honour of the Patriarch.
On February 11, he will visit the tomb of Metropolitan Abdul Jaleel Mor Gregorios at St Thomas Church, Paravur, and Sleeba Mor Osthathios at Arthat, Kunnamkulam. On February 13, the Patriarch will speak at the Maramon convention.
The Patriarch will celebrate a Holy Mass at Mor Ignatius Dayara Cathedral, Manjanikkara, on February 14. On the next day, he will celebrate a Mass at Malekurishu Dayara.
On February 15, he will address a conference of spiritual organisations at the Patriarchal Centre at Puthencruz. An organising committee, with Catholicos Baselios Thomas-I as chairman and Metropolitan Joseph Mor Gregorios as convener, has been formed to supervise the Patriarch’s schedule in India.
Asked whether there would be any conciliation talks with the Malankara Orthodox faction, Mor Gregorios said, “no such programme has been scheduled so far. It is learnt that the Orthodox faction has sent a letter to the Patriarch seeking an initiative for conciliation. We have not received any such communication.”