Very Rev. Gheevarghis Aroopala Corepiscopa
(Vicar & President)
Very Rev. Gheevarghis Aroopala Corepiscopa was born on November 26, 1940 to Abraham and Sara Aroopala, a devout Orthodox Christian family in Ooramana , IndiaE-mail Fr.Gheevarghis Aroopala
Very Rev. Gheevarghis Aroopala Corepiscopa
(Vicar & President)
Very Rev. Gheevarghis Aroopala Corepiscopa was born on November 26, 1940 to Abraham and Sara Aroopala, a devout Orthodox Christian family in Ooramana , India (near Kadamattom, in Ernakulam District in Kerala. ) He was baptized at the St. John's Orthodox Church in Pampakuda, Kerala.
From his early childhood, Gheevarghis showed great appreciation and interest in the study of the bible and liturgy of the Church.. Because of his growing desire to serve God as a Priest, he joined the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Kottayam in 1959 after completing his schooling at the Pampakuda MTM High School. He was ordained as a deacon by His Grace Augen Mar Themotheos, Metropolitan of the Kandanadu Diocese, at St. Peter's and St. Paul's Orthodox Church, Kolencherry, on May 29th, 1963. In 1964, Gheevarghis graduated from the seminary and received the G.S.T (Graduate in Sacred Theology).
Upon completion of his studies, Gheevarghis was appointed as the Private Secretary to His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Augen I, the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan. He served the Catholicos from 1964 to 1967. During this period, he gained extensive knowledge and experience in church administration and liturgical services. Deacon Gheevarghis accompanied His Holiness, the Catholicos, to international meetings with world leaders such as the Head of the Catholic Church, Pope Paul VI; the Patriarch of Antioch, His Holiness Ignatius Yakub III; the Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi; the President of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan; and, the Patriarch of Romania, His Holiness Justinian.
In 1967, Deacon Gheevarghis joined the Bucharest University in Romania with a scholarship from the World Council of Churches (WCC). Here he obtained the Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) degree and completed a Doctor of Theology (D.Th.) degree in 1971. During his stay in Romania, Deacon Gheevarghis was also recognized by the Patriarch of Romania, His Holiness Justinian, with special gifts of personal appreciation.
In 1971, Deacon Gheevarghis joined the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago with a scholarship from the United Presbyterian Church. In 1973, he was awarded the Master of Science in Theology (S.T.M.) degree with a specialization in Historical Theology. In 1974, he obtained the Master of Theology (M.Th.) degree with a specialization in Pastoral Care Counseling and Psychology from the Chicago Theological Seminary. During this time, Deacon Gheevarghis helped organize the St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church in Chicago and was elected as its first Secretary.
Upon completing his education in Chicago, Deacon Gheevarghis returned to India and married Molly Cheruvellil, the daughter of Kuriakose and Annamma Cheruvellil from Maradi, near Muvattupuzha in Kerala on September 1, 1974. On September 6th, 1974, he was ordained as a full deacon by His Grace Paulose Mar Philexinos, the Metropolitan of the Kandanadu Diocese, and His Grace Mathews Mar Coorilos, the Metropolitan of the Kollam Diocese. On September 7th, 1974, Deacon Gheevarghis was ordained as a priest by His Grace Paulose Mar Philexinos at the St. Thomas Cathedral in Muvattupzha.
Returning to the United States, he initially served the Indian Orthodox families in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1978, Rev. Fr. Gheevarghis organized and started the St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church in Evanston, Illinois. In 1984, the St. Gregorios Church purchased a beautiful Church facility and parsonage in the neighborhood of Oak Park in Chicago, Illinois. Rev. Fr. Gheevarghis served as the Founding Vicar and President of the St. Gregorios Church from 1978 to 1985. In 1985, Rev. Fr. Gheevarghis relocated with his family to Dallas, Texas where he worked as a Substance Abuse Counselor until1988. During this time, he also offered his services at the St. Mary's Malankara Orthodox Church in Dallas.
On June 15th, 1988, Rev. Fr. Gheevarghis Aroopala was appointed as the Vicar of the St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas. In 1992, the Church was able to purchase 12 acres of land in the neighborhood of Stafford , Texas and build an impressive Church and Auditorium facility. During the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the St. Thomas Church, as well as the Silver Jubilee of Rev. Fr. Gheevarghis's priesthood, His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II, the Malankara Metropolitan and Catholicos of the East, elevated Achen to the position of Corepiscopa on September 25, 1999.
Our beloved Very Rev. Gheevarghis Aroopala Corepiscopa, or "Aroopala Achen" as he is fondly called, currently resides in Stafford, Texas with Kochamma and their two daughters, Amy and Christy. Amy is married to Mohan Thomas and they have 1 daughter, Jasmin. Achen continues to lead the St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church in Houston as the Vicar and President. Under his inspiring and fruitful leadership, the Church has truly flourished. Through Achen's guidance and continuous support, the parish has pioneered many of the progressive missions and activities that are now practiced throughout the American Diocese. We pray that Almighty God will continue to shower blessings on our beloved Achen and family and grant them the health and strength to lead us with their inherent faithfulness, gracefulness and humility that has been perfected in His service over the last 40 plus years.
Rev. Fr. Mammen Mathew
Rev. Fr. Mammen Mathew was ordained as a Deacon on September 2, 1997, and as a Priest on December 21, 1999E-mail Fr. Mammen Mathew
Rev. Fr. Mammen Mathew
Rev. Fr. Mammen Mathew was born on March 24, 1943 to Mr. Thomas Mammen and Aleyamma Pulikathara. After his High School in Ayroor he joined the Catholicate College and graduated in Physics and Mathematics in 1966. He then continued his studies for master's degree in English from the Govt. College in Ajmir, Rajasthan in 1969. He finished the teaching degree (B. Ed) in 1971, from Mumbai University. He worked with the Catholic Student Union in Ajmir, Rajasthan and at night he enjoyed teaching High School dropouts in Mumbai.
In 1973 he married Annamma from Naranganam and they moved to New York in 1974. There he studied and certified in Nuclear Medicine from New York. In 1976 he relocated to Houston and worked his way up to be the Director of the Nuclear Medicine Department of the BenTaub Hospital and retired from the service in 1996.
His aspiration for church work was alive still. He studied Clinical Pastoral Education in the Institute of Religion and started working as Chaplain in BenTaub Hospital. Meanwhile, he continued his studies in the St. Mary's Catholic Seminary in Houston and got his MA in Pastoral Theology.
On September 2, 1997 H. G. Philipose Mar Yausebius ordained him a deacon. Two years later, on July 25, 1999 H. G. Mathews Mar Barnabas ordained him full deacon at the St. Thomas Church in Stafford, Texas. On December 20, 1999 he was ordained as a priest by H. G. Mathews Mar Barnabas at the St. Thomas Orthodox Church Stafford and later appointed as assistant Vicar of St. Thomas church Stafford.
He also served as the Director of Youth Organization, Director of Campus Ministry and Vice President of MGOCSM of the Southern Region of the American diocese till the formation of Southwest American Diocese. Father Mammen Mathew was the coordinator of the first Leadership Camp of the MGOCSM of America and took an active role in conducting the Leadership Camps at different parts of United States. Along with his Asst.Vicar role in St. Thomas Church, he was helping other parishes as relieving priest and in two churches as Vicars when there was a need.
Rev. Fr. P. M. Cheriyan
Rev. Fr. P. M. Cheriyan has been serving as an Assistant Vicar at St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Cathedral Houston since August 17, 2020.E-mail Fr. P. M. Cheriyan
Rev. Fr. P. M. Cheriyan
Rev. Fr. P. M. Cheriyan, Born to the couple of P.C. and Aleyamma Mathai, Rev. Cheriyan grew up in the Wayanadu district in Kerala and like Samuel the prophet heard the calling from God at an early age. His siblings epitomized him and looked up to him to lead a life of prayer and faith.
A graduate in theology from the Old Seminary and a beloved disciple of his teachers, Rev. Cheriyan had received accolades in his prowess and proficiency of the Syrian language and other church liturgies. He was ordained a sub-deacon by Late H. H. Baselios Didimos I on March 13, 1988 and full deacon by H.G. Kuriakose Mar Clemis on February 4, 1993. He was ordained a priest on March 6, 1993 by H.G. Thomas Mar Thimothios. Rev. Cheriyan was also blessed to have the opportunity to work closely with H. G. Thomas Mar Thimothios and Late H.H. Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I (our 5th Catholicos). It is noteworthy that Rev. Cheriyan served as the Secretary of H.H. Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I and assisted him to the last stages of his life. It is well known that Thirumeni considered Rev. Cheriyan as his beloved spiritual son and confidant and Achen believes that his success in life is by the grace of God and the prayers and blessings of Thirumeni.
Rev. Cheriyan tries to emulate the spiritual life and humility of St. Gregorios of Parumala and the courage of St. George in his daily life. His passion to work with the youth of the church and engage the elders of the church shows his willingness to forgo his personal interests and life for the well being of his flock. He has served the parishes of St. Mary’s, Thaloor and St. Thomas, Philadelphia and was the vicar of St. Gregorios Orthodox Church Houston and Vicar of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church.
Rev. Cheriyan demonstrated his leadership skills when he reached out to his fellow Vicars to organize a grandiose welcome to our Metropolitan H.G. Alexios Mar Eusebius to the recently established Diocese of South-West America. He championed the ad-hoc committee formed to oversee Thirumeni’s initial visit to US and was tasked with the additional responsibilities of being the Diocesan Secretary of our Metropolitan. He was also instrumental in securing an Aramana for our Metropolitan in Houston.
Like St. Paul, Rev. Cheriyan believes that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him (Philippians 4:13) and it is this determination and dedication that makes him successful in his endeavors. Rev. Cheriyan has always stressed the importance of prayer in everyday life and it was his sense of direction that led to us having evening prayers on all weekdays and Holy Qurbana on all Wednesdays. He is supported by our beloved kochamma Jeena Cheriyan and their children Feba, Christina and Joshua, Rev. Fr. Mathukutty Varghese and Leelamma Mathew (Valiyachan and kochamma).
Rev. Fr. Eldo Elias
Rev. Fr. Eldo Elias has been serving as an Assistant Vicar at St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Cathedral Houston since July, 2019.E-mail Fr. Eldo Elias