Chengannur bishop Thomas Mar Athanasios to be interred on Sunday

Ernakulam: H G Thomas Mar Athanasios, the Metropolitan of the Chengannur diocese of the Orthodox Syrian Church, passed away early on Friday after falling off a train here. He was 80.

The bishop was standing near the train door, to alight at the Ernakulam Junction (South) railway station around 5.45 am. He reportedly fell off as the door slammed him.

The accident occurred near the Pullepady bridge between the Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town railway stations.

The bishop’s body has been kept at the Ernakulam General Hospital. The funeral will be held at the monastery of the Orthodox Church at Othara in Pathanamthitta district at 3 pm on Sunday.

A frequent traveller, the bishop was returning from Gujarat to his headquarters. He was returning to participate in the post-deluge relief and reconstruction activities and opted for a train as the Cochin airport was closed.

The mortal remains of the bishop will be taken to St Peter’s and St Paul’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Parumala, at 4 pm Friday. After two hours, when the public finish paying their respects, the body will be shifted to the Bethel Palace at Chengannur.

On Saturday, the public can pay respects at the St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral at Puthencavu. On Sunday, the body will be taken to the Othera monastery where the final rites will be performed.

Mathews Mar Thimothios, assistant bishop to Mar Athanasios, bishops Yuhanon Mar Policarpos of the Angamaly diocese, Yacoob Mar Irenius of Kochi diocese, Geevarghese Mar Yulios of Baroda and Mathews Mar Severios of Kandanad arrived at the General Hospital on hearing about the news.

Among others who arrived at the hospital are ministers A C Moideen, MLAs P T Thomas and Hibi Eden, Justice Surendra Mohan and GCDA chairman C N Mohanan.

The bishop’s body was found in a search carried out by the police and the public after his aide informed about the accident. He was in Baroda on ecclesiastical duty and had taken a train back as the Cochin airport was closed due to the recent floods.

Locals and scribes at the spot where the bishop fell from the train: Photo | Evsrikumar Viswanathan

Mar Athanasios is one of the most senior bishops of the Orthodox Church. He supervised the setting up of several educational institutions run by the church and later administered them. He was in charge of the Chengannur diocese ever since its inception in 1985, and played a key role in extending the church’s work in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

Mar Athanasios held several responsibilities in the church. He had been president of the finance committee, the prayer group, the Bala Samajam, and the secretary of the Synod. He was also in charge of the publications of the church and worked as the president of the visual media communication section too.