Mar Joseph Powathil

Mar Joseph Powathil
Metropolitan Emeritus of Changanacherry
Born : 14-08-1930
Ordained Bishops : 13-10-1962
Bishop of Kanjirapally: 26-2-1977
Metropolitan Archbishop of Changanasery: 5-11-1985
Metropolitan Emeritus 19-03-2007

Born of Shri John Powathil and Marykutty on 14 August, 1930 P.J. Joseph (Pappachan) had his primary education in Holy Family L.P. School and St. Peter’s U.P. School Kurumpanadom and High School Education in St. Berchmans’ High School Changanassery. He had his higher studies in S.B. College Changanassery and Loyola College, Madras, from where he took his M.A. Degree in Economics. He did his seminary studies in St. Thomas Petit Seminary, Parel and Papal Seminary Pune. After Ordination on 3rd October 1962 at Pune he was appointed lecturer in Economics and Warden of St. Joseph’s Hostel, St. Berchmans’ College, Changanassery. He was in the campus ministry for one decade (1962 – 1972). During this period he had the advantage of taking a one-year course in Developmental Economics at the prestigious Oxford University. That was in 1969. He took keen interest also in the study of the ancient patrimony of the Syro-Malabar Church and for its restoration in accordance with the directives of Vatican II. He served as member of the Central Liturgy Committee of the Church. He was actively involved in the various apostolate of the Archdiocese and was secretary of the Pastoral council for a short period. On 29 January, 1972 he was nominated Auxiliary Bishop of Changanassery and was ordained bishop by Pope Paul VI on 13th February-1972 in Rome. During the five years of his service as Auxiliary bishop and Vicar General (ex officio) he introduced many reforms in the Archdiocese in close collaboration with the Archbishop Mar Antony Padiyara. Realizing the importance of youth apostolate he took the initiative in establishing a Diocesan youth movement called “Yuvadeepti”. In course of time it spread to all the Dioceses in Kerala leading to the formation of Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM). He was at the forefront in the struggle for educational freedom. He helped the Archbishop in establishing several institution for the under privileged such as homes for the mentally retarded and the physically handicapped. During the next 9 years he was entrusted with the task of nurturing the new born diocese of Kanjirapally to which he was appointed bishop on 26 February, 1977 and assumed charge on May 12th 1977. Bishop Powathil was appointed Archbishop of Changanacherry on 5th November, 1985 and he assumed charge on January 17 the next year. True to his motto, the ministry of Mar Joseph Powathil as bishop and Archbishop has been one of dedication and commitment to ‘Truth and Charity’. Mar Powathil’s ministry transcends the bounds of the Archdiocese and the people entrusted to his care. He served as President of CBCI (1994 – 98) Chairman of KCBC (1993 – 96), and Chairman of Education commission of CBCI. He is at present a Member of Post Synodal commission of Asia (1998) and chairman of KCBC commission for Education and founder Chairman of Inter-Church Council. Sensing the need of the time he introduced several new self financing courses in the two colleges. Consequent on the delinking of pre-degree form colleges, several higher secondary schools have been started. A new college for communication - St. Joseph’s – has been got sanctioned. He patronized Lourdes Matha College of Engineering at Trivandrum and sponsored St. John the Baptist College of Education at Nedumkunnan and St. Thomas College of Nursing at Chethipuzha. The Syro-Malabar Church in which he was born and brought up was always close to his heart. He was always as devoted son of this church, and therefore always on the forefront in the struggles for the restoration of its legitimate rights and its identity as an individual Church. He did a great deal to promote formation based on this identity to priests, religious and the laity (Oriental Study forum, Dukrana, Christian Orient, missionary Orientation Centre (MOC), Amala Theological college, Marthoma Vidyanikethan, Zion Retreat House, etc.). He also founded an Eastern Monastic Congregation – Sisters of St. Thomas (SST). The new priests’ home stands out as symbol of his care and concern for the elderly and sickly priests. Archbishop Mar Powathil has been a staunch defender of the teachings of the Magisterium. His concern for the poor, the underprivileged and the marginalized was such that he initiated a number of schemes for their development. The Malanad Development Society in Kanjirapally diocese and the various projects of the Changanassery Social Service Society (CHASS) bear ample testimony to this. Worthy of special mention also are the foundation of Bl. Alphonsa Sneha Nivas for street children and Bl. Alphonsa Centre for the terminally ill. Mar Powathil’s pastoral outlook is broad and encompasses the non-Catholics and even the non-Christians. He is well known in the Ecumenical Movement (Inter-Church Council, Nilackal Ecumenical Trust) and the Church’s fellowship with followers of other religions (Religious Fellowship Foundation). New centres/parishes have been established in the extended territory (Home Mission) viz., at Chengannoor, Mavelikara, Adoor, Kollam, Niranam, Pathanapuram, Kottarakara and Karavaloor. The source of Mar Joseph Powathil’s sense of mission and dedication is undoubtedly his commitment to Truth and Charity, enriched by his solid faith and life in the Spirit. The resignation of Mar Joseph Powathil from office as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Changanacherry submitted to the Major Archbishop on reaching 75 years of age became effective on 19 March 2007 when Mar Joseph Perumthottam was enthroned as the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Changanacherry.

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