Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam Conference 2019
The annual Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam Conference of the Northeast American Diocese was held on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at Saint Thomas Orthodox Church of Long Island, New York. All honor and glory be to our Lord God who enabled us to conduct the annual conference in an exemplary manner.

We thank our Diocesan Metropolitan His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos for his constant support, and our Vice President, Reverend Father Eby Paulose, for his untiring and passionate hard work.

Many new reforms were introduced this year which paid off big time in organizing a very well organized conference. Most of the participants had pre-registered and in addition we got 51 on site registrations too. We made history in getting together 600 people under one roof, including participants and volunteers. Some members of Diocesan Council and Managing Committee also attended the conference.

The attendees began arriving around 8AM. After a hearty breakfast, they congregated in the sanctuary. A fabulous choir consisting of ladies from Boston and Connecticut parishes sang melodious hymns while attendees streamed in. The colorful procession in neatly arranged lines of MMVS officials, Executive Members, received our Diocesan Metropolitan, and esteemed clergy around 9:15AM while the choir sang ‘Tho bashlom aboon sahiyo’.

The participants prayed the Third Hour, followed by a Bible reading by Mrs. Usha Alex of St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Long Island. The portion chosen was 1 Corinthians 3:16-23. Mrs. Lizamma Thompson of St. Mary’s Church, Jackson Heights, gave an inspiring and thought-provoking devotional speech based on the Bible reading.

Very Reverend Dr. Yohannan Sankarathil Chor Episcopos, Vicar of the host church, welcomed His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, members of the clergy, MMVS officials and Executive members and all the other participants. His Grace, in his inaugural speech, talked about the importance of the ministry of the Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam, and how it is an example to other ministries in the Diocese. Our Metropolitan also applauded the work all the MMVS officials and Executive Committee. Following the inaugural address, a Lamp-lighting ceremony followed.

Mrs. Sarah (Shantha) Varghese, General Secretary of MMVS, felicitated the audience. She thanked our Diocesan Metropolitan for his continued support for MMVS and commended the tireless and selfless work of Reverend Father Eby Paulose. She also felicitated all the MMVS officials, Executive Members, GROW officials and all the participants for the large turnout at this conference. She urged all of us to follow MMVS motto “Pray, Act and Shine”.

The main speaker, Reverend Father Siby Varghese gave an astounding keynote speech based on Ezekiel 28: 15. “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till iniquity was found in you”. He urged the audience to take the book of Ezekiel as a good guideline to follow in our daily lives and religious activities. The Cherubs with their four faces walking in a straight line depict the victorious Cross. He gave an impressive good exegesis of the Book of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 28:15 is a prophesy against the king of Tyre, a country along the Mediterranean Sea. Being a port city, it was engaged in trade and massed a large wealth. The country as well as the king were blessed by God in the earlier time as they were close to God. This is something we can also attain if we maintain a close relationship with God. But Tyre rejoiced at the fall of Jerusalem which caused the Lord to be angry at them resulting in the downfall of Tyre. We have to maintain a life that is blameless before God and our fellow human beings. If we have God in our lives, we can face whatever comes along the way. A sinless life is like life in paradise or the garden of Eden. It can be equated to the condition of the thief on the right side who was promised a life in paradise along with our Lord. Revelation 2:7 says”to him that overcomes, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God”. The administration of Holy Qurbana to an infant right after his baptism denotes this.

He added that a prayerful life is very important. Such a life will enable us to walk with God and help us to refrain from sinful acts and keep our family together. But a life with iniquity has the opposite effect. Achen referred to the devotional speech with the theme” You are the Temple of God”. In our church there are only two occasions where Holy Mooron is used; the one at baptism and the other at the sanctification of a church. Therefore, we are obligated to keep both these holy. We acknowledge Mrs. Elsykutty Mathew (joint secretary, MMVS) for taking notes meticulously.

Leadership Training Program (Divyabodhanam) graduation was next on the agenda. This program has completed 10 years (2010-2019) and it has been decided to halt this program at this time. The total number of participants for this program was 483 over ten years spread over 6 regions. 175 people completed all the three levels. 8 people even finished level 4. There were 28 graduates this year. Mrs. Mary Ennacheril, Coordinator of the program, summarized the activities of the program for the last 10 years. She reminded the audience that the program started with the blessing of late His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas, our beloved Valiya Thirumeni. She also thanked His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, our Diocesan Metropolitan, for his continued valued guidance and support. She expressed her gratitude to the clergy and seminarians who served as the faculty over these years. His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos and Reverend Father Sujit Thomas stayed with the program from its inception and both were awarded a plaque each for their dedication and support. MMVS thanked Mary Ennacheril for her perseverance and commitment to the program. A plaque was awarded to her by His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, expressing gratitude for her hard and exemplary work.

This was followed by ministry updates by each area coordinator/representative:
AREA COORDINATORS/REPRESENTATIVES
Baltimore/DC/VA/NC: Mrs.Sara Joshua

Philadelphia: Mrs. Shoba Biju/Mrs.Jinu Peter

New Jersey& Staten Island: Mrs. Shobha Jacob/Mrs. Suja Jose

Upstate NY & Rockland: Mrs. Lipsy Mathews/Mrs. Annie Sunny

Bronx/Westchester/Boston/CT Mrs. Mariamma Abraham/Mrs. Jaya Kurien

Brooklyn-Queens & Long Island Mrs. Rosemary Yohannan/Mrs. Suja John

Dr. Ammu Paulose (coordinator for charitable activities) updated the activities of the Canadian region and MMVS as a whole.

Mrs. Jeena Kokura gave an update on the activities of GROW for the last year and also the upcoming events. Mrs. Lizy Philip, MMVS Treasurer, informed the participants about the medical aid given to ten people per year in India and also support during other calamities. She thanked all the participants for supporting the raffle sales. The raffle drawing was coordinated by Mrs. Lizy Philip, the Treasurer and Mrs. Sara Mathew, the Joint Treasurer.

The Raffle Prizes offered this year:
First Prize: two gold coins; Second Prize: one gold coin and Third Prize: $250.
1st prize winner Sapna Varghese St. Gregorios, Silver Spring MD
2nd prize winner Linda Varghese St. Thomas, Unruh Ave, PA
3rd prize winner Nidhi Benjamin St. Mary’s, White Plains, NY
Winner of the third prize donated the money back to MMVS to be used for Charitable Activities.

Top sellers of Raffle Tickets
1st place St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Unruh Ave, PA
2nd place St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Yonkers, NY
3rd place St. George Orthodox Church, Portchester, NY

Lizy Philip also told us one of the parishes (St. Mary’s Jackson Heights, NY) sold all the tickets issued to them within one month and handed over the money. Kudos to Elsykutty Mathew, joint secretary of MMVS who spearheaded this.

Offertory was taken as the choir sang harmonious hymns and thanks are due to a generous support of $1700. Noon prayer was conducted and a sumptuous lunch was served by the Food Committee, headed by Mrs. Sara Mathew, Joint Treasurer.

As afternoon drew near, the expectation of the quiz electrified the air. MMVS officials had all the examiners vetted and in place. Thirty parishes took part in the quiz. Rev.Fr George Cherian (Dilip Achen) was the Quiz Master. He was helped by Jithin Mathew. Achen explained the rules to the participants. The 1st round had 25 questions which yielded the 1st place to St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Devereaux, PA. Three parishes were tied for second place. They were given another round of questions and the winners for second and third places were chosen.

Final winners were as follows:
1st prize St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Devereaux, PA
2nd prize St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Bensalem, PA
3rd prize St. Gregorios Orthodox Church Floral Park, NY
Trophies were awarded to the winning parishes by the Diocesan Metropolitan. The conference ended with benediction around 4.30 pm. Altogether it was a well-coordinated conference

MMVS would like to thank the host church, Vicar, Assistant Vicar, Committee Members, MMVS Members and all the volunteers who were there throughout to make this conference a success.

Special thanks are also due to the MMVS of Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island area, Area Coordinator Mrs. Rosemary Yohannan and Area Representative Mrs. Suja John for all their hard work. We greatly appreciate the patience and cooperation of the participants with out which this conference would not have been successful.
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