Bishop Paulose Mar Gregorios, who shepherded the Delhi Diocese, as Metropolitan, for over two decades, was a larger-than-life-figure. He was gifted with a penetrating intelligence and remarkable clarity of mind. He is known for his unusual versatility and profound social sensitivity.
Gregorios was born on August 9, 1922 at Tripunithura, in a traditional family of practicing Christians, to T.P. Paiely and Aley. Young Paul was a brilliant student, a top-notcher in academics, an extraordinary talented orator, proficient in English and a prodigy in learning. The poverty stricken family atmosphere left Paul, without much desires and ambitions but molded him, to carve and chisel his person, with strong faith in the Creator.
The multi-linguist, Paul Varghese started his career as a freelance journalist, contributing articles and reports to various newspapers in Kochi and Malabar. Later after working with the Cochin Transport Company, he joined the Post & Telegraphs Department in 1942. His keenness to help the poor suppressed and exploited workers found him hand-in-hand with trade union activities. The turning point in his life came five years later, quite by an accident of circumstances. He took up a job as a teacher in Ethiopia. He knew this was the answer to his prayers. As a teacher in Ethiopia, he imbibed the rich culture of the Ethiopian people, mastering Amharic their ancient and official language. The Ethiopian Emperor, H.H. Haile Sellassi, learned about his capabilities and enthusiasm and soon took him under his wings. The strong bond of friendship that developed between them helped Paul Varghese to head various institutions in Ethiopia. Paul Varghese declined many faculties and even citizenship that was offered. He was reminded of his promise to God, to dedicate his life for others in a vision. He was sent to the United States for higher studies. He received his education from Goshen College, Oklahoma University, Princeton and Yale. In 1954, he returned to India with a Masters Degree in Theology. He worked a Director of the Fellowship house in Alwaye and a visiting Professor of Union Christian College, Alwaye. In 1955, he joined the faculty of The Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam. He also served as the General Secretary of Orthodox Students Christian Movement. It was during his tenure, the movement accepted the present name MGOCSM. For his efficient leadership, explicit thoughts and teachings provided a foundational framework for the young and growing generation.
During the Ethiopian Emperor’s visit to India, in 1956, Paul Varghese was persuaded to return to Ethiopia. He served as Emperor’s personal aide and advisor. In 1958, he returned to India and was ordained as Deacon. In 1961 he was ordained as Fr. Paul Varghese by the Catholicose, the supreme head of the Church.
Fr. Paul Varghese continued to pursue theological studies. He did his Doctoral studies in Oxford and Germany and received his Doctorate in Theology from Serampore University in Calcutta. He had an over wakeful luminous mind. The locus of his vision was the Kingdom of God, and the basis of his theology was the Christian affirmation of the Union of God and humanity in Christ, perfect union of divinity and humanity without confusion and separation. This cosmic vision enabled him to head numerous important and responsible position of W.C.C. (World Council of Churches). He served as Associate General Secretary, Member of Central and Executive Committee and Member of Commission of Faith and Order. He was one of the Presidents of W.C.C. (1983-91) and Vice-President of Christian Peace Conference (1970-90).
Position held: General Secretary - Orthodox Students Movement, Personal Staff and Advisor - Emperor Haile Selassie (Ethiopia), Honorary Lecturer _ U.C. College, Alwaye & University College of Addis Ababa, Principal, Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam, Secretary - Orthodox Episcopal Synod, President - World Council of Churches (Geneva), President - Synodal Committee for Inter-Church Relations, Leader - WCC delegation to UNESCO, Heads of African States & UN General Assembly, Observer - Second Vatican Council, Member - Senate of Kerala and Serampore Universities, Vice-President - Christian Pace Conference (Prague), Chairman - Oriental Orthodox Curriculum Committee International, Patron - council for the World’s Religions (New York), President - Inter Religious Federation for World Peace(New York).
In 1967, he was appointed as the Principal of Orthodox Theologian Seminary, Kottayam. As Metropolitan, on February 16, 1975, by H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Augen I. A year later, H.G. Dr. Paulose Mar Grgorios took charge of the Delhi Diocese. He established the Delhi Orthodox Centre, where he made a beginning to various ambitious projects, to disseminate the beauty and luster of the Orthodox Church. He was an outstanding and renowned theologian, a stimulative thinker and powerful author. In the course of his lifelong spiritual quest with a social purpose, Mar Gregorios has authored a number of books, apart from numerous periodicals, articles, contributions to symposia and encyclopedia in India and abroad. Some of his books are,
Publications Author: The Joy of Freedom, The Gospel of the Kingdom, The freedom of Man, Be still and Know, Freedom and Authority, The Quest of Certainty, The Human Presence, Truth without Tradition, Science for Sane Societies, Cosmic Man, The Indian Orthodox Church - an overview, Enlightenment, East & West, The meaning of Diakonia, etc.etc.
He was a sensible Philosopher, an inspiring preacher and an effective teacher. He was associated and lectured in, scores of Universities both at national and international level. This intelligent giant could handle Theology, Nuclear Physics, Genetics, Inter-religious dialogues, holistic healing and health and various other philosophical subjects with ease, He was the strong pillar of our Church, a torchbearer of our church to the world.
He was an untiring champion of Peace and Justice. He was the first religious personality of stature in India, who started participating in the peace movement. He was also a constructive analyst, who was active in the campaign to get-rid of the Nuclear weapons from the world. It was this anti-nuclear campaign that earned him the name “The Red Bishop” from the Western media. He was a spiritual father and a compassionate friend of the poor. He was deeply sensitive for an urgent response to human suffering and multi-faced poverty. The Orphanage for the boys, at Thalakode in Kerala, his role in the Vietnam War, is just modest examples. Bishop Gregorios, according to his close friends, was deeply anguished when cities were bombed and tens of thousands were massacred in the war.
He was a loving Shepherd, a spiritual father and a lucid teacher of the Holy Bible. He cherished freedom for others. He was an ardent activist for peace and justice. He preached and practiced, that only through the realization of truth, that peace, justice, freedom, equality, oneness of human family can be expected to come. This towering spiritual giant of the Orthodox Church was a recipient of many awards, prizes and honours.
Honours, Prizes, Awards etc.: Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Service and Inspired leadership of the World Church, Cambridge (UK), Order of St.Vladimir (USSR), Order of St.Sergius, First Rank (USSR), Order of St.Mary Magdalene (Poland), Doctor of Theology - Leningrad Theological Academy (USSR), Doctor of Theology - Lutheran Theological Academy (Budapest), Doctor of Theology - Jan Hus Faculty (Prague), Doctor of Theology (h.c.) Orthodox Faculty (Czechoslovakia), The International Biographical Roll of Honour for Distinguished Service to World Unity and Understanding among Religions(USA), Distinguished Leadership Award for Extraordinary Service, Peace and Unity(USA), Hall of Fame Award for Extraordinary Services to Peace and Unity(USA), Hidalgo de San Antonio de Bejar (Texas, USA), Otto Nusche Prize for Peace(GDR), Soviet Land Nehru Award (India), Man of the Year Award, Bhai Param Vir Singh International Award (India), Golden Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement (USA), Eminent Ecumenical Educator Award (India), Acharya Award (India), distinguished Alumnus Award (Princeton Theological Seminary), Oskar Pfister Award, American Psychiatric Association (USA), Social Services Award, Goshen College (USA), etc.etc….
Biographical references of this ardent ascetic and philanthropic humanist appear in many works.
Biographical references: Dictionary of International Biography, International Who’s Who, Who’s Who in America, National Register of Prominent & International Notables, Who’s Who in Switzerland, Who’s Who in the Far East, Dictionary of the International Community Services, Men of Achievements, Men & Women of Distinction, International Who’s Who of Intellectuals, Kerala Who’s Who, India’s Who’s Who, World Who’s Who, International Author’s & Writer’s Who’s Who, The International Directory of Distinguished Scholarship, Five Thousand Personalities of the World, The International Book Of Honour, etc. etc. …
Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios, who lived true to his name, (Gregorios means ever awake) lived a full life, a lifelong commitment to knowledge, and a life in pursuit of excellence. None of us may reach this stature. It was aptly fitting to dedicate the newly constructed Parish Hall, to Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios, who lived a life for a noble cause and left for his heavenly abode on November 24, 1996.