By Matters India Reporter
Bengaluru: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India on February 8 elected its office bearers for the next two years.
Besides electing Cardinal Oswald Gracias as the president, the apex boy of India’s more than 29 million Catholics elected Archbishop Joshua Mar Ignathios of Mavelikkara and Archbishop George Njaralakatt as the first and second vice presidents.
The elections were held on the second last day of the 33rd General Body Meeting of the conference at St John’s National Academy of Medical Science, Bengaluru, southern India.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas will continue his three year term as the secretary general.
Archbishop Ignathios, a Syro-Malankara prelate, was born at Kottarakara in the Kollam district of Kerala. He had his primary education at St. Mary’s School, Kizhaketheruvu, and he did his secondary education at the Government High School, Kottarakkara, in 1967.
He joined St. Aloysius Seminary, Trivandrum, in 1967, and finished his pre-degree at Mar Ivanios College, Trivandrum. He had his seminary training at St. Paul’s Seminary, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, from 1970–1978.
He was ordained as a priest on April 2, 1978. He served in the parishes at Kirathoor, Manjathoppu, Vimalapuram, and Susaipuram from 1978 to 1983. He graduated from Christian College, Marthandom, Tamil Nadu, and obtained his master’s degree from Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamil Nadu, in 1984. He took Master’s Degrees in Education from Kamaraj University, Madurai in 1987.
He did research on “Leadership, Organizational Health with School Effectiveness” in Stella Matituna College of Education, Chennai and obtained a doctorate from the University of Madras in 2000.
He was appointed vicar of the mission stations at Padi, Perampur, and Thiruvottiyoor in Chennai in 1983. He started the Mar Ivanios Dispensary and founded the Sacred Heart School, serving as its principal from its inception. In 1994, he established the Mar Gregorios College and served as its local manager until 1996.
In May 1996 he was appointed vicar general of the Archieparchy of Trivandrum. He was made Corepiscopo in 1997. On April 15, 1998, he was appointed the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archieparchy of Trivandrum by Pope John Paul II.
Metropolitan Mar Ignathios was the vice chairman of the Labour Movement of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council 1998-2000. He served as its chairman for five years from 2002. He was elected the secretary of the Kerala bishops’ council.
He became the president of the bishops’ council after the death of Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil on October 26, 2009.
The bishops’ synod of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church elected him the first Metropolitan of the newly erected Eparchy of Mavelikkara in 2007.
Archbishop Ignathios was an active member of the Nilackal Ecumenical Trust. Along with the bishops of the Episcopal Churches, he made several ecumenical journeys and visited many international pilgrim centers. He also visited the World Council of Churches center at Geneva and attended an international conference organized by that group.
Archbishop Njaralakatta was born on June 23, 1946, at Kalayanthani in Thodupuzha Taluk of Kerala’s Idukki district. His early schoolings were at St. Joseph’s School, Arakuzha, and at St. Mary’s High School near Muvattupuzha. His family migrated to Malabar in 1960 and settled in Nadavayal, Wayanad, where he completed high school studies at St. Thomas High School. He obtained a BA degree at Mysore University.
After completing college studies he joined St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary at Thalasserry, northern Kerala, in 1963. He was ordained priest on December 20, 1971, at Thalassery. He served as the vicar general of Bhadravathi diocese from 2007 to 2010.
On January 18, 2010, he was appointed the bishop of the newly erected diocese of Mandya, in neighboring Karnataka state. On October 30, 2014, he was transferred to Tellicherry in Kerala as its archbishop.