Recap of Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam Annual Conference 2018

As the curtain went up on the Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam Annual Conference 2018 in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the groundswell of support for the ministry of women under the banner of Northeast American Diocese was on clear display. Not counting the bystanders and the helpers in their respective areas of expertise in addition to the scores of priests who attended the conference, women numbering around six hundred, clad in colorful sarees, joined the conference from parishes extending from Boston, Massachusetts to Raleigh, North Carolina. Women from 45 parishes attended this year’s conference. They converged at the block-long St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church of Philadelphia on Saturday, October 13, 2018. 

The pre-registration drive was highly successful because it tremendously helped avoid the usual delays at the entry point. The participants could proceed straight to the breakfast which was put in place by 7:45 a.m. His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, our Diocesan Metropolitan, the clergy, the Diocesan Council and Committee Members, MMVS Executive Committee Members, Area Coordinators and Representatives made a grant entry as the choir sang the processional hymn. The melodious hymns sung by the choir, clad in specially ordered embroidered sarees consisted of women from different parishes of the region of #Philadelphia. The Third Hour prayer was the first order of business. Reverend Father Sunny Joseph who coordinated the different parts of this ministry and Mrs. Shantha Varghese, General secretary of MMVS who engineered the large gathering of women together welcomed the attendees. 

The lighting of the lamp ensued and was done by our Diocesan Metropolitan, the vice president of this Diocesan Ministry, Reverend Father Sunny Joseph and members of the executive committee. The Diocesan Metropolitan made presidential remarks and declared the conference inaugurated to a sanctuary filled to capacity. Our Thirumeni, who holds the master key to every Ministry in the Diocese declared that the MMVS is a well-run ministry of our Diocese. It was like a hi-five in the front and a pat on the back to all members of the MMVS. Reverend Father Thomas Mathew Achen, the main speaker, showcased the importance of the theme of the conference namely “If you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me” (Jeremiah 29:9). Shedding the spotlight on the theme, he gave a massive trove of information which was well received by the audience. Dr. Ammu Paulose, the Charity Coordinator, updated the audience on the charitable activities by the diocese in India as well as locally. She told the audience in detail the yearly charitable activities done by the Diocese for the have-nots who were brutally battered in different walks of life both in US and India. She also told the crowd about the contribution towards the flood relief in Kerala. 

Mrs. Pincy Joy, Secretary of GROW, briefed the audience about various upcoming events of #GROWMinistry. She signaled an alarm to the audience about the rise of mental health issues in young women and the various measures GROW is taking to increase the awareness and propose appropriate measures to tackle the problem. She encouraged all women to become more active in GROW. Divyabodhanam and Leadership training program with Mrs. Mary Ennacheril at the helm of affairs honored the graduates with certificates distributed by the Diocesan Metropolitan and organized by Reverend Father Sujit Thomas. Raffle draw followed this. Mrs. Lizy Philip, treasurer of MMVS announced that over $30,000 was collected by the sale of raffle tickets and most of this money will be used for charity purposes. The parish that sold the most tickets was St. Thomas Church, Unruh Philadelphia; St. George Church, Portchester, NY came in second, St. Mary’s Church, West Sayville, NY and St. Thomas Church Yonkers, NY came in third. All of them were awarded plaques. The first prize was 16 Grams of gold and was won by Wincy Joseph of St. Thomas Church, Unruh, PA, second was 8 Grams of gold and was won by Koshy Daniel of St. Thomas Church, Unruh, PA and third was cash prize of $250 which was won by Jincy Joy of St. Mary’s Church, PA. A kick-off was conducted for the upcoming MMVS retreat from May 3-5, 2019 at our Holy Transfiguration Retreat Center, where members submitted their early registration. 

Office bearers from Family and Youth Conference of the Northeast American Diocese also addressed the gathering and briefed them about early registration. Pre-registration forms were given to all the clergy present at the MMVS conference. 

His Grace announced the appointment of Reverend Father Sunny Joseph as the coordinator for Family and Youth Conference 2019 and Reverend Father Eby Paulose as the Vice-President of MMVS. Reverend Father Sunny Joseph was presented a plaque, honoring him for the valuable contributions he made to MMVS. 

Although the Diocese will be formally celebrating the Episcopal Silver Jubilee of our Metropolitan on Saturday, November 17th, the MMVS wanted to recognize Thirumeni’s achievements and contributions to the growth of our Diocese, especially the MMVS.  A cake was cut in the presence of participants, and His Grace was felicitated and congratulated by the MMVS on the occasion. 

Offertory was taken with the melodious singing of the choir as a backdrop. Mrs. Lizy Philip informed the participants that money collected as the offertory will be used for charitable activities and exhorted the participants to be generous. The crowd heeded her advice and the collection was almost $2000. Mrs. Shantha Varghese formally thanked our Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos for his continued leadership and support, Reverend Father Sunny Joseph for his untiring and dedicated guidance, Reverend Father Thomas Mathew for the excellent devotional address, MMVS committee members for their dedication and the participants for their attendance. She also thanked Reverend Father M K Kuriakose, Vicar and Committee Members of the hosting parish of St. Thomas Church, Unruh, for allowing MMVS to use their facilities for the annual conference and for their earnest efforts to make the conference run smooth. The morning session ended with noon prayers. 

A sumptuous lunch was served. The highlight of the Annual Conference was the Bible Quiz in the afternoon based on the book of Jeremiah. Thirty parishes took part in the quiz in addition to the Examiners and the Proctors. The Quiz Master was Mr. Cherian Perumal from Syracuse. Reverend Deacon Bobby Varghese was the time keeper. Twenty- five questions were given in the first round. Six teams that scored 21 went into a second round and a third round was done to determine the ultimate winners. 

Hearty congratulations to the winners and a hefty dose of encouragement to the others, wishing them better luck next time! First Prize: St. Gregorios Church Clifton NJ Second Prizes: St. Mary’s Church Jackson Heights NY, St. Gregorios Malankara Orthodox Church- Bensalem, PA St. Thomas Church Unruh PA Third Prizes: St. Mary’s Church Suffern NY St. Mary’s Church Linden NJ Prizes were distributed to the winners by our Diocesan Metropolitan and general secretary Mrs. Shantha Varghese thanked the quiz participants, quiz master and Deacon Bobby Varghese, the timekeeper. All participants were served coffee/tea/water and snacks for their ride home. 

The annual Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam Conference of our Diocese was a blessing for all participants. The continued prayerful support of the clergy and faithful are solicited for the women's ministry of our Diocese. 

Submitted by Dr. Ammu Paulose 

Photos can be viewed on our Diocesan Facebook page here:

Tags: Diocese Event, Marth Mariam Samajam

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