New Delhi: The bishop would have ended up as a registered porter at the Jolarpettai Railway station if the then metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church had consented to the request of the 29-year-old Philipose Mar Chrysostom.

Thirumeni, was on his way to Kottarakkara to take charge as the clergyman of Kottarakkara, Mylum and Pattamala parishes after completing his Theological studies in Bengaluru. While waiting at the Jolarpettai station for a train to Kerala, he closely watched the life and work of railway porters. As usual he started advising them and the rude porters challenged the 29-year-old Chrysostom to stay with them and understand their miseries. The well-built, over six-foot tall Thirumeni accepted the challenge and worked as a porter at the station for one month. During this time he changed the lives of the porters who otherwise lead a very anarchic life. As Thirumeni says in his autobiography: “The one month stay with them inspired a wish in me. I wanted to become a registered porter. But I had to get the permission of the Metropolitan.” Though the Metropolitan welcomed the idea, he insisted that he needed a clergyman for the parishes and Chrysostom had to half-heartedly drop the idea of becoming a porter.

Bishop Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the former head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, was conferred the Padma Bhushan award.

Each year on the occasion of Republic Day, the nation bestows the prestigious Padma Awards upon individuals who have contributed immensely to society.

100-year-old Mar Chrysostom is the oldest living bishop in the world. He has been the head of Mar Thoma Syrian Church, one of the Kerala Church denominations believed to have been founded by St Thomas.

A bishop for last 64 years, Mar Chrysostom is considered the longest serving prelate in the country.

Mar Chrysostom was born on April 27, 1917. He was ordained as deacon in 1944 and later as an episcopa. He was given the title Philipose Mar Chrysostom in 1953.

He retired from the administrative responsibilities as the supreme head of Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in 2007, but has been active in Kerala’s social life meeting people and attending functions as the senior metropolitan.

Valia Thirumeni, as he is affectionately called, holds modern views and effortlessly mingles with the youth. He is known for his pleasant attitude and humorous speeches.

He now lives at Maramon Jubilee home in Pathanamthitta.

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