Recap of Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam (MMVS) Annual Conference 2017

MMVS Annual Conference 2017

The curtain went up on the Annual conference of the Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam (MMVS) of Northeast American Diocese on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at the Diocesan Holy Transfiguration Retreat Center (HTRC) 1000 Seminary Road, Dalton, PA, a new sprawling building complex recently acquired by the Northeast American Diocese at Dalton in Pennsylvania. This year’s conference, clearly marked as a tremendous success, was at unprecedented level hosting more than 700 participants from various parishes extending from North Carolina to Boston. The excitement and enthusiasm were visibly expressed by the attendees for multiple reasons, inter alia, witnessing the Diocese’s achievement of owning such a vast and beautiful facility and showing the willingness to work for the mission of MMVS under the leadership the Diocesan Metropolitan H.G. Zachariah Mor Nicholovos and other officials of the MMVS. The HTRC is a vast complex comprising of about 100,000 square feet of living space, landscaped with beautifully paved, tree-lined, well maintained green lawn and a large pond.An ideal location for retreats and conferences, that it is a quiet venue away from the hustle and bustle of city life with a valley of scenic view adding to the soothing effect. The theme of the conference was: “Do not be overcome evil by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21), a message that should resonate with the present age.

The participants began arriving as early as 7:30 am. The MMVS office-bearers arrived the previous day and stayed overnight to prepare for the conference. The onsite registration and breakfast started at 8:30 AM. Devotional singing by the choir from Boston, Bronx, Connecticut and Westchester area started at 9:15 am followed by Morning Prayer. The official meeting was off to a start at 10 a.m. with Holy Bible Reading by Jaya Das of St. Stephen’s Church, Midland Park. Rev. Fr. Sunny Joseph, the Vice-president of Marth Mariam Samajam, formally welcomed His Grace Zachariah Mor Nicholovos, Rev. Fr. Jerry John Mathew, the Keynote Speaker and Vicar of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church of Detroit, and all the other officials and participants to the meeting.

Mrs. Jinu Elizabeth Peter delivered extremely well the devotional speech in which she reflected the role of women in molding a family. She underlined the importance of women in the developmental activities of the Church, encouraging women to get more involved in the various activities despite the numerous challenges they face in family life.

His Grace Zachariah Mor Nicholovos, the Diocesan Metropolitan, in his inaugural address congratulated all participants for making a special effort to attend the conference regardless of the distance involved. His Grace commented on the hard work of the MMVS leadership to bring the Samajam to an unprecedented level.

Rev. Fr. Jerry John Mathew delivered the keynote address. Speaking on the Conference theme, he reflected on our challenges to accept the good by fighting against evil. Our aim should be the journey towards the goodness of God, he added.There are three types of situations in our life:

  1. Compromise with evil and enjoy the peace
  2. Fight against evil and accept the goodness
  3. Show indifference to both and try to go with the flow.

As Christians, we must fight against evil and journey towards the goodness of God. We should get into the darkness from light, fight and destroy darkness, Fr. Jerry added.

A question answer session followed.

The MMVS Area Coordinators and GROW members updated their activities, mainly focusing on parish visits and charity collection. A video presentation was made regarding the bucket preparation for the Hurricane Harvey victims.Volunteers from different parishes assembled at the St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Levittown and prepared 100 buckets packed with specified essential materials and delivered to United Church of Rockville Center in order that they be sent to the hurricane affected areas through Church World Services. Dr. Ammu Paulose, the Diocesan Charity Coordinator, announced that more such collections are on the way to assist more victims of hurricane and other natural disasters.

One of the highlighted items was recognizing the graduates of Divyabodhanam and Leadership Training Program.Certificates were presented to all the graduates. Mrs. Mary Ennacheril, the Coordinator of Leadership Training Program, was the Master of the recognition ceremony.

New Diocesan Council and Malankara Sabha Managing Committee members were also recognized on this occasion.His Grace Zachariah Mor Nicholovos, the Diocesan Metropolitan, praised the effort of the members of the former Diocesan Council to acquire the HTRC property and the commendable good work of the current council. The Council presented a video highlighting the HTRC’s current and future projects with tips as to how the members can individually participate in it with financial commitments.

A raffle was drawn with 2 gold coins as first price won by Susan Cherian, St. Thomas Long Island, 1 gold coin as second prize won by Ashley Renji of St. George Church, Fairless Hills PA and $250 as the third prize won by Shiju Alex of St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia. Treasurer Lizzy Philip and Joint Treasurer Sara Mathew coordinated this event. The proceeds will go to charity MMVS projects.

A sumptuous lunch was served after the noon prayer. An HTRC tour was conducted after the lunch with the participation of many.

The Quiz competition on the book of Isaiah started at 2:15 PM. Tension was visibly in the air as many participants had worked hard and had looked forward to this moment for, so long. Mrs. Pincy Jacob coordinated the quiz competition. Mrs. Reena Susan Mathew was the quiz master and Rev. Dn. Bobby Varghese was the timekeeper. Twenty-three parishes participated.Of the 25 questions asked, one was disqualified making a total of 24 questions.St. Thomas Orthodox Church Unruh, Philadelphia, won the first prize by scoring the maximum points, answering all the 24 questions. Four parishes won the second prize, scoring 22 points each (St. Thomas Yonkers, St, Gregorios Clifton, NJ, St. Johns Orangeburg, NY and St. Thomas Long Island). Third prize was won by two parishes(St. Mary’s West Sayville, NY and St. Stephens Midland Park, NJ ) scoring 21 points each. Trophies were presented to the winners by the Diocesan Metropolitan.It was announced that the quiz for 2018 will be based on the Book of Jeremiah.

Sara Varghese, MMVS General Secretary, thanked all officials and participants for making the Conference a grand success.

A special prayer was offered for the recently demised Liziamma Kuruvilla, the former General Secretary of the Diocesan MMVS. Meeting ended with prayer and benediction.

Many attendees stayed back after snack and coffee to tour the facility and to make use of the photo opportunity.

Thanks to Bipin Mathew for the photography and Mr. Varghese Pothanicad for help with the write up.

Submitted by Dr. Ammu Paulose

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