St. Thomas was a Jew, called to be one of the twelve Apostles. He was a dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ. When Jesus said He was returning to Judea to visit His sick friend Lazarus, Thomas immediately exhorted the other Apostles to accompany Him on the trip which involved certain danger and possible death because of the mounting hostility of the authorities. At the Last Supper, whenChrist told His Apostles that He was going to prepare a place for them to which they also might come because they knew both the place and the way, Thomas pleaded that they did not understand and received the beautiful assurance that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. But St. Thomas is best known for his role in verifying the Resurrection of his Master. Thomas’ unwillingness to believe that the other Apostles had seen their risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday merited for him the title of “doubting Thomas.” Eight days later, on Christ’s second apparition, Thomas was gently rebuked for his scepticism and furnished with the evidence he had demanded – seeing in Christ’s hands the point of the nails and putting his fingers in the place of the nails and his hand into His side. At this, St. Thomasbecame convinced of the truth of the Resurrection and exclaimed: “My Lord and My God,” thus making a public Profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus. St. Thomas is also mentioned as being present at another Resurrection appearance of Jesus – at LakeTiberias when a miraculous catch of fish occurred. This is all that we know about St. Thomas from the New Testament. Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost this saint was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians; he ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” He capped his left by shedding his blood for his Master, speared to death at a place called Calamine. His feast day is July 3rd and he is the patron of architects.
Kerala, 3 July 2011: The decreasing number of missionary vocations has become a crucial challenge for the Syro-Malabar Church, Major Archbishop George Alencherry said. In his first pastoral letter to all churches in Kerala on St. Thomas’ Day, the Major Archbishop said that lack of interest in Church vocations indicate the degeneration of faith in the family. Our Church by her very nature is missionary, sent to impart the message of life. As an individual Church, the Syro-Malabar Church also has the same nature and mission. So decreasing vocations worry me,” he said.
The degeneration of faith in families, lack of prayer life, fewer children, negative criticisms regarding priests and the religious, and the fear of obstacles faced by the missionaries, among other things, are factors in the decline, the Major Archbishop said in his four-page pastoral letter. He said the future of mission work depends on how effectively these concerns can be dealt with and exhorted the faithful to encourage children to respect missionaries and promote direct interaction with them, as well as donating generously to mission activities. Fr. Paul Thelakat, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Church, said that the quality of vocations is also an issue.
“It’s a genuine concern of the church. Though the exact figures are not available, the fact remains now that youngsters are not much interested in joining the clergy. We are planning some positive steps to arrest the trend,” he said. Saint Thomas, the apostle to India, sowed the seeds of the Church when he arrived at Kodungallur, an ancient port called Muziris in the southern state, in AD 52. The saint was martyred at Mylapore near Chennai in AD 72. The church celebrates the dukrana feast in memory of his martyrdom.
September 28 (CDN) — September 28 (Compass Direct News) – Born on June 18 to a Christian family in northern Azerbaijan, three-month-old Ilya Eyvazov still has no official name. Local authorities in the town of Aliabad at first refused to issue a birth certificate to the baby’s father, Novruz Eyvazov, when they saw his son’s name was the Russian form of Elijah. “They said it was because it was a Christian name,” said the Baptist church member. After a month, Novruz Eyvazov succeeded only in securing a birth certificate that left his son’s name blank. One official in the regional registration office in Zaqatala said that Baptists in Aliabad were facing difficulties because their attempt to take non-Azeri names was part of a plot to cede Zaqatala to neighboring Georgia. Little Ilya Eyvazov’s two older brothers, Moisei [Moses] and Luka, were also denied birth certificates by the municipality for some months. Considered part of a “foreign” religious sect, the three Baptist congregations in Aliabad face ongoing harassment from the local government, which has refused them official church registration for the past 13 years.