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The First Metropolitan Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
Geevarghese was born on 21 September 1882 at Puthiyakavu in Mavelikara as the son of Thoma Panicker and Annamma of Panikeruveedu. Later Fr. P.T. Geevarghese served as professor of History, Politics and Economics from 1913 to 1919 in the University of Serampoor, Bengal. It was during this period that he got inspired by the Indian culture and Sanayāsa and started a new religious movement (Sanayāsa Prasthānam), in collaboration with the students, whom MA Achan brought from Kerala to Serampoor to pursue higher education. He intended to found an Ashram in an isolated place and wanted to engage himself in activities of love of God, spiritual awakening of the Malankara Church and the upliftment of the downtrodden of the society. Eventually, he resigned his post at the University and founded the Order of the Imitation of Christ, also known as Bethany Ashram, on 15 August 1919 at Mundanmala in Ranni-Perunadu. On 13 February 1929 he was raised as the Bethany Metropolitan.
After a persevering endeavour for four years, Rome accepted the proposal of Mar Ivanios for reunion to the Catholic Church. Metropolitan Mar Ivanios along with Mar Theophilos, Fr. John OIC, Deacon Seraphion and Mr. Kilileth Chacko came in communion with the Catholic Church, making the profession of faith before Bishop Aloysius Maria Benzigor in the Aramana Chapel at Kollam on 20 September 1930. Metropolitan Mar Ivanios visited Pope Pius XI, in 1932. The Malankara Catholic Hierarchy was erected with Trivandrum as Archieparchy, His Grace Mar Ivanios as its Metropolitan Archbishop and Tiruvalla as its suffragan Eparchy under Bishop Mar Theophilos on 11 June 1932. His Grace Mar Ivanios was enthroned Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum on 12 March 1933.
Archbishop Mar Ivanios made a global influence through his ascetic life and endevours for the communion of Churches through the Re-union Movement which was essentially ecumenical in nature. He was a great force in the society through his pioneering efforts in the fields of education and dedication to the cause of the poor. Within twenty two years of his life as Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum, he founded 78 primary schools 18 Upper Primary Schools, 15 High Schools, 2 Teacher Training Schools and 1 Arts college. As his health deteriorated, he ordained Benedict Mar Gregorios as Auxiliary Bishop of Trivandrum. Mar Ivanios passed away to his eternal reward on 15 July 1953.
Ever since his demise, pilgrims flock to his tomb at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Pattom, Trivndrum. Thousands join the Annual Padayatra (pilgrimage on foot) to his tomb from 10 – 15 July every year to celebrate his commemoration. He was declared servant of God in the Church on 14 July 2007 by His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, the Major Archbishop of the Malankara Catholic Church.