Past, Present, and a Glorious Future
The history of St. Gregorios Malankara Orthodox Church begins with the early formation of parishes In the Southern Region of the United States in the late 1970s. During that time, the Dallas area had groups of families across all spectrums of Christian denominations from Kerala. During this time, priests were scarce in this area; there were also numerous challenges in finding places to worship. In 1983, a group of dedicated families from St. Mary’s Orthodox Church decided for the spiritual growth of the faith in the Dallas area, to establish a new parish in honor of the Great Holy Father of our Church, Malankara Sabha Parishudhan, St. Gregorios of Parumala. This new parish would become the second Malankara Orthodox Church in the Dallas, Texas area. The first Holy Qurbana was conducted on January 30th 1983 by one of the stalwart priest of the American Diocese – Rev. Fr. Koshy P John. From 1983, members of the parish conducted Holy Qurbana at various locations in the Dallas area until the construction of a permanent parish building and accompanying hall in 1990.
In 1984, a plot of land was purchased in Grand Prairie, Texas with the intention of constructing a building to support the needs of the growing congregation. The Late, Lamented, HG Mathews Mar Coorilos, Metropolitan of the Bombay Diocese, who would become the future Catholicos, H.H. Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II, the 89th Successor to the Throne of St. Thomas, along with the first Diocesan Metropolitan of the American Diocese, Late Lamented H.G. Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios laid the foundation stone for the church in November, 1986. The Grand Prairie property was later sold due to the greater concentration of the members of our community who settled in the Eastern Dallas Metroplex area. During these years, even without a permanent building to call home, under the leadership of the vicar, Rev. Fr. Koshy P John, the young congregation flourished. All sacramental services, feast days, and Sunday School classes were conducted with unwavering dedication and service by our members. Many visiting priests and deacons provided support to our parish during these years; this includes Rev. Fr. Philip Varghese, Rev. Fr. MK Samuel, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. PS Samuel, Cor Episcopa, Very Rev. Fr. TM Zachariah Cor Episcopa, Rev. Fr. KG Philipose, and Rev. Fr. MK Kuriakose, to name a few.
Through many tumultuous years, the new church building was successfully built by the Grace of God Almighty and through the intercession of St. Mary and our Patron Saint, Mar Gregorios of Parumala. The church was constructed in September 1990 and became the first ever newly constructed church building in the Dallas area, and one of the first in the entire American Diocese. This was possible through the dedication of the Vicar, Rev. Fr. Koshy P. John and a group of twenty-four members. The Late, Lamented, H.G. Dr. Stephanos Mar Theodosius, Metropolitan of the Calcutta Diocese performed the temporary dedication and Patron’s Day Celebration on November 11th 1990. In 1992, the Diocese of America Metropolitan, Late Lamented H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas formally consecrated the church.
The church was built through the generous contribution of the founding members who we continue to honor even to this day, and by the financial support from our community in and outside the Dallas area. The parish is deeply obligated to Rev. Fr. Koshy P John for his invaluable services for the congregation. Rev. Fr. Joseph Kalapurayil became the vicar in 1991. Achen was instrumental in establishing the worship infrastructure and the foundation of our day to day operations, until his return to India in 1997. Rev. Fr. Raju Daniel became the vicar in 1997 and strengthened the spiritual growth of our members; he served the parish until June 1st 2012. Rev. Fr. CG Thomas is our current vicar and he continues to carry the legacy set forth by his predecessors to lead our parish in all respects.
In 1997, the parish saw the need to construct an auditorium adjacent to the church sanctuary, since there was not a dedicated facility within our community to host the many spiritual, cultural, and personal functions. The general body decided to purchase the additional 6.5 acres of land next to the parish building for this construction project. H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas laid the foundation stone for the auditorium in September 1997. The auditorium was completed in June 1999. Late Lamented, H.H. Baselios Mar Thomas Mathews II and H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas dedicated the auditorium on October 16th 1999. The auditorium was named, Mar Gregorios Memorial (MGM) Auditorium. This project was successfully completed due to the mercy of Almighty God, and the prayers of intercession of St. Gregorios of Parumala, along with the hard work of Rev. Fr. Raju Daniel, and our members. The MGM Auditorium was the venue for the 2006 Southern Region Family & Youth Conference, as well as the Diocese of Southwest America Diocesan Assembly in 2012, and also hosts the annual Kerala Ecumenical Fellowship Committee (KECF) Christmas program along with numerous other events.
In 1997 St. Gregorios Orthodox Church celebrated its Silver Jubilee with the presence of H.G. Paulose Mar Milithios (current Catholicos Baselios Mar Thomas Paulose II), H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas, and H.G. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, and H.G. Yoohanon Mar Milithios along with the vicars and well-wishers from our sister parishes. Along with the parish celebration, we have also conducted the Silver Jubilee of two of the long-standing vicars in the Dallas area – Rev. Fr. Raju Daniel and our present vicar, Rev. Fr. CG Thomas.
Today, St. Gregorios Orthodox Church takes great pride in being a member of the Diocese of Southwest America, under the leadership of our Metropolitan, H.G. Alexios Mar Eusebius. The activities of the parish in the lives of its members, with sister churches, the ecumenical community, and the surrounding community is innumerous. The activities of the parish include a vibrant and ever-flourishing Sunday School program which was long established during the earliest days of the founding of the parish. Sunday school is conducted on Sundays before Holy Qurbana from 8:30am to 9:30am; this schedule allows maximum participation from our youth in the morning worship preceding the Holy Qurbana. The Sunday School program is led by our dynamic young principal, Mr. Jim Abraham and a team of dedicated teachers and volunteers. The Sunday School program conducts interactive programs throughout the year as well the annual Orthodox Vacation Bible School (OVBS) during the Summer.
Other activities include the following:
MGOCSM – Frequent Bible Studies, Retreats, Charitable giving, and Volunteer programs
OCYM – Conducts the annual Family Night program as well as leads Christmas Caroling activities and numerous other events including volunteer work
Martha Mariam Vaneetha Samajam - Charity mission sponsorship, frequent Bible Studies, Annual Competitions, and supporting the underprivileged students in India along with providing marriage assistance
Among all aspects of the parish, St. Gregorios Orthodox Church takes great pride in the worship experience that enables Orthodox Christians to commune with the One Triune God through their prayer life. The parish observes Holy Qurbana on all Moronaya Perunnals (Festivals of Our Lord). Daily evening prayers are conducted in the parish during the Three-Day and the Great Lent. During the Great Lent when our children are celebrating Spring Break, our parish observes the Noon Prayers with the traditional fifty prostrations and chanting of Kureliason. Today, these practices are normally limited to our seminaries and dayaras. During the Passion Week of our Lord and Savior, all seven prayers of the canonical hours are strictly observed without fail within the church. St. Gregorios Orthodox Church is one of the first parishes in North America to conduct the Service of Vaadhe Dalmeeno (Based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins) traditionally performed during the Monday Liliyo Hours of the Passion Week, as conducted in 2012 by His Grace Dr. Joshua Mar Nicodimos, Metropolitan of Nilackal and Assistant Metropolitan of Mavelikarra Diocese. Our youth members, with great discipline practice the ancient art of the eight tones of our worship services and partake without fail in advanced Orthodox studies. All of these services together bring unity of purpose and worship among all our faithful.
Additionally, we are greatly blessed by the annual Episcopal visits by numerous Metropolitans and clergy from Kerala. Our parishioners generously support the charitable causes they highlight during these visits.
The Glorious Future
Looking forward, we reflect on the wonderful past of this parish that God has enabled, and we look to the next generation of leaders that will carry the torch of this great parish and the traditions of the church. Our parish is abundantly blessed by a dedicated group of leaders who established this parish through hard sacrifice at a time when our cultural presence and the American Diocese was in its infancy. The past was a time of scattered communities, unavailable clergy and deacons, and struggles to establish roots in a new country. Today, we see the young members of our parish taking the reins and carrying on the tradition of the Malankara Orthodox Faith, Practices and Traditions in the United States. We see an abundance of young and dynamic clergy who are entrusted with the responsibility for the growth of our Sahba. As we look to the road ahead, we see the need to continue to grow our faithful both spiritually as well as providing them with all the resources to flourish an ancient church in a modern world. We submit all of our petitions at the feet of God Almighty.
May this Sahba, and this Parish along with all our faithful departed be found to be a worthy bride, and be joined in the heavenly bridal chamber, and meet the Heavenly Bridegroom on the day of His Second Coming.