• 1-613-716-4899
  • vicar@ottawamarthoma.ca
  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Our Parish

It is blessing that we live in a country where we have the freedom to assemble and the freedom to Worship!

Parish at a Glance

Welcome to the Mar Thoma Church Ottawa, a parish of the North American Diocese of the Mar Thoma Church, New York. The role of our church is to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mar Thoma Church has its head quarters in Thiruvalla, Kerala, India. As a reformed church with Episcopal relations The Mar Thoma church shares Communion relationship with the Anglican Churches around the world.

The Mar Thoma Church of Ottawa had it’s inception as a small congregation formed in 1982 by a group of devoted Marthomite families who were living in and around Ottawa. The congregation convened at members homes on a regular basis for prayer meetings and worship service. On June 19, 1982 the Mar Thoma Cogregation Ottawa was officially formed at the Emmanuel United Church, under the guidance of Rev. George Jacob (currently the Rt. Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Theodosius Episcopa). Later, congragation was elevated as a Church by the then Diocesan Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Episcopa (now Mar Thoma Metropolitan). Rev. George Jacob (1982-1984) who was pursuing doctoral studies at McMaster University was appointed as the first Vicar in charge of the Ottawa Mar Thoma church.

Then the Vicars (Achen) of the Canadian Mar Thoma Church, Toronto were appointed as the vicar in charge of The Mar Thoma Chruch Ottawa also. The Vicars from Toronto visited Ottawa on a regular basis to conduct prayer meetings and Sunday Qurbana Service. The Mar Thoma Church Ottawa is indebted to Bell Street United Church, Ottawa and St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Ottawa for graciously allowing us to rent their facility on Sunday afternoons to conduct the Holy Qurbana service during Achen’s visits.

The Beginning

(Details included below are excerpts of a speech made by Secretary Mr. Reji Alex during the Golden Jubilee celebration held on 15th October 2023 at St. Marks The Apostle Anglican Church, Ottawa. The details were gathered through discussions with the senior members Mr. Mathew Thomas and Mrs. Aleyamma Samuel. If you see any information that needs to be updated, please contact the Web Administrator.)

Let’s look back at our history a bit! Back in 1972 a few people made some good decisions. They were in their 20s or early 30s in a new country with not much money and an uncertain future, but with a lot of aspiration and hope. They started their life with very humble beginnings, and we can imagine it could not have been easy coming to a new country, starting a new life, attending school or finding job, taking the bus, learning to take the bus, learning to wear winter jacket and raising small children all at the same time with no one to turn to for guidance — but in the midst of all the challenges they never forgot their roots, they never forsaken their Christian values or their Church. So, in 1972 they came together and started a prayer group, and my dear friends that is why we are sitting here today as members of Mar Thoma Church Ottawa.

That was in Ottawa. But the same thing was happening all across Canada. In fact, in 1963 Thomas Mar Athanosius Thirumeni came to Toronto and there was a service. One family who is here today attended that service. That was Dr. John Samuel and Mrs. Aleyamma Samuel. (one Mar Thoma family, some Orthodox, Jacobite and Hindus) And before that, if you look back in history, in 1940 our Rt. Rev. Abraham Mar Thoma actually came to Toronto to study at the Wycliffe College. So, Mar Thomites have been in Canada for close to 100 years according to those records.

Now back to Ottawa, so the prayer group was started in 1972. The church sent Rev. Abraham Lincoln to study at Wycliffe College in Toronto. Lincoln Achen provided pastoral services in Toronto Mar Thoma Community and in other cities including Ottawa until 1975. The worship service continued for 10 years with various Achens serving these regions, including Rev. C. I George who later became Rt. Rev. Geevarghese Mar Athanasius (Wycliffe College). Then we had Rt. Rev. Easow Mar Thimotheos for a year, who also came to study at Wycliffe College. Then we had Rev. Iype Joseph followed by Rev. George Jacob, who came here to study at McMaster University from 1980 to 1984. As you know George Jacob Achen is now our Metropolitan, The Most Rev. Dr. Theodosius Mar Thoma Metropolitan.

On 19 June 1982 the prayer group was officially recognized as a congregation forming The Mar Thoma Congregation. Rev. George Jacob, now Metropolitan, Vicar of the congregation conducted communion service at the Emmanuel United Church. Mr. Mathew Thomas was the first Secretary & Treasurer. Dr. John Samuel was the North American Zonal Council representative. Rev. M.S Varghese Achen was the first full time vicar for Toronto, who was also our vicar, from 1984 to 1987.

Then 8 years later on June 13, 1990 the Congregation was raised to the status of Parish by the then Diocesan Bishop Rt. Rev. Philipose Mar Chrysostom, who later became our 20th Mar Thoma Metropolitan. (Two slide)   Dr. Thomas John (Bobby) was the Secretary and Mr. John M. John became the Treasurer. Then after that we had regular pastoral service from Achen’s who were appointed to Churches in Toronto region. We started with 4 services in a year, then we increased it to 6 services.

Along the way, as a Parish we welcomed many Bishops and Achens and of course these families hosted all of them at their homes. In 1984 these families with their young children drove all the way to Dallas, Texas to attend the Family Conference. Considering the small population of Marthomites in North America those days, Thomas Thirumeni, the Diocesan Bishop and main speaker for the conference was pleasantly surprised and he nicknamed the conference the “Maramon U.S.A”.  What is noteworthy is also that the Canada Choir, that included many members of the Ottawa Parish won the first prize for the Choir competition as well. Likewise, on a regular basis, many of these families attended various other family conferences and Diocesan meetings.

There was a vibrant youth group also in later years. During the Christmas season they would do house to house carolling, they held monthly Bible study and even organized three Regional Mar Thoma Youth Conference – one in 1990, second one in 1993 and the third in 1996.

So, as we see these individuals/families who are with us today and the others who are no longer with us, not only started a prayer group during their most challenging years in Canada and nourished that prayer group to the status of a Parish, but they also actively participated in all Church programs whether it is in Canada or elsewhere in North America. And all these individuals, in one capacity or other served in the Executive Committee (as mentioned earlier among those who are present here today, Mr. Mathew Thomas was Secretary, Dr. John Samuel was Diocesan representative, Mrs. Aleyamma Samuel was Diocesan rep and Vice President, Mr. George John served as Secretary & Lay Leader, Mrs. Suzy John served as Treasurer and Mrs. Leela Varki was the best food coordinator) but beyond that they all contributed to the Church in many different areas, whether it be bringing snacks for after service reception, hosting Achens, cooking for the many potluck receptions or Christmas program including the early years of our Ecumenical Christmas programs when we had close to 150 people. Their contributions and commitment to their Parish, this Parish, is much too many to list, but much to be admired and learned from!

And now, as we stand here today, as a result of what they started 50 years ago, in the month of June 2023, we were able to welcome our first resident Vicar, our dear Rev. Naveen Mathew Thomas, Bini Kochamma and Punarudh. We owe a lot of it to the humble beginnings initiated by these families and we must remain thankful for their service.

Now, imagine 50 years in to the future… let us look forward, let us work together just as these families did, for a future, where we will hopefully be standing in a Church like this, with the name of our Church on the Name board proudly displaying our logo “Lighted to Lighten” for the world to see.

When that happens, one of our grandchildren, will be up here praising all of the current active members of the Parish for the forward vision and hard work that you expended for this Church. So, help us God!