The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms - Deut.33:27
As the Puthencavu Mar Thoma Mathilakom Ascension Church is launching its website (www.mathilakamamtc.org), it is only meet and proper that a short history of the Parish is presented for information. St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, on reaching Malankara in A.D. 52 provided places of worship for early Kerala Christians by establishing crosses in seven places including Niranam, a place very near to us and Nilakkal which is the historically famous Bares and also the place where River Pampa originates. As Niranam was a port where River Pampa merged with the Arabian Sea, reaching Nilakkal by boat and proceeds from there by land to Chennai Via Madurai was common. Hence Puthencavu on the shore of Pampa also gained importance. It is to be noted that coins of Emperor Theodosius who ruled the Roman empire with Constantinople as Capital from 408 A.D, were found in Puthencavu.
Of the 64 gramas established by Parasurama, the Southernmost was Chengannur, which was also the birth place of Vinmandi Nayanar, the famous Shaiva Ascetic. The Christians worshipping in Nilakkal when attacked by Tamil gang robbers had to run away to various places and group settled in Chengannur around A.D. 300 and founded the Chengannur Old Syrian Church and worshipped there. Christians of Puthencavu who flourished because of a geographical reason also worshipped there. Puthencavu became a centre of business due to a quite unnavigable part of the Pampa river. All the hill products and agriculture produce from as far east as Sabarimala brought by boats had to be unloaded at Arattupuzha and carried to Angadickal Pandakasala Kadavu by head load. This merchandise carried as head load very often got sold and sold many times and as a result Puthencavu became an important centre of business. The Christians of Puthencavu finding it difficult to go as far as Chengannur to worship appealed to Dionysius the Great, Mar Thoma VI and in the last decade of the 18th Century he built the present St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral, Puthencavu which was our home parish. His successor and nephew of the Architect of Reformation in the Malankara Church. Palakkunnathu Abraham Malpan ruled Mar Thoma Church with Puthencavu as headquarters. In the year 1899 Titus II Metropolitan who later became MarThoma XVI was consecrated in the same Church as then we also had control over the Church. It was the first and the last consecration in the Churches.
It was by consecrating the girl's school that we had started earlier on Hosanna Sunday in the year 1900 Honourable Kovoor Achen placed the holy cross and worshipped making the beginning of the Ascension Church. Later when the present site of our Church became available, Mathilakam also was added to the name. In the meanwhile we had relinquished our claim in the Old Church by accepting Rs. 1,000/- and the amount was expected to be utilised for building the new Church. That amount was taken from our Trustee by Kovoor Achen to buy the Panchayat Purayidom, the present headquarters of our Church at Tiruvalla. Though this generous contribution of our Parish enabled the Mar Thoma Church to own the prestigious property it took almost 30 years for us to finish our Church building. Titus II Metropolitan consecrated our Mathilakom Ascension Church in the name of St. Thomas in the year, 1929. Highly educated, loving, cooperative people of our parish earned a high position for Puthencavu by providing eminent judges, politicians and priests. Puthencavu even then was a Panchayat.
There are two striking incidents in our history which declare our social commitment. An amount of Rs. 250/- was contributed by the parish to build the road from Ikareth Padi to the St. Thomas Kindergarten School. That amount then was a remarkably high amount. Though providing homes for the homeless is very common now 65 years ago the parish took the initiative to start a social revolution by building a home for a poor widow.
We were eqally committed to development of education. The present Mahakavi Puthencavu Mathen Tharakan Memorial Govt. U.P. School, known also as Parampil Pally Koodam was constructed and handed over to the Government when the earlier building had to be used for worship before we built the present Mathilakom Church. We bought a plot of land and built the school and handed over the same to the Govt on condition that the plot and building will be returned to us if the school stops functioning. When the initial discussion about Christian College started we as a parish contributed Rs. 250/- and when the college started functioning in 1964 Rs. 5,000/- more was paid. It is also to be noted that land required for the college was provided by a member of our parish. The membres of our parish as individuals contributed liberally to establish Christian College and MarThoma College, Thiruvalla. The St. Thomas Kindergarten School, Angadical was started by members of the Parish and now it is handed over to the Parish. The Sneha Bhavan Old Age Home at Kombady was built with the money raised by selling considerable parental property by a dear departed parishioner. Our Centenary Project Ascension Home meant for socially and economically backward girls to be given highest possible education so that they and their families will be uplifted, has so far spent more than a crore of rupees.
There are so many people and events worth mentioning. Only very few can be included. It is a matter for great satisfaction to the Parish that one of the members was the general secretary of the MarThoma Evangelistic Association and also the last layman Sabha Secretary. The Priests and Evangelists from the Parish have to be remembered. Amoung the dear departed priest are:
(1) Ayrookuzhiyil Abraham Kathanar Alexander Kathanar (Jr) Our first Vicar who was also the Son-in-Law of Abraham Malpan.
(2) Kochalumpalackal Koshy Kathanar
(3) Ayrookuzhiyil Joseph Kathanar Abraham Kathanar.
(4) Kuttamathayyath K.M. Mathai Kasseessa
(5) Mandapathil P.I. Jacob Kasseessa
(6) Padinjareveettil P.A. Jacob Kasseessa
(7) Thoppil Rev. John Varghese (One of the founders of Sihora Ashram)
(8) Kochuplammodiyil Rev. K.V. Mathew
Those who are retired and others in active service are:
(1) Rev. Joseph Ayrookuzhy
(2) Rev. Dr. R.C. Thomas, Madakkalpeedikayil
(3) Rev. T.C. George, Chiramannil
(4) Rev. Abey T. Mammen Bethel
(5) Rev. Joseph Johny, Kallath
(6) Rev. Jacob John, Cheekkanpara kuttiyil Jiju Cottage
(7) Rev. Georvin Joseph, Ayrookuzhiyil
(8) Rev. Pratheesh B. Joseph, Peniel.
(9) Rev. Sunu Baby Koshy, Madakkalpeedikayil
Among the Evangelists the Veteran founder member of Evangelistic Association at Kadavil Malika, Chackalayil Cherian Upadesi is the foremost. Tharekkatt Ambalavelil Varghese Upadesi and Meleppurath M.T. Varghese (Kutty Upadesi) all departed to be with the Lord. Kuzhiuzhathil Moncy Abraham (Ankola), Peniel Binu Joseph (Thrikkunnapuzha) and M.Y. Jaymon, Manil Kadavil still serve the Lord.
We remember with deep gratitude all the respected vicars, layleaders, trustees, managing committee members, Sunday School teachers and office bearers of various organizations and prayer groups. This short report is concluded praising our Lord Jesus Christ for all his blessings.