The history of Malankara Church, before and after the re-union, reveals the fact that Bethany Ashram was always the leaven of Church’s spiritual life. Bethany always helped the Church not to lose its vitality but to recapture and rediscover its vocation and mission. This animation centre is envisaged in the same long standing spirit of Bethany Ashram to serve the Church, by revitalizing its spiritual life.

All the apostolic activities of Bethany Ashram, in some or other way fulfils this historical mission. It helps the society in general and the Malankara Syrian Catholic Church in particular, to realize their God given mission. By the inauguration of this animation centre Bethany Ashram takes up an important step to inspire and motivate the people of God to fulfill their mission.

The Name and Its Significance

The name “Jeevaram” means Garden of Life. The great contribution of Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios was that he gave a new life (Jeevan) to the Malankara Church. Bethany became instrumental in this rejuvenating process. With the inauguration of this animation centre Bethany Ashram hopes to begin a new chapter in its service to the Church. Hope this Garden (Aram) will be able to spread fragrance of new life in the Church.

The term “animation” is derived from a Latin word viz., animātiō, which is a combination of two words, namely, animō and ātiō. Animō (animare) means “to animate” or “give life to” and ātiō means "the act of". Therefore, animation means “the act of giving life” or “bringing into life”. This was the historical mission carried out by Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios and as the founder he handed over the same mission to Bethany Ashram. When the Malankara Church lost its leaven of spiritual life and missionary zeal and immersed itself in litigations and rivalry, Fr. P. T. Geevarghese (later Archbishop Mar Ivanios) took up the leadership to bring the Church back to its real mission and he gave it a new life and the founding of Bethany Ashram paved the way for this rejuvenating process of Malankara Church.

Bethany in the Footsteps of Its Founder

During his stay in Serarmpore as a professor, Archbishop Mar Ivanios took more than fifty young people to Serampore University and gave them good education. Many more were taken to Allahabad, Jadavpure, Calcutta, and Madras Universities. Out of the fifty students in Serampore University alone seven became bishops and thirteen became priests. Later they became the pillars of the Malankara Orthodox Church. He also took some young girls to Barisole (today this place is in Bangladesh) and gave them good education under the leadership of Oxford Mission Sisters and these girls later became the first members (Mother Superiors) of Bethany Sisters. This remains as a classical example of animation.

Archbishop Mar Ivanios was interested in involving the lay people in Church’s missionary activities. He trained many catechists (Upadesis) and made use of their effective service, in Church’s missionary activities especially in the South Kerala mission region. He went from parish to parish and gave retreats and the same task was entrusted to the members of Bethany Ashram and thus the preaching ministry of Bethany took shape and Bethany Suvisesha Sangam (B.S. S.) was formed. Archbishop Mar Ivanios himself wrote at least thirty two books and many articles and their publication led to the founding of Bethany Publication. Today this is one of the important Apostolic Activities of Bethany Ashram, namely, Apostolate through Communication Media. In short Archbishop Mar Ivanios did whatever possible in his capacity to rejuvenate the Church. His vision and inspiration still remains a catalyst in Bethany’s apostolic activities and the same is the motivating force in establishing this Animation Centre. This centre can coordinate all these animation programmes in a manner suited to the modern times, needs and challenges. We hope that Mavelikara being the birth place of Mar Ivanios, this Animation Centre will be a fitting tribute to his memories. We, Bethanians, request all the Malankarites, our well wishers and all those who love Archbishop Mar Ivanios to join hands with us to make this dream a reality.

This Animation Centre will serve the following purposes:

  • This will be a study centre which offers research programmes, study programmes and courses on Archbishop Mar Ivanios and his vision. A good library which will provide all the information about the life and vision of Mar Ivanios will be set –up.
  • Offers Courses on Liturgy, Indian Spirituality, Religious Life and other relevant topics
  • Provides retreats for priests, nuns, other leaders, teachers, and lay people
  • Organizes seminars for parents, youth and students
  • Conducts animation programmes and counseling for young married couples and students
  • The centre will be available for groups who would like to conduct retreats and seminars provided that their value system is in accordance with Christian/gospel values
  • This centre is intended also to facilitate and encourage ecumenical and inter-religious dialogues
  • Henceforth this centre will be the venue for Annual retreats, Ordinations, Religious Professions, Students Get-together, Pastoral Course for Deacons, Family gatherings etc. of Bethany Ashram.

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Bethany Ashram