Monday, June 30, 2008

Mission Visit Reflections

My Visit to Transfiguration Mission

By  Renu Paul 
Sunday, June 29, 2008
[Renu Paul was the personal secretary of our departed Bishop, Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios at Alma College in Michigan. She visited the Mission in Madison June 19-24, 2008 and was kind to offer these reflections of her visit.] 


I felt as if I were going to an Orthodox family reunion of sorts when I made a visit to the Transfiguration Mission in Madison, WI in June 2008.  Born to parents who raised me in the rich traditions of the Malankara Orthodox Church of India, I am proud to say that my Christian roots can be traced as far back as 52 A.D. when “doubting” Thomas arrived in a small island off the southwestern coast of India to share the gospel message with high-caste Hindus.  I inherited the Orthodox faith from these high-caste Hindus who were my ancestors. 


Growing up, studying, and eventually becoming an American citizen, I was curious how my Oriental Orthodox faith could possibly be sustained and, perhaps even, be enriched and enlivened in the mainstream society, particularly in a country where materialism and the political guarantees of religious freedom go hand-in-hand.  With a panoply of cultures and peoples from all corners of the world congregating in the public square, I wondered how (and if) the beauty and depth of Indian Orthodox Christianity could be shared with others.  Would it be feasible outside my immediate ethnic milieu especially since evidence suggests otherwise? 


Linguistic, cultural, and religious barriers are pernicious such that they seem to pose a formidable impediment to human progress and growth.  When we monitor the political happenings in the world today, national, ethnic, and racial antagonisms—whether it be in Iraq, Israel, Pakistan, Israel, or Northern Ireland—supersede the hope of human unity, no less any sense of religious unity. 


After witnessing firsthand how the faithful of the Transfiguration Malankara Orthodox Mission of Orthodox Christian participated in the Divine Liturgy, I have come to the realization that Orthodox Christianity means “global” Orthodox Christianity.  There are realistic challenges of course, but they are, surmountable because of the common unity we have in the figurehead of Jesus Christ, who is our universal Shepherd, and the Church, who is our universal Mother.  I am grateful to the Lord who has opened my eyes after my visit to the Mission that “[w]ith God, all things are possible” (Mark 10: 27).  I am especially impressed by the able leadership of Fr. John Brian Paprock along with the loyal acolytes on the altar who continue the apostolic tradition handed to us so long ago.  The members of the Transfiguration Mission family—from the indefatigable energy of Teresa Kochamma  to the devotion of the old and young alike— make this community a vibrant place to worship and be.  May God continue to bless and protect His Church.

In His service,


  • Holy Transfiguration Publications: books by Fr John Brian
  • Sunday, June 01, 2008

    Introduction to Orthodoxy: visit from Merrimac UMC

    On Wednesday evening, May 28, 2008, we were honored to receive the youth group (and its adult leaders) of Merrimac United Methodist Church for a program about our church and mission. Pastor Anita Genrich authorized this visit as part of the youth education at their church in learning about Christian diversity and history. She includes these types of visits as important parts of their catechism curricula. Pastor Anita met Fr John Brian while they both served as fill-in hospital chaplains. [pictures of the group with Kochamma and Fr John Brian were taken by Christopher who assisted in the evening]

    Orthodox Christianity: Introduction

    About a dozen people came to Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission recently to learn a little of other churches.

    Fr John Brian condensed history and theology, doctrine and practice into about 45 minutes (in two parts) which can be listened to online or podcast.
    Recorded at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission Chapel, May 28, 2008 in Madison, Wisconsin


    Part 1 of 2

    Part 2 of 2

  • Holy Transfiguration Publications: books by Fr John Brian