|Chief Minister Oommen Chandy welcomes the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church Ignatius Aphrem II at Nedumbassery International Airport in Kochi on Saturday, February 7, 2015.|
Kochi (Kerala, India), Feb. 7, 2015: Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch , His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, arrived in the southern Indian state of Kerala on Saturday, February 7, 2015 on a 11-day India visit.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Excise Minister K Babu, Minister for Civil Supplies Anoop Jacob and Catholicos of the Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Church in India His Beatitude Baselios Thomas I were among those who received him at the airport here this morning.
This is the first time His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II is coming to India after he was elected the Patriarch of the Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Church early last year.
The Patriarch spent an hour at the airport, greeting the clergy members who gathered to welcome him. After blessing the crowd, the Patriarch proceeded to address the media at the Patriarchal Centre, Puthencruz, the regional headquarters of the Antiochian Syrian church.
He addressed the regional synod of the bishops of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch in the afternoon at St. George’s Cathedral, Karingachira.
The Patriarch has a heavy schedule in Kerala. He will be accorded a public reception in Kottayam on Sunday and also attend a State dinner in the town.
The Patriarch will leave for Chennai on February 17 and from there he will fly to New Delhi. He is scheduled to meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narrendra Modi and Congress (I) leader Sonia Gandhi there. He will leave for Lebanon on February 19.
The Patriarch’s maiden visit to Malankara (India) is being viewed with great optimism by those wishing to forge a unity among the Antiochian Syrian Orthodox and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian factions of the Syrian Church.