Very Rev. Dr. Abraham Thomas Corepiscopa Vazhayil
Second Administrator of
the North American Knanaya Community
The Very Rev. Dr. Abraham Thomas Corepiscopa
was born along with his twin brother Capt. Abraham Kuruvilla, on October 1, 1934, as the 4th son of the late Mr. T. Abraham
and the late Mrs. Chachikutty Abraham, Vazhayil,Veliyanadu, Kerala, India. After their early education in Veliyanadu, the
identical twin brothers, Thomaskutty and Kuruvillachen attended St. Berchman’s College, Changanachery.
when he was doing his Intermediate at S.B. College, Thomaskutty was ordained as a Deacon by His Grace Abraham Mar Clemis,
the new Metropolitan of the Syrian Knanaya Church. Dn. Thomas received his priesthood training from Mar Ephraim Seminary and
Manjanikara Seminary. The new deacon successfully completed his B.A. (Honors) in English literature from Madras Christian
College and started his teaching career at Catholicate College, Pathanamthitta
Through contacts made by his twin brother
Capt. Abraham Kuruvilla while visiting Sydney as a cadet in the Merchant Marine, the new Deacon received scholarship to study
theology and joined the Moore Theological College, Sydney Australia in 1957. After receiving the Th.L. degree from Australia,
he came to the United States of America in 1961 and studied at the Union Theological Seminary, New York and received S. T
.M. (Master of Sacred Theology) degree and PARS Certificate (Program of Advanced Religious Studies). In 1962 he moved to Boston
and enrolled at Boston University School of Theology and pursued further studies in Social Ethics. After completing his course
work and qualifying exams, Dn. Thomas went to Bangalore to work on his dissertation, with the guidance of the late Dr. M.M.
Regarding his visit to India one of his close friends said that Dn. Thomas went to
Bangalore for "research and search" and as a result of the “search”, he got married in 1967. His lovely
wife Santhamma is the fifth daughter of the late Mr. M.I. Punnoose and the late Mrs. Mariamma Punnoose, Manimalethu, Ranny.
Vazhayil Chemmachen, once thought to be the future Metropolitan of the Syrian Knanaya Church, became a loving, caring and
affectionate husband. After the marriage, the newlyweds returned to Boston. Dn. Thomas received his Th.D. (Doctor of Theology)
from Boston University in 1969. He is the author of CHRISTIANS IN SECULAR INDIA (1974) and contributed a chapter to POLITICS
AFTER NEHRU. He has also published several articles.
He was ordained as a priest in New Jersey on June 19, 1971, by the
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, His Holiness Ignatius Yacoub III. He was elevated as a Corepiscopa in New York in 1986,
and in 1989 was appointed as the Administrator of the North American Knanaya Diocese by His Eminence Abraham Mar Clemis, Metropolitan
of the Syrian Knanaya Samudhayam and served in that capacity for ten years (till 1999). The appointment of Vazhayil Achen
as the Administrator was indeed the recognition of his dedication to service, administrative skills, ecumenical outlook, scholastic
ability and piety. He has been serving as the vicar of St. Stephen's Knanaya Church, Maynard, Massachusetts since its
inception in 1992.
During his stewardship, The North American Knanaya Community saw significant progress. In 1995, it
had 8 established churches, 1 congregation, 10 priests, 5 deacons and a nun The Diocese had more than 400 families as its
members and already owned churches in New York, Houston and Boston.
During his administration, Vazhayil Achen implemented
a Constitution for the Diocese and established the North American Knanaya Association and the North American Knanaya Committee.
The leadership he has provided for the construction of the beautiful St. Stephen's Knanaya church, Maynard, Massachusetts,
is also admirable. Vazhayil Achen with his pleasant personality and conciliatory mentality deserves a lot of credit for uniting
the North American Knanaya community.
Dr. Thomas started his career as a college professor at Bridgewater State College
where he taught till May 2003 when he retired from full-time service. During his long career at the College, he served as
Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for nine years and was the recipient of three “Distinguished Service”
Awards. He also served as President of the Massachusetts Sociological Association. He is very actively involved in the Kerala
Community. He was one of the “Founding Fathers” of the Malayalee Samajam in Boston and was elected as President
of the Kerala Association of New England during the year 1971- 72 and 1983-84.
Vazhayil Achen is a true Christian disciple,
very much involved in the ecumenical activities of the Kerala community in New England.
Even though officially retired,
Vazhayil Achen is still teaching part time at Bridgewater State College and is settled down in Raynham, Massachusetts with
his wife, Santhamma and three wonderful children All three of them are married now. Anil who is married to Waikuen and they
have a daughter named Raina who is the pride and joy of Achen , Paul is married to Tara and Priya to Benjamin. Achen has 6
brothers and 7 sisters and a large group of nieces and nephews both in the U.S.A. and in India.
The members of the St.
Stephen’s Knanaya Church have great pride and pleasure in congratulating Vazhayil Achen on his 70th birthday. May God
shower His abundant blessings on Achen to continue his service for God and His Church. May God give him and his family
health and long life.