The life and strength of a Church depends upon the Monastic Communities. Dn.Alexious. the founder of Bethany Asram understood the need of monastic community in the church and he established the Bethany Asram in 1918. Here started the Spiritual Revival in the Malankara Orthodox Church.
The Late Mr. E.J. John of Elanjickal family Niranam donated his property at Perunad Mundanmala- “The Abode of Ascetic Life”, here started the first monastic community of the Indian Orthodox Church. Dn. Alexious himself first went to Perunad, a place of wild beasts and forests. He had to struggle hard physically and mentally but a man of prayer; he embraced all those trials and tribulations for the glory of his Heavenly Father. After a year in 1919 his professor at serampore Fr. P.T. Geevarghese joined him. In 1920 both Fr. P.T. Geevarghese & Fr. Alexious along with Dn. Jacob Kalapurackal took the oath of ascetic life.
The leaders of the church and the laity expected great things from the Asram. In 1918 itself Dn.Alexious was ordained as a priest by H.G Yuyakkim Mar Ivanious Metropolitan, at Parumala Seminary. Fr. Alexious lived in small thatched huts. Fr: Alexious was a strict ascetic. Many people attracted to the monastic life, because of the simple life of Fr. Alexious.
Fr. Alexious and his followers adopted the lifestyle and Indian traditional of Hindu Sanyasis ie, they receive the “KAVI KUPPAYAM”. The members of Bethany wore a small wooden cross along with the simple dress.
For a strict spiritual life they constituted an order of rules named “Order of the Imitation of Christ” –O.IC.
In 1930 Mar Ivanious (Fr.P.T. Geevarghese) left the Malankara Orthodox Church and the Bethany Asram and embraced the Roman Church, with all the portable properties.
Fr. Alexious wanted always to be the member of the Bethany Asram. He lived a quiet life. He struggled hard to maintain the spiritual growth of the Asram and at the same time he took a firm stand to protect the Bethany Asram and its properties from the civil suits and problems which was made by Mar Ivanios and his group. Even in the midst of litigations and disputes in the church, the spiritual power of Bethany maintained its buoyancy.
The Ecclesiastical and humanitarian activities of the Asram grew day by day under the leadership of Fr. Alexious. Poverty, obedience and chastity were the three vows of the Asram life. Fr. Alexious was a strict ascetic. He never broke the daily prayers, fasting, lent etc. He gave much importance to obedience According to him- “He who does obey has the right to make others to obey”.
The way of life of ascetics attracted many. Fr.Alexious was well known as a great retreat father all over the Church, with many admirers and followers
Fr. Alexious O.I.C was invited for the position of bishopric many times, but he rejected it downright. Later H.H. Baselius Geevarghese II compelled him to accept it. On April 7th 1938 H.H. Baselius Geevarghese II consecrated Fr. Alexious OIC as H.G Alexiuos Mar Theodosius O.I.C at Carmel Dayara- Mulanthuruty, as the Bishop of Quilon and out side Kerala. He was the first Metropolitan of outside Kerala. H.G Alexious Mar Theodosius O.I.C was the great spokesman of Autocephale and Episcopacy of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
Mar Theodosius enhanced the fame and growth of the diocese and his sheep. The sheep knew their good shepherd whom they love and support. For the smooth functioning of the churches outside Kerala, he started a movement called “Indian Orthodox Mission”.
On August 6th 1965, Mar Theodosius was called to the heavenly abode and his mortal remains were interred at Bethany Asram St. John’s Chapel, Ranni- Perunad. Resting there, he is still praying and interceding for us.
After the demise of the Aboona Fr.Yuhanon OIC was elected as the Superior of Bethany Asram in 1965 and was known as “Abo Yuhanon”- the resultant Retreat Father and inspiration of the youth and students.
Along with a branch house in Kunnamkulam, Bethany Asram started an English Medium School. Soon after, in 1969 Bethany started another branch at Kuzhimattom near Kottayam.
The general body of the Malankara Orthodox Church and the Holy Synod unanimously elected Abo Yuhanon as Bishop and consecrated him as H.G Yuhanon Mar Athanasius OIC, assistant bishop of Kottayam in 1978.
H.G. Yuhanon Mar Athanasious was so sincere and simple like a child. He taught the true faith. He dedicated himself to the will of the God. On Oct 12th 1980, he entered into eternal rest quiet prematurely due to pancreas cancer, and was laid to rest near his Aboona at Bethany Asram, St.John’s Chapel Ranni-Perunad.
After Abo Yuhanon, Fr: Alexandrews OIC, one of the senior members of Bethany was elected as the Superior of Bethany Asram in 1978. During this period, Asram extended its ecclesiastical service to the hill areas of Pathanamthitta and Idukki.
In 1986 soon after Fr. Alexandrews OIC, the historian of Bethany and former Manager of Kunnumkulam schools, Fr.Kuriakose OIC was elected as the Superior of the community. He extends his knowledge and friendship for the well being of the community.
After Fr.Kuriakose OIC, Fr.Paulose OIC (H.G. Paulose Mar Pachomiose) was elected as the superior of the Bethany Asram on 1989. He was well known as a great retreat father and confession father. Malankara Orthodox Syrian Association elected him as Bishop and consecrated him as H.G. Paulose Mar Pachomiose in August 1993.
After the consecration of Mar Pachomiose, he resigned the post of Superiorship of Bethany and later Fr. Solomon OIC, one of the great philosopher and good preachers of Malanakara Orthodox church was unanimously elected as the superior of Bethany Asram. During this period, the Asram completed its 75th year and celebrate the Platinum Jubilee.
Fr. Solomon OIC was succeeded by Fr. Stephen OIC in May 1996. He is a simple man with human qualities. During his tenure Bethany Asram extended its fame through the length and breadth of the Church and become a treasure and fortress to the common people of the church.
2008 was the 90th year of the Asram establishment. Asram celebrated the “Navathi” during this period on September 2008, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Association elected Fr. Stephen OIC as Bishop and consecrated him on 17th Feb 2009 at St. George Orthodox Church Puthupally as H.G.Mathews Mar Theodosious OIC.
On 1st May 2009, Fr. Mathai OIC was elected as the Superior of Bethany Asram. During his reign, he conferred the sacramental dress of RAMBAN to two senior professed fathers Fr. Thoman OIC and Fr. Joseph OIC.
In May, 2010, Rev. Thomas Ramban OIC was elected unanimously as the Superior of Bethany Asram. He is one of the senior members of Bethany with experience from the Aboona and Abo.