His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, was born on 15 June 1959 as the son of the late Mathew and Annamma at Mallappally He was given the name Isaac. After his primary education he joined the Infant Jesus Minor Seminary of the Eparchy of Tiruvalla in June, 1976. Bro. Isaac completed his Pre-degree studies in St. Berchman’s College, Changanacherry. Then he was sent to St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Aluva for the philosophical studies.
After completing his philosophical studies and a year of regency, he was sent to the Papal Seminary, Pune for his theological studies. On 11 June 1986, His Excellency the Most Rev. Dr. Cyril Mar Baselios ordained him a priest for the Eparchy of Bathery.Fr. Isaac Thottunkal was then sent to Dharmaram College, Bangalore to do Masters in Theology. Fr. Isaac Thottunkal returned to Sultan Bathery and served as the Rector of the St. Thomas Minor Seminary and the Parish Priest of the St. Thomas Cathedral in Sultan Bathery. Then he was sent to Rome to do Doctorate in Theology. In 1997, he completed his Doctorate in Ecumenical Theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome.
Msgr. Isaac Thottunkal was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Trivandrum and Apostolic Visitator to North America and Europe on 18 June 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He was ordained a Bishop on 15 August 2001 at Thirumoolapuram, Tiruvalla by His Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Cyril Mar Baselios. On 11 September 2003 His Excellency Isaac Mar Cleemis was appointed Bishop of the Eparchy of Tiruvalla and he was installed in office on 2 October 2003 at St. Johns’ Cathedral, Tiruvalla. In February 2006, he was elected the Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. On 10 June 2006 he was installed as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Tiruvalla at St. John’s Cathedral, Tiruvalla.
The Holy Episcopal Synod of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, convoked on 8 February 2007 elected the Most Rev. Isaac Mar Cleemis as the new Major Archbishop – Catholicos. He was enthroned Major Archbishop-Catholicos of the Malankara Catholic Church and the Major Archbishop of Trivandrum on 5 March 2007 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Trivandrum. He celebrates his heavenly Patron’s Day on 1 January.