Shawn Poothicote Thomas was born on September 24, 1989 to Sherry & Sujamol Poothicote. He is from the Poothicote family in Mepral, Thiruvalla, Kerala. Achen was born in Kerala, but emigrated to Chicago, IL at a young age. Shawn Achen is the oldest of three boys. At the age of 9, Achen was given the blessing to serve in the Holy Altar by H.G. Zachariah Mor Nicholovos.
After finishing high school, Achen completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology. After graduation, he spent two years working in a research lab, studying the effects of plaque in the brain on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In 2013, Achen joined St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, NY. In 2016, he graduated from St. Vladimir’s Seminary with a Master of Divinity, receiving cum laude honors. As part of his honors work, Achen wrote a thesis on the effect of monasticism on the dialogue between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Shawn Achen continued to complete another degree, a Master of Theology, from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 2017. He wrote his ThM thesis on St. Basil the Great and his vision for communion and union in the Holy Church, using the Meletian Schism as context.
During Shawn Achen’s Master of Theology studies, he was ordained to the order of sub-deacon (Afudyaqno) on September 17, 2016 by H.G. Zachariah Mor Nicholovos and in the presence of H.G. Dr. Abraham Mor Seraphim. After his ordination to sub-deacon and his Master of Theology work, Achen went to Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam, Kerala in November 2017 to complete his liturgical studies under the tutelage of H.G. Dr. Zacharias Mor Aprem, Rev. Fr. Dr. O. Thomas of blessed memory, Rev. Fr. Dr. Johns Abraham Konat, Rev. Fr. Dr. M.P. George, Rev. Fr. Dr. Baby Varghese, and Rev. Fr. Abraham Thomas (now H.G. Abraham Mor Stephanos).
After completing his liturgical studies, Achen married Lijin Hannah Raju, daughter of V. Rev. Raju Daniel Cor-Episcopos & Saramma Raju, on June 10, 2018. Lijin Kochamma is from the Vaduthala Melethil family, Mathoor, Pathanamthitta, Kerala. She was born in Kerala and emigrated to Dallas, TX when she was 8 years old. Lijin Kochamma is also a graduate from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, having received her Master of Arts in Theology in 2015. She later completed her Master of Social Work degree in 2017 from the University of Texas Arlington and currently works as the director of several homeless shelters.
On November 27, 2018, Achen was ordained to full deacon (M’Shamshono). Then on April 27, 2019, Achen was ordained to the Holy Priesthood (Kaseeso) with the name ‘Thomas’ by the hands of H.G. Zachariah Mor Nicholovos and in the presence of H.G. Dr. Zacharias Mor Aprem at his home parish, St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Elmhurst, IL. After his ordination, Achen was assigned to serve as the assistant vicar of St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Yonkers, NY alongside V. Rev. Cherian Neelankal Cor-Episcopos. On January 1, 2023, Shawn Achen began serving St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Detroit, MI as its assistant vicar, under the leadership of Rev. Fr. Philip Jacob.
Shawn Achen is an avid reader and loves to learn anything about everything. He is currently completing his third master’s degree in Public Health. In Achen’s free time, he loves playing basketball and following his Chicago sports teams, especially the Bulls and Bears, and walking his dog, Loki. Achen has a special interest in Scripture, Church History and Canon Law.