Foundation of CMI Congregation

Frs. Thomas Palackal, Thomas Porukara and Kuriakose Chavara having the same motivation of starting a religious community life, had several occasions to meet together at the vicariate of Verapoly or at the seminary of Pallipuram to discuss the idea of a religious institute. By the words of saint Chavara, from the first page of his chronicle, we may allude to the request fathers Palackal and Porukara placed before the bishop Maurelius Stabilini “Seeing that a lot of good has not been done due to the absence of a Thapasu Bhavanam (house of discipline) in Kerala even for priests, we desire to start a ‘Darsana Veed (house of vision) at least for priests”.

The Vicar Apostolic, finally on 1st November 1829, granted permission to establish a religious house. On May 11, 1831, the foundation stone for the proposed religious house was laid at Mannanam dedicating it to St.Joseph. This was the first indigenous religious institute for men in the Indian Church of modern times, known now as Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI). Jacob Kanianthara, who later became the first professed brother in the congregation also co-operated with those three founding fathers from the beginning. In 1841, Malpan Thomas Palackal, and in 1846 Malpan Thomas Poroukara died, leaving the whole burdens of organizing the religious community to Fr. Kuriakose Chavara. On 8th December 1855, Fr.Chavara with his eleven companions made their religious vows assuming Fr.Chavara as superior (prior) of the religious community.

Starting seven religious houses, besides the first one at Mannanam, in different parts of Kerala, the new congregation made great strides in the spiritual renovation in the Kerala Church. Seminaries for the education and formation of clergy, introduction of annual retreats for priests and laity, publishing house for the propagation of Catholic doctrine and social information, house for the destitutes and dying, special attention to start catechumenates, reunion movement, schools for the general education etc were among the few of various activities under Fr. Kuriakose Elisa’s leadership. Thus he focused the ministry of the congregation to educate the uneducated, to help them who desire to enter the catholic fold, to work for the reunion of separated brothern, to safeguard the well being of the countries and the world at large, aiming at the renewal of the church and society and willing to do all that are seen good for others .

A religious congregation for women

A religious congregation for women in Kerala was a long cherished great desire of Fr. Chavara. After several attempts, one at Alangad in 1857 and another at Puthanpally in 1859, with the co-operation of Fr. Leopold Beccaro, an Italian Missionary, he suceeded to found, the first indigenous convent of the sisters at Koonamavu on 13 February 1866 under the name “Third Order of the Carmelites Discalced”. The motive of starting such an institute of religious life was for the education and empowerment of women folk and to take care of their spiritual and material needs.The congregation which began with four candidates was divided in 1890 into two congregations as Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC) and Congregation of Theresian Carmelite (CTC.)