First Religious Profession of Novices of MCBS Emmaus at MCBS Novitiate House, Kanjirappally on 6th June 2021First Religious Profession | MCBS Emmaus | 2020-21
LITTLE FLOWER CONGREGATION (CST FATHERS)
The Little Flower Congregation (CST Fathers) is a Congregation of religious priests that traces its beginning on 19th March, 1931 in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam, Kerala. It was started as a society of Brothers under the name Little Flower Brotherhood by Very Rev. Fr. Thomas Panat later known as Father Basilius. It was re-organized into a religious institute (thereafter called Little Flower Congregation) with an approved constitution. The Canonical approval was given by the Archbishop of Ernakulam, Mar Augustine Kandathil for starting and reorganisingonDecember 27, 1945
The congregation was bifurcated to form a Congregation of Priests (CST Fathers) and a Congregation of Brothers (CST Brothers). His Holiness Pope John Paul II raised this Congregation of the Priests to the status of a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right on December 21, 1995. Little Flower who was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in Rome on October 19, 1997 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, is the Patroness of this Congregation.
The Little Flower Congregation, under the Patronage of St.Therese of Lisieux, has its origin on 19th March 1931 at Mookannur, a village 7 kilometers north east of Angamaly, Kerala, India. Father Thomas Panat started the Congregation out of his God-experience in Christ enhanced by his very personal devotion to St.Therese of Child Jesus. Simplicity and child-like surrender of the Little Flower to the will of God the Father had struck deep roots in his heart when he translated the four chapters of her autobiography entitled Navamalika. Fr. Basilius in his memoirs says: “With that (translation) I became enamoured of the life and the spirit of the Little Flower that erupted within and overflowed from the interior of my heart”. He intensely desired to share this experience with a few dedicated young men whom he eventually formed as the Little Flower Brotherhood (Cherupushpa Sahodara Sangham).
On December 27, 1945 Archbishop Mar Agustine Kandathil accepted the formal petition of Fr. Thomas Panat seeking permission to admit candidates for priesthood into the ‘Cherupushpa Sahodara Sangham’ which then became a clerical religious institute known as Little Flower Congregation
A Brief History of Vincentian Congregation
Mar Louis Pazheparambil, Vicar Apostolic of Ernakulam, during his visit to Europe in 1895, happened to stay at the Mother House of the Congregation of the Mission in Paris. He was deeply moved and impressed by the life and activities of this Religious community founded by St. Vincent de Paul, so much so that he desired to start a similar Congregation in his own diocese. With this in mind, he took along with him the Rules of the Congregations of the Mission.
Being aware of this desire of the Vicar Apostolic, Fr. Varkey Kattarath, the then Parish Priest of Vaikom, burning with the zeal to serve the Lord more intimately, approached the Bishop who was more than happy and offered him his whole-hearted support. Along with his paternal blessings the Bishop gave him the copy of the Common Rules (Regulae Communis) drafted by St. Vincent de Paul for the Congregation of the Mission.
Fr. Varkey Kattarath, who was so much loved and venerated by the people of Vaikom parish, had no difficulty in finding a place for realizing his long-cherished ideal. Some land was purchased for this purpose at Thottakom within the parish boundary of Vaikom and a new chapel along a small residence for priests was constructed there. Bishop Mar Louis blessed the same on the 20th of November 1904. This event marks the foundation of the Vincentian Congregation.
Shortly afterwards being relieved from the parish responsibilities at Vaikom, Fr. Varkey began to stay at this new facility at Thottakom. At this stage three more priests joined him with similar intentions. They lived together for some years there but later we see that those three early associates of Fr. Varkey leave Thottakom one after another for various reasons. Advanced in age and not seeing any possibility of continuing there meaningfully Fr. Varkey too had to bid farewell to Vaikom, a place he loved serving for many years.
God’s providence works in ways that are inscrutable. In 1927 three young priests of Ernakulam diocese, Fathers George Mannara, Antony Powathil and George Vattamkandathil approached Bishop Mar Augustine Kandathil, the successor of Bishop Mar Louis and expressed their desire to strive for greater perfection by leading a consecrated life. He directed them to go to Thottakom and revive the community founded by Fr. Varkey in 1904. Accordingly these three priests entrusting them to the Divine providence moved to Thottakom on 19th July 1927 and began to lead a community life at Thottakom on 19th July 1927. They also were given the same copy of the rules of the Congregation of the Mission. Later, Fr. Varkey Kattarath, in his old age, joined the new community, took vows, and became its first member.
From this stage, the Congregation began to grow steadily and the members of the Congregation began working for the people of Kerala for their spiritual as well as material advancement by undertaking programmes of spiritual renewal (preaching retreat) and development works. Today the members of this congregation are working in different parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, W. Bengal and Union Territory of Delhi. The Congregation is mainly involved in Pastoral, educational and social work programmes. The main and specific thrust of its programmes is to work among the poor. Many of our programmes are rural based. Besides preaching the Word of God through Popular Mission Retreats, retreat centres and electronic and print media, we are conducting educational institutions, technical training centres, orphanages, village development programmes etc. The rules and regulations of the Congregation give special emphasis on the obligation of the members towards the poor. Since a few years Vincentian Fathers have been working also in East Africa, U.S.A, Canada, West Indies, England, Germany and Italy.
A Short History of CMI Congregation
The Congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) is the first indigenous religious congregation in the Catholic Church of India. Fr. Thomas Palackal, Fr. Thomas Porukara and Fr. Kuriakose Chavara of the Syro-Malabar Church of apostolic origin, who felt that “a lot of good had not been done due to the absence of a Thapasu Bhavanam (House of Discipline) and a Darsana Veedu (House of Vision)”, had the challenging vision of providing spiritual leadership and fostering unity and growth in the Kerala Church. With the permission of Bishop Maurelius Stabilini, the then Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly, they founded a religious house at Mannanam on 11 May 1831. Jacob Kanianthara who later became the first professed brother in the Congregation, cooperated with the founding fathers from the beginning. The name of the Congregation was ‘Servants of Mary Immaculate’.
Soon, some more priests and clerics joined the founding fathers and thus a small religious community took shape. On 8 December 1855, the religious Congregation was canonically approved and the first eleven fathers made their religious profession. Blessed Chavara, the only surviving founder, was appointed the first superior of the Congregation. Since, during the early period of the religious Congregation, the Vicars Apostolic of Verapoly were Carmelites, the congregation had come under the Carmelite influence; hence, the rules of the Carmelites with some modifications were given to them in 1855. In 1860, the community was affiliated to the Order of Carmelites Discalced with the name, ‘Third Order of the Carmelites Discalced’ (TOCD). The Constitutions were approved ad experimentum by the Apostolic See in 1885. In 1958, the name was changed to ‘Carmelites of Mary Immaculate’ (CMI). The Congregation was granted pontifical exemption in 1967.
From the very beginning, the religious life in the congregation was rooted in the Indian, Oriental and Carmelite spiritual traditions. Being contemplatives in action, the members engaged in such activities as the Church in Kerala was in need of at particular times. They preached retreats, conducted seminaries for the training of the local clergy, met the challenge of educating the youth and disseminating Christian literature, laboured for the propogation of the faith and for the reunion of separated brethren, undertook works of mercy and started charitable institutions.
The apostolate of the CMI Congregation gathered new dimension and momentum as mission areas were entrusted to it beyond the boundaries of Kerala. In 1962, Chanda became the first mission ordinariate of the Syro-Malabar Church and was entrusted to the Congregation. Since then, more mission dioceses and regions were erected in Central and North India. There are now four dioceses in North India and one in South India entrusted to the Congregation, viz., Chanda, Jagdalpur, Bijnor, Rajkot and Adilabad. These five dioceses are headed by CMI Bishops. This is indeed a milestone in the progress of the CMI missions and an abiding evidence of the recognition by the Apostolic See. Besides, many members are engaged in various kinds of apostolate in other parts of India and also in other countries.
The Prior General, assisted by four Councillors, is at the head of the administration; the Prior General’s House at Chavara Hills in Kochi is the headquarters of the Congregation. For the sake of administration, the Congregation is divided into 14 provinces, one region and 5 sub-regions. At present the Congregation has about 3000 members including 5 bishops, 1539 priests, 2 permanent deacons, 34 brothers and 1300 brothers in formation. More than half of the priests are working outside Kerala, of whom about 300 are doing pastoral services in 23 countries around the world.