The Founder of the CMI Congregation: St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara
Chavarayachan as he is popularly known, was born at Kainakary in Kerala. He was a great visionary and a saintly priest who ventured into many humanitarian activities in his lifetime. He is the forerunner in the field of education in kerala and he is also the founder of CMI congregation, the first indigenous religious congregation in India.
He was a great social reformer who started a Sanskrit school for the low caste people and set up an old age home, an orphanage and many other social oriented projects among the Christians.
Foreseeing the role of communication media, he established a printing press at Mannanam. He was a great orator and administrator. He was appointed by Rome as the Vicar General of the Syro-Malabar Church, at a time when it had no Bishop of its own.
His commitment in protecting Catholic faith is well known. Above all, he was a great sage who lived a life of prayer and commitment to the society.
It is from his life of adventure, we draw the inspiration to carry on the task of imparting wisdom to the generations to come.
Brief life sketch of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara
- Chavara was born in Kainakary, Kerala on 10-2-1805
- Chavara was baptized at chenamkary parish church on 18-2-1805
- Chavara was dedicated to the of Blessed Virgin Mary as her servant at Vechoor Church on 8-9-1805
- Chavara started his primary education at Kainakary in 1810
- Chavara joined the Parish seminary at Pallipuram in 1818
- Chavara was ordained priest at Arthunkal church on 29-11-1829
- With Fathers Thomas Palackal and Thomas Porukara, Chavara founded the first Indian Religious Congregation for Men (CMI), 11-5-1831
- Chavara popularized the Sunday Homilies and introduced Retreats for priests and Laity in the Kerala Church since-1831
- Chavara established the first Syro-Malabar common seminary at Mananam in 1833.
- The devotional practice of the ‘Way of the Cross’ was started at Mannanam from 1838.
- Chavara was appointed as malpan (tutor of sacred subjects) ands examiner of candidates for priesthood and was authorised to give patents to the newly ordained to hear confessions and to preach in the Churches 16-2-1844.
- Chavarafounded the first press and publishing house of Syro-Malabar Church at Mananam 3-7-1846.
- Chavara founded the first Catholic Sanskrit school in Kerala at Mananam 1846.
- Chavara started the first Syro-Malabar Catechumenate for faith formation at Mananam 1853.
- Chavara started the first professed religions priest in the Indian Church 8-2-1855.
- Chavara wrote 10Eclogues (Shepherd’s Plays) and introduced them in the CMI novitiate Koonamavu 1857-1858.
- Chavara was the first appointed vicar general in the Syro-Malabar Church after the time of Archdeacons, 8-6-1861.
- Chavara took the leadership in protecting the Syro-Malabar Church from the schismatic intruder bishop Roccos 1861
- Chavara is the author of the First Malayalam Narrative poem – AnasthasyaudeRakthasakshyam, an inspirational Martyr’s story, 1862
- Chavara edited the divine office for priests, compiled and composed Liturgical Rubrics, Liturgical Calender, set the office of the dead etc for the Malabar Church 1862-1869.
- Chavara popularized the new ‘May Month devotion of Blessed virgin Mary’ from Mananam, 1864.
- Chavara as Vicar General implemented the idea ‘A school for A church’ in the Karala Church,1864.
- In collaboration with Fr.leopaold OCD, an Italian Missionary, Chavara founded the Indian Religious Congregation for women Now known as CMC at Koonamavu in Keral,13-2-1868
- Chavara started the 40 hours Eucharistic Adoration in the Kerala at Koonammavu, 15-2-1866
- Chavara and Fr.Leopold OCD started the first boarding house and school for girls in Kerala at Koonammavu, 2-1-1868.
- Chavara prepared the first instruction manual ‘A Testament of a Good Father’ for the Christian Families, first of its kind in the church,13-2-1868
- Chavara founded the first lay charitable organization, the ‘Confraternity of St.Joseph for a Happy Death’ at Kainakary, 1869.
- Chavara founded the first Home of Charity-Upavisala for the sick, old and Destitute at Kainakary,1869.
- Chavara initiated the Catholic re-union movement of the 19th Century,1869.
- Chavara died at St. Philomina’s Monastery at Koonammavu on 3-1-1871
- Sanction from Rome to start Chavara’s canonization process, 9-12-1955.
- Chavara was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul 11 in Rome, 7-4-1984
- Chavara’s beatification at Kottayam, Kerala by Pope John Paul 11, 8-2-1986
- Government of India released the postal stamp considering Chavara as social reformer, 20-12-1987
- Government of Kerala fixed a large painting of Chavara in the Literary Academy Hall of Thrissur to honour him for his special Contribution to Malayalam literature, 4-5-2006
- Kuriakose Elias Chavara was declared a Saint of the Catholic Church, 32-11-2014
St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara to Children
- Children, you are the treasure in the hands of your parents.
- The children who love and fear God will love and respect their parents.
- Rely on your mother; God will listen to mother’s petition as yours.
- As food is for the body; knowledge and sanctity for the soul.
- Go to school regularly and review the learning material and renew your memory every week.
- Idleness breeds all vices.
- Let those who love God be your Friends.
- Tell me who your friends are and I shall tell you who you are.
- Keeping bad books with you is like hiding fire in straw
- Regular reading of good books and mediating on them will illumine your intellect.
- Become punctual by proper management.
- You angels, will be turned into devils, if you are caught up in bad circumstances.
- You must reach home before twilight and participate in evening prayers.
- You must have proper attire and purity of soul befitting your age.
- Excessive decorative dress may lead you to evil.
- Engage in the works suited to your age and education.
- Let your ability be manifest in your discipline of file, in piety and control of your senses.
- You should love truth and justice.
- Whatever you earn through deceit and theft will soon melt away like snow.
- You should desire to be loved by others, not to be feared by them.
- Let there be no day in your life in which you did no good to others.
- Let not the insult of quarrels with others be a cause of aggravating stubbornness, hatred and enmity in you.
- Do not insult or inflict the poor.
- Even when you become capable to do things and reach maturity, you should give prop recognition and obedience to your parents.
- Never hate your own brothers and sisters.
- It is the duty of children to look after their parents in their old age.
- Do not let your parents shed tears on account of you.
- If you offend them, you will have to suffer punishment in this world itself.
- It is God who decides your vocation and you respond to it by choosing the decision of God.
- When you choose your life-partner, take care that he/she has good character and good manners.
- The greatest among you is the one who is the humblest.
- When you go through sufferings and sickness, surrender yourself totally to the will of God.
- Since you belong to God. You ought to be given back to Him