Monday, March 23, 2015

Educational Contributions of CMC in India and Abroad

Educational Contributions of CMC in India and Abroad


Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara a great visionary of nineteenth century Kerala church recognized the importance of woman education and its impact in families and society of Kerala which was downtrodden due to the absence of a well-organized system, caste restrictions and communal barriers in the field of education. Though modern women empowerment programs were unknown to him, he was aware that the stability and sanctity of families depends mostly on well-groomed women in society.[1] He was also conscious of the social taboos which had tied up nineteenth century women. At an awful condition of women in Kerala, as a prudent and effective CEO, Chavara with the help of Fr. Leopold Beccarro OCD - then Carmelite missionary delegate of Kerala- in view of empowering women in the Church and the society, founded the first congregation for women in Syro Malabar Church on 13th February 1866[2], which was then termed as ‘Women TOCD’ and later bifurcated into CMC and CTC on the basis of rites.[3]Through this article we try to look at the contributions of CMC in India and abroad for the cause of education.

Initial Stages of CMC in the Field of Education

As per the vision of the founders Blessed Kuriakose Elias and Fr. Leopold, education is the first apostolic field in which CMC has concentrated. The education apostolate of CMC was inaugurated in2nd January1868[4]by starting anEducandath(boarding school) for girls to stay and study Christian virtues, handicrafts and three Rs, viz. reading, writing and arithmetic.[5]CMC started a school outside the convent campus and began its formal education ministry by 1872 October 16th.[6] Then onwards sisters have been actively engaged in educational apostolate;and thus participate in the mission of the church and contribute in nation building. The initial curriculum of the schoolmust be the expanded from of what they had started in boarding school (Educandath), which was comprised of cooking, music, languages, arithmetic, religion, stitching and handicrafts.[7]At the beginning stage theeducational efforts of sisters of CMC were of three kinds:
1.        Teach in Educandath- Boarding houses- It was meant for Christian girls where Christian virtues were taught along with basic education (3Rs) and handicrafts.
2.        Run and teach in formal schools [though planned to start in 1668, really started in 1872.][8]
3.        Run orphanages for financially backward people to stay and to do their studies in the regular school.
The educational work started at Koonammavu produced good result. Citing Nasrani-Deepika vol. 44/51 Father Valerian presents the words of appreciation the Jacobite scholar O.M. Cherian regarding the service of CMC sisters. According to him, the famous convent at Koonammavu which was founded by father Kuriackose Elias Chavara was spreading numerous blessings in the society.[9]
The great enthusiasm shown by the bishops, priests, and the parishioners in establishing convents, boardings and educational institutions attached to them supported the growth of CMC very much in the initial stages. Gradually convents and schools sprung up in the vicinity of the towns and the villages of Kerala. Sisters rendered their dedicated service even in places where transport facilities or the blessings of electricity had not reached. Sisters had to face very many difficulties in the initial stages to satisfy the government conditions to get grant, especially number of the students remained unfulfilled for many years. But struggles did not reduce their enthusiasm work for the growth of people.[10]More thrust was given in moral and spiritual formation of students and in imparting Christian values through life examples before studentsrather than words.
From the very beginning CMC focused on education of women and female children. According to the statistics of the gold jubilee year of CMC (1916), by 1913 CMC had established 13 schools. Among them St. Joseph School, Koonammavu (1872), St. Joseph School,Mutholi(1888), St. Joseph’s, Changanacherry(1894),St. Joseph’s,Arakuzha(1895),St. Joseph’s Karukutty (1899) St. Mary’s Ollur (1900), and St. Ann’s Edathiruthy, (1906) were girls schools. St Joseph’s school- Viakam and Immaculate LPS Pulimkunnu (1898) [started as girls schools, but later converted to co-ed],St. Theresa’s School, Manaloor (1905), St. Joseph’s LPS, Venthala (1909) and St. Joseph’s Chengal (1911) wereco-education schools. St. Aloysius, Paravoor (1910) washand over to Parish Church in 1914.[11] The contributions of these schools and later schools raised CMC as a major contributor in the educationalscenario of Kerala. At present CMC has 627 schools in the following groups.57 -Hr. sec. schools, 114- High schools, 110- UP schools, 106 Lower primary schools, 266 - pre-primary schools in India.[12]This list includes aided and unaided - English medium and vernacular state schools, CBSC, ICSE as well as ISC schools. CMC schools are often appreciated for peaceful and serene atmosphere, moral and spiritual orientation, systematic administration, good infrastructure, committed staff and excellent result.

Teachers Training Institutes

Henry Brooks Adams says, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Fr. Leopold, the co-founder reminded sisters to set exemplary life before students.[13] Understanding the importance of training and formation of teachers CMC began a new venture in education through teachers training institutes. St. Joseph Training School, Mutholi (1934) is the first teachers’ training institute of CMC. There after Christ the King TTI Pavaratty (1940), St. Joseph’s Training College Ernakulam (1946), and St. Joseph’s TTI Karukutty (1952) are founded. At present CMC has seventraining schools and two training colleges.[14] Many famous teachers those who extended their valuable service in forming the present generation in Kerala and outside are from these institutes.

CMC Contribution in Higher Education

Catholic colleges and universities should play a privileged role to provide intellectual leadership to the society and humanity by transforming the world through the optimism and hope, by forming people with a sense of justice and truth.[15]According to Kothari Commission report education of women is more relevant than that of men with regard to wholesome development of human resources, progress of family wellbeing and character formation of children. (Kothari, 1966) Having perceived the relevance of providing higher education to young women CMC took a major step in education by establishing St. Mary’s college Thrissur (1946), the first women higher education institute of India.[16]In the beginning it was affiliated to Madras University, but in 1968 it got affiliated to Calicut University. Apart from St. Mary’s CMC has three more colleges viz. Vimala College - Thrissur, Mercy College Palakkadu, and Carmel College - Mala. There are5703 women are attaining higher education from these institutes.[17] CMC is trying to reach higher education to more women of rural areas (3435) through eleven parallel colleges.[18]

Vocational and Technical Education

The aim of vocational and technical education is to develop the skills through diversified courses to meet the requirements of, mainly the unorganized sector and to instill self- employment skills in people through self-employment oriented courses. Imbibing the mind of the founders CMC had initiated vocational trainingthrough St. Joseph's Technical Institute established in Koonammavu in 1868 itself. It aimed at enhancing the status of women and to enable them to seek self- employment and thereby to attain economic independence. The girls were given training in making rosaries, scapular, embroidery works, church materials, and decoration pieces which became a source of income for them. Since 1922 this was raised to the level of a standard institution supported by the government. In 1922 another technical institute of the same kind was started in Karukutty. Apart from these two institutions recognized by the government, other such institutions were opened attached to all the convents and orphanages and thus provided a source of income for the women of the surroundings.[19]At present CMC has 20 technical schools. It provides various kinds of technical training including skills in computer technology.[20]

Non-formal Education

Apart from formal education CMC is involved in non-formal education too. Understanding the condition and life situations of people whom we serve in the missions, with a purpose of providing education for all and to have a greater equity and justice in the society CMC extends her service through evening classes, pre-primary education programs, free-tuition for students of government schools, classes for aged, moral and health classes for women and children etc.[21]; some places we have open schooling systems too. Many students who crossed their school going age and are working in different fields for their livelihood could appear for board examinations and, thus could improve their life situation and financial status through open-schooling. At present there are seven open schools for CMC.[22]

Education Apostolate of CMC Outside India

Educational initiatives of missionaries laid a foundation for growth and development in India. Blessed Chavara’s vision and contributions enhanced it in Kerala. CMC following the example of the founders expanded its mission to different countries abroad since1965-70. Mostly our service is extended in medical field; but in African countries and in two American states (Louisiana and Indiana) where we elongate our educational apostolate since 1977. In USA sisters teach catechism and Christian values apart from regular subjects.[23] In African countries sisters teach in diocesan seminaries and schools, but their concentrated effort is for imparting moral and spiritual education. There are three primary schools and a secondary school for CMC in the region which are the best schools of the region; apart from them we have one special school in South Africa for mentally retarded children and three vocational training centers in Tanzania and Malavi.[24]


As per the statistics of 2012, 1988 sisters are serving in the educational apostolate in CMC institutions alone, to educate 2,03,892 students.[25] Apart from this list CMC sisters are rendering their service in the diocesan schools tooalmost equal in number.In recent years CMC schools are concentrating on Total Quality Management under the guidance of general education councilor and secretariat. ‘CMC Education Ratio’ (2009) gives common guide lines to all CMC institutions to be faithful to the founders’ vision and to the guidelines of the church. Imbibing the vision of founders and strengthened by the divine love in contemplation CMC continue to offer dedicated service and quality education to foster the individuals intellectually, spiritually and physically, so that they may have a mature vision of life.

CMC educational Institutions in India and Abroad at a Glance
Type of Institutions
No of Institutions
Arts/Science College

Parallel Colleges

Training institutes

Nursing College /schools

Hr. Sec. Schools

High Schools
Upper Primary Schools
Lower Primary Schools

Technical Institutes

Open Schools

Source - Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, 2012, 77 &  129


[1]Kadankavil, T.,The christian family, a prototype of Heaven on earth, in the vision of Chavara inThe Lord of Heaven and earth ,2004, Bangalore: Dharmaram Publications, 210-230.
[2]Chronicles of KoonammavuConventVol. I, 9-13; Chronicles of MannanamMonasteryVol. II, 75-77. These will be referred further as CKC and CMM with volume number.
[3]Women TOCD was the first indigenous women congregation in the Syro Malabar Church. On 20th May 1887 Pope Leo XIII, through the Decree Quod Jam Pridem separated the Syrians from the Latin jurisdiction, (Bernard Thomma, 1916, 861). And thereafter TOCD got bifurcated into Syrian and Latin wings and now named as Congregation of Mother of Carmel- CMC and Congregation of Teresian Carmelites - CTC respectively.
[4]CKC I, 80-81.
[5]Jossy, CMCIn the Shadow of the Most High, Aluva: Mount Carmel generalate, 1997, 68.
[6]CKC II, 60.
[7]Jossy, CMCIn the Shadow of the Most High, 68.
[8] CKC II, 60.
[9]Valerian,MalankaraSabhamathavinteoruveerasanthanam, Mannanam: St. Joseph’s press,1938,
[10]Jossy, CMC In the Shadow of the Most High, 71
[11]Cf. Avila, Dhanya, &Mareena,ArivinteVazhiyeTapassamanassu: Collection of Analytical Studies on the Eeducational Vision of ChavaraKuriakose Elias, 2012, 84-95.
[12]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, Aluva: Mt. Carmel Generalate,2012, 77.
[13]CKC II, 59-60.
[14]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, 77.
[15] Becker, P., “Advance praise” in Globalisation and its impact on higher education in India, Bangalore: Centre for publication, Christ College,2006, x.
[16]Avila, Dhanya, &Mareena,ArivinteVazhiyeTapassamanassu, 2012, 97
[17]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012.
[18]Avila, Dhanya, &Mareena,ArivinteVazhiyeTapassamanassu, 99.
[19]Jossy, CMC In the Shadow of the Most High, 152.
[20]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-2012.
[21]CMC Education Ratio, Aluva: Mt. Carmel Generalate, 2009,51.
[22]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, 77.
[23]CMC Holy Queen’s Province Through the Corridors of History- Malayalam, Sr. Cicy, CMC, Provincial Superior, 2003,319.
[24]Activity Report of CMC from 2009-‘2012, 129-130.
[25]Avila, Dhanya, &Mareena,ArivinteVazhiyeTapassamanassu, 100.

Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC)

Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC)
Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, the first indigenous religious Congregation for Women was founded as the Third Order of Carmelites Discalced(TOCD), on 13 February 1866 at Koonammavu (Kerala) by Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara the then Vicar General of Syrian Church of Kerala. St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara was the recognized leader of the people of God of his time. He was a missionary who integrated contemplation and action harmoniously in his life.
Rev. Fr Leopold Beccaro OCD is its Co-Founder. He was the provincial delegate of the time in Kerala. The Roman Pontiff is the supreme head of this Congregation. The Congregation is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Blessed Virgin Mary who responded to God’s call with unwavering faith, hope and love is the model for the members of this congregation.
CMC strives for the personal sanctity of her members and the redemptive uplift of the people of God, especially of women and children through various apostolic activities. The congregation has a lifestyle deepened in ‘Abba experience’ with the right blending of contemplative prayer and apostolic service. CMC which had a humble beginning at Koonammavu in a ‘panambu madham’ with 4 members is grown today into 20 provinces and 6 regions in 4 continents with 6,425 nuns. Rooted in the Indian culture, spiritual heritage and traditions of the St. Thomas Christians and of the Carmelites, it is nourished by the lived experience of the members of the Congregation. By remaining obedient to the lawful superiors of the Congregation, its members spend themselves generously in the service of God and mankind, sacrificing all their personal rights and gains and offering their labour and its fruits for the needs of the Congregation, for the integral growth and Christian formation of the people, especially of women and children through the apostolate of education, caring for the sick and the destitute, orphans and the poor.
St. Euphrasia, who scaled the great heights of holiness by radically living the CMC charism, is our exemplary model and witness to the fact that we can attain holiness by living our charism faithfully. This year the Congregation is gracefully enjoying the coincidence of the observation of the Year of the Consecrated Life and the Sesqui Centennial Jubilee Year of its foundation.



Right from the beginning till today the Church upholds her holiness in the world through the holy life of her children. ‘Golden jubilee bell’ has already rung for the Council of Second Vatican’s astonishing contribution: “In the Church all are called to holiness” (cf. LG, 42). The council fathers did not hesitate to add in the very next chapter of the Constitution Lumen Gentium that to preserve the holiness of the Church is the prime duty of religious men and women. They are placed at the forefront in the pilgrim journey of the Church aiming heavenly Jerusalem to show forth the way. Last more than two thousand years of her life, how many saints were born to this Mother, the Church both canonized and non canonized!   Into her list of canonized saints 6 more numbers are to be added on 23rd of November 2014. The Indian sub continent is very happy since two among them hail from her soil: Bl. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the founder of two Indigenous religious Congregations (CMI & CMC) and Bl. Euphrasia Elavuthingal, the member of CMC. Before analyzing the process of Euphrasia’s journey to sainthood, a glance on CMC is apt here.
Life Sketch of CMC
The Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC) owes her origin to the Triune God, Father, Son and the Spirit through the instrumentality of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the founder and first member of the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites for Men (TOCD) and Rev. Leopold Beccaro OCD an Italian Carmelite Missionary. Under the name Third Order of Discalced Carmelites for Women, they founded this Congregation at Koonammavu, in the then Vicariate of Verapoly on 13th February 1866. Servant of God Vakayil Eliswa, Vyppissery Thresia, Vakayil Anna and Puthenangady Eliswa were the first 4 members among whom first three were from the Latin Rite and the last hailed from the Syro Malabar Rite. The Charism of the Congregation is the personal sanctity and redemptive uplift of the people of God, especially women and children, through the right blending of contemplation and action.
Two separate Vicariates were formed for the Syrians in 1887. Followed by that in 1890, the convent at Koonammavu was entrusted to the Vicariate of Thrissure and the Latin sisters were transferred to Verapoly. Thus the first indigenous religious congregation (Women TOCD) was separated into two Congregations CMC and CTC as they are known today.
After the division, the growth of CMC was under the leadership of Apostolic Vicars of each diocese. They took the initiative for the spiritual and material growth of the sisters as well as the apostolic activities. Thus, the Congregation lived as separate entities in each eparchy. The unification of these separate units was taken place under the able leadership of Msgr. Hippolitus Kunnunkal. Then onwards the Congregation is known under the new name, CMC. In 1967 CMC was elevated to the pontifical status. She attained a tremendous growth in spiritual, material and mission fields, then onwards.
At present CMC is having 6300 sisters in 20 provinces and 6 regions. They serve the world through the Church in Continents of Asia, Africa, America and Europe. CMC has opened widely her eyes to read the signs of the time and to venture new ways and means not only in the fields of apostolate but also in the material and psycho -spiritual well being of her members.
Today CMC rejoices along with all people of good will as her founder Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and one of her members Euphrasia Elavuthingal are elevated to Sainthood for the greater glory of God. 
The saintly life of Sr. Euphrasia Eluvathingal
Sr. Euphrasia was born on 17 October 1877 in a small interior village called Katoor, which is in the Thrissur district, Kerala, India. She was baptized in the church of Edathiruthy on 25 October. Her God-fearing parents brought her up in deep Christian faith. She had her primary education in her village and at the age of ten she joined the boarding house at Koonammavu which was established by Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Fr. Leopold Beccaro OCD in 1868. From her childhood onwards, her life witnessed to many divine interventions. The heavenly Mother appeared to her at the age of nine and taught her how to pray with the nine choirs of angels. Once while she was in the boarding house at Koonammavu she was at the point of death and she received the apparition of the Holy Family and she received a miraculous healing. She made her religious profession in CMC on 24 May 1900 at the newly built convent, Ollur. The sisters who lived with her and many people who approached her have experienced the power of her intercessory prayers and she was known as ‘Praying mother’. A stream of love sprang from her heart toward the sick, especially those who are affected by contagious deceases such as cholera, T.B. etc. She had a special charisma to nurse the dying and prepare them for happy death. There are many testimonies of people who received her nursing care and prayerful support while they were sick. Among them some are still alive. She died on 28 August 1952 at the age of seventy seven and buried in the tomb of the Ollur convent.

Process to Sainthood of Elavuthingal Euphrasia  
The process of canonization was started on 27 September 1986 and Fr. Lucas Vithuvatikal, CMI was appointed as the postulator on 13 August 1987. He made the oath as postulator in the presence of Mar Joseph Kundukulam, the Bishop of Thrissur, on 29 August 1987  and Sr. Euphrasia Eluvathingal was declared as Servant of God on that day.
Sr. Perigrin was appointed as Vice-postulator on 9 September 1987. The next year the diocesan tribunal was established in the forane church of Ollur. It was on 30 January 1990 the tomb of Servant of God Sr. Euphrasia was opened and the mortal remains were transferred to the newly built tomb inside the chapel of Ollur convent.  During a liturgical celebration which was officiated by Mar Joseph Kundukulam at the Cathedral church the diocesan tribunal was officially closed on 19 June 1991. The Positio on her heroic virtues was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Rome on 20 April 1994. The miraculous healing of Mr. Thomas Tharakan who was suffering from bone cancer was ascribed to the intercessory power of the Servant of God Sr. Euphrasia. The Tribunal for the ‘apostolic miracle’ was established on 8 January 1999. She was declared Venerable on 5 July 2002 by Pope John Paul II.  It was Pope Benedict XVI who declared her as Blessed on 3 December 2006. St. Peter’s Square at Vatican is being prepared for the canonization of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Blessed Euphrasia Eluvathingal along with four other Blesseds from Italy which will take place on 23 November 2014.

Aspirations of Saint Euphrasia

Aspirations of Saint Euphrasia
1.       My good Jesus, do in me anything as you please.
2.       My Holy Redeemer, whenever you are rejected in human hearts,come and dwell in my heart.
3.       O! My loving Lord, when can I see that Holy Face more shining thanthe sun and those most beautiful eyes setting the heart ablaze withlove by a single glance!
4.       My Redeemer, give me also a share of your Passion.
5.       I praise and glorify the Mother of God, Immaculate Virgin Mary asthe Queen of the three worlds.
6.       Queen of Heaven, do not forsake me until I come and join you inheaven.
7.       Jesus, most worthy of love, most sweet Jesus, lonely Jesus, let myheart be a lamp burning brightly for you.
8.       Eternal Father, I offer you myself as a holocaust of love in orderthat your holy will and desire be perfectly fulfilled in all things.
9.       Holy Mother, give me a big heart, that I may love Jesus in every way.

Gems of Saint  Euphrasia’s Thoughts
1.       My only solace is to be with my Jesus.
2.       The day without suffering for our Lord seems as nothing.
3.       What fortune is there, more than suffering for the Lord!
4.       O! My Holy Redeemer, your will is enough for me.
5.       The only consolation to my heart is to gaze at the Crucified Lord andthe Holy Mother, pray and shed tears.
6.       The day without meditation is like nothing done.
7.       The strength to endure and suffer, I receive from Holy Communion.
8.       I am ready to endure any affliction or suffering for the sake of myloving Saviour.



Introduction                                                                     Sr Santhi Grace CMC
                            ‘Mother India is not a piece of earth, but she is a godhead.’ She always fascinated and challenged the religious minds and bears witness to the multifarious styles of religious life. She has been known as a very spiritual, religious heavy area of the world. In India religion is a way of life and it permeates every aspect of life. By widening the horizons of religious life she manifests the depth of her spirituality. Since the beginning of the time the Himalayan Mountains have attracted many spiritual seekers. Down through the centuries the rishis and the great sages were always in a hunger for self realization and the mantra ‘Asathoma sadgamaya…Thamasoma jyothirgamaya….Mrutyorma  amruthamgamaya …’ echoed all over the subcontinent. Even though there were many devoted women religious the general attitude of Indian religions were against women religious life.
Religious life in Kerala church
                            The Christian community of India hails its faith from St.Thomas the great apostle of our Lord. In the Ist century itself there was a community in Kerala firmly founded in Christian spirituality and they took pride in their St.Thomas heritage and ancient culture and customs. Due to the persian relation the East Syrian liturgy was preserved here in the Syrian language itself.
                                            The arrival of Portuguese missionaries and their interventions in the liturgical traditions and rituals of the St.Thomas Christians caused a lot of misunderstandings. The eastern christians could not tolerate the foreign bishop’s ignorance and refuting of their age- old ‘Marthoma Margam’. Enforcing the western customs and attitudes on the Syrian Christians paved the way for the friction in the church. To save these critical situations Pope Alexander VII appointed the Carmelite missionaries. Still the people of God was longing for an indigenous leadership to the
Kerala church to preserve their identity and uniqueness. In this chaos Bl.Chavara Kuriakose Elias arose as a scintillating star in the horizon of the Kerala church.
 Women’s place in the 19th century
                         “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”(Swami Vivekananda)  Kerala society till late 19th century was not based on the principals of social freedom and equality. Slavery along with untouchability and inapproachability were prevailing in its most primitive forms. Women were knuckling under the yolk of male dominancy. The saying of ‘Manusmruthi’ “Na stri swathantramarhathi” was perfectly realized in their lives. Deprived of any form of education and respected jobs some of the underprivileged women even resorted to prostitution to make a living. If a woman were to decide to remain single she would be ridiculed and pitied by the community. The catholic women too were far behind religiously, socially and economically. Even though the Christian family atmosphere was very much contusive for the sprouting and emerging of religious life till the second half of the ninetieth century it remained as a dream.
                          St.Chavara n

ates the situation “The secular clergy was blessed with priesthood along with celibate life .Pitiable was the condition of the womenfolk in Kerala. They were forced to lead a family life, even though many of them wanted to embrace a consecrated life of chastity and prayer.”1 The British administrators and also the Christian missionaries powerfully influenced the common people and they began to realize the racial and social discriminations.  Some socio-religious movements too affected the scenario. Kerala women being sidelined were craving for a change in social attitude towards them and to come to the main stream.  Thus the late nineteenth century witnessed a social awakening of Kerala.

                 1The Chronicles of the Koonamavu Convent, 21
St.Chavara - The golden star in the herald of the East
               Fr. Chavara was born on Feb.10th 1805 in Kainakari, Alapuzha which has been acclaimed as the ‘Venice of the East’ from pious parents Chavara Kuriakose and Mariam. It was Fr.Thomas Palackal who detected the extra ordinary talents and gifts in the boy Kuriakose at an early age and he joined the seminary while he was ten.
                   God’s ways are always wonderful and mysterious. “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose”(Rom.8/27).  He leads each person in order to accomplish His design to him. Fr.Chavara too had to tread on a stony path of sufferings and separation as his parents and only brother died due to an epidemic.

‘The will of God will not lead us where the grace of god  can’t sustain us.’  Crossing all the barriers he was ordained on 29 November 1829. In his first mass said together with the Bishop he made the intention for the realization of the monastery project already begun at Mannanam. Along with the pastoral services he dedicated himself fully for the first indigenous monastery with the holy and wise priests Fr.Palackal and Fr.Porukara. In 1831 the first indigenous men congregation of the Syro-Malabar Church came into existence and in 1855 Bl.Chavara was the first member to take vows in this religious order which was known as the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI).
                                Ever since St.Chavara’s mind was longing for establishing on Malabar soil a religious house for women, which would be a ‘citadel for virtues’.  As our sisters writes in the chronicles “He was not only a bright lamp and a model for all Christians of Kerala but also a strong pillar of the church, by his zeal in its faith and in its growth.”2          St.Chavara’s first two attempts
                 “Wisdom renews all things, in every generation.  She passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God and prophets” (Wisdom 7/27).Yes, god acts through the
                  2 The chronicles of Koonamavu convent, 210
very instrumentality of the holy and simple lives to challenge the humanity in order to renew it.  It was a long cherished dream of St.Chavara to start an ‘abode of virtues’ for the women for learning doctrines and traditions of the Catholic religion as well as to make them good Christians. Fr.Leopold the co-founder of CMC himself witnessed that the foundation of the convent was the topic of constant prayer and unceasing desire for Fr.Chavara.3
             In 1859 the first attempt was made. A place near Alangad kunnel Church was considered.  Since the place was far away from the monastery the project was given up. Subsequently Puthenpally was found to be an ideal place for the convent. The plot was leased to Bp.Bernardine Baccinelli, the Vicar apostolic of Verapoli for building a convent and the construction works begun. A compound wall of 13 feet height was being constructed all around. But God had another plan. Before the candidates could arrive and take possession, the unity of Catholicism in the Malabar coast was once again threatened due to Roccos Schism. As the Koonamavu chronicle says “on account of turmoil created, the construction of the convent too was stopped. By God’s grace, when then strife ceased seeing that many souls were being lost for want of good priests a decision was taken to change the convent into a seminary”4
                          Being a man of great faith Fr.Chavara resigned to God’s plans and patiently waited for His time with the aspiration “God’s will is done. It will always be done”.
Fr.Leopold Beccaro: The co-founder

Fr.Leopold Beccaro the zealous Italian Carmelite full of vigor and enthusiasm was born in 1837.He touched the shores of Arabian Sea as a sub deacon at an early age. He was ordained in  1860. Msr.Bernardaine Baccinelli appointed this zealous religious as  novice master of the Koonamavu monastery. He loved the St.Thomas Christians wholeheartedly and even learned Tamil and Malayalam. He was a good preacher, confessor and a
                   3CMC  in the shadow of the Most high,33
                   4The Chronicles of Koonamavu convent,21
spiritual director of many priests including Fr.Chavara. In 1863 this young missionary was appointed as the delegate provincial of third order of Carmelites. Contrary to the situations Fr.Leopold stayed at Koonamavu, instead of Verapoli and thus he got acquainted with the cultural heritage of and richness of St.Thomas Christians and he creatively involved in the struggle of St.Thomas Christians for autonomy. The meeting of these two spirit filled persons paved the way for the emergence of the first indigenous women congregation of the Syro-Malabar church.

The Dream comes true
            Fr.Chavara was appointed as the vicar general of the Syrians in eighteen sixty one and for the administerial convenience he moved to Koonamavu monastery where providentially Fr.Leopold was appointed as the novice master. It is in such a context that Fr.Leopold happened to know that the widow Vakayil Eliswa aged 34 and her daughter Anna aged 14, who had vowed to spend their life in consecrated chastity.The Koonamavu chronicle gives a vivid picture of this “at this time the widow Eliswa and her only daughter were members of this parish ………..they used to go for confession and direction to Fr.Leopold Moopachan.  They told him that they had decided to live a life of chastity till their death.”Fr.Leopold confided their desire to Fr.Chavara . He himself records in  both the chronicles of Koonamavu convent and Mannanam monastery about the extreme joy he felt when he heard Fr.Leopold speaking about the same matter for which he himself was longing since a long time.    Vyppisery Thresia the younger sister of Eliswa and Puthanangadi Clara too expressed their desire to join the convent.                  
                      After having a general idea about the convent Fr.Chavara along with Fr.Leopold approached Mgr.Bernardine Baccinelli, the Vicar Apostolic for his consent and informed him the entire enterprise. He agreed with them and ordered that the proposed religious community should assume the name ‘Third Order Carmelites’.

                     5The Chronicles of Koonamavu convent, 22

The Humble beginning of C.M.C
                               CMC was born on 13th February 1866 in Koonamavu, a small village in the present  arch eparchy of Ernakulam -Angamali as the first indigenous women congregation in the Syro-Malabar church under the divine patronage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel,  in the loving providence of God the Most High. It was founded as the third order of discalced Carmelites with the legal permission of Mgr.Bernadaine Baccinelli , the Vicar Apostolic of Verapoli.The founder Bl.Kuriakose  Elias Chavara  and the co-founder Fr.Leopold Beccaro O.C.D prepared a bamboo convent (Panambu madom) with the  conviction that God can make a big tree out of this small mustard seed.
                                      ‘The virgins who were anxiously awaiting to enclose themselves in the solitude of the convent’  were Eliswa Vakayil a widow, her daughter Anna Vakayil, Thressia Vyppisery the younger sister of Eliswa and Eliswa Puthanangadi (Clara) a widow. ‘They were given a small brown scapular’ and the ‘Te Deum’ was sung in Syrian by Fr.Chavara and in Latin by Fr.Leopold. The fathers with paternal care arranged and kept everything in each room. Eliswa was appointed as the superior and they were given instructions about the different aspects of the religious way of life. Their hearts overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and Bl.Chavara praised the Lord                                 The first panambu madom was an abode of poverty, since they had to meet the challenges of climate, poisonous snakes  etc. The fathers tried to build a strong convent for them. After that what happened was a miracle. The prophesy of the fathers that ‘God will make you a strongly built  convent before it is time to re-thatch and renew the leaves of the roof and the bamboo mats’ 8 became realized on 27th March 1967 when they transferred into a  newly flourished building with all the rooms fully furnished. 16th July 1968 was a great day in the annals of Kerala church. Two widows and two virgins consecrated themselves to Lord and received Him as their spouse. They dedicated themselves to prayer and meditation in the cloister and at the same time they would engage in the work of education of girls in Edukumdat (Boarding for girls).The realization of the dream was a milestone in the history of Syro-Malabar church.  The nurturing hands of Bl.Chavara and Fr.Leopold protected C.M.C in her infancy. But they were not fortunate enough to enjoy their service for a long time. Putting an end to his tiresome but fruitful life Bl.Chavara ‘the brave son of Kairali’
flew to his heavenly abode on January 3rd 1871. Fr.Leopold had to go back to Italy leaving his novices and beloved daughters  under suspicion that he was supporting the Syrians in their struggle for autonomy.
Bifurcation of T.O.C.D into C.M.C and C.T.C
             The decree ‘Quad iampridem’ promulgated by Pope Leo XIII marked a new era in the history of the congregation as it separated Syrian Christians from the Latin jurisdiction by establishing two vicariates for them namely Trichur and Kottayam. In Koonamavu convent there were sisters belonging to the three vicariates Verapoly, Trichur and Kottayam. As directed by the the Kottayam Vicar Apostolic Charles Lavinge 13 sisters of Kottayam vicariate moved from Koonamavu to Mutholi  and formed a new convent there. On 18th April 1890, as per the decree of the Holy See the jurisdiction of the convent at Koonamavu came under the vicariate of Trichur. Consequently   seven members belonging to the Latin rite ( 5 Professed sisters, one lay sister and a boarder ) shifted to Verapoli on 17th September 1890, and they became an independent community under latin jurisdiction. With deep sentiments of sorrow the sisters bid farewell to latin sisters. The successors of these latin sisters known today as Congregation of Theresian Carmelites (C.T.C). 
The growth of C.M.C under the Local Hierarchs
             On 28th July 1896 Pope Leo XIII  reorganized the existing vicariates of Trichur and Kottayam into three of Trichur, Ernakulam and Changanaserry by the decree “Quae reisacre”. The members of Trichur vicariate  were brought to Ambhazhakad by Trichur Vicar Apostolic on 9th may 1987. Bl.Euphrasia who was  an aspirant at that time was one among them.   The further bifurcations of the vicariates  paved the way for forming new units of the congregation Pala in 1952, Kothamangalam in 1956 and Tellichery   in 1961 with their own Mother generals. Even though they had the regula given by Fr.Leopold in 1875, the local bishops gave their own too. Thus the congregation flourished very fast under the patronage of local bishops while enjoying the spiritual support and care of the members of C.M.I congregation.

 Unification in 1963
                                 Imbibing the spirit of 2nd Vatican Council which was a clarion call for renewal Fr.Hippolitus Kunnumkal OFM Cap. was delegated by the Congregation for the Oriental churches to unify the carmelite  communities spread out through the Syro-Malabar dioceses of Kerala. 16th November 1963 was a great day in the annals of C.M.C as this homecoming was really a challenge for the pioneers. Mother Mary Celine became the first superior general. On 2nd March the congregation was raised to the Pontifical status under the name ‘Congregation of the Mother of Carmel’ (C.M.C) and the constitution of the unified C.M.C was provisionally approved.
Our Charism
                      Our founder father St.Chavara was a man of great faith and religious vision. He experienced God as his ‘Abba’ and spent hours in the presence of his omniscient and omnipresent Master. His prayer was always in line with his active life. His vision on religious life is envisaged in three phrases ‘lead a clean spiritual life, ensure the salvation of the souls and build a house of virtues.’ He reminded his daughters “to live in the love of Christ, always be in His presence, always walk close to Him, and always talk with him.”6 His deep mystical experience thrilled his heart and overflowed to the entire humanity as in the form of service.
                          Our co-founder Fr.Leopold Beccaro too was a zealous missionary and a lover of the church. He exhorts us “to love solitude and silence and there you will find the Lord and the peace of heart.”7 He was very interested to teach the sisters handicrafts saying that they would become saints by that work. Along with the visions of these two fathers the three spiritual sources such as the inspiration from the rich cultural heritage of ancient India, the spiritual heritage of St.Thomas Christians and the carmelite spirituality too are interwoven in  our charism.              
                6Complete works of Fr.Chavara vol . iv,82
                     7 Letters of Fr.Leopold,6


The charism of our Congregation is personal sanctity and redemptive uplift of the people of God, especially women and children, through the right blending of contemplation and action. Be holy and lead others to holiness is its essence. The charism obliges us not only to work for our own sanctity but also for the salvation and sanctification of souls, remaining united with the  Father  through contemplation and accomplishing apostolic services by following the example of Jesus who fulfilled the will of His Father by praying in the solitude of the mountains, preaching the kingdom of God and doing good to all.
The spiritual vision that permeated the whole life of our founder St. Kuriakose consists in acknowledging God as his loving Father, the fellow beings as his own brethren, the Church, as his mother and the whole world as his own family.                                                                   
                                     The contemplative and apostolic aspects of our charism are depicted in our motto: “Remain united to Me in contemplation and consecrated to Me in action.”8 Thus we share the god experience of our founders which consists of Abba experience, constant awareness of the indwelling presence , faith and absolute trust in providential care and total surrender to seek and do God’s will always in humility and joy. Mother Mary who was a contemplative mystic and an active evangelizer is our role model.
Our Apostolic Call
                     “Religious should carefully consider through them, Christ should be shown contemplating on the mountain, announcing God’s kingdom to the multitudes, healing the sick, turning sinners to wholesome fruit, blessing children, doing good to all, and always obeying the will of the father who sent Him” (L.G.46) As a collaboration with the Eternal Designer, we render our apostolic services not only in India but also in the continents of Africa, America and Europe. More than ten percentage of our sisters are involved in direct  evangelization  through Home mission, retreat preaching, counseling etc. A vast majority of our sisters are engaged in aposlates of education, care of the sick and social work.  

               From nineteen fifty eight onwards we are engaged in the wide spreading of good news beyond the boundaries. True to the spirit of St.Teresa of Avila, ‘the brave daughter of the church’ our missionary presence in North India is about fifty six years and in Africa thirty seven years. The new buds from the African soil and north
                  8 CMC constitutions,7
Indian missions highlight the missionary drive of C.M.C and its vitality. 


In addition to these traditional forms of apostolates we extend our service in view of more intense and effective experience of prayer, service of the church and identification with the poor in keeping our constitution and charism. A few of our sisters live in a semi cloistered house at Karukutty which is the ‘power cell’ for the entire congregation. “We collaborate with the hierachy, clergy and other religious, laity, civil authorities and all human beings of good will in making our contribution to the establishing of God’s kingdom.”9 Reading the signs of the time we move into new pastures such as City evangelization , Railway Platform rescue works, rehabilitation of the run-away children, short stay homes, asylum for the H.I.V patients and boarding schools for their children, de-addiction centres , prison ministry, women empowerment programmes and service among the migrant workers etc.
                                “Mother Mary is the example of that maternal affection which animate all of us who co-operate in the apostolate of the church for the regeneration of our fellow beings.” (L.G 65)  Like Mary we too ‘with haste’ are sensitive to the needs of others and involve in the affairs of the church and the world.

St.Euphrasia- The Rose of Carmel
                   St.Chavara had once lamented “In the land of Malayalam even though the true Christian religion was in practice from very early times, there  existed no monatries or convents.” 10  In his attempt to counteract the situation he founded the C.M.I and C.M.C. congregations. St.Euphrasia ‘the hidden rose of Carmel is the fulfillment of his dream.

     Mother Euphrasia was born on October 17th 1877 in the ancient catholic Eluvathingal family of Anthony and Kunjethy. At the age of nine she offered her virginity eternally to the Lord and received Christ as her beloved spouse. On October 24th 1988 she entered the boarding house in Koonamavu convent. Even though the

         9 CMC constitutions,45
         10 The chronicles of Koonamavu convent,21
authorities remarked that she did not have adequate physical health to continue by a miraculous vision the ‘Holy Family’ cured her. On 10th January 1898, she received the religious habit and two years later she did her final commitment to the Lord. The praying Mother always experienced the divine presence in her soul and was really a moving tabernacle.    She uttered these words “Won’t forget even after death” for all the favors received from others.   Silence and solitude in itself is therapeutic in a noisy, hectic world. It is to be remembered that creative silence and solitude means silence of ambition, silence of powers, silence of luxurious needs, silence of aggression etc. Bl.Euphrasia’s life consolidates these beautiful features by her hidden life.
                               Her odour of sanctity still spread across the interior of   carmel and points the way of the valiant men and women of god. Now C.M.C is proudly preparing for the long awaited day ,November 23 the canonization day  of  her founder Bl.Kuriakose Elias Chavara and her beloved daughter Bl.Euphrasia.
The present profile of C.M.C
                    The tiny seedling planted in the fertile soil of Koonamavu now began to spread its shade all over the world within a century and a half crossing all the barriers of time and space. Now she has 20 provinces and 6 regions including Africa as an independent region and at about 6500 professed sisters working all over the four continents. In the agony of separation and in the midst of turbulences His eagle wings sheltered and nourished her satisfying her hunger with manna from heaven and quenching her thirst with water from the rock.                         . 
                          Rabindra Nath Tagore says ‘This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again and fillest  it even with fresh life. Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.  Ages pass , and thou pourest ,and still there is room to fill.’       Yes, as the clarion call for the 150th Jubilee echoes C.M.C proudly moves to new vistas holding on the hands of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel beneath the shadow of the Most High listening to His whispering ‘take courage, it is I.’              
                                                                                                    Sr.Santhy Grace C.M.C

Benecasia. The Chronicles  of  Koonamavu convent , trans. Seraphia cmc .                                Aluva: C.M.C Publications, 2002. 
C.M.C Constitutions, Mount Carmel Generalate, 1976.    
Jossy.CMC in the shadow of the Most High, trans. Susan cmc, Seraphia cmc.Aluva: Mount Carmel Generalate, 1997.
Letters of Father Leopold, trans.  Leo cmc. Aluva: Mount Carmel Generalate,         
 Mundadan,  Mathias.  Blessed  Kuriakose  Elias  Chavara , Bangalore: Dharmaram  publications , 2008 . 

 Brief history of C M C, “Golden Echoes” Souvenir of Golden Jubilee of CMC Mission,2012.