ST Kuriakose Elias Chavara
St Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the founder of the CMI Congregation and the guiding light and inspiration for all our endeavours, was born on 10 February 1805 at Kainakary, Alappuzha,Kerala. When he was 13, he joined the seminary at Pallipuram for his priestly training. On 29 November 1829, he became a priest.
St Chavara was instrumental in founding two Catholic Religious Congregations – one for men, Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), and the other for women, Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC), for the spiritual renewal and all round development of the society.
Starting seven ashrams and a convent in different parts of Kerala, Chavara initiated a spiritual movement among the people of Kerala. Being a visionary, he realized that social change is possible only through education. Hence, he established the first Catholic Sanskrit School, a Major Seminary and a Printing and Publishing House at Mannanam. He directed that every church should start a school attached to it and encouraged children of even poorer sections to attend the schools by supplying mid day meal and dress for them. He initiated the attempts in the empowerment of women by establishing the first Boarding School for Girls at Koonammavu and training them in various skills and handicrafts together with academics. He founded a ‘Home of Charity’ to take care of the destitute, the beggars, the uncared, the sick and the old. He also organized the first voluntary charitable association in Kerala for self-help among the needy.
Even in the midst of such manifold activities, he found time to write several literary and spiritual books in prose as well as verse. A few among them are Anastasyayude Rakthasakshyam, the first narrative poem, Eclogues, the first collection of Dramas, and ‘Nalagamangal’ the first chronicle of history in Malayalam language. He knew seven languages – Malayalam, Tamil, Sanskrit, Syriac, Latin, Italian and Portuguese.
Essentially, however, Blessed Chavara was a man of prayer and great charity. He lived for 65 years and died on 3rd January 1871 at Koonammavu. His sanctity was officially recognized by the Catholic Church, when Pope John Paul II declared him ‘Blessed’ on 08 February 1986. He was officially declared a “Saint” in the Catholic Church on 23rd November 2014. Blessed Chavara is the heavenly patron of all CMI institutions.
Important Sayings of St Chavara
- Children, you are God’s gift in the hands of your parents.
- The children who have a love of God and fear of God will love and respect their parents.
- Food is for the body, so is wisdom for the intellect.
- Go to school regularly and recall to mind, what is taught during the week.
- Laziness fosters evil habits.
- Let your friends be those who love God.
- The day in which you have not done any good to your fellowmen will not be recorded in your book of life.
- Keeping bad books is like hiding fire in hay.
- Regular reading of good books and meditating on them will illumine the mind.
- Attain punctuality, by means of a regular timetable.
- Your angels will be turned to devils, if you fall into evil situation.
- Take special care to keep modesty while you sit, walk or lie down.
- You are to forgive and forget the wrong doings of others.
- Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell who you are.
- What you earn by deceit and theft will melt like snow.
- Idleness is the mother of all vices and would induce one to the habit of drinking.
- Both stinginess and extravagance are equally sinful.
- Do not insult or trouble the poor.
- God decides your vocation and it is you to choose it.
- Even if you are grown in age and maturity, you have to respect your parents and submit to them.
- Do not hate your own brethren.
- It is the duty of children to look after their parents.
- Do not be the cause for your parents to shed tears on account of you.
- The humble man is the greatest among men.
- Since you belong to God, you have to give yourself back to God.