Tomy T. Varghese
St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara considered the Church as his own mother. He was aware of the fact that being truthful and faithful to the Church was essential for salvation. Union with Pope and obedience and acceptance of the authorities appointed by the Pope are important in this regard. The Kerala Church was going through a challenging phase during that time. The ripples of ‘Koonan Cross Oath’ in the middle of seventeenth century which had divided the Church into Pazhayakuttukar (old party) Puthenkuttukar (new party) could be felt with great intensity during the time of Chavara. Kuriakose Elias Chavara defended the Church with valour as a faithful soldier of the Church.
When a schism called, ‘Roccos Schism’ happened in the church of Kerala in 1861, Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara; the then appointed Vicar General of Syro-Malabar Church, took a bold stand against it and saved the church of Kerala from the Schism. On this account, the Holy Father Pope Pius IX sent him a letter expressing his great appreciation.
He started two congregations for priests (CMI) and nuns (CMC), which today have establishments all over the world. They are the first of their kind in India. It made great strides in the spiritual renovation in the Kerala Church. He also started seminaries for the education and formation of clergy at Mannanam in 1833, at Vazakulam in 1866 and at Elthuruth in 1868; introduction of annual retreats for priests and laity; publishing house at Mannanam in 1846 for the propagation of Catholic doctrine and social information; special attention to start catechumenates at Mannaanm in 1853 and with other monasteries, house for the destitute and dying at Kainakary in 1869; reunion movement; Sanskrit School at Mannanam in 1846 and school for the general education at Mannanam in 1865, a school and boarding house exclusively for girls at Koonammavu in 1868 etc. were among the few of various activities under St. Kuriakose Elisa’s leadership.
Thus he focused the area of ministry in (1) Educating the uneducated, (2) Helping them who desire to enter the Catholic fold, (3) Working for the reunion of the separated brethren. (4) Safeguarding the well being of all (5) Aiming at the renewal of the Church and (6) Willing to do all that are seen good for the people of God. In this way he prepared the religious, priests and the laity for the spiritual and social up-lift of the Church and society.