The Vincentian Congregation is a clerical society in the Syro-Malabar Church with its Generalate at Edappally in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. It comes under the category of the Societies of Common Life according to the manner of religious. It is of Pontifical right. The congregation was founded on 20 November 1904 as a Koventha at Thottakom by Fr. Varkey Kattarath, Vicar of Vaikom, with three diocesan priests, namely Frs. Joseph Kariapurayidam, Mani Paramkulangara and Kusumos Kattezhath, with the approval of Mar Louis Pazheparampil, the first Vicar Apostolic of Ernakulam (1896-1919), based on the Common Rules of St. Vincent de Paul, on the model of the Congregation of the Mission, founded by him in 1625. As the members of the Koventha were asked now and then by the bishop to do pastoral work in different parishes for long, inspite of his formal instruction on 2 August 1912 to Fr. Varkey Kattarath to take steps for a proper community life as per the Common Rules of the Congregation of the Mission, all of them left Thottakom by 1915 for various reasons with the permission of the bishop (who invited them to his diocese for starting the Koventha).
After some years Rev. Frs. George Mannara, Antony Pauvathil and George Vattamkandathil expressed their desire to lead a religious life to Mar Augustine Kandathil, the then Archbishop of Ernakulam who directed them to revive the religious community once founded at Thottakom. Accordingly they revived it and began the community life at Thottakom on 19 July 1927. Fr. Varkey Kattarath joined them at Thottakom in October 1927. With the permission of the Archbishop he took the first vows on 20 July 1929 and perpetual vows on 19 July 1931, before his death on 24 October 1931. The Koventha at Thottakom was officially called the Vincentian Congregation in 1938 before the pioneer fathers took the first vows.
The Congregation draws its spirit and distinctive character from the life and works, and the Common Rules of St. Vincent de Paul who is chosen as the Father and Patron of the Vincentian Congregation. The Congregation has taken as its motto, “He has sent me to proclaim the Good News to the poor” (Lk.4:18), which inspired St. Vincent de Paul. The specific and pre-eminent purpose of the Congregation is the evangelization of the poor, especially the more abandoned. It is realized in the Popular Mission retreats, preaching ministry, missionary works and through charitable, social and educational apostolate. The Vincentian Congregation was raised to the status of ‘pontifical right’ on 11 February 1968. The Apostolic Exarchate of Satna of the Syro Malabar Rite was erected on 29 July 1968 and was entrusted to the Vincentian Congregation. The Exarchate was raised to the rank of an Eparchy (diocese) on 26 February 1977.
Another milestone in the history of the Congregation was the erection of St. Thomas dependent region on 28 February 1980 for the Hindi speaking area. The Congregation was divided into two dependent regions in Kerala in 1988. On 1 January 1990 the dependent regions of Marymatha and St. Joseph were raised to provinces and the St. Thomas region to a vice-province. Eventually, this vice-province also was raised to a province. St. Thomas Province extended its mission works to the diocese of Meerut in U.P. in 1989. Soon more houses and activities begun in U.P. and a Mission Superior was appointed for the U.P. Mission. Now 13 fathers are doing ministry in this mission.
In 1991, Kalyan diocese entrusted the civil district of Ahmednagar in Maharashtra with the Marymatha Province for intensive and extensive evangelization with territorial jurisdiction. The mission was formally inaugurated by Mar Paul Chittilappilly, the then Bishop of Kalyan diocese on September 11, 1991. The mission is called St. Paul Mission and at present 12 fathers are working here.
The mission works in Andhra Pradesh begun in 1978 at Bhimadole in the diocese of Eluru were extended to other dioceses of Rayalaseema area in 1988. The mission works in Andhra Pradesh were organized under a mission superior from 1998. This mission was declared a dependent region under Marymatha Province called Good Shepherd Region on 6 January 2006, and was officially inaugurated on 24th of the same month. At present, there are 33 fathers working in this region.
The mission works in East Africa begun with the arrival of Rev. Frs. James Edavazhithara and Jacob Athickal in Mbeya, Tanzania on 10 July 1979 were accelerated with the arrival of Rev. Fr. Joseph Kurupamparambil. The African Mission has been raised to the status of a dependent region under Marymatha Province called Sacred Heart Region on 6 January 2006 and was formally inaugurated on 18 November 2006. At present there are 19 fathers working in this region in the countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The first mission started outside Kerala in 1962 at Adaikalapuram (at the invitation of Rt. Rev. V.S. Selvanather, Bishop of Salem and with the blessing and approval of the Oriental Congregation) gradually spread to other parts of the state of Tamilnadu and the neighboring states of Karnataka and Goa. For the effective co-ordination and development of the mission centres in these states, they were organized under a Mission Superior on 19 March 2003. This mission was raised to the status of a dependant region under St. Joseph Province and named St. Xavier’s Region on 1 May 2007. Now 27 fathers are doing ministry in this region.
Rev. Fr. George Mannara, Msgr. Thomas Nedumkallel, Rev. Fr. Jacob Kallarackal, Rev. Fr. George Kammattil, Rev. Fr. George Manalel, Rev. Fr. Paul Kariamadam, Rev. Fr. Antony Plackal, Rev. Fr. George Arackal and Rev. Fr. Varghese Puthussery served as Superiors General of the Congregation for different periods of time. At present the Congregation is led by Rev. Fr. Varghese Parappuram, elected Superior General on 21 April 2009.
The following is a short description about the Marymatha Province of the Vincentian Congregation. The Congregation which was founded in India in the year 1904 is present in many continents. Each Vincentian adheres to the spirit and example of St. Vincent de Paul and commits himself to strive for evangelical perfection, to preach the Gospel to the poor, to care the abandoned and poor and to help priests and seminarians to grow in knowledge and virtue.
The Marymatha (Mother of God) Province of the Vincentian Congregation has 332 professed members (238 priests, one brother, 93 Scholastics), 11 novices and 81 minor seminarians. We are blessed with sufficient number of vocations. This year itself 43 young men joined our Minor Seminary. Our priests work in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Delhi in India and in different dioceses in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda in Africa.
As a chosen part of the Mystical Body of Christ we have a special role to play in the mission of the Church. We are called to take an active part in the mission of Christ in the church by proclaiming the revelation and reality of love of God towards all. Envisaging the good of the universal Church and feeling one with her, we shall engage ourselves in the apostolic activities in co-ordination with those of the local and the universal Church. With a spirit of co-responsibility we will serve the Church.
In places where the Gospel has not yet been preached or the Church is not yet well established, the Vincentians will be prepared to preach the message of Christ and to implant the seeds of faith. Evangelization is an Ecclesial act according to the mandate of Jesus Christ (Mt. 28, 19-26). Every Vincentian shares the missionary responsibility to preach the Gospel. As St. Vincent dedicated himself to serve the poor materially and spiritually, we too shall regard the poor as our pre-eminent lot in the work of evangelization so that we may proclaim to them the mystery of salvation and help them in their needs. The missionary activities of the Province extend all over India and to some East African countries like, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Popular Mission is our specific form of preaching the Word of God. Following the example of St. Vincent, the Congregation shall lay great stress on preaching Popular Mission retreats and on teaching catechism to the people adopting diverse methods suited to the times and places. Thus the faith will be enkindled in the hearts of the people and they will be helped in building up of a true Christian community.
Popular Mission is a distinct work of the Congregation from its very beginning. For the last seven decades the Vincentians are very active with this form of retreat in the state of Kerala. Eventually this form of retreat has been introduced in other states of India also. We are involved in preaching parish renewal retreats and conduct some very popular retreat centers in India where residential retreats are held either weekly or bi-weekly for laity, priests and religious.
As a follow-up of the Popular Mission retreats we started a residential type retreat in Potta, Kerala. Its main aim was to give an in-depth experience of faith through an inner renewal. It was a very humble beginning. Good number of people from all over the state responded to this endeavor very positively. People from other states started flocking to this centre.
Because of inconveniences due to lack of space in that particular place a major portion of the program was shifted to a place called Muringoor which is not very far from Potta. Today this center is one of the biggest renewal centers in the entire country. Divine Retreat Center at Muringoor, Ernakulam belongs to the Province and it attracts 3,000-5,000 people weekly and retreats are held simultaneously in six language groups every week of the year. A big number of the retreatants coming to our centers are poor and are given free boarding and lodging. After the model of Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, the Marymatha Province has started retreat centers in other states of India. The centers near Mumbai and Delhi attract many people and facilitate renewal and growth.
The fundamental principle of our social and charitable activities is the social message of Jesus revealed in the Sacred Scriptures and following the example of our heavenly patron St. Vincent de Paul. As the purpose of those activities is to bring the people to the Kingdom of God they are not mere humanitarian works. The words of our Lord in the description of the last judgment, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren you did it to me” (Mt. 25, 40), inspires each Vincentian in this regard. As part of our social & charitable activities we also conduct Orphanages, Village Development Program, Vocational Training Centers, Educational Institutions, Hospices for the old and sick, Welfare Institutions for the underprivileged and Renewal Conferences for the ongoing formation.
Through educational works, we are fulfilling the duty of forming worthy children for the Church and responsible citizens for the state. Therefore, our educational institutions distinguish themselves by their spiritual, intellectual and cultural excellence. The Congregation is running many schools and educational institutions all over India. Marymatha Province runs many educational institutions both in rural as well as urban areas. These institutions give a special focus on the character education of the new generation.
Another important ministry that comes from the Vincentian charism is helping the diocesan clergy. This is actualized by conducting ongoing formation for the diocesan clergy as well as by assisting in the parishes where there is shortage of priests. Some of our priests are rendering service in different parishes in India as well as in Europe, Africa and America.
St. Joseph Province was raised to the status of a province in the year 1990. St. Joseph Province, immensely blessed by grace of God, has there are 129 priests, 48 Major seminarians, 16 novices and 71 minor seminarians. The Province has now 29 Houses and Centres. The members of our Congregation render their services to the Universal Church in 23 Dioceses worldwide. We have our Houses and Centres in 14 Dioceses in India. The first Region of the St. Joseph Province of the Vincentian Congregation was inaugurated on May 01, 2007. This Mission is comprised of the Houses in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Goa. A Mission in Calcutta was inaugurated on October 30, 2006, at Jalalkhally, Krishnanagar. Indicating the promising future of missionary activities of the St. Joseph Province and accelerating missionary activities, a new region has been formed comprising the houses of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on 01 May 2007.
The Vincentian Congregation was entrusted a territory, the Apostolic Exarchate of Satna on 29 July 1968 for mission work. One of our members, Mgr. Abraham D. Mattam, the new Exarch was entrusted with this Mission. In 1977 he was made the first Bishop of Satna Diocese. The second Bishop, Mar Mathew Vaniakizhakkel is also from St. Thomas Province. During these last 47 years many members of the Congregation worked hard for the building up of the diocese.
During the time of Msgr. A.D. Mattam V.C., many of our Priests were sent to work in this diocese. Seeing the enthusiasm of the Missionaries and for the better functioning of the Mission, a separate Region was formed in this area on 28 February 1980. On 1 January 1990, the dependent region was raised to the status of a Vice-Province. In 2001 it was made a Mission Province of the Congregation and was named St. Thomas Province. The Provincial House is at Rewa, in Satna Diocese, Madhya Pradesh. At present we have 20 houses, 89 priests, 15 major seminarians and 40 minor seminarians.
The members of St. Thomas Region started doing pastoral ministry in the diocese of Regensburg, Germany, from 6 January 1988 onwards. In 1995 the diocese entrusted us a parish called Pfreimd and with that it allowed St. Thomas Region to found a Vincentian Ashram at Pfreimd in the former Franciscan Ashram. With the founding of the Ashram in Pfreimd more members were sent to the diocese for Parish Ministry. When the Region was elevated to the status of a Province (St. Thomas Province of the Vincentian Congregation) in 2001 the members of the region remained as the members of St. Thomas Province. In 2011 the diocese entrusted St. Thomas Province a second Ashram at Fuchsmuehl (in the former Augustinian Cloister) with the Parish Fuchsmuehl and Friedenfels. At present 10 Members of St. Thomas Province are engaged in pastoral Ministry in the diocese of Regensburg.
In 1990s, the Bishops of Agra, Bareilly and Meerut invited us to Uttar Pradesh (UP). First we began our work in the diocese of Meerut. In 1991 we started our work in Budaun, in the Arch Diocese of Agra. They have entrusted us with a certain area where we are given freedom to plan the missionary activities and implement them. We have a Popular Mission Retreat Centre at Meerganj, UP, and the team is regularly giving popular mission retreats in Hindi to the parishes for the renewal of the parishes. In the past 7 months, the team has conducted 11 Popular Mission Retreats, in the different parts of North India and North East.
Since 2007 we have extended our mission work to North East India - in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. In Arunachal Pradesh our priests are engaged in preaching and giving the much needed education to the poor children, parish work, retreat programme, outreach programme to many interior villages of two different tribes, where as in Assam our missionaries are busy with a retreat center where thousands come for retreats, night vigils, guidance, etc. They also go to the parishes where they are invited and help in pastoral work and preach the Gospel.
St. Vincent was born in 1581 in the village of Pouy in Gascony, in the Province of Guyenne and Gascony, the Kingdom of France, to peasant farmers, father Jean and mother Bertrande de Moras de Paul. There was in the vicinity, a stream named the "Paul" and it is believed that this might have been the derivation of the family name. He wrote the name as one word – Depaul, possibly to avoid the inference that he was of noble birth, but none of his correspondents did so. He had three brothers – Jean, Bernard and Gayon, and two sisters – Marie and Marie-Claudine. He was the third child. At an early age, he showed a talent for reading and writing but during his childhood, his work was as a herder of his family's livestock. At 15, his father sent him to seminary, managing to pay for it by selling the family’s oxen. Vincent's interest in the priesthood at that time, was largely with the intent to establish a successful career and obtain a benefice, with which he could retire early and support the family.
For two years, Vincent received his education at a college in Dax, France adjoining a monastery of the Friars Minor where he and others resided. In 1597, he began his studies in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Toulouse. The atmosphere at the university was anything but pious or conducive to spiritual contemplation. Fights broke out between various factions of students which escalated into armed battles. During the course of the unrest, an official was murdered by two students. Nevertheless, he continued his studies and was able to help pay for his education by tutoring others. He was ordained on 23 September 1600 at the age of nineteen in Château-l'Évêque, near Périgueux. This was against the regulations established by the Council of Trent which required a minimum of 24 years of age for ordination, so when he was appointed parish priest in Tilh, the appointment was appealed against in the Court of Rome. Rather than respond to a lawsuit in which he would probably not have prevailed, he resigned from the position and continued his studies. On 12 October 1604 he received his Bachelor of Theology from the University of Toulouse. Later he received a Licentiate in Canon Law from the University of Paris.
|Born||24 April 1581 Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Guyenneand Gascony, Kingdom of France|
|Died||27 September 1660 (aged 79)
Paris, Kingdom of France
|Venerated in||Catholic Church, Anglican Communion|
|Beatified||13 August 1729, Rome, Papal States by Pope Benedict XIII|
|Canonized||16 June 1737, Rome, Papal States by Pope Clement XII|
|Major shrine||St. Vincent de Paul Chapel, 95, Rue de Sèvres, Paris, France|
(Roman Calendar, 1737-1969)
|Patronage||charities; horses; hospitals; leprosy; lost articles; Madagascar; prisoners; Richmond, Virginia; spiritual help; Saint Vincent de Paul Societies; Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory; Vincentian Service Corps; volunteers|
|Revival of the Congregation||19.07.1927|
|Revival of the Congregation||19.07.1927|
|Revival of the Congregation||19.07.1927|