The Congregation’s Indian province celebrates its first 50 years. Increasingly, its missionaries reach Europe. In India, they are active in youth ministry, social work, education, charity and health services for the poor. In Kerala they still follow the Syro-Malabar rite.
Kuravilangad (AsiaNews) – The ultimate meaning and history of the Missionaries Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CMF[*]), the Claretians, is centred on the mission returning to its origins.
Founded on 16 July 1849 in Spain, the Congregation expanded over the decades in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. This year, the Indian province of the congregation marks its golden jubilee, 50 years of life and missionary activity since it was established in 1970, developing in particular in the north of the country.
Starting out as a mission of the German province, the Congregation in India has now reversed the roles by sending priests to Europe, including Germany. This is another way of conceiving going back to the origins.
Today more than ever the Claretians are the spirit and soul of the Church in India. The Congregation itself can count on 588 Indian priests out of more than 3,000.
Inspired by its missionary motto, ‘For the love of Christ impels us’ (2 Cor 5:14), they are actively involved in the youth ministry, social work, education, charity and healthcare services for the poorest people.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Jojo Mannoor, head of the congregation in Kerala, noted that 50 years since the foundation provides “an opportunity for renewal for the Church and its members.”
For him, personal renewal "is the founding basis for a renewal of the Church itself”. In fact, since the start of the jubilee year, "all three of our provinces and two delegations in India, a total of 82 houses, have focused on renewing the Congregation’s spiritual charism and on its wide-ranging missionary activities" in the country.
At the beginning, the only condition imposed on the German congregation in 1969 by then Bishop Sebastian Vayalil of Palai, who had invited the priests to India, was to follow the Syro-Malabar rite in Kerala. This is the one thing that sets Claretians apart from other congregations in Kerala.
Nevertheless, this missionary charism has not been confined to one state, but has spread to many others, including Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in southern India, and Meghalaya, West Bengal, Odisha and Arunachal Pradesh in the north.
Now, 50 years later, the Congregation is proclaiming the Gospel in 18 states in the mission "ad Gentes" as Pope Francis himself called for on several occasions.
Another reason to celebrate is the fact that the current Claretian superior general, Fr Mathew Vattamattom, is Indian. Starting with the first two priests in Kerala half a century ago, this is a milestone to celebrate.
[*] Cordis Mariae Filii.