Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara
Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born in Kainakary, south India, in the early 19th century. The youngest child in a large and devout family, he opted to serve the Lord by becoming a priest. As such, he shares with two others the honour of starting one of the largest congregations for men in India, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. Kuriakose’s early life was modest and unassuming. He was staunch in his devotion to Mary the Immaculate, as well as inspired by the Carmelite tradition which claimed the prophet Elijah as its founder. Kuriakose was later to take the name ‘Elias’ when he made his final profession. He opened the first CMI house in Mannanam, followed by more seminaries, schools and a home for the aged. The training of catechumens and holding retreats for priests and lay people were also taken up by the CMI fathers, beside the setting up of printing presses and publishing houses to produce educational and devotional literature. Kuriakose also helped to bring uniformity in the celebration of the liturgy and edited a breviary and a liturgical calendar. Not content with establishing an order for men, he also co-founded two institutes for women, the congregation of the Mother of Carmel and the Congregation of Teresian Carmelites. And those three congregations which he founded are among the most dynamic in the Indian Church today.