THE DREAM BECOMES TRUE
Since 1997, the bishop of Cochin, Joseph Kureethara, has invited us to open a religious community. The then superior general, Fr. Luigi Pierini, accompanied by Fr. Vittorio Garuti, made a brief visit to define the situation and subsequently sent Fr. Tarcisio Riondato, (who was the novice master in Africa) to start the new Josephan mission of India.
In 1998, on 12th February, Fr. Tarcisio and Fr. Agostino Manfredini, the general treasurer, arrived in Kerala.
After a few weeks, the bishop asked Fr. Tarcisio to help the parish of Chandiroor and to do it to the best he began to learn the local language (Malayalam) in order to communicate with the people.
Fr. Tarcisio, the pioneer of the Congregation in India, became a “fisher of men”: he found boys who wished to become religious priests staying with him in Chandiroor and at the end of June of the same year 1998, Fr. Angelo Zonta, left the United States to join him in this new missionary adventure.
In December of the same year, the bishop blessed the foundation stone of the new Seminary, “Saint Leonard Murialdo”, in Aroor, near Chandiroor, which was inaugurated in 2000 by the new Bishop of Cochin, Most. Rev. John Thattumkal, and by Fr. Luigi Pierini, Superior General of the Congregation.
Meanwhile, the first postulants were ready to begin the novitiate. Thus a house for the novices was built in Chembaraky on the hills near Aluva in 2002. In December, Fr. Tarcisio and the first seven novices moved to the new premises; then another building was constructed for the students of philosophy near the novitiate, on the same hill as Chembaraky. The new construction was completed in 2005.
Fr. Tarcisio left India to go to Italy for medical treatment. But he could not come back … it was a definitive departure … for eternity … He died in fact in Padua in June 2007.
In 2006 the apostolate began: we offered free courses for students in the surrounding areas (Tuition).
After Fr. Tarcisio other Josephites became Novice Masters: Fr. Renzo Vanini, Fr. John Trimaglio, Fr. Misihadas Govindan, Fr. Anuraj Tony and now Fr. Yesudas Prakash.
In 2009, Fr. Misihadas was ordained as the first Josephite Indian priest.
On 19th March 2012 the Indian presence was declared “Delegation” and called as the “Indian Delegation of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta”. Fr. Mariolino Parati was the first Provincial Superior. Fr. Misihadas was appointed Vicar and Fr. Giampiero Melaragni as councillor.
In 2015 the new three-year council (until 2018) was appointed as follows: Fr. Mariolino (superior), Fr. Misihadas, Fr. Milttan and Fr. Anuraj (councilors).
At the moment there are 7 officially constituted communities, five of which in the state of Kerala (Aroor, Chembaraky, Thresiapuram, Cheriyanad and Mattul North), one in Tamil Nadu (Aranvoyalkuppam) and one in Bihar (Saksohara), in addition to another presence in the diocese of Buxar, also in Bihar.
A minor seminary with a vocation promotion activity and a chapel open to the public works in Aroor; in Chembaraky there are the Novitiate and the group of confreres in philosophy; in Thresiapuram we have an active parish with three churches; in Cheriyanad there is a parish with 2 more substation and the community also coordinates the whole Youth Ministry of the diocese of Punalur; in Mattul North, diocese of Kannur, there is another parish which also runs a primary school; while in Aranvoyalkuppam there are the major seminarians in Theology, some tuition courses in various villages and the new “Boys’ Home” for abandoned or orphan children, called “House of Hope”. Finally, three years ago we began a presence in the poorest state of northern India, i.e. Bihar, with the community of Saksohara, a rural village where the Josephites live right in the middle of the houses of the poorest people and follow the religious, social and educational activity even in neighboring villages. Soon a new presence could also be born in the diocese of Buxar, again in Bihar … the project is under study.
2018 marks the twentieth year since the arrival of the Josephites in India and there are already 50 Indian confreres and 28 of them already with perpetual vows, and 25 already priests! And the Lord is still sending to the congregation new generous young men who want to give their whole life by following the steps of St. Leonard Murialdo!
In short, the Josephan India is a young reality, full of promises and hopes! Thanks to all those who follow it with sympathy and … generosity! May God accompany you and all of us!