The Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) was started by three illustrious priests of the Apostolic Church of St Thomas Christians in India. These Founders were Rev. Fathers Thomas Palackal, Thomas Porukara and St Kuriakose Elias Chavara. They were assisted by Jacob Kanianthara who joined the Congregation as a brother co-operator. The Italian Carmelite Bishop, Maurilius Stabilini O.C.D., who was governing the St Thomas Christians of Kerala at that time, granted permission to start this religious Congregation. The foundation stone for the first monastery at Mannanam was laid on 11th May 1831. The first two of the Founding Fathers passed away in 1841 and 1846 respectively.
On 8th December 1855, the Religious Community at Mannanam, under the name “Congregation of the Servants of Mary Immaculate of Mount Carmel”, became a canonically recognized Religious Congregation with the religious profession of the first batch of eleven priests headed by Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara. Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the first “Prior” of the Congregation passed away with the odour of sanctity on 3rd January 1871. He was declared “Blessed” by Pope St John Paul II on 8th February 1986 at Kottayam, Kerala. He was canonized as “Saint” by His Holiness Pope Francis on 23rd November 2014 at Vatican.
Saint Chavara, being a great educationalist and a social reformer of the 19th century, could foresee the transformation in the society and make strategic moves to build a better society based on fatherhood of God and brotherhood of humanity. Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), the first indigenous religious congregation of India with a membership of around 3000 members, renders its service to humanity in educational, social, health care and other activities aiming at the integral development of the society.
Since the Latin missionaries of the Order of Carmelites Discalced (O.C.D.) were guiding the Congregation, started at Mannanam during its early period, Latin Carmelite tradition had influenced the congregation from the very outset. In 1860, the General Chapter of O.C.D. in Rome affiliated this new Religious Congregation of the Oriental Rite to itself and gave it the name T.O.C.D. (Third Order of Carmelites Discalced). It was granted Pontifical Status in 1885. The name of the Congregation was changed to C.M.I. (Carmelites of Mary Immaculate) with the approval of its revised Constitution by the Holy See in 1958. C.M.I. Congregation was given Pontifical Exemption in 1967.
The C.M.I. Congregation, which had been under the direct administration of the Prior General, is divided into Provinces, regions and Sub Regions. The St Joseph’s Province spread out over the vast southern area of Kerala coextensive with the area of the Dioceses of Changanacherry and Palai, during the early days. As activities of the Province became too numerous and the administration too unwieldy, it was bifurcated into two provinces namely St Joseph’s Province, Kottayam and St Joseph’s Province, Thiruvananthapuram in 1979.
Carmel College of Engineering & Technology (CCET), owned and managed by the St. Joseph’s Carmel Educational & Charitable Trust of CMI, was established in 2014. CCET is a Catholic Self Financing Professional College, under the St Joseph’s Province, Thiruvananthapuram, born out of the educational vision of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the founder of CMI congregation. CCET is rooted in Gospel values, and is committed to provide Holistic education through the development of intellectual competence, personal skills, inter-personal skills and societal skills. CCET welcomes to its fold students from all over the country in an environment of religious harmony and secularism.
The Founder of the CMI Congregation: Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara