The Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (C.M.I) had its beginnings in the first half of the 19th century. When two zealous priests, Fr.Thomas Palackal and Fr.Thomas Porukara of the Vicariate Apostolic of Verapoly in Kerala, sought to live in retirement and prayer, their Ordinary, the Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Maurilius Stabilini advised them to found a religious house so that they might do good to the people in the world too. This was in 1829 A.D.
On May 11, 1831, a small house was started at Mannanam in the Travancore State. Some more priests and clerics joined the Founding Fathers, and thus a small religious community took shape. Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara (whose beatification was on February 8, 1986), who was a devoted disciple of Fr.Palackal, had associated himself with the religious community from its very beginning. On December 8, 1855, the religious congregation was canonically erected. Since then the name of Mary Immaculate has been invariably attached to the title. Blessed Chavara, the only surviving founder, was appointed the first Superior of the Congregation.
Since during the early period of this Religious Congregation the Vicars Apostolic of Verapoly were Carmelites and Carmelite missionaries were guiding the new religious community, the Carmelite influence was there from the very beginning of the Congregation. The rules of the Carmelites with some modifications were given to them in 1855. In 1861 the Community was affiliated to the Order of Carmelites with the title T.O.C.D. (Third Order of the Carmelites Discalced).
The Constitutions were approved ad experimentum by the Apostolic See in 1885. In 1958 the name was changed to C.M.I. (Carmelites of Mary Immaculate). The Congregation was granted pontifical exemption in 1967.
The mission work of the CMI Congregation gathered new dimension and momentum as local churches were entrusted to it beyond the boundaries of Kerala. In 1962 Chanda took shape as the first missionary Ordinate of the Syro Malabar Church and was entrusted to the Congregation. Since then new mission dioceses and regions were erected in central and north India. There are now six dioceses in north India entrusted to the Congregation, viz., Chanda, Sagar, Jagdalpur, Bijnor, Rajkot and Adilabad. These six dioceses are headed by CMI Bishops. This is indeed a milestone in the progress of the CMI Missions and an abiding evidence of recognition by the Apostolic See.
At present there are more than two thousand and five hundred members in the Congregation including priests, brothers and seminarians. While most of our members minister to the needs of the people in India, there are some who serve in different countries of Africa, Europe, South America, Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, the United States, Canada and Australia.
For the sake of administration the congregation is divided into thirteen provinces and one region.
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