The Foundation of the Congregation of Holy Family on May 14, 1914, “founded for Thresia and those like Thresia…”

St. Mariam Thresia, the humble handmaid of Puthenchira, Kerala, was the chosen one of God, with a unique apostolate; the Christianization of Families. She carried out the heaven entrusted mission to rebuild the broken families by advocating fraternal charity and communion in the families. She did it with a prophetic vision for families after the model of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

When religious life meant contemplation and solitary life in the interiors, Mariam Thresia envisioned family as the domestic church, and started her mission from Puthenchira, her birth place in Kerala, India in late 18th century, at a time when women were not even allowed to step out of her house.

From the age of three and half, she was schooled by Bl. Virgin, the mother of God to lead a life of prayer and piety. Her childhood was very different from other kids and siblings of her family. Thresia yearned intensely for a total detachment from world and the self. She found great joy in Child Jesus and His Mother Mary who often stayed by her. She contemplated on the cross to acquire knowledge, and took great pain to love God since childhood, thus she followed silently a sacred life of prayer and penance.

She writes” from my early childhood I took great pain to love God”.  It was her intense effort to advance in her spiritual life by imitation of Christ in His Passion. She heard the agonizing cry of Jesus from the cross “I thirst” with her heart, and envisioned the salvation of souls by a life of penance and mortification. Thresia with a firm desire to relieve Jesus of His pain, fought a good battle with inside and outside forces.

On 14 May 1914, in the presence of Fr.Joseph Vithayathil and many other priests and a vast assembly of Christian faithful gathered in the parish church of Puthenchira, Bishop John Menachery proclaimed officially the establishment of the Congregation of the Holy Family. The Bishop himself gave Thresia the habit of the new congregation, and she pronounced before him the three perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  The bishop sanctioned her name ‘Mariam Thresia’ . it was a clear enough hint at his belated conviction about the genuineness of her vision of the Holy Mother Mary, who had wanted the change of name from Thresia to Mariam Thresia. In a separate rite on the same day, her three friends received the veil as postulants. 

The new congregation with the fundamental charism of the Compassionate love of Jesus through ‘Family Apostolate’ was an instilled grace upon St. Mariam Thresia, guided and discerned by Ven. Fr. Joseph Vithayathil (Co- Founder), her Providential Spiritual guide.

Mar John Menachery was an instrumental for erection and naming the Congregation as the Vicar Apostolic of Trichur who converted the small prayer house (Ekanthabhavan) of Mariam Thresia as the first Convent of Holy Family Congregation.  After discerning Mariam Thresia’s vocation and extraordinary gifts he canonically erected the Congregation of the Holy Family, officially appointed her the Mother Superior of the newly founded congregation, while nominating Fr. Joseph Vithayathil the chaplain of the newly formed convent, on the very same day.   He procured a copy of the Rules and Regulations of the Holy Family Congregation from one of the existing Congregations in Ceylon.

 It is after 37 years of long waiting God revealed His Holy will for Thresia, guiding every step forward unto its fulfilment. The constant company of Holy Family as a model inspired her to work hard to transforming them in communion with the Holy Trinity. Holy Family constantly guided her and directed her the cause of action all the way.  

How great it is to realize the plan of God for us from time eternal. Thresia waited with great endurance through all odds of life without complaint. And when God initiates His plan the blessing hidden in it also was indeed great. It speaks of volumes of providential love of God.

Sr. Udaya Kallukaran Chf