Like her Patron saint St. Theresa of Avila, St. Mariam Thresia sought for a spiritual guide. In 1902 while Fr. Joseph Vithayathil came to Puthenchira to hear confessions during an annual retreat at Puthenchira. Thresia who had been intensely praying for a spiritual guide, was inspired to decide on Him. Thresia was 27 when she chose her Spiritual guide. As a coincident or providence of God in the very next year Fr. Joseph Vithayathil was appointed as Vicar of Puthenchira.
Thresia experienced various trails and temptations, sufferings and sickness, visions and ecstasies these days, it was the wisdom and discernment of Fr. Joseph Vithayathil that assured her about the will of God for her. She regarded Him as God send and found consolation, obtained a clear and firm spiritual guidance from Him. Indeed she would follow His guidance blindly enough.
Most of her writings are letters written to her spiritual Father, informing Him of her troubles, unburdening her heart, or seeking his advice and guidance. These letters tell of a spiritual relationship open and cordial, at times filial in tone, at times sisterly, always expressive of childhood submission to His directions. Bl. Virgin Mary asked Fr. Joseph to visit Thresia, during these days of severe trails and temptations, to strengthen and comfort her, also to use his authority to keep the devils away at least for few hours.
Mariam Thresia’s stay was hard at home, since many unnatural and spiritual phenomena’s, ecstasies and elevations, trails and tortures from evil spirits; these had brought scare to the family. People spoke stories about Thresia’s mystical experiences, rumors spread about her life as a single, criticisms rose about the errant charitable acts she had engaged, the kids of people she served, and her relationship with her Spiritual Father was also matter to the common folk.
Ven. Fr. Joseph Vithayathil informed Bishop all that regarded Thresia time to time. He obeyed and kept a diary in which he recorded regularly and faithfully what was conveyed to Him by Thresia. His diary slowly assumed the form of the ‘History of St. Mariam Thresia’. Thresia trusted him to guide her on her way, as she loved him with all her obedience and remained docile to his directions.
Fr. Joseph Vithayathil, witnessed all the mystical experiences of Thresia, at times with order of Bl. Mother few other priests were allowed in with Him. The most of the communications Bl. Mother gave to Fr. Joseph Vithayathil through Thresia while she was in spiritual trance; things regarding the plan of God for her, the interior agony that she is undergoing and about the severity of her trails. Bl. Mother also asked him to comfort her like a brother, and instructed him to scold her severely for her triviality.
At the institution of the Congregation of Holy Family in 1914, Bishop appointed Fr. Joseph Vithayathil the chaplain of the first community. He always guided the growth of the Congregation as the Co-Founder, and tenderly reared it after the death of St. Mariam Thresia at the age of fifty. He lived an ascetic and austere life like Mariam Thresia his spiritual daughter all his life. His devotion to Holy Eucharist came to be known as the Custodian of the Holy Eucharist. Until the sunset of His life he held a lamp to the Eucharistic Lord, awake by the early dawn at 3.00 am. He likewise predicted the day when his spiritual daughter will be raised to the altar and built a Bell tower at Kuzhikkatussery, saying “the day will come in future you need this bell tower”.
Sr. Udaya Kallukaran Chf