The CMI Religious Congregation
a. Historical Beginning
The Congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) is the first indigenous religious congregation for men. Saint Kurakose Elias Chavara of the Syro Malabar church of apostolic origin had the challenging vision of providing spiritual leadership and fostering unity and growth in the Kerala Church. With the permission of Bishop Maurellius Stabillini, the then Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly, Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara founded a religious house at Mannanam on May 11, 1831.
b. Educational Contributions
Today, the CMI congregation is an active presence in five continents and twenty eight nations, with more than 2500 members, engaged in spreading the word of God, working relentlessly to strengthen the sacramental life of the people, undertaking the cause of the underprivileged and downtrodden, and revolutionizing the sphere of education in terms of academic excellence and social commitment. The congregation has at present more than four hundred and eighty educational institutions, ranging from nursery schools to professional colleges, research centers, and a deemed university spread across the world.
Education has been one of the main apostolates of our Congregation from the time of our saintly founder. He started institutions for both secular (Sanskrit school) as well as religious (Seminary) education. We still continue that legacy. We serve in thirty – five countries. Within India, our institutions span from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Mumbai to Arunachal Pradesh. Rules that govern them change from country to country and state to state; type of institutions change from government aided to self – financed; structures may be different; but the basic CMIness that encompasses them is one and the same everywhere.
During the last 174 years since the first CMI School (the Sanskrit school of 1846), hundreds of thousands of students have gone through the portals of our institutions. Most of them cherish their association with us in their life and feel proud to say, ‘I am a CMI product’.
c. Juridical Status
Ours is a clerical, exempt, religious congregation of pontifical rite in the Catholic Church. The title of our congregation, Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) stands for the charism and spirit of founding fathers in the context of our Oriental, Carmelite and Indian spiritual tradition.
Our congregation is governed by the code of Canon Law of the Oriental Churches (CCEO), the particular law of the Syro Malabar Church to the extent applicable to a clerical religious congregation of pontifical rite, and the constitutions of the CMI congregation itself. It is a religious and charitable association of a religious minority group within the purview of the Constitution of India. Its objectives are:
· To bear living witness to the spiritual reality of the church through a life of renunciation and prayer
· To bring about God’s Kingdom through the proclamation of God’s word to all people
· To serve all people of God through the ministry of the sacraments and preaching, and,
· To serve all people without distinction of caste, sex, colour or creed through educational social cultural and charitable activity making special use of the various media of mass communication
d. The Bicentennial of CMI Congregation
We are now in preparation for the 200th anniversary of the founding of CMI Congregation. It is an occasion to respond to the signs of times, just like the founding fathers discerned the will of God 200 years back. Resolutions and action plans are formulated to get renewed in our educational apostolate in collaboration with our stakeholders.