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, India 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 then 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 Congregation from its beginning exercised
itself in such activities as the Church in Kerala was in need of at the
particular times. It started with preaching retreats, conducting seminaries and
training of priests; met the challenge of educating the youth and disseminating
Christian literature; laboured for the conversion of non-Christians and for the
reunion of separated brethren; undertook works of mercy and started charitable
The mission work of the C.M.I. 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
For the sake of administration, the
congregation is divided into eight Provinces, five Vice-Provinces and one
At present the congregation has more than 2,500
members spread all over India. Some of them are in Europe, U.S.A., Latin
America, Africa, Madagascar and in Papua New Guinea engaged in studies and