St. Francis of Assisi bearing witness to the poor, humble, Christ, laid the foundation of a new form of life based on the Gospel. He renounced totally and happily all worldly goods and its pleasures, so that he was able to proclaim, My God My All in all sincerity. His poor humble life, his fraternity and zealous apostolic activity could really effect a renewal of Christian life in his time. St. Clare was the first woman who followed crucified Lord in the footprints of Francis and the Franciscan II Order (Cloistered) was established for women.
The Franciscan spirit which diffused its fragrance in the surroundings of Assisi in the thirteenth century, spread to Kerala also towards the latter half of the nineteenth century. In the year 1865 the Secular Franciscan Third Order was founded in the Veropoly Archdiocese and Puthenparampil Thommachan, a zealous layman from the Parish of Edathua born in 1836 took the leadership of the movement. He literally imitated St. Francis and led a life of utter poverty, prayer and penance. He started different types of humanitarian services including serving the orphans and destitute, the sick, lepers and all kinds of unwanted people in the society. Many zealous people followed him and 50 units were founded under his leadership. In the year 1875 a unit of SFO was started in the Parish of Pala and certain pious ladies belonging to the SFO started community living under the guidance of Puthenparampil Thommachan at Pala and moved to Kannadiurumpu in 1883. They wanted to lead a genuine full Franciscan Way of Life. They got fundamental training for the Franciscan Life.
Divine Providence was paving the way from other direction. In the year 1887 Kottayam Vicariate was established and Rt. Rev. Dr. Charles Lavigne SJ from France was appointed the Vicar Apostolic of Kottayam. During his Pastoral journey over the Vicariate he was moved by the plight of the unwanted, the sick and destitute of the Vicariate. He expressed his desire to his Secretary Rev. Fr. Louis Pazheparampil, about establishing a women Congregation to look after the unwanted people of the society and he appointed him the director of the already existing CMC Congregation and the Congregation to be established. This Fr. Louis Pazheparampil later became the first Bishop of the Diocese of Ernakulam. There occurred a happy coincidence of the Divine Providence. Bishop Charles Lavigne visited the Parish of Pala on 20th June 1888 and the pious Ladies met him in the CMI Kovenda at Mutholi and expressed their long cherished wish and requested to establish for them Congregation of St. Clara. His first question to them was whether they were ready to take care of the orphans and the unwanted. The Bishop visited the pious ladies on 4th July 1888 at their residence at Kannadiurumpu. Same question was repeated and they said a firm YES. Overcoming a series of obstacles, he founded a new offshoot of the Franciscan Family in Kerala. Thus was founded the Franciscan Clarist Congregation on 14th December 1888 at Changanassery by Bishop Charles Lavigne SJ and the eight founding mothers namely Sr. Mariam Clara of Jesus, Sr. Coletta of Jesus Sr. Agnes of Jesus, Sr. Mariam Thresia of Jesus, Sr. Mariam Magdaline of Jesus, Sr. Margareetha of Jesus, Sr. Mariam of Jesus, Sr. Anna of Jesus. Bishop Lavigne provided them the Primary Rules and Directives to follow a new way of life based on the charism.
The Congregation grew fast attracting many young women who wished to lead a dedicated life and gradually independent units sprang up in dioceses. Responding to the call of Vatican II, renewal and adaptation was effected and unification of the different units took place. It is a Pontifical Congregation in Syro-Malabar Church. Now FCC has grown into an International Congregation having 24 Provinces 2 Regions in India and many houses under different Provinces in countries like Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, U.S.A, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi and Papua New Guinea. They render their service in Old age homes, Orphanages, Hospitals, Educational institutions, Boarding houses etc. There are 23 sisters from Kenya.
God has specially blessed FCC with the gift of St. Alphonsa the first woman saint of India. She was a great missionary who proclaimed silently to the world the love of Jesus through her witnessing life. She offered her suffering for the salvation of souls. She prayed ardently for missionaries in the forefront and inspired the sisters and the children to pray and offer sacrifices for mission. St. Alphonsa continues to inspire people of all walks of life to walk in the path of the crucified Lord.
The martyrdom of Sr. Rani Maria, the servant of God on 25th February 1995 at Udayanagar, Indore is another momentous event in the history of FCC. The great love which enabled her to lay down her life for Jesus and his poor is a great source of inspiration to all, especially the missionaries. FCC is proud of her daughters who serve the Lord in the challenging mission areas spreading the message of Gospel.
It is our firm conviction that in the world of human need, it is God who willed the Franciscan Clarist Congregation to take care of the poor, the marginalized and the unorganized in society. The fundamental mission of FCC is to liberate and empower such people to rediscover their dignity by taking control over their own lives. In doing so, the religious order envisions a new social order for a much more economically developed India of this 21st century, based on justice and equal opportunities for all to live in peace and dignity. It is our belief and prayer that in future a spirituality renewed and a theologically updated Franciscan Clarist Congregation will bring about this social reality.
Responding to the exhortation of the Vatican Council II the different units were unified under one Superior General in 1970. Rev. Mother Maurus (Mother General Changanassery) was elected the 1st Superior General of the Unified Franciscan Clarist Congregation on 10th October 1970. The General Curia was formed with the Major Superiors of the other units as Councillors. The different Diocesan Units became Provinces. At that time there were five Provinces namely Changanassery, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Pala, Kothamangalam and one Region namely Malabar.
The members were following the constitution framed after the constitution of the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana, U.S.A. with certain adaptations made by different units. Even before the unification, a commission was appointed to frame a common constitution and a directory in the light of Vatican II.
The new constitution was formulated by the commission under the leadership of Mother Maurus and the guidance of Rev. Fr. Hippolytus (later Bishop of Jammu- Srinagar) of happy memory. It got approved by the Apostolic See in 1973.
The Congregation was raised to the status of Pontifical Right on 1st March 1973. The unified Franciscan Clarist Congregation has been making large strides in the path of progress. The Congregation grew in strength of members and apostolic activities. Several creative programmes were taken up for the spiritual renewal of the members and a return to the original charism.
Origin, Growth and spread of FCC in India and abroad.
The Franciscan Third Order is a branch of the Franciscan Fraternity. The Franciscan Spirit which diffused its fragrance in the surroundings of Assisi in the thirteenth century spread to Kerala, India towards the latter half of the nineteenth century. A unit was formed in the Parish of Pala and some of the ladies of this unit desired to lead a community life. They used to visit the houses of the poor in the neighborhood caring for the sick and praying for them.
On 10 May 1888, Msgr. Charles Lavigne S.J, a French Jesuit, according to the Papal Bull from Rome was installed as the Vicar Apostolic of Kottayam at Edakkat Church near Kottayam. It was a great yearning in Bishop Lavigne to uplift the poor and the downtrodden. He was a devotee of St Germaine who spent her life in the service of the poor. Bishop Lavigne, witnessed the sight of dying men and women on the road sides with no one to care for them. He became aware of the great need for a religious Congregation who would serve the poor and the destitute. At this juncture, under the leadership of Fr. Cherian Mupparayil the eight Pious women met Bishop and expressed their desire to lead a community life and to establish for them a Congregation according to the life of St. Clare. He listened to them patiently and made his pastoral visit to the parish of Pala on 4 July 1888. Making use of this occasion he wished to visit the house of the ladies at Kannadiyurumpu. He asked them what they wanted. They repeated their wish to establish them into a Congregation according to the spirit of St. Clare. He asked them if they were ready to look after the orphans and to care for the sick. The ladies expressed with great enthusiasm their readiness to do it. He was very much impressed by their spirit and willingness to lead a life dedicated to the service of the poor.
The desire of the pious ladies and the ardent wish of Bishop Lavigne to establish a congregation to look after the poor and the destitute merged together and resulted in the origin of Franciscan Clarist Congregation. Thus Franciscan Clarist Congregation came into existence on 14th December 1888, Bishop Charles Lavigne as the founder Bishop and the eight pious women as the founding mothers.
On 14th December 1888 Bishop Charles Lavigne, the Vicar Apostolate of Kottayam gave the eight ladies of the Franciscan Third order the official dress of this Religious Institute.
Once they received their official dress of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, the long cherished dream of these ladies to live as members of a religious Congregation duly established by the ecclesiastical authorities became fulfilled. The Clarist Convent was the first public institution by Bishop Lavigne at Changanassery even before completing one year as the Vicar Apostolic.
It is remarkable that two of the founding mothers were blessed with the privilege of seeing the first steps of the canonization process of Saint Alphonsa, the first Saint of their Congregation.
The Congregation grew fast attracting many young women who wished to lead a dedicated life and gradually independent units sprang up in the Syro Malabar dioceses of Kerala. Responding to the call of Vatican II, renewal and adaptation was effected and unification of the different units under one Superior General took place in the guidance of Rev. Fr. Hippolytus Kunnumkal O.F.M cap (later Bp. of Jammu and Kashmir), as Papal delegate. Rev. Mother Maurus was elected as the first Superior General on 10th October 1970. The Congregation was raised to the Pontifical status by decree Prot.No. 19/70 dated 1st March 1973. At present the Congregation has got 24 Provinces, 2 Regions in India and a Region in Germany with 834 convents and 7025 sisters as on 1st January 2017. They render their service in Old Age Homes, Orphanages, Hospitals, Educational Institutions, Boarding Houses etc.
FCC in India
The source of inspiration of the founding Mothers was the Servant of God Thommachan Louis Puthenparambil, the founder of Franciscan Third Order Secular in Kerala. The first House of FCC, St. Germain's Clarist Convent, Changanassery, Kerala, India, was inaugurated and blessed by Bishop Charles Lavigne on 15th June 1891. The sacrificial mentality and the generous nature of the people of Changanassery paved the way for establishing the newly formed congregation in the soil of Changanassery. It flourished and spread, having its branches to the different parts of India and abroad.
|1.Devamatha Province, Changanassery||
2.Assisi Province, Thrissur
|3. Sacred Heart Province, Ernakulam
|4. Alphonsa Province, Pala||1952|
|5. Vimala Province, Kothamangalam||1962|
|6. St. Joseph Province, Thalassery||1974|
|7. St. Thomas Province, Kanjirappally||1978|
|8. Alvernia Province, Irinjalakuda||1979|
|9. Seraphic Province, Palakkad||1979|
|10. Alphonsa Jyothi Province, Bharananganam||1989|
|11. St. Francis Province, Thamarassery||1993|
|12.St. Mary's Province, Mananthavady||1995|
|13. Nirmal Rani Province, Idukki||2004|
FCC in mission
The Franciscan Clarist Congregation founded its second Independent offshoot in 1910, in the Diocese of Thrissur. This unit of FCC was the first to start a mission convent in North India, in the Archdiocese of Agra in 1960. In 1979 the FCC of Thrissur Province was divided in to three Provinces – Thrissur, Irinjalakuda and Palakkad. Accordingly the mission centers were also divided among the three provinces. The first FCC presence outside Kerala, was spread from Thrissur Province namely San Damiano province, Noida in the year 1992. Irinjakuda Province had its Region in 1987 and grew soon and was raised to St. Paul Province, Delhi in 1994. Likewise Palakkad also established a mission Province in Bareilly, San Francisco Province in 2011.
Deva Matha Province, Changanassery started its first Mission in 1968 at Hazharibagh and rose to Maria Matha Province, in the year1990. Reading the signs of the time and needs of the people, Sacred Heart Province, Ernakulam laid its foundation of the mission at Brahmapuri Chanda in 1968 , and declared as Amala province, Bhopal in the year 1991. In 1969 sisters from Kothamangalam came to North India, Vijayanagaram for missionary activities and declared it a region in 1989, and was declared as Nirmala Province, Vijayawada in 1994. Living the charism of St. Francis, FCC sisters of Pala extended their Apostolate to North East India, Imphal, Manipur in 1966. In 1989 when Alphonsa Pala Province was divided in to two, the care of North East was entrusted to Alphonsa Jyothi Province Bharananganam. It became a region in 1991and was declared as St. Clare Province, Imphal in 1997.
Responding to the challenging call of Vatican II, the FCC sisters of Alphonsa Province Pala expanded their Apostolate at Ujjain in 1972. The newly formed Diocese of Jalandhar, impressed upon different congregations for evangelization and the sisters of FCC began its mission at Punjab in 1972, expanded to a region in 1997 and was raised as St. Francis Province, Jalandhar in 2003.
Deva Matha Province, Changanassery started its first mission House in the Southern part of the Archdiocese of Azhakiamandapam in Tamil Nadu in 1974 and was erected to San Joe Region in 1998 and was declared as San Joe Province, Thuckalay in 2011. With the invitation of the Bishop of Eluru, sisters from St. Thomas Province, Kanjirappally reached in this mission area in 1981 and was declared as San Thom Province, Eluru in 2013. To look after and nurture the faith of the people of Rajasthan, St. Mary’s Province, Mananthavady extended its service and started its mission in 1988. It became a region in 2006 and was declared as Maria Rani Province Rajasthan in 2015. Bishop Jonas Thaliyath CMI who had a master plan for the total Development of the People of Rajkot invited FCC sisters from St. Francis Province, Thamarassery to his diocese, and they began their missionary activates in 1979 and declared it as St. Alphonsa Region, Rajkot in 2013. Studying the situation of the people and the need for Evangelization at Orissa, St. Joseph Province, Thalassery opened a mission station at Bodmal in 1990 and was declared as Clare Jyothi Region, Odisha in 2015.
|14. Maria Matha Province, Hazaribagh||1990|
|15. Amala Province,Bhopal||1991|
|16. San Damiano Province , Noida||1992|
|17. Nirmala Province , Vijayawada||1994|
|18. St. Paul Province, Delhi||1994|
|19. St. Clare Province, Imphal||1997|
|20. St. Francis Province , Jalandhar||2003|
|21. San Francisco Province , Bareilly||2011|
|22. San Joe Province, Thuckalay||2011|
|23. San Thom Province, Eluru||2013|
|24. Maria Rani Province, Rajasthan||2015|
|25. St. Alphonsa Region, Rajkot||2013|
|26. Clare Jyothi Region, Orissa||2015|
|27. St. Remigiushaus Region, Germany||2008|
Superiors General since the unification of the Congregation:
The superiors General since the unification of our Congregation are as follows:
|Rev. Mother Maurus (1970 – 1980)||Rev. Mother Romuald (1980 – 1986),|
|Rev. Mother Celerena (1986 – 1991)||Rev. Mother Henry Suso (1991 – 1997),|
|Rev. Mother Marianna (1997 – 2003)||Rev. Mother Ceelia (2004 – 2009),|
|Rev. Mother Sinclare (2009 – 2015)||Rev. Mother Ann Joseph (2015 -…|
Saintly flowers of FCC
FCC is blessed with two great personalities. St. Alphonsa who was canonized on 12th October 2008, the first woman Saint of India and Venerable Rani Maria who is at the threshold of beatification are the heavenly blossoms of Franciscan Clarist Congregation.
Global presence of FCC
Today FCC is spread out in five Continents, 12 countries, 24 provinces, 3 Regions with total number of 7025 sisters – 6470 finally professed and 555 temporarily professed sisters.
Many of the Provinces have started small communities in countries like Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, U.S.A, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi and Papua New Guinea. There are 27 sisters from Kenya. At present we have 17 houses in Italy 36 convents in Germany, 1 convent in Spain, 2convents in Austria, one convent in Switzerland, 4 convents in USA, 16 houses in Kenya, 8 houses in Tanzania, 2 convents in South Africa, one convent in Malawi, and 5 convents in Papua New Guinea, The following list shows the missionary presence of FCC in different countries and its established years.
|Thrissur||Terracina (2009), Bari (2015)|
|Pala||Mergo (2011) Cento celle (2016)|
Fabriano (2013), Reggio – Emillia (2016)
|Kanjirappally||Rome Deglieroi (1983), Imola (2006), Ferrara (2017)|
|Thamarassery||Finale –Emillia (2001), Casinalbo (2008)|
|Mananthavady||Matelica (2009), Pabullo (2014)|
|Changanassery||Karisruhe (1991) , Kevelaer (1997) Marienbaum (2005)|
|Ernakulam||Isselburg (1976), Witten Annen (1990) , Raisdorf-Kiel (1990) Munster (2016),) Paderborn (2016)|
Witten (2002), Leer (2011)
|Kothamangalam||Monchenglabacha (1981), Stuttgart (1990) Offenbach (1992),|
|Kanjirappally||Bremen (2014), Bremen (2015)|
|Irinjalakuda||Hennef (1994) Kologne (2011)|
|Bharananganam||Frankfurt (1995), Freiburg (2007)|
|Mananthavady||Wuppertal (1994), Wuppertal (1996)|
|Idukki||Mariahilf (1981) , Munchen (2003)|
Mayen (1996), Hamburg (2013)
|Delhi||Refrath (2003), Bonn (2005)|
wayzapa MN (1970), Vermillion MN (1994), St. Antony Avenue MN, (2003), Eagan MN (2016)
Nairobi (1998), Kamuwongo (2003), Tinganga (2009)
Kattangi (1995) Kiirua (2002), Nkubu (2004), Nchiru (2005), Machakose (2011) Katani (2014)Kibirichia (2016)
Machakose (2011) Katani (2014)Kibirichia (2016) Irinjalakuda Machakos (1989), Thika Machakos (1998), Donyo Sabuk(2005), Mombassa Lane (2005) , Sultan Hamud (2011), Oliokirikirai (2016)
Kikwavila – Ifakara (2001), Bukene (2014) Ifakara (2017)
Mkuza (2008), Chalinze (2011) Kibamba (2017),
Mbangamao (2013), Morogoro (2016)
Mthatha (1995), Oudtshoorn (2010)
Pacific Island – Oceania
Papua New Gunia
Tari (1998), Irawi (2000), Margarima (2008), Komo (2010), Mendi (2013)