Congregation of the Holy Family (CHF)
Congregation of the Holy Family (CHF) was founded by Saint Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan at Puthenchira in Thrissur District, Kerala, India, on 14 May 1914, with the call of imparting Christ to families. Venerable Fr. Joseph Vithayathil is the co-founder of the Congregation. It is an indigenous Congregation for women religious of Pontifical Status in the Syro-Malabar Church. Mariam Thresia was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 9 April 2000 and canonized by Pope Francis on 13 October 2019 at St. Peter’s Square, Rome. After the death of the Foundress on 8 June 1926, venerable Fr. Joseph Vithayathil’s role as the spiritual director and the co-founder of CHF was quite significant till his death on the very same day in 1964.
Saint Mariam Thresia was a person blessed with a very distinct vision and mission that could be attributed beyond her stretch. The Holy Family - ‘Earthly Trinity’ intervened in her life experiences and guided her frequently. She used to engross herself in the passion of Christ and often recollected and meditated upon it. In return, Jesus Christ willed to give her the imprint of His five wounds - Stigmata on 27 January 1909 in a visible form, thus making her the first stigmatic in India. Holy Eucharist was at the centre of her spiritual life where she entered into the mystery of the Eucharist to be crushed and to be given for the salvation of families.
Even though Saint Mariam Thresia had only elementary schooling, she was actively contemplative and contemplatively active, participating in all the events of her parish and the vicinity. Attracted by her unique way of life, few companions joined her. Women were prohibited from stepping into other houses at that time; even the religious nuns had no permission to visit their own homes or parents. Saint Mariam Thresia broke the prevailing inhuman customs and traditions of the society and began a new mission, ‘Family Apostolate’.
The Charism of CHF is to ‘Sanctify the families’ through ‘the compassionate love of Christ’. The motto is ‘Thy Will be done’ (cf. Lk 22:42; 1:38). CHF's spirituality is the ‘Mariam Thresian Spirituality’, which has three dimensions, namely the Holy Family, the Passion of Christ and the Eucharistic Lord. The Patron of CHF is the ‘Holy Family’ who revealed the mystery of the Trinitarian communion by sharing and inviting all to enter into the self-emptying and the self-giving love of God.
Growth of CHF
Today, Congregation's vision and mission is being lived by around 2000 sisters who belong to 10 Provinces in India and a region in Africa. Our Family oriented ministries are extended to 65 Dioceses in various parts of India and other countries like North and South America, Germany, Italy, Africa – Ghana, Kenya and Sudan. Major Areas of Ministries are Family Apostolate Training & Research Institute (FATRI) for “the holiness and wholeness of families”; Family Renewal Centre (FRC) for retreat and counselling for couples; An Integrated Family Development Forum (IFDF) to co-ordinate all the family-based programs and courses, Counselling Centres, Direct Family Apostolate Houses, Insertion Communities, Home mission in different dioceses, All Kerala Family Conference once a year, Holy Family Lay Association, Radical living in peripheries etc..
God blessed our Congregation to begin a new mission in the Syro- Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Mississauga – Canada, on 8th June 2017, under the guidance of Mar Jose Kalluvelil, the Bishop of the Eparchy, to share in the redemptive work of the Church in its fullness and depth.