Great Way Of a Saint

Kuttanad is known as the granary of Kerala. Surrounded by paddy fields, backwaters and rivers, Kuttanad is very beautiful in its scenic view. Most of the people in Kuttanad are farmers. And life of the people in Kuttanad during olden days was in misery due to poverty, contagious diseases and flood. It was during that time St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born in Kainakary village on 10 February 1805.

The Chavara family of Kuriakose and Mariam was showered with God’s blessings and Kuriakose was the third born. Even in the midst of all difficulties, children grew up in the shadow of their loving parents with real faith in God and love for others. For the virtuous life of Kuriakose his family was a real blessing from God.

Few days after birth, Kuriakose was baptized in the parish church of Chennangari on 18 February 1805.
During that period of time Vechoor Church was one of the famous churches. Kuriakose’s Mother, Mariam, was a great devotee of the Holy Mother of Vechoor. Hence, she offered Kuriakose as a Marian servant under Vechoor Mother for protection at the very young age itself. The foundation of the present church in Vechoor was laid by Chavara Kuriakose Elias.

During those days the method of teaching children at the home of the teacher (ashan) was very common. Children used to start their formal education from these teachers at their home. Kuriakose also started his formal education in ashan kalari at the age of five by writing on sand with a finger.
Jesus was the best friend of Little Kuriakose. It was his mother who taught him the preliminary lessons in prayer.

One day instinctively Malpan Thomas Palakkal of Palipuram Seminary came to Chavara family. The polite manners like Kuriakose drew the attention of Malpan.
Malpan asked Little Kuriakose “Would you like to be a priest?”
Little Kuriakose replied “Definitely Father.”
His parents were sad to send him to the seminary, but they obliged to the wish of their son.

Kuriakose started living with the Vicar of Chennangiri Church and started to learn Holy Bible and the basics of Syriac language. For a year he stayed in the church and then as he realized that God’s will is to become priest. At the age of 11 years he bid farewell to his family and continued his studies at Pallipuram seminary.

Under the pious, learned and wise teacher, Malpan Thomas, Kuriakose started to learn by heart the teachings of the Church and the reflections of Saints. He had a number of classmates at Pallipuram seminary.
Kuriakose received his minor orders from the Vicar Apostolic of varapuzha.

While in the seminary, the painful news of the death of beloved mother, father and brother reached Kuriakose. This made him very sad. His relatives took him home and did not allow him to go back to the seminary. Since he was the only male left in the family his relatives wanted him to marry for the continuation of the family. But Kuriakose was not ready to change his mind. He wanted to go back to the seminary.
The relatives kept Kuriakose at home only without allowing him to go to the seminary. For several days he sat at home and kept praying to Mother Mary with a painful heart for the fulfillment of his desire.
He than asked his elder sister and husband in Edathwa to come and stay in Chavara family. He requested his sister to take responsibility of the whole family for him. He also handed her over the responsibility of his brother's children and left for seminary.

After returning to the seminary, Kuriakose was fully engaged in studies and preparation for priesthood.

On November 29th 1829, Deacon Kuriakose received priesthood from Bishop Marelius Stabalini in Arthungal Church. The solemn first Mass was celebrated in his home parish, Chennangari Church.