Congregation of Mother of Carmel
The Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (C.M.C.) is a Syro-Malabar religious institute of Discalced Carmelite Religious Sisters founded in 1866. It was the first native congregation for women in that Church.
The congregation was founded by the Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, T.O.C.D., in collaboration with Father Leopold Beccaro, O.C.D., the Master of novices for the Discalced Carmelite friars in India. It was founded as the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of the Order of Discalced Carmelites on 13 February 1866 at Koonammavu in the southern state of Kerala.
Chavara, who was Vicar General of the Church at the time, was also a social reformer, an educator and had played a major and significant role in educating women and people of lower sections of society. He had envisioned a community of Religious Sisters who would work in this field, among the poor of the Church.
The first house of the new community was opened in Koonammavu with four women: Eliswa, a widow, her daughter Anna, Eliswa’s sister Tresa and another young lady named Clara. They were given the rules of the Discalced Third Order under the authority of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Verapoly, the Most Rev. Bernardine Baccinelli, O.C.D.
In May 1887, the Holy See established the Syro-Malabar Church in India as independent of the hierarchy of the Latin Rite. This caused problems for the young congregation, as both Latin and Syrian bishops claimed authority over them. This had to be settled by Rome, which ruled that the Sisters were part of the Syro-Malabar Vicariate Apostolic of Trichur. The Sisters who belonged to the Latin Church separated and formed a new congregation in the Roman Catholic Church called the Congregation of Theresian Carmelites (C.T.C.).
With the eventual reorganization of the Syro-Malabar hierarchy, the Sisters found themselves divided among five different congregations, each under a different bishop and led by its own Superior General. The first foundation outside of Kerala from among the different groups was to the Punjab in 1958.
Full union of the disparate congregations did not take place until 16 November 1963, when they were recognized by the Holy See as a congregation of the Eastern Church, at which time the congregation took the name of Congregation of Mother of Carmel, by which it is currently known.
Saints of the congregation
Elias Chavara, the founder of the congregation, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986, in the course of his visit to India. One of the congregation's early members, Mother Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
Sister Jesme a member of the congregation, has in her autobiography "Amen: Autobiography of a Nun", detailed ...the humiliation, sexual abuse and mental torture at the seminary, that she suffered. Sister Jesme was principal of the seminary's St. Mary's College in Thrissur. She alleges that sexual and other forms of harassment were endemic in the convent.
- "About the Congregation". Congregation of the Mother of Carmel.
- "Religious Congregations". Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council.
- Sister Jesme (2009-06-01). Amen: the Autobiography of a Nun. ISBN 978-0-14-306708-5.