The FCC (Franciscan Clarist Congregation) has her inspiration and model from the twin saints of Assisi – St. Francis and St. Clare.
The Franciscan spirit of the 13th century reached Kerala in the second half of the 19th century.
In 1875, a unit of Franciscan Third Order was founded in the Parish of Pala and started functioning.
Highly imbued with the zealous love for God, some pious women of third Order led a community life at Kannadiyurumpu.
The Franciscan Clarist Congregation in Kerala is the fulfillment of the ardent desire of these eight pious women,
to lead a genuine and full Franciscan Way of life. Bishop Charles Lavigne SJ helped them to found the Congregation.
It was formed on 14th December 1888 at Changanacherry. The outstanding characteristics of this Congregation were spirit of prayer, life of hard work, care of the destitute and service of the poor, teaching of religion and imparting education.
The Congregation which flourished under the paternal care of Bishop Charles Lavigne and his successors,
slowly developed as independent units or diocesan religious communities in the various diocese of Kerala.
Responding to the invitation of the Second Vatican Council, the Congregation slowly moved along
the ways of renewal and adaptation and finally reached the path of unification.
Consequently a unanimous petition for the unification of the various units was sent to
the Apostolic See and the permission was granted on 12th March 1970.
Rev. Fr. Hippolytus Kunnumkal OFM. Capuchin was appointed Papal delegate.
Marking the commencement of the unification Rev. Mother Maurus (Mother General, Changanacherry) was elected the first Superior General on 10th October 1970. The General Curia was also formed with the major superiors of other units as Councillors.
A commission was appointed to frame a common Constitution and directory, in the light of Vatican II.
A directory under the name of ‘The Franciscan Way of life ' came into force
on 14th December 1971 and the Constitution was approved by Apostolic See and raised the Congregation to the Pontifical Right on 1st March1973.
At present FCC has 6961 sisters and 791 houses, engaged in various apostolic activities in different parts of the world mainly among the downtrodden. It has 23 Provinces and 2 regions in India and a Region in Germany. Many of the Provinces have started small communities
abroad like Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, U. S., Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa,
Papua New Guineaand Spain. They render their service in Old age homes, Orphanages, Hospitals, AIDS Care Centres, Palliative Care Centres, Rehabilitation Centres for the Psychiatric patients, Leprosy Sanitoriums and Educational institutions etc. We have 16 sisters from Kenya. Let God be praised for what He has done for us and through us.
St. Alphonsa-first saintly daughter of Mother India is a precious gift given by the Heavenly Father to the FCC, to the Syro Malabar Church and to the Church of India. Here is a young nun raised to the altars, who epitomises in herself two magnificent ecclesiastical heritages, the heritage of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Community of the Orient and the heritage trail blazed by St. Francis of Assisi of the Occidental tradition.
The faithful spouse of Christ, who lived in the convent at Bharanganam in the diocese of Pala,
offered her life as a holocaust on the altar of suffering and was called to the heavenly abode on 28th July 1946 at the age of 36. His Holiness Pope John Paul II beatified her on 8th February 1986.
On 1st March 2008, Pope Benedict XVI convoked a Consistory for her canonisation. The Mother General of the Congregation, Mother Ceelia, and Sr. Maria Francis, the Provincial of the Province of Bharananganam, to which Sister Alphonsa belonged, were present too. In a short ceremony after the approbation by the Holy Father, the date of canonisation was fixed for 12th October, 2008.
Pope Benedict XVI canonised Bl. Alphonsa at St. Peter’s Square in Rome on Sunday, 12 October and she became the country’s first catholic woman saint. A large number of priests, nuns and lay people from kerala residing at different parts of the world attended the ceremony. The Superoir General Mother Ceelia and a good number of FCC sisters representing various provinces witnessed the Canonisation Ceremony. During the Ceremony Mother Ceelia offered St. Alphonsa's Relics to the Holy Father.
On the canonization day special prayers were offered during Mass on Sunday across Catholic churches in Kerala in thanksgiving for the raising of Blessed Alphonsa of to Sainthood. At the time of the Canonization in Rome bells were rung and special prayers were offered all over Kerala.
She is the first Indian woman raised to the veneration of the altar.
Now she is a model and mediator to the whole FCC and to the people of all walks of life in India and abroad.
Beloved daughter of FCC,the Servant of God Sr. Rani Maria the FCC Martyre for marginalized- lived and died for a noble cause. Through her courageous sacrifice and martydom, she has sown the seed of love and justice and brotherhood in many hearts.
She was one of the first two who took final commitment in F.C.C. For about 18 years in different turns she served as Superior. She died on 12th September, 1918. Her mortal remains rests in the Cemetery Chapel in St. Mary's Cathedral, Changanacherry.
Sr. Colletta of Jesus
She had her final commitment in the Carmelite chapel of Changanacherry in 1895 before Bishop Lavinge. She too was the Superior of our convent in Changanacherry. On 6th May, 1900 she went to start a new convent in Kayalpuram, in the parish of Pulincunnu. She died on 24th June, 1930. She was buried in the St. Mary's Cathedral cemetery , Changanacherry.
Sr. Anna of Jesus
She was a 50 years old widow and she found it hard to lead a regular religious life. The Bishop allowed her to leave.
Sr. Agnes of Jesus
She too went with Sr. Colletta to found the new convent in Kayalpuram. She came back in 1902. Though she became a T.B patient, she was very regular with the community exercises and was an edifying example to others. She died on 29th June, 1913 and was buried in the St.Mary's Cathedral cemetery , Changanacherry.
Sr. Margaritta of Jesus
She was only 20yrs when she joined. She lived for about 64 years in the Congregation and did a lot of service to people. She went to start a convent in Kannadyurumpu with the help of Fr. Jose Madappattu. Also she helped in founding the convent in Ernakulam. She was Superior in fifteen convents. She used to say 7 times the Way of the Cross daily. Her deep faith, zeal, devotion and love were remarkable. She died on 2nd Aug., 1951 and as buried in the Cemetery Chapel, St. Mary's Cathedral, Changanacherry.
Sr. Mariam Thresia of Jesus
She had her final commitment on 12th Aug. 1896. She went to start a convent in Maniankunnu in Palai in 1902. She was very loving to the poor and used to go for begging for them. She died on 22nd Nov. 1932.
Sr. Mariam of Jesus
As a junior sister she got some skin disease and was sent home for treatment. After prolonged time treatment she became well and came back. So continued her service in the orphanage in Changanacherry in lay dress: She died on 28th October, 1943. She was buried in religious habit.
Sr. Mariam Magdalena of Jesus
She was the youngest in the group. She made her final commitment on 12th Aug., 1896 at the Carmelite convent Chapel in Changanacherry. She did a lot for the growth of the F.C.C. She had a special devotion to Our Lady and was very obedient and faithful to the community exercises. She was very kind, specially to the orphans. Before death she asked pardon from all her sisters and wished peace and joy to all. She died on22nd January, 1948 and was buried in Cathedral Cemetery Chapel, Changanacherry.
FCC is the first Syrian Christian Women’s Congregation of Kottayam Vicarate.The great desire of our pioneer mothers together with his own love for the poor led the first Vicar Apostolica of Kottayam, Rt. Rev.Dr. Bishop Charles Lavigne S.J. to found the Franciscan Clarist Congregation.A new branch of the Franciscan Order which had already spread world wide thus came into existence as F.C.C. at Changanassery in the Kottayam Vicarate in the year 1888.
On 4 October 1890, he together with Rev. Fr. Recardo laid the foundation stone for a new convent named St. Germane’s Convent. On 15 June 1891, the feast day of St. Germane, the new convent was blessed and inaugurated.
In the beginning, for three years Bishop Lavigne carried on his services at his headquarters at Mannanam and Edaikkattu Church. But in 1890 with the permission of the Holy See, his seat was shifted to Changanacherry. The Church at Changanacherry was much bigger and it had a large number of Catholics under it. Without delay he started a school for boys. There were 40 boys in the beginning. It was named St. Berchman’s School and it was housed in the St. Germane's convent built for the FCC sisters.
After the profession of the sisters, His Lordship made a plan to go to Rome to meet the Pope. He informed the sisters that he would try to get the Pope’s blessings and recognition for their Rules and Directory of life. He asked them to recite the Memorare until he returned from Rome. Bishop Lavigne left for Rome on 15 September 1895. In his absence Rev. Fr. Recardo took charge of the affairs of the sisters. By now it was decided from Rome to appoint local Bishops. So it was clear that Bishop Lavigne wouldn’t be coming back to India. he was appointed Bishop of Trincomali. He was called for eternal rest on July 11th1913
Source of Inspiration - Puthenparampil Thommachen
It was St. Francis of Assisi, who followed Christ intimately, who founded the Franciscan Fraternity. The Franciscan III Order is a branch of this Franciscan Fraternity. The Franciscan III Order was established in Kerala towards the end of the 19 century. The Franciscan Clarist Congregation was founded by a group of pious ladies who were members of the III Order.
Franciscan III Order Secular was founded in Kerala by Sri. Thomman Louis Puthenparambil a native of Edathuva under Verapoly Diocese. It was his personal effort that brought the Order all over Kerala. He collected a group of lay men with religious fervour and in 1864 started a life of prayer and penance at the age of 28.Later on, when Mr. Thommachan happened to go through the Constitution of the III Order received from Rev. Fr. Devassia Ottappunnackal, Thottekkadu, he began to live accordingly. In 1868 he received the official habit of III Order from Rev. Fr. Palakkunnel at the Church of Kurumbanadam.
They obtained their Constitution approved from Verapoly Archbishop’s house in 1874.The Order could establish about 50 units in the different parts of the Archdiocese due to the efforts of Mr. Thommachan by 1888. In the year 1889, the feast of St. Francis was celebrated at Punthoppe. Bishop Lavigne was also present there for the occasion. He selected Punthoppe as the centre of 10 units and Mr. Thommachan was elected the general leader of the III Order. Mr. Thommachan left for his eternal reward on 1 November 1909.
Thus the Franciscan III Order which was started in Kerala by Mr. Thomman Louis, Puthenparampil became well - established all over Kerala. The unit which was formed in the parish of Palai in 1875 was one of the flourishing units of the III Order. Some of the ladies of this unit wanted to commit themselves to God leading a full Franciscan life. These pious ladies belonged to very ancient and noble catholic families. They had inherited from Mr. Thommachan the real spirit of poverty, simplicity and a penitential life of prayer and penance. They wished to form themselves into a religious community and live a life of deep spirituality. These pious ladies who had deep faith and strong convictions became the pillars on which F.C.C. was built. The role model for these ladies was Mr. Thommachan who by his example and inspiring words strengthened the first mothers in all their problems. He was a source of support and strength for them. He exhorted them to turn to the Eucharistic Lord in all their problems. They could give great witnessing value through their lives by serving the poor and the neglected and engaging themselves in doing humble, hard physical labour.
FCC Charism is to attain perfect love experiencing personally and intensely the self emptying love of the poor, humble and crucified Jesus and leading a life of constant conversion and penance, bearing witness to the Gospel.
Our Charism is expressed personally through deep prayer, universal love, total trust in the providence of God, complete detachment from worldly things, love of the Cross, self- renunciation, humility meekness, cheerfulness, simplicity, hard work, spirit of penance, sharing, availability, inner freedom and fidelity to the Church.
Going to the people as persons of deep God – experience, we express this charism as a community through our loving service to all, especially the poor, the neglected, the oppressed, the exploited and the destitute recognizing Jesus in them, through the proclamation of the Word of God and through all our endeavours in accordance with our charism and suited to the needs of the time to spread the kingdom of God.
Led by the holy Spirit we the FCC sisters strive to attain perfect love by growing in intimacy with Jesus, through Sacramental Life, contemplation of the Word of God, constant conversion, self emptying love and Eucharistic life.
In the spirit of the early Christian community which accepted the Holy Trinity as its model, the FCC community should be one that grows and nurtures, through prayer, self gift, and loving service to each other.
'The purpose of this Congregation is to bear witness to the poor and humble Christ'. (constitution no.11).
The apostolic mission of FCC is to work tirelessly for the spread of the kingdom of God interceding before God for the whole world and taking up its spiritual motherhood.
It is our right and privilege to render humble services to all especially to the poor and downtrodden bearing
witness to the Gospel even to the extend of Martyrdom for the sake of Jesus.
objectives of our Congregation
To repair and rebuild (the temple of God) wounded humanity
To be living Icons of peace promoting universal brotherhood, eco-consciousness
Transform the society
Empower the marginalized and the unprivileged
The Congregation strives to achieve its goal through apostolic activities like care of destitute, education - giving priority to the marginalized, empowerment of the marginalized, specially woman, through family apostolate adult education awareness programmes, Mahila mandal, care of the sick, services in leprosy, relief-control-rehabilitation-and eradication centers, Tuberculoses, Aids, cancer centers uplifting of the street children, animation programmes, prison ministry, services to the differently able children, old age homes, youth animation,etc.
Understanding the mind of the Church and the needs of the time, the Congregation shows much interest in evangelization and re-evangelization - ecumenical programmes and retreats, Inter-religious prayer meetings and dialogues etc. The congregation gives due consideration to the particular needs and circumstances of our country and is ready to remodel her life and work.
“... learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt.11/29). This is the only one thing that Jesus demands us to learn from him, i.e., ‘to be gentle and humble of heart.’ In the Greek language they use two words Pravoos (humble) and Thaipanos (gentle). These words connote the same virtue “lowliness”. This is a fundamental attitude not accidental, it is a conscious and free option from the part of the individual. “Even though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but he emptied himself taking the form of a slave, ...he humbled himself...” (Phili. 2/6-8) “Let the same mindsin you that was in Christ Jesus.” (Phili. 2/5). St Paul urges us to imbibe this attitude of lowliness of Jesus Christ in our lives. “...in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” (Phil. 2/3)
Mother Mary who said “the Lord looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant (LK. 1:48), St. Paul stated “By the grace of God I am what I am…(1Cor. 15: 10), St Francis who uttered “My God my all” and St. Clare proclaimed “Christ is my birth right, he is my wealth, nothing shall I want.” When they announce like this it sheds light into the different aspects of the above said lowliness which they voluntarily practised in their lives. Our founding mothers of FCC had also possessed the different attributes of lowliness like deep dependence on the Divine Providence, strong determination to consecrate themselves to God, obedience, and humility. The fundamental attitude of our Alphonsama, who is going to be canonized on 12th October 2008, was also of lowliness.
The call to holiness is meant for everybody especially for religious. St. Paul says “This is the will of God your sanctification” (1Thes: 4:3) He also advises us to “…. Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph: 4:1).
God is love (1Jn: 4:6) Holiness is the perfection of love. Religious vow is a means to attain perfect love. In FCC we reach the summit of this perfect love or holiness by practicing lowliness as a special virtue. As FCC daughters, we are pledged to possess the self emptying love of Christ. “Even though we are sinners Christ died for us” and expressed his great love towards us. Without lowliness we can not acquire this “great love.” God elevates the humble minded who stands under his mighty hands with lowliness. Therefore, this motto persuades us to practice lowliness in our daily circumstances of life and to zoom ahead in holiness.