Welcome to Franciscan Clarist Congregation
St. Francis of Assisi who embraced the evangelical life laid the foundation for a new way of life which bears witness to the poor, humble and Crucified Christ. Renouncing totally and joyfully all worldly goods and their pleasures, he treasured Crucified Christ as his everything, proclaiming wholeheartedly, “My God, My All.” His poor humble life, his fraternity and his zealous apostolic activity could really affect the renewal of Christian life in his time. St. Clare was the first woman who followed the Crucified Lord in the footprints of Francis and the Franciscan II Order (Cloistered) which was established for women.
Humble Birth of FCC
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 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 another direction. In the year 1887 Kottayam Vicariate was established and Rt. Rev. Dr. Charles Lavigne SJ from France was appointed as the Vicar Apostolic of Kottayam. During his Pastoral journey over the Vicariate, he was moved by the plight of the unwanted, the sick and the destitute of the Vicariate. 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 the Congregation of St. Clara. His first question to them was whether they were ready to take care of the orphans and the unwanted and they said YES. The Bishop visited the pious ladies on 4th July 1888 at their residence at Kannadiurumpu. The 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 outstanding characteristic of this congregation was spirit of prayer, life of hard work, care for the destitute and service to the poor. Eventually, education, social service and care for the sick were also included in their apostolate. 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 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 first 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 with the guidance of Rev. Fr. Hippolytus (later Bishop of Jammu- Srinagar). It got approved by the Apostolic See in 1973.
The Congregation was raised to Pontifical status on Ist March 1973. The unified Franciscan Clarist Congregation has been making large strides in the path of progress. The Congregation grew in the strength of members and apostolic activities. Several creative programmes were taken up for the spiritual renewal of the members and for the revival of the original charism. Now FCC has grown into an International Congregation having 26 Provinces, 4 Regions 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, Uganda and Rwanda. They render their services in Old age homes, Orphanages, Hospitals, Educational institutions, Boarding houses etc.