Province History

 

The year 1972 was a landmark in the history of the Capuchins in India. The Province of Immaculate Heart of Mary, India was divided into four independent Jurisdictions, namely, Holy Trinity Province of Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, the Amala Annai Province of Tamilnadu, the St. Joseph Province of Kerala and St. Francis Vice – Province, Kerala. Fr. Arthur Ittikunnath was appointed as the Vice–Provincial Minister and St. Bonaventure Friary, Ponnurunni was chosen as the Vice – Provincial House. At the time of division, the Vice–Province was in its infancy with 28 Solemnly Professed Friars with five friaries, including a Mission station in the Arch Diocese of Delhi. The Vice–Province became a General Vice–Province in 1974. Fr.Jacob Acharuparampil was elected Definitor General at the 78th General Chapter in 1978. He was Definitor General from June 1978 till July 1979. He was Definitor General of Afro-Asia, i.e, of Africa and Asia. When he was appointed Bishop of Trivandrum, Fr.Claude Ollukaren was nominated in his place. The Vice–Province had a slow but steady growth and was declared a Province on December 6, 1987 by the Minister General Fr. Flavio Robert Carraro at St. Antony's Friary, Quilon, and Fr. Godwin Gama was appointed as the first Minister Provincial.

In the 2nd Provincial Chapter held at Quilon on March in1990 Fr. Leny Connully was elected as the Provincial. He toiled much to keep the growth steady during his service as provincial from 1990 – 1996.

The Province witnessed a rapid growth in the following years and it induced to think about its own study houses. The extra–ordinary Provincial Chapter held at St. Antony's Friary in 1997 decided to start its own major study house, and thus emerged "The Bodhi Institute of Philosophy and Theology", and it was formally inaugurated on 13, June 1998. Owing to the increase in the number of students, Philosophate was shifted to Marygiri Ashram Kudappanakunnu in 1999 and there we have now "Marygiri Philosophical College" until then it functioned as Novitiate house. The Ordinary Provincial Chapter, held at St. Antony's Friary in 1996 decided to shift the Provincialte for an effective and better functioning from Ponnurunni since, it is a formation house as well. Thus, the Provincialate was shifted to Kalamassery in 1998. The Novitiate was shifted to Sion Capuchin Ashram Manalikkadu in the Diocese of Kottappuram, on 14, May 1999.

The Delhi Mission, which has its jurisdiction in the territories comprising the Archdiocese of Delhi and the Diocese of Simla – Chandigarh, was raised as Provincial Custody on 22nd Nov. 2003 and Br. Godwin Gama was appointed as first Superior Regular of the Custody. Meanwhile, the Province had its presence in the Diocese of Neyyattinkara, when the Assisi ashram at Aryanad was blessed by His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Vincent Samuel, Bishop of Neyyatinkara on 09th May 2004. The Missionary zeal and enthusiasm of the Province was further enhanced, when Friars Manual and Joseph D’Cruz embarked on the journey on 15th Sep 2004, in a move to the Sacred Heart Province of Eastern Canada as part of the contract with our Province to supply personnel to the Sacred Heart Province. It was further strengthened when Brs. Pierre Viau and Jean-Guy, the Provincial and Vicar Provincial, respectively, of the Sacred Heart Province of Eastern Canada, visited our Province and officially signed the contract with our Province regarding the supplying personnel to their Province, at St. Antony’s Friary, Kollam on 25th Jan. 2005.

The never-ending fervor of the Province was gauged further when Br. Robin Daniel, Provincial, on 16th Feb. 2005, visited Ghana , a Mission entrusted to us by the General Minister to develop and to implant the Order. The Province undoubtedly entered into an agreement with the Bishop of the Diocese of "Navrongo-Bolgatanga", to send friars as animators of the Spiritual Renewal Centre of the Diocese.

There started a new witnessing-presence of the Capuchins from our Province in the Diocese of Calicut, when on 19th Oct. 2005; Pio Bhavan at Kapetta in Wayanad was blessed by the Bishop of Calicut, His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Kalathiparambil. As per the agreement arrived upon with the Bishop of Navrongo-Bolgatanga, our friars venture into the missionary territory at Ghana, on 1st Dec. 2005. Further more, another Ashram named st. Leopold Capuchin Ashram at Perayam in the Diocese of Kollam, was blessed by His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Stanley Roman, Bishop of Kollam, on 08th Feb. 2008.

The Ghana Mission was strengthened when Br. Irvin James was appointed as the Provincial Delegate for Ghana, on 27th March 2008 nad the re-inforcement happened when our Friars were also invited to the Diocese of Jasikan (another diocese in Ghana) for the missionary activities on 31st June 2008.

In response to the request of the General Minister and the Bishop of Miao, our Friars step into the missionary and pastoral activities in Arunachal Pradesh, on 15th July 2008. Much more, a new mission was opened in the Diocese of Jasikan (Ghana) on 26 Sep. 2008 and shortly afterwards the first Capuchin friary was built and blessed in Ghana in the Diocese of Jasikan by Bishop Gabriel A. A. Mante, the Bishop of Jasikan, on 17 May 2009. And way back in Arunachal Pradesh Mission, we started our own house at Miao, Dadam Parish, on 20 Dec. – 2009.

As history proceeded and as the Province grew in “God’s own Country”, Kerala, a new friary “Theo Capuchin Ashram” was blessed at Santhanpara, by His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Sebastian Thekethecheril , the Bishop of Vijayapuram11 Jan. – 2010. And in the border state of Arunachal Pradesh, in response to the request of the General Minister and the Bishop of Itanagar, two of our friars step into the missionary and pastoral activities in Itanagar (Arunachan Pradesh), on 09th March 2010.

God’s own Country still witnessed a strengthening of the Capuchin Province from St. Francis of Assisi Province, as two new friaries were set-up back-to-back. The new friary “Padua Capuchin Ashram” is blessed at Pariyaram, Kannur, by His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Varghese Chakkalakal, the Bishop of Kannur, on 24 Jan. 2011 and similarly a new friary “Sacred Heart Bhavan” is blessed at devagiri, Kozhikode, by His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Kathiparambil, the Bishop of Kozhikode, on 07 March 2011. Also, a school begins to function at Arunacha Pradesh by the efforts of our friars, from July 2011 onwards.

In the Ordinary Provincial Chapter held in 2011 May, the Provincial Delegate of Ghana, Fr. Irivn James, was elected as the Vicar Provincial of the Province. Hence, very shortly afterwards Fr. Varghhese Alphonse was appointed as the new Provincial Delegate. Two more friars venture into the Mission at Ghana, on the 12th of December, 2011, as Fr. Irvin James, the previous Provincial Delegate, was elected as the Vicar Provincial and returned back to the Province. Meanwhile, Fr. Benny was elected as one of the Provincial Definitors of the Sacred Heart Province of Canada.

Furthermore, Br. John Fernandaz, the Provincial visited Mauritius in view of starting a new mission there, with the request and consent of Br. General Minister, and he discusses with the Bishop of Port-Louis, His Excellency Rt. Rev. Maurice E. Piat, about the varied aspects and the contractual agreements to be reached with the Province. Meanwhile, a new centre was granted to the Province at Veo, in Arunachal Pradesh and the Mission Secretary Fr. Marian Vinayanand embark on a visitation to the Arunachal Pradesh Mission to discuss about the feasibility of the new centre and also to reach a consensus on the modified contractual agreements of the Province with the Dioceses of Itanagar and Miao. Further more, two more brothers venture into Arunachal Pradesh on the 28th of March, 2012.