Poothathil Thommiachan I Fr Thomas Poothathil I poothathilthommiachan.org

 

 

Charism: To live in praise of His Glory (Eph. 1:6) and in the service of His Compassionate Love (Mt. 15:36) 

Beginning: Sisters of St. Joseph's Congregation (SJC) was founded on July 3, 1928 by the late Rev. Fr. Thomas Poothathil, a zealous priest and a man of vision with the aim "glorifying God through words and deeds". SJC is a diocesan congregation belongs to the Archdiocese of Kottayam. The special apostolate of the Congregation with the motto 'Love and Serve' is to care and support for the physically, mentally and socially disabled and thereby bear witness to the merciful love of Jesus. We give services by establishing and managing Home and School for the mentally challenged children, Rehabilitation centre for the physically and mentally disabled, Care and Support centre for Cancer and HIV/AIDS patients, Orphanages, Schools, Hospitals etc. Our congregation renders its services mainly among the rural areas of Kerala and some North Indian States such as Gujarat, M.P. and New Delhi. The sisters are engaged in charitable activities in Italy, Germany and Switzerland. 

It was the long cherished desire of our founder, Rev. Fr. Thomas Poothathil to establish a congregation for sisters in the Diocese of Kottayam with a view to take care of mentally and physically disabled persons. His life was mostly set apart for the fulfilment of this desire. "Whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me” (Mt.25: 40). Inspired by this word of God and as a result of his prayerful meditation he founded this congregation. 

In those days the handicapped and the mentally challenged were discarded both at home and in the society. Therefore Fr. Thomas decided to give shelter to the physically handicapped women. As he was short of finance, he raised funds through local collection and from abroad. With this money he purchased a plot of land at the side of St. George Forane Church, Kaipuzha and constructed a house. This was the beginning of St. Thomas Asylum, which was inaugurated on May 3, 1925, with the permission and blessing of Bishop Mar Alexander Choolaparambil, the then Bishop of Kottayam. 

With the opening of St. Thomas Asylum there was a rush of the disabled seeking admission and thus arose the need of committed women to take care of the disabled. On May 14, 1927, two years after the St. Thomas Asylum was started, Fr. Thomas Poothathil wrote a letter to Mar Alexander Choolaparambil, asking permission to start a religious Congregation for women in the name of St. Joseph. And he received the necessary permission from the Bishop. 

The first five members of St. Joseph’s Congregation founded by Rev. Fr. Thomas Poothathil, were Sr. Josephina Poothathil of Neendoor, Sr. Thomasia Kollalappara of Koodalloor, Sr. Ignatia Elanjimattathil of Edamattom, Sr. Kochuthresia Paravarakath of Thidanad, and Sr. Magdalena Kollamparampil of Aruvithura. They were admitted as Postulants and Sr. Catherine Tharayil Puthenpura and Sr. Johanna Theramthanam of Visitation congregation stayed with them in the Asylum and gave them religious formation. After about three months these Postulants received religious habit on July 3, 1928 from Bishop Mar Alexander Choolaparambil. That was the beginning of St. Joseph’s Congregation. 

Objectives :

1. To Glorify God by our dedicated service and thus to become His own.
2. To be granted His mercy by our service in union with Jesus Christ.
3. To share His merciful love among the people whom we meet.
4. To make experience the poor and downtrodden the mercy of God and thus to lead them to the salvation.
5. To provide the physically, mentally and socially challenged women and children the opportunity to have a holy and peaceful life by establishing institutions for them.
6. To keep developing God-given talents to be used in the service of God's people.

Charitable services: St. Joseph's sisters are engaged in charitable activities in the field of Social, Medical, educational and pastoral fields. 

St. Thomas Asylum: A home for the physically handicapped women

Rev. Fr. Thomas Poothathil, the founder of St. Joseph's Congregation started an Asylum for the rehabilitation of the physically handicapped women on 3rd May 1925 at Kaipuzha. Along with his plan for such an Asylum, he nurtured in his mind the idea of a women religious congregation to care for the inmates of the proposed Asylum. Hence, the foundation of the Sisters of the St. Joseph's Congregation intimately associated with the St. Thomas Asylum. There are 120 physically disabled women housed in three established institutions in Kaipuzha, Kidangoor and Kappiset. The inmates engage in different types of manual works such as book binding, sewing, tailoring, plastic work etc. The Asylum has already got a book-binding unit and the inmates are doing their best to produce a certain number of note-books every year.

Home and School for the Mentally Challenged - St. Joseph's Congregation has three homes and three schools dedicated only for the mentally challenged women and children in Kerala. Our sisters also work in the school for the mentally challenged children administered by the dioceses of Rajkot and Ujjain. We have started a home for the mentally challenged children in the Metropolitan city of Delhi in 1994. These institutions have been committed towards the emotional, intellectual and social development of handicapped children through long term residential care. The ultimate goal of these institutions is to give proper training and rehabilitation to the disabled children in our society irrespective of caste, religion, race etc., to be good and responsible members of the society as far as these capabilities permit and help them to achieve personal happiness and independence. Different types of vocational training are given according to their ability and interest such as making note books, envelopes, chalks, greeting cards, candles, rosaries, book binding, craft works, production of soap and detergent powder etc.

St. Thomas Balika Bhavan - There are a lot of children around us suffering from poverty, lack of parentage, education, health, nutrition etc. St. Thomas Balika Bhavan at Kurumulloor was established on December 1, 1972 with the aim of providing shelter, food, clothing, medical care and education both academic and moral to the poor destitute and orphan girls. Admission is given to the children irrespective of caste and creed. The children are provided facilities for studies from Std. 1 to 10. Further help is also given to them if needed. More opportunities are given for their co and extra-curricular activities. Periodic medical check-up is arranged for the children to improve their health. The students from extremely poor and broken families are being taken care of by the religious sisters. The institutional care helps the children to be responsible and educated citizens. It takes care of 100 inmates per year. 

For convenience, the 10th standard students of St. Thomas Balika Bhavan is staying in an extended building at Kaipuzha. We run a children’s home (Asha Bhavan) at Mangalagiri (Palakkad Dt.) for week days for the needy children from the interior areas for their primary education (Classes 1-4). In the week-end they go to their homes. Also a house is run for the poor girls of 8, 9, 10 standards at Eachome in Waynad district. Our sisters are working at Besthlaye, Kaduthuruthy, a parallel home of St. Thomas Balika Bhavan, Kurumulloor for the boys at Kaduthuruthy, Kottayam.

St. Joseph's Home: Hospice for Cancer patients - St. Joseph's Home is a place of consolation and treatment for cancer patients who are destitutes. It was started on December 1994 near Kottayam Medical College as a tribute to Rev. Fr. Thomas Poothathil on his 50th death anniversary. This home facilitates the living of the dying. It provides palliative care to the patients and gives a peaceful death. All the patients who come to St. Joseph's Home are considered God's children and are treated with love, care and compassion. Patients afflicted with deadly diseases and abandoned by their own children and relatives are accommodated in and are looked after by the sisters. There are 30 inmates at present whose number increases day by day. They are from poor family backgrounds and hence are incapable of affording the expenses of medication and care. Those left abandoned after their death are buried in the vault of the hospice. Since those people are so poor, St. Joseph's home has to struggle to meet both ends together. However we believe that there is a limit for cure but there is no limit for care.

Jyotir Bhavan: Care and Support centre for HIV/AIDS patients - Jyotir Bhavan is a home for the female HIV/AIDS patients, started on September 8, 2004 as the time demanded it. In this institution, patients abandoned by their near and dear ones, receive love, care and acceptance. It provides palliative care to those who are in the last stage of HIV/AIDS. Most of the patients who come to Jyotir Bhavan are referred from Medical College, or some time left at the gate by someone. The sisters receive these patients whole heartedly without any discretion of caste or creed. It provides for their basic needs, necessary medical treatment on timely basis, nursing care to the patients so as to promote comfort and alleviate suffering, counsel and guide the patients and their relatives to understand and accept the nature of the disease, educate the public about HIV/AIDS to reduce the social stigma, collaborate and work with other organization, prepare the affected in the acute stage and their family to accept the inevitable consequence of HIV/AIDS death etc. Sisters find joy and God experience by serving the bedridden patients,. At present Jyotir Bhavan can accommodate only 16 patients. Even though there are more requests from the terminally ill deserved patients, the number of admission is highly restricted due to the lack of space and facilities.

Educational Field - Our founder Rev. Fr. Thomas Poothathil, started a school at Kurumulloor in 1930's to impart education in the rural area of Kurumulloor. It was also a source of income to look after the handicapped of asylum. Hence onwards S.J.C sisters have been involving in the educational field. Most of our teacher-sisters work in the diocesan management schools. Some of them work for the schools run by diocese of Rajkot. A few of them works in our own management schools and nursery schools. While working in the education field also, our aim is to glorify God through our dedicated service. While we are among the children we try to lay emphasis to the vision and goal of our founder. We try to inculcate values in students such as sense of justice, love for the poor, sharing, etc. These values are the seeds of our educational harvest. 

Medical Field: SJC daughters are very much active in the medical field, from the early stages itself. Though there is one hospital of our own (MUM Hospital, Monippally) few sisters are working as nurses in diocesan hospitals as well as govt. hospitals here in Kerala and abroad. While giving nursing care to the needy, we are continuing the Good Samaritan’s role.

Hostel Service: We are running hostels as well - as there was a great need for the working women’s safety.

Home Mission: Our sisters are fulfilling our founder’s dream of building up of the family life. Through the programmes of ‘Kerigma’ our sisters’ service for the families are immense. To do the follow-ups, few sisters set apart their lives for house visiting.

Conclusion - St. Joseph's congregation was set up to alleviate the pain and suffering of the under privileged sections who were neglected and discriminated at all levels in the rapidly growing materialistic society. Sisters try their level best to spread the Good News of Jesus through their life and different kinds of charitable activities. Our Patron's day is March 19 - Feast day of St. Joseph.

On 26th of January 2009 our founder Rev. Fr. Thomas Poothathil is declared Servant of God by His Grace Mar Mathew Moolakkatt, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kottayam

St. Joseph’s Congregation at a Glance

Professed Sisters      373
Novices (2nd Year)    03
Novices (1st Year)     05
Postulants                 07
+1 & +2 Students      10
Aspirants                  08
Convents                  58
Prayer Home            1
Home for the physically handicapped 3
Home for the Mentally challenged      4 
Home for the aged                              1
Hospice for the cancer patients           1
Care & Support Centre for HIV/AIDS patients  1
Nursery School                            21 
School (English Medium)              1
School (Malayalam Medium)        1
School for the Mentally Retarded 3
Printing Press                               2
Tailoring centre                           4
Boarding house                           1
Balika Bhavan                             4 
Hostel                                          6
Hospital                                       1
Dispensary                                   2
Counselling Centre                      1