The parting directive of Jesus before he left the apostles was to preach the good news to all creation. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt.28:19-20). Expressions like “to make disciples of all the nations” (Mt.28:19); “to all nations” (Lk.24:47); “preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk.16:15); “so I send you” (Jn.20:21), all point to the same direction. The missionary command of Jesus is valid for ever. Jesus had entrusted the accomplishment of this mission to the Apostles. The disciples are sent with the same mission of Christ (Jn.20:21). The Church faithfully continues this mandate she has received from her divine founder of proclaiming the mystery of salvation to all men and of restoring all things in Christ. As Church takes its origin from the Mission of the Son and the Mission of the Holy Spirit, the entire Church is missionary by its very nature and she is responsible for preaching the Word of God to the whole creation. The Vincentian Congregation is also actively participating in this evangelizing mission of the Church.
The Statutes of the Vincentian Congregation in its article 81 states the missionary nature of the Congregation as follows: “In places where the Gospel has not yet been preached or the Church is not yet well established, all of us, under the direction of Superior General, should be ready to respond to the manifold requirements of evangelization”. Therefore the Vincentian Congregation took upon itself the responsibility of missionary work in the region where Christ is not known and the message of salvation has not reached. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… teach them all I have commanded you”. These words of Jesus inspire us to take part actively in the missionary work of the Church. At different points of time the Congregation has sent missionaries to different areas in India and abroad for evangelization and faith formation.
In general all the Vincentian activities are part of our Mission to preach good news to the poor. Here, by the term Mission we refer to our activities outside Kerala, in India, Africa and Latin America. In this sense we have a Mission Province (St. Thomas Province); three dependant Mission Regions (Good Shepherd Region in Andhra Pradesh; Sacred Heart Region in East Africa; and St. Xavier’s Region in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) and two dependant Missions (St. Paul Mission in Ahmednagar and Christu Jyothi Mission in Uttar Pradesh). There are also individual Mission Centres in the States of Jharkhand, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and West Bengal in India and Peru in Latin America.
St. Thomas Province
Vincentian missionaries were sent to Raipur Prefecture in the year 1968 in view of taking up missions in Hindi speaking area. In the same year Holy See entrusted the Apostolic Exarchate of Satna to the Vincentian Congregation and Msgr. Abraham D. Mattam was appointed the first Exarch of the Diocese of Satna. In 1977 he was made the first Bishop of Satna Diocese. During his time, many of our priests were sent to work in this diocese. Seeing the enthusiasm of the missionaries and for the better functioning of the mission, a separate region was formed in this area on 28 February 1980 and a Regional Superior was appointed for the coordination of the missionary activities. In 1990, when the Congregation was divided into provinces it became the St. Thomas Vice-Province since it did not have 50 perpetually professed members at that time, as prescribed in rules. In 2001 it was made a Mission Province of the Congregation and was named St. Thomas Province. The Vincentian Ashram at Rewa served as the head quarters of the St. Thomas Province till the blessing of the Provincial House of St. Thomas Province at Ujwa, Delhi on September 8, 2016. The main ministries of this Province of the Vincentian Congregation is in the Hindi speaking area and has 15 houses and one Mission area in Uttar Pradesh.
Good Shepherd Region
The mission works of Vincentian Congregation in Andhra Pradesh begun on 16 June 1978 at Bhimadole in the diocese of Eluru, with the arrival of two young zealous missionaries Rev. Fr. Mathew Kunnel and Rev. Fr. John Karukapilly at the invitation of His Excellency Most Rev. John Mulagada, Bishop of Eluru Diocese. In spite of the difficulties they faced from a different climate, culture and language, they worked hard and planted the seed of Vincentian missionary activities. The success of these missionaries and possibilities ahead inspired the Superiors of Vincentian Congregation to send many more young priests to this Vineyard for good harvest. The mission works in Andhra Pradesh were organized under a mission superior from 1998. This mission was declared a dependent region under Marymatha Province called Good Shepherd Region on 6 January 2006, and was officially inaugurated on 24th of the same month. At present there are 36 priests working in 13 centers of 6 dioceses in Andhra and Telangana state. With united effort as a Vincentian family, we spread the love of God and faith in Jesus witnessing the Christian values and Gospel through Popular Missions, preaching the word of God in our Retreat centers, educational institutions for the poor in villages and less fortunate, village development programs etc.
Sacred Heart Region
The mission works of the Congregation in East Africa begun with the arrival of Rev. Frs. James Edavazhithara and Jacob Athickal in Mbeya, Tanzania on 10 July 1979 were accelerated with the arrival of Rev. Fr. Joseph Kurupamparambil. The African Mission has been raised to the status of a dependent region under Marymatha Province called Sacred Heart Region on 6 January 2006 and was formally inaugurated on 18 November 2006. At present there are 27 fathers working in this region in the countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The charism of the Vincentian Congregation is extended to the African continent through these Vincentian missionaries. We are involved in the parish ministry, retreat centers, popular mission retreats, orphanage for the boys, school etc. It is not an exaggeration to say that the African continent is the most fertile soil for the preaching ministry. People are so receptive to the Word of God. Common people seek comfort and consolation in Churches and retreat centers. Our preaching ministry is well attended and highly appreciated by ecclesiastical authorities all over East Africa.
St. Xavier’s Region
The Congregation started its first Mission in Tamilnadu at Adaikalapuram in the year 1962. The late Bishop of Salem Rt. Rev. Dr. V.S. Selvanathan was happy enough to invite us to his Diocese to look after a Catholic village, Adikalapuram, 160 km north of Salem. It was an underdeveloped area near the border of Karnataka State. The pioneering missionaries were Fr. Joseph Pampackal and Fr. Xavier Kadiamkutty who took pains to spread the good news among the local people of Adaikalapuram and Denkinikotta. Gradually, the missionary activities of Vincentians spread to other parts of the state of Tamilnadu and the neighboring states of Karnataka and Goa. For the effective co-ordination and development of the mission centres in these states, they were organized under a Mission Superior on 19 March 2003. This mission was raised to the status of a dependant region under St. Joseph Province and named St. Xavier’s Region on 1 May 2007. Now there are 10 Houses and Centers and 31 fathers are doing ministry in this region. The missionaries are involved in the parish ministry, preaching the Word of God in Retreat Centers and Parishes, educational institutions, boarding houses and other charitable activities. Popular Mission retreats are preached regularly in the parishes of this Region.
St. Paul Mission
Vincentian missionaries of the Marymatha Province stepped to the Diocese of Kalyan on 27th January 1991, accepting the Ahmednagar Revenue District of Central Maharashtra and ventured into Mission, presently known as St. Paul Mission, Ahmednagar. An agreement signed on 03rd July 1991 between the Bishop of Kalyan Mar Paul Chittilappally and Very Rev Fr. George Kammattil VC, the then Provincial Superior of the Marymatha Province highlighted the purpose of the mission for the intensive and extensive Evangelization of the Ahmednagar District. The missionaries working in this mission wanted to strengthen the communities present by the intensive evangelization and to reach out to the interior, remote and underdeveloped villages of Ahmednagar District through the extensive evangelization. The members of St. Paul Mission extend pastoral care for the Syro Malabar faithful in Aurangabad from 20th February 2011. To prepare future missionaries for this mission, we started the De Paul Minor Seminary on 25th June 2013. At present there are 15 Priests working in St. Paul Mission in 7 centers.
Christu Jyothi Mission
Christu Jyothi Mission is a dependant Region under St. Thomas Province of Vincentian Congregation. The Congregation extended its mission works to the diocese of Meerut in U.P. in 1989. Through an agreement with the Bishop of Meerut the Vincentians were allowed to work in one of the Tehisls (Chandausi) of the district of Moradabad and were permitted to use the Syro Malabar Liturgy for the public worship. Similar agreements were made with the Archbishop of Agra and the Bishop of Bareilly diocese. The Archdiocese of Agra entrusted the Vincentians the extensive work of evangelization in the District of Budaun and the Diocese of Bariely gave two tehsils of Bareily districts, namely, Meerganj and Aonla for the work of evangelization. Soon we started more houses and activities in U.P. In order to coordinate the missionary activities in U.P., it was raised to a dependent mission called Christu Jyothi Mission and a Mission Superior was appointed. Now 14 fathers are doing ministry in 7 centers of this mission.
North East Mission
All the three provinces have extended their missionary evangelization works to the States of Jharkhand, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and West Bengal through establishing retreat centres and prayer houses; doing ministry in the parishes and through educational institutions. The bishops invited the Vincentians mainly for the faith formation of their faithful through preaching retreats and bible conventions. Our priests are engaged in preaching and giving the much needed education to the poor children, parish work, retreat outreach programme to many interior villages of different tribes etc. Thousands come for retreats, night vigils, guidance, etc in our retreat centers. They also go to the parishes where they are invited and help in pastoral work and to preach the Gospel.
Mission in Latin America
It was an understanding reached in the combined administrative body meeting in May 2011 to explore the possibility of starting a Latin American Mission as our contribution to the universal church during the mission year of the Syro-Malabar Church. Certain initial contacts were made with the diocese of Caraybayllo in Peru at the Generalate level. Since the Marymatha Province expressed its willingness to take it up on its own, it was handed over to them. Thereafter communications were made by the Provincial administration and the missionary activities were officially started in January 2013. At present the parish Ensenada of the Diocese of Carabayllo in Lima, is entrusted to the Marymatha Province. The parish has about 15 stations spread out in a large area and each station has its own chapel. Two of our priests are engaged in missionary activities comprising of parish ministries, and other social and charitable activities.