FRANCISCAN CLARIST CONGREGATION
History - Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC)
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 its pleasures, he treasured Crucified Christ as his everything, proclaiming whole-heartedly, “ My God My All.” His poor, humble life, universal brotherhood and zealous apostolic activities created a new life among his contemporary Christians. St. Clare was the first woman who followed crucified Lord in the footprints of Francis in a life of absolute poverty and austerity, simplicity in fraternal life but an intense life of prayer and seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them
The Franciscan Clarist Congregation was founded on 14th December 1888 at Changanassery, Kerala, India. The foundation is the outcome of the communion of compassionate heart of the founder Bishop Charles Lavigne and the inner movement of the ignited hearts of the eight founding mothers namely Sr. Mariam Clara of Jesus, Sr. Coletta of Jesus, Sr. Mariam Therisa of Jesus, Sr. Agnes of Jesus , Sr. Margareetha of Jesus, Sr. Mariam Magdalena of Jesus Sr. Anna of Jesus and Sr. Mariam of Jesus. Bishop Charles Lavigne provided them the Primary Rules and Directives to follow a new way of life based on the charism.
Patrons: St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare
St. Francis of Assisi, who followed Christ intimately, bearing witness to the poor, humble, Christ, laid the foundation of a new form of life based on the Gospel. He lived in an age which was known as the Dark Age when the Church experienced moral degradation. He renounced totally and happily all worldly goods and its pleasures, so that he was able to proclaim, My God My All in all sincerity. His poor humble life, his fraternity and zealous apostolic activity could really affect a renewal of Christian life in his time. St. Clare was the first woman who followed crucified Lord in the footprints of Francis in a life of absolute poverty and austerity, simplicity in fraternal life but an intense life of prayer and seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them.
Charism, Apostolate, Spirituality
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.
The sisters are engaged in the Apostolic Activities like Prayer and Direct Evangelization, care of the poor, Education, Healing ministry, Social Welfare Programme, Special ministries etc.
The consecrated life of a FCC sister is to live in a whole hearted way the noble and genuine Motto – ‘To Holiness through Lowliness.’
Origin, Growth and spread of FCC in India and abroad.
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. A fraternity of the Franciscan Third Order, started by Puthenparambil Thommachanof Edathua alias ‘Kerala Assisi,’ had a branch functioning in the parish of Pala from 1875 onwards. Highly imbued with a zealous love for God, some pious women of the aforesaid Third Order led a devout community life at a place called ‘Kannadiurumpu’ in Pala. The Franciscan Clarist Congregation of Kerala is the fulfillment of the ardent desire of these pious women to lead a genuine and fuller form of Franciscan religious life. They expressed their long cherished wish to Rt. Rev. Dr. Charles Lavigne, the Apostolic Vicar of Kottayam, during his visitation to the parish of Pala on 4th July 1888. The Bishop understood that they had to encounter a series of obstacles and trials for the realization of their dream. But he was looking forward for such a religious community for the service of the poor. Hence, boldly overcoming the obstacles, he started an off-shoot of the Franciscan family in Kerala. Thus the Franciscan Clarist Congregation originated on 14th December 1888, at Changanacherry with Bishop Charles Lavigne as the Founder Bishop and the eight pious women as the Founding Mothers. The outstanding characteristics of this Congregation were spirit of prayer, life of hard work, care of the destitute and service to the poor. Eventually education, catechesis, social service, care of the sick, evangelization and missionary work were also included in their apostolate.
On 14th December 1888 Bishop Charles Lavigne, the Vicar Apostolate of Kottayam gave the eight ladies of the Franciscan Third order the official dress of this Religious Institute.
The Congregation which flourished under the paternal solicitude of Bishop Charles Lavigne and his successors, slowly developed as independent units, as eparchial religious communities in the various eparchies of Syro Malabar Church, Kerala. Responding to the exhortation of the Second Vatican Council, the Congregation moving along the ways of renewal and adaptation, gradually reached the path of unification. Consequently, a unanimous petition for the unification of various units was sent to the Apostolic See. The Apostolic See was pleased with the request and granted permission on 12th March 1970. Rev. Fr. Hippolytus Kunnumkal OFM Cap., [Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar] was appointed as the Papal Delegate. Marking the commencement of the process of unification Rev. Mother Maurus [Mother General Changanacherry] was elected as the first Superior General on 10th October 1970. The General Curia also was formed with the Major Superiors of other units as Councillors.
On unification a commission was set up for the formulation of Constitutions and Directory under the leadership of Rev. Fr. Hippolytus O.F.M.Cap and Mother Maurus. It was the renewed Directives of Life under the name ‘The Franciscan Way of Life’ that first came into light. The Congregation started observing this Way of Life from 14th December 1971. Owing to the persevering efforts of the commission, the new Constitutions were framed and submitted to the Apostolic See for approval on 15th June 1972. The Apostolic See granted approval to the new Constitutions and raised the Congregation to the Pontifical Right (Prot. No. 19/70 dated 1st March 1973).
Since Franciscan Clarist Congregation was an offshoot of the Franciscan Third Order, and as it was following the rule of the Franciscan Third Order Religious from the earlier decades of this century, the “Rule and Life of the Third Order Regular” (TOR Rule) renewed after a prolonged and profound study by the global Third Order Religious Family which was approved on 8th December 1982, by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, is incorporated with these Constitutions, for our observance. This was done after due consultation with the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
General Synaxis of 1983 made some Amendments and second edition of the Constitution was approved by the Apostolic See in 1983.
A profound study of the CCEO convinced that many of the canons from CCEO were to be incorporated in to our Constitutions. Therefore, the Constitutions were put forth, for an intense discussion in the General Synaxis held in April – May 1995. Consequently the constitutions were revised as a whole with the modifications put up in the General Synaxis and submitted before the Congregation for the Oriental Churches for the approval. After a thorough study, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches approved the 3rd edition of the Constitution with a few modifications on 11th April 1997 (Prot. No. 76/89).
Certain Amendments and Decisions taken by the General Plenary Synaxis held from 29th January to 5thFebruary 2019 were submitted to the Oriental Congregation for its approval on 20thJune 2019. The Oriental Congregation studied the draft and gave its approval as per decree Prot. No. 93/2011 dated 20th March 2020. These Constitutions of 2020, is the fourth revised version of the Constitutions of 1973.
Franciscan Clarist Congregation is the second indigenous religious Congregation of India for women. At present the Congregation has got 24 Provinces, 4 Regions in India and a Region in Germany with 864 convents and 6983 sisters as on 1st January 2021. They render their service in Old Age Homes, Orphanages, Hospitals, Educational Institutions, Boarding Houses etc.
FCC in India
The source of inspiration of the founding Mothers was the Servant of God Thommachan Louis Puthenparambil, the founder of Franciscan Third Order Secular in Kerala. The first House of FCC, St. Germain’s Clarist Convent, Changanassery, Kerala, India, was inaugurated and blessed by Bishop Charles Lavigne on 15th June 1891. The sacrificial mentality and the generous nature of the people of Changanassery paved the way for establishing the newly formed congregation in the soil of Changanassery. It flourished and spread, having its branches to the different parts of India and abroad.
1.Devamatha Province, Changanassery 1888
2.Assisi Province, Thrissur 1910
3. Sacred Heart Province, Ernakulam 1928
4. Alphonsa Province, Pala 1952
5. Vimala Province, Kothamangalam 1962
6. St. Joseph Province, Thalassery 1974
7. St. Thomas Province, Kanjirappally 1978
8. Alvernia Province, Irinjalakuda 1979
9. Seraphic Province, Palakkad 1979
10. Alphonsa Jyothi Province, Bharananganam 1989
11. St. Francis Province, Thamarassery 1993
St. Mary’s Province, Mananthavady 1995
13. Nirmal Rani Province, Idukki 2004
FCC in mission
The Franciscan Clarist Congregation founded its second Independent offshoot in 1910, in the Diocese of Thrissur. This unit of FCC was the first to start a mission convent in North India, in the Archdiocese of Agra in 1960. In 1979 the FCC of Thrissur Province was divided in to three Provinces – Thrissur, Irinjalakuda and Palakkad. Accordingly the mission centers were also divided among the three provinces. The first FCC presence outside Kerala, was spread from Thrissur Province namely San Damiano province, Noida in the year 1992. Irinjalakuda Province had its Region in 1987 and grew soon and was raised to St. Paul Province, Delhi in 1994. Likewise Palakkad also established a mission Province in Bareilly, San Francisco Province in 2011.
Deva Matha Province, Changanassery started its first Mission in 1968 at Hazharibagh and rose to Maria Matha Province, in the year1990. Reading the signs of the time and needs of the people, Sacred Heart Province, Ernakulam laid its foundation of the mission at Brahmapuri Chanda in 1968 , and declared as Amala province, Bhopal in the year 1991. In 1969 sisters from Kothamangalam came to North India, Vijayanagaram for missionary activities and declared it a region in 1989, and was declared as Nirmala Province, Vijayawada in 1994. Living the charism of St. Francis, FCC sisters of Pala extended their Apostolate to North East India, Imphal, Manipur in 1966. In 1989 when Alphonsa Pala Province was divided in to two, the care of North East was entrusted to Alphonsa Jyothi Province Bharananganam. It became a region in 1991and was declared as St. Clare Province, Imphal in 1997.
Responding to the challenging call of Vatican II, the FCC sisters of Alphonsa Province Pala expanded their Apostolate at Ujjain in 1972. The newly formed Diocese of Jalandhar, impressed upon different congregations for evangelization and the sisters of FCC began its mission at Punjab in 1972, expanded to a region in 1997 and was raised as St. Francis Province, Jalandhar in 2003.
Deva Matha Province, Changanassery started its first mission House in the Southern part of the Archdiocese of Azhakiamandapam in Tamil Nadu in 1974 and was erected to San Joe Region in 1998 and was declared as San Joe Province, Thuckalay in 2011. With the invitation of the Bishop of Eluru, sisters from St. Thomas Province, Kanjirappally reached in this mission area in 1981 and was declared as San Thom Province, Eluru in 2013. To look after and nurture the faith of the people of Rajasthan, St. Mary’s Province, Mananthavady extended its service and started its mission in 1988. It became a region in 2006 and was declared as Maria Rani Province Rajasthan in 2015. Bishop Jonas Thaliyath CMI who had a master plan for the total Development of the People of Rajkot invited FCC sisters from St. Francis Province, Thamarassery to his diocese, and they began their missionary activates in 1979 and declared it as St. Alphonsa Region, Rajkot in 2013. Studying the situation of the people and the need for Evangelization at Orissa, St. Joseph Province, Thalassery opened a mission station at Bodmal in 1990 and was declared as Clare Jyothi Region, Odisha in 2015 and Blessed Rani Maria Region at Belthangady in 2018.
14. Maria Matha Province, Hazaribagh 1990
15. Amala Province,Bhopal 1991
16. San Damiano Province , Noida 1992
17. Nirmala Province , Vijayawada 1994
18. St. Paul Province, Delhi 1994
19. St. Clare Province, Imphal 1997
20. St. Francis Province , Jalandhar 2003
21. San Francisco Province , Bareilly 2011
22. San Joe Province, Thuckalay 2011
23. San Thom Province, Eluru 2013
24. Maria Rani Province, Rajasthan 2015
25. St. Alphonsa Region, Rajkot 2013
26. Clare Jyothi Region, Orissa 2015
27. Blessed Rani Maria Region, Belthangady 2018
St. Remigiushaus Region, Germany 2008
Saintly Flowers of FCC
Saint Alphonsa and Blessed Martyr Rani Maria are two precious gifts given by the heavenly Father to the Franciscan Clarist Congregation. The faithful spouse of Christ Sr. Alphonsa who lived in the convent at Bharananganam in the eparchy of Pala, offered her life as a holocaust on the altar of suffering and was called to claim the heavenly reward in 1946 at the age of 36. On 8th February 1986, His Holiness Pope John Paul II beatified her at Kottayam during his visit to India. After twenty two years, she was canonized by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on 12th October 2008 at Vatican. She is the first Indian woman raised to the veneration of the altar. It was an event that brought joy and pride to the whole church in Kerala in general and to the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, in particular. Now she is a model and mediator to the whole of FCC and to the people of all walks of life in India and abroad.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4: 18-19). Inspired by this Word of God, Sr. Rani Maria who, facing deadly challenges and dangerous hazards, was working tirelessly for the upliftment of the illiterate and exploited poor of Udayanagar in Indore Diocese, Madhya Pradesh, was brutally stabbed to death on 25th February 1995. This heroic sister who laid her life for truth and justice as well as for the suffering community, is the first woman martyr from India. She was declared ‘Blessed Virgin Martyr’ by His Holiness Pope Francis on 4th November 2017 at Vatican. During the Beatification process at Indore, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, read the Proclamation Decree. Her zealous love for the Lord and the poor and her dedicated service for the marginalized, is a glowing example and inspiration for all the missionaries in India and abroad.
Global presence of FCC
The missionary activity that started in Agra in 1960, has spread not only to the various states of India but abroad also. Today FCC is spread out in five Continents, 12 countries, 24 provinces, 5 Regions with total number of 6983 sisters – 6341finally professed and 642 temporarily professed sisters. Many of the Provinces have started a few communities in countries like Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, U.S.A, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi and Papua New Guinea.
Sr. Ann Joseph FCC
Superiors General since the unification of the Congregation:
The superiors General since the unification of our Congregation are as follows:
Rev. Mother Maurus (1970 – 1980)
Rev. Mother Romuald (1980 – 1986),
Rev. Mother Celerena (1986 – 1991)
Rev. Mother Henry Suso (1991 – 1997),
Rev. Mother Marianna (1997 – 2003)
Rev. Mother Ceelia (2004 – 2009),
Rev. Mother Sinclare (2009 – 2015)
Rev. Mother Ann Joseph (2015 -…
There are 27 sisters from Kenya. At present FCC has 17 houses in Italy, 36 convents in Germany, 1 convent in Spain, 2 convents in Austria, one convent in Switzerland, 4 convents in USA, 16 houses in Kenya, 8 houses in Tanzania, 2 convents in South Africa, one convent in Malawi and 5 convents in Papua New Guinea. The following list shows the missionary presence of FCC in different countries and its established years.
Thrissur Terracina (2009), Bari (2015)
Ernakulam Padua (2005)
Pala Mergo (2011), Cento celle (2016)
Thalassery Fabriano (2013), Reggio – Emillia (2016)
Kanjirappally Rome Deglieroi (1983), Imola (2006), Ferrara (2017)
Irinjalakuda Cesare-Battisti (2003)
Bharananganam Napoli (2003)
Thamarassery Finale –Emillia (2001), Casinalbo (2008)
Mananthavady Matelica (2009), Pabullo (2014)
Vijayawada Vigonza (2008)
Changanassery Karisruhe (1991), Kevelaer (1997), Marienbaum (2005)
Thrissur Cologne (2001)
Ernakulam Isselburg (1976), Witten Annen (1990), Raisdorf-Kiel (1990), Munster (2016), Paderborn (2016)
Pala Witten (2002), Leer (2011)
Kothamangalam Monchenglabacha (1981), Stuttgart (1990), Offenbach (1992)
Thalassery Lingen (2009)
Kanjirappally Bremen (2014), Bremen (2015)
Irinjalakuda Hennef (1994), Kologne (2011)
Palakkad Frankfurt (2002)
Bharananganam Frankfurt (1995), Freiburg (2007)
Thamarassery Gutersloh (1991)
Mananthavady Wuppertal (1994), Wuppertal (1996)
Idukki Mariahilf (1981), Munchen (2003)
Bhopal Mayen (1996), Hamburg (2013)
Noida Cologne (1991)
Vijayawada Entenmarkt (1998)
Delhi Refrath (2003), Bonn (2005)
Imphal Striverweg (2017)
Thuckalay Bamberg (2016)
Rajasthan Badmuenstereifel (2014)
Changanassery Madrid (2010)
Kanjirappally Wien (1984)
Eluru Wien (1984)
Thuckalay Brig (2011)
Kothamangalam Wayzapa MN (1970), Vermillion MN (1994), St.
Antony Avenue MN, (2003), Eagan MN (2016)
Thrissur Nairobi (1998), Kamuwongo (2003), Tinganga (2009)
Ernakulam Kattangi (1995) Kiirua (2002), Nkubu (2004), Nchiru (2005),
Machakose (2011) Katani (2014)Kibirichia (2016)
Irinjalakuda Machakos (1989), Thika Machakos (1998), Donyo Sabuk
(2005), Mombassa Lane (2005) , Sultan Hamud (2011),
Idukki Kikwavila – Ifakara (2001), Bukene (2014) Ifakara (2017)
Noida Mkuza (2008), Chalinze (2011) Kibamba (2017),
Delhi Mbangamao (2013), Morogoro (2016)
South Africa -
Bharananganam Mthatha (1995), Oudtshoorn (2010)
Palakkad Mzuzu (2015)
Pacific Island – Oceania
Papua New Guinea -
Changanassery Tari (1998), Irawi (2000), Margarima (2008), Komo (2010) ,
Sr. Ann Joseph FCC
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