VERY REV. FR. VARKEY KATTARATH VC
Mar Louis Pazheparambil, the then Vicar Apostolic of Ernakulam, was very much attracted and inspired by the life and activities of the Priests of the Congregation of the Mission. He wished to start a Congregation of the diocesan priests on the model of the Congregation of the Mission. He took steps to implement this desire. He sought the help of Rev. Nithirickal Mani Kathanar who himself had a desire to bring the priests of the Congregation of the Mission to the Malabar Church. Mani Kathanar told Rev. Fr. Joseph Kariyapurayidathil and Rev. Fr. Mani Paramkulangara about the desire of Mar Louis Pazheparambil and that he intends to send them to Ernakulam for that purpose. Meanwhile, Fr. Joseph Kariyapurayidathil happened to meet Fr. Varkey Kattarath at Poonjar, who encouraged him and strongly supported the idea.
Rev. Fr. Varkey Kattarath, the then Vicar of Vaikom Church took the initiative to begin the first house of the Congregation at Thottakom. It was blessed by Mar Louis Pazheparambil on 20th November 1904. It is Rev. Fr. Varkey Kattarath who is the chief implementor or executor of the idea of founding a Congregation of the model of the Congregation of the Mission. He is the one who established the first house of the Congregation at Thottakom.
Fr. Varkey Kattarath felt that he is called by God to create a new religious family. He has defined the ends, the life style and the spirit of the Congregation by accepting the rules of the Congregation of the Mission. After a few years of community life, Fr. Varkey Kattarath and the other Fathers were forced to leave Thottakom one by one due to various adverse circumstances. After some years Rev. Frs. George Mannara, Antony Powathil and George Vattamkandathil expressed their desire to lead a religious life to Mar Augustine Kandathil, the then Archbishop of Ernakulam who directed them to revive the religious community once founded at Thottakom. They also were given the same copy of the common rules of the Congregation of the Mission. Accordingly they revived it and began community life at Thottakom, on 19th July 1927.
They visited Rev. Fr. Kattarath and requested his blessings. Rev. Fr. Kattarath blessed them and came to Thottakom to join them.
In the letter he wrote to the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission we read, 'I was burning with desire to serve the Lord more ardently by leading a life in common. In the year 1904 it seemed that the time mercifully assigned by the Lord has comeâ€¦. As soon as I mentioned my desire to the Bishop Mar Louis, he gladly approved it and encouraged my proposal. â€¦with full approval and counsel of the Bishop, we - I along with three secular priests of the same mind and spirit - came together â€¦ and built a small and temporary chapel and house that we could lead a community life. As regards the rules to be followed in our community life, our Bishop proposed to us the rules of the Congregation of the Mission. â€¦most kindly consider my case as a special one and grant me the privilege of taking the vows of the Congregation of the Mission â€¦ â€¦Thus you will satisfy my most ardent and long preserved desire of dying as a son, though most unworthy, of St. Vincent de Paul, whom, since many years, I revere and venerate as my Patron'. (Letter of Fr. Varkey Kattarath to the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, dated 30th August 1928).
He became its first professed member in 1929 and took the perpetual vows in1931. He was called for eternal reward on 24th October, 1931.