Missionaries of Mary Immaculate

Missionaries of Mary Immaculate

(MMI)

Missionaries of Mary Immaculate

(MMI)

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The church has always been apostolic, prophetic and missionary. God’s ways of calling more laborers to preach the Gospel are innumerable. The Society of the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (MMI) also has its origin in the will of God. It was not my will to start a Society of priests as I know well that I am the least worthy person to do it.
During Fr. J.E. Arul Raj visit to Brazil in 1990, to meet his brother Fr. Jesudhas and his missionary companions, the Archbishop of Campo Grande, His Grace Most Rev. Vittorio Pavanello SDB, who had heard about the works of the DMIs (Daughters of Mary Immaculate – founded by me) asked him whether it would be possible to start a missionary Society for Priests. The aim was to revitalize the sagging spirit of the Latin American Christians.
The religious vocations were also going down there. Fr.J.E.Arul Raj took nearly seven years to give him a positive reply to find out the will of God. In 1998, upon been insisted by Fr.Jesudhas, his brother; He gave His Grace, a reply of possibility, trusting in God. The Archbishop Most Rev. Vittorio Pavanello brought this matter up in his Diocesan council at Campo Grande on 27th Mary 1998. The whole council unanimously and officially approved the missionary proposal. Even after the approval of the council, Fr.Arul Raj was still hesitant to start the society.
On 29th October 1999, the Archbishop of Campo Grande officially wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Madras – Mylapore, Most Rev.Dr.Aruldas James, as he was the President of the Tamil Nadu Bishops Conference. The letter said:
Brazil is the biggest catholic country in the world having less priests and vocations. The Indian Priests with us are zealous and hardworking missionaries. During the visit of Fr. Arul Raj OMI, the founder of DMIs to Brazil, I have discussed with him, in detail, the need for forming Indian missionaries to minister in Latin American countries. The Archdiocese and its senate have formally approved it. We will be thankful to you if the Bishops of your State will take up this missionary venture in supporting Fr.Arul Raj OMI. Our Archdiocese and the senate have approved the plan requesting Fr. Arul Raj in forming a Society to prepare and form missionaries for Latin America. In this connection, I will be thankful to you if you could permit Fr.Arul Raj to recruit vocations and begin formation.
Even with all these encouragements, he was still hesitant to start the missionary Society. The Archbishop of Campo Grande again wrote to the Archbishop of Madras – Mylapore on the 15th of January 2000 saying:
My priests’ council approved the idea and the plan of Fr. Arul Raj. I am interested that he realizes this project for the greater glory of God and for His souls. But my support alone is not enough. He also needs the approval of the authority of the Catholic Church of India and of Your Excellency as the Archbishop of Madras – Mylapore, where he wants to install the missionary centre. As for me, I accept to incardinate and to ordain all the missionary seminarians who will be formed in India and in your Archdiocese with the required norms according to the Holy See.
The Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore gladly accepted the proposal and gave permission to establish the formation houses in His Archdiocese. The first house was established at Palanchur. Fr. S.J. Antony Samy, Fr.Anandam of Madurai and Fr. Alphonse of Kottar were the initial supporters of this Missionary Society. Fr.K.J.Francis and Most Rev. Dr. Neethinathan also deserve our gratitude as the members of the council of MMI for a short period of time. It is gratifying to note that Rev. Dr. Neethinathan (only a priest then) was declared Bishop of Chingleput while he was still a member of the council.
We also thank Most Rev.Dr.Peter Fernando, the Bishop of Tuticorin for giving the services of Fr.Sahaya Joseph and Fr.Hermas Moduthagam, Fr. Lorenzo to MMI. We also thank Most Rev.Dr.Leon Tharmaraj, the Bishop of Kottar for sparing the services of Fr.Andrew Selvaraj.
In response to the recommendation of Vatican, His Grace Dom Vitorio Pavanello SDB happily handed over the patronage of MMI to the Bishop of Meerut in India. The Bishop of Meerut, HIS LORDSHIP MOST REV. FRANCIS KALIST DD, happily accepted the request of the Society of Missionaries of Mary Immaculate to be the Patron and submitted his willingness to Rome. Even though the Archbishop of Madras – Mylapore, His Grace, Most Rev. A. M. Chinnapa SDB had recommended to the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, the Bishop of Vellore to be their Patron, the second General Chapter members of the Society of MMI felt that it was better to have the Principal House of the Society in a missionary land like North India to maintain the missionary character of the Society. Even though Vellore diocese could have been an easier territory than North India, the members preferred North India as Tamil Nadu has enough and more diocesan priests.
Today, the Society has its Principal House in Pondicherry and a global presence with 515 members in the countries of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Italy, Brazil, USA, Germany, Papua New Guinea other than India.
The Society of MMI receives its prime motivation from the Gospels and its missionary charism from the Co-founding Sister Society of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate. Sr.Virgin DMI, the then Superior General of DMI and her council for the wholehearted support to the MMIs. Their support, representing the Society of DMI, in terms of finance and motivation can never be forgotten. The Society of MMI shares its charism from the Founder and the Sister Society of DMI. The sacrifices of the sisters of DMI are innumerable; without any assistance from abroad or anywhere else, the DMI sisters single-handedly established independent houses of formation for the MMIs. The DMIs have provided millions of rupees worth land and properties to the MMI. They have built formation houses for the MMIs like the Juniorate in Palanchoor, Novitiate in St.Thomas Mount, Philosophy study house in Pune, Philosophy and theology study house in Bangalore, and a Philosophy study house in Kovur, Chennai. Loyola International Residential School is also their venture for the self-dependency of the MMIs.