The history of St. Joseph Province of the Vincentian Congregation begins with the Bifurcation of the Vincentian Congregation in South India into two Regions as Mary Matha Region and St. Joseph’s Region on July 3, 1987. The Mission Region of the Vincentian Congregation in the North named St. Thomas Region was already in existence since February 28, 1980. Subsequently, the 3rd session of the 22nd General Chapter of the Vincentian Congregation held between December 18-22, 1989, decided to raise these regions into two Provinces and a Vice-Province. The Superior General of that time, Very Rev. Fr. Paul Kariamadam, promulgated it on January 1, 1990. Till May 30, 1993, the Vincentian House at Thodupuzha, functioned as the headquarters of the Region and later of the Province. On May 30, 1993 the Provincial headquarters was shifted to Kottayam. Presently in our Province there are 129 priests, one brother, 59 Major seminarians, 27 novices and 78 minor seminarians in our Province. We are very much grateful to the Lord as we are blessed with a lot of vocation. This year 3 Deacons are going to be ordained Priests in the month of December. All the members of the Province are contributing greatly to the growth of the Province. It is because of their untiring work and deep dedication that the Province has achieved its present heights. Whatever has been accomplished in and through our Province is only by the infinite Grace of God. He has always guided us to walk in His path and to be faithful to His call and the mission He has entrusted to our community. The Province has now 31 Houses and Centers. The members of our Congregation render their services to the Universal Church in 25 Dioceses worldwide. We have our Houses and Centres in 18 Dioceses in India.
As Vincentians we are called to bring the Good News to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and to give sight to the blind, to free the oppressed and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (ref: Lk: 4,18). The specific purpose of the Congregation is to preach the Gospel to the poor, especially the rural poor and the working classes, and to help them in their integral development. Commitment to evangelization of the poor and their human and Christian advancement is our specific charism. This charism is accomplished by the members of the Province by Preaching, doing pastoral, educational, social and charitable, apostolic and missionary activities all over India and even outside India.
The most important charism and specific purpose of our Community is ‘preaching the Gospel to the poor’. Thus through Popular Mission Retreats, Retreat Centres, Charismatic Retreats, Renewal Services, conventions, Parish Rretreats, Retreats for Priests and Rreligious, Bible Conventions we bring into realization the motto of our Congregation. We have 9 retreat centres where thousands of people come every week for spiritual renewal. Our retreat centres have been instrumental by the Grace of God for the spreading of the Word of God in Kerala and India. In our Adoration centres many people come for adoration, prayer and counselling. Our retreat centers publish Magazines to spread the Word of God and spread the message of Christ.
The Province renders good service in the field of education. It conducts 8 schools altogether, 2 Higher Secondary Schools under Kerala State syllabus, 3 Higher Secondary Schools under C.B.S.C. pattern, 2 High Schools and one Lower Primary School under Tamil Nadu State syllabus. We have also 2 formal technical educational centers. Our schools and institutions have earned a good reputation for formation and excellence. Students from these institutions have come off very successfully. There are nearly 5500 students now studying in our educational institutions, out of which more than 3000 are Catholics and there are non Catholics or non Christians etc…. We help the poor students by granting either partial or full fee concessions.
The first Mission Region of the St. Joseph’s Province of the Vincentian Congregation was inaugurated on March 19, 2003.This Mission is comprised of the Houses in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, West Bengal and Goa. The Patron Saint of the Mission is St. Francis Xavier. Very Rev. Fr. Mathew Thoyalil was elected and appointed as the first Mission Superior and Rev. Fathers Thomas Thayil and Thomas Palackattu were his Councillors. At present the Vincentian House Bangalore is the Mission House and Rev. Fr. Cyriac Kodamullil leads the region as the Regional Superior. At present the Mission has 8 houses in Tamilnadu, 3 houses in Karnataka and 1 centre in Goa. 24 Priests are working in the Mission. It has got 3 Retreat centres, 6 Parishes, 3 Orphanages and 2 High Schools.
Following the example of St. Vincent De Paul who devoted himself for the service of the poor and the needy social apostolate is another important field of activity of our Congregation. 3 orphanages attached to Vincentian Houses in Kerala have been functioning since some time. Outside Kerala we have 3 Boys’ Homes where the students from far away villages come and stay for study. We also concentrate our attention on the rehabilitation of the students who are studying in our Orphanages. We take care of them in their technical and job oriented education and help them to start something of their own.
Very Rev. Fr. Mathew Thoyalil was the Regional Superior when it was a Region and later when it was raised to a Province he was elected as the first Provincial Superior of the Province. Later Very Rev. Frs. George Arackal, Abraham Kanjirakonam and Jose Vettiyankal served as Provincil Superiors of the Province for different periods of time. At present the Province is led by Very Rev. Fr. George Arackal (Sr.), elected Provincial Superior on April, 2009