Following the Charism and vision of the founder, Msgr. C.J. Varkey, the congregation of MSMI continues the mission of Jesus Christ entrusted to the Catholic Church, to manifest the redemptive love of Jesus. As a religious congregation, the sisters, at the service of Universal Church, go wherever the Holy Spirit and the mission lead them.
Founding Father-Msgr C. J. Varkey
Msgr. C.J .Varkey was born on 11th June 1921 and he was the 7th of the 8 children of his parents Joseph and Annamma Cuzhikulam who belonged to the Valavoor parish in the diocese of Pala. After the primary education, while completing his high school education in St. Thomas High School, Pala, he had a great desire to “be a Missionary priest.” His priestly life was fully dedicated to the migrants of Malabar. During the first days of migration he had taken efforts to build churches, schools and construction of roads and the same interest and energy he had taken to save the souls for Jesus. He constantly sought to discover the divine will through prayer and it was the specific nature of father Varkey.
He was a man of profound faith in divine providence, a man of a fervent spirit of prayer in constant union with Christ. Fortitude, devotion to Mother Mary, simplicity of life, love for work, forgiving love and creative responses, were seen as shining virtues in him and they became the heritage of the congregation he founded. His unshakable faith in God was the secret of his success in all his endeavors, especially in the work of evangelization. His faith was sustained by his deep prayer experience. The challenges that he took in his life deepened his faith and motivated his spirit. He spent hours in personal prayer to commune with God in deep inner silence. The erection of the Congregation of Msmi was the most outstanding and visible testimony of Msgr C. J. Varkey’s implicit and filial trust in God and in the Mother of God. He initiated most of his projects without much material resources at his disposal. But his deep faith in God enabled him to overcome his difficulties. Beyond the human abilities and the limitations he believed in the providence of God the Father and he achieved whatever he wished to do for the Kingdom of God. It was evident in his life that the Holy Spirit showered on him the virtues of creativity, spirit of adventure, and trust in God for the fulfillment of the liberating mission of Christ. Considering the noble services rendered, the Holy Church honoured him and he was raised to the rank of Monsignor by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on 4th January 2007.
Msgr C. J. Varkey always remained a joyful person, eager about everything and everyone. His joyful and optimistic feelings were the result of a deep spiritual experience, fulfillment of his missionary vocation, resulting from the conviction of the presence of God and the Mother of God in his life. He tirelessly repeated to the members of his congregation, “you must rejoice even when you lack the comforts of this world, for it is the music of God, and you should be detached from everything.” He was gifted with a joyful spirit, and even when he was sick, others never found him as a sad person.
Great persons are simple and genuine, effecting from a total surrender of all they have and they are to God. It shows the readiness to walk with God in humility, dependence and trust. And all other external actions are the expressions of the deep simplicity and wholehearted dedication to God and men. Msgr C. J. Varkey kept this simplicity in all his relationships and he also exhorted the sisters to “be more simple with the people and this would help you love God and people.” There was nothing extraordinary in him, but he was great in his unassuming ways.
Bearing the cross for the love of God was a joy for him. So he could serenely accept the hardships of pastoral ministry in the promotion of his flocks. His unfailing courage in facing sufferings for the cause of spreading the gospel and his untiring dedication to the mission of Christ cannot be explained except by this spirit of faith. One must master all spiritual powers and fortitude if one is to lay down bit by bit one’s life in the daily living out of the mission. Only those who have learnt lessons of love at the foot of the cross of Jesus can share that love with others with intensity and passion. He has shown this to the members of the congregation through his life until death. Msgr. C.J. Varkey, the founder who bequeathed to them the noble life and holy memories went to eternal bliss on 24th June 2009, at the age of 89.
The specific Charism of the MSMI is to manifest the redemptive love of Jesus to the people through family apostolate, proclamation of the Word of God and other apostolic activities in a special way. This charism is still contemporary and urgent: to renew the Christian faith, to regenerate the society, to "bring about better times.”
The spirituality of the congregation is the Marian Spirituality, which makes the members receive in their own lives the role model and the spirit of Blessed Virgin Mary who totally submitted to the will of God. The Blessed Virgin Mary, who is present all through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the exemplary model for the consecrated life of the MSMI. The commitment of Virgin Mary, who received the Word of God at the Annunciation both in her heart and womb, turns out into service. The members, who visit the families and the grief-stricken, shall reproduce in their own lives the spirit of Mary, the one with whom the Lord was present, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, blessed, intercessor, consoler and above all the one who became the mother of all humanity at the foot of the cross on Calvary.
The intercessory power of Mother Mary to Jesus is expressed in the wedding feast at Cana. The life of Blessed Virgin Mary is an exemplary model for consecrated mission and at the same time she intercedes with Jesus on behalf of the bridegroom and encourages the servants to obey Him saying “do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5).
The Blessed Virgin Mary who offered her only begotten Son on the Cross for the salvation of humanity is the unique model of sacrificial self-giving. The members shall join to this self-giving act of Mother Mary by offering all their talents, strength, wealth and life totally for the loving service of others. Mary inspires them to lead a Christocentric life. They, who became ‘Jesus’ own’ by their total self-dedication, shall be ready to self-empty so as to bring others closer to Jesus.
Mary who surrendered totally and absolutely to the hands of God in her earthly life fulfilled the will of God by offering a pleasing sacrifice. Consecrated life is also a life of continuous sacrifice. As the life of Mother Mary was in communion with the Church even after the death of Jesus, so also their life shall be fruitful if they live in communion with the Holy Catholic Church in order to attain sanctity.
Miraculous medal of the Immaculate Mary, which was offered to the world by St. Catherene Labouré on 27th November 1830, is the specific sign of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate. The picture on the front side of the medal is the picture of the Immaculate Conception. Mary’s hands are shown showering a cascade of brilliant rays on the world, as if she found them too heavy with graces and was eager to pour them on us. Our Lady is standing on the globe of the world. In this we see Mary, both as the Victorious Woman and as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Around the oval frame of the medal we read the words, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." In this brief prayer we find the truth of (1) the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and (2) Mary’s intercessory power with God for those who ask for her aid.
On the reverse side of the Medal we see a crown of twelve stars. It indicates 12 Fathers of the Church in the Old Testament and 12 Apostles in the New Testament. Blessed Virgin Mary is the queen of the Church founded on the Apostles by Jesus. This can be seen as a reference to the "the Great Sign" in the Book of Revelation; the "Woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev12:1).
We see a Cross, the symbol of Christ’s Redeeming Sacrifice on Mount Calvary for the salvation of the world. At the base of the Cross is a bar, which symbolizes the foot of the Cross. Intertwined with the bar is the letter "M" symbolizing Mary’s intimate involvement at the foot of the Cross with her Son’s Redemptive sacrifices. We see the "M" placed below the line or foot of the Cross, signifying Mary’s subordinate role to that of Jesus.
"This union of the Mother and her Son in the work of Redemption reaches its climax on Calvary, where Christ ‘offered Himself as the perfect Sacrifice to God’ (Hebrew 9:14), and where Mary stood by the Cross (cf. John 19:25), ‘suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. So the "M" stands not only for Mary, but also for Mother. "The new Motherhood of Mary, generated by faith, is the fruit of the ‘new’ love which came to definite maturity in her at the foot of the Cross, through her sharing in the Redemptive Love of her Son.
On the Medal beneath the Cross and the "M" we see two Hearts, the Sacred Heart of Jesus encircled with a crown of thorns, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. We see the prophesy of Simeon fulfilled: the Son who was destined to be a sign of contradiction, dying on the Cross and the Mother pierced with a sword of sorrow at the foot of the Cross "so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”. The two Hearts are surmounted by flames, symbolizing the burning love with which Jesus and Mary accomplished the work of Redemption, each in their proper way.
The front side of the medal signifies the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary; while the reverse side clarifies the role of Blessed Virgin Mary in the human salvation. We can see then in the Miraculous Medal a symbol of the whole history of salvation from Genesis to Apocalypse, and we can see the vital role that the Victorious Woman is destined in the final defeat of the devil.
Patroness and Co-Patrons
Immaculate Mary is the Patroness of the MSMI and the light who guides us to Jesus. The Co-Patrons of the MSMI are St. Joseph, the Protector of virgins, who submitted himself totally to the will of God, St. Thomas the Apostle who proclaimed the faith profoundly, St. Paul who witnessed the Word of God with burning zeal for Jesus, and St. Theresa of Child Jesus who was elevated as the patroness of missionaries through the spirit of prayer.